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Is following a meat free, dairy free vegan diet still a social challenge to you? If so... here are some fun solutions!

Have you tried going to a vegan restaurant, or having a home-cooked vegan meal with family?

If you answered YES, I would love to know how! lol.. My personal answer is NO! I don't even try! :)

Here is why:

  • My family is from Brazil, which is a heavy meat, cheese and dairy loving country. That's just what they like and know...
  • Being 1 person against 2, 3, or more people in Brazil means that I'll usually be eating with them at a BBQ place if going out.

All I can do is walk around with some nuts and protein bars in my pocket at all times! The bottom line is, social challenges are often still a problem for vegans. So here are some creative and fun solutions:

Challenge #1: How can I celebrate my birthday with family in Brazil? Can we eat vegan today only... pleeease?

Though everyone agreed, I could still tell that everyone was bummed out about going to a vegan resautrant. So they presented me with some restaurant ideas, and guess what? I still chose everyone's favorite Brazilian BBQ location!

Fun Solution was: This BBQ location offers FREE meals on your birthday with a few guests. Plus my cousin is also vegan/vegetarian, so we grabbed a plate and hit their food bar together. We enjoyed some tomato pasta, rice and beans, potatoes, cucumber sushi and some drinks.

All free and fun... awesome! And as a bonus, being more flexible with the restaurant choice helped everyone be more open and curious about vegan diets!

 

Challenge #2: What about my birthday cake? Is the cake at least going to be vegan?

The cake from my sister that says "Happy Birthday!" is vegetarian, NOT vegan. And this event was for my cousin Neto and I, as we have the same exact birthday. :)

Fun Solution: No problem! Let's have 3 cakes.

  • My cousin had a vegetarian cake.
  • I had a vegetarian cake from my sister, for all the guests.
  • Plus a vegan chocolate cake that my vegan cousin made for me.
 

Challenge #3: Let's hang out, play some music and enjoy some snacks! Can the snacks be vegan?

We asked each other, what snacks do people enjoy the most? Well, don't they usually things like french fries, pizza, pastries, cake plus some "Pão de Queijo" (cheese bread puffs)? Yes, this is for sure.

Fun Solution: No problem! My cousin Mariana and I easily made everything in vegan form, and everyone still enjoyed them!

Remember when we grabbed some vegan cheese at the local grocery store? We used the vegan cheese for some home made pizza, and heated up some pastries from Mercado Central.

 
 

And my cousin baked some vegan chocolate cake plus some vegan "Pão de Queijo", cheese bread puffs.

Here is a Vegan Pão de Queijo recipe from The VSG which you can try and make at home anytime! They're super, super yummy! Seriously... :)

 

Challenge #4: Talking about my diet choices and lifestyle. Why are they are asking so many questions? :/

It's natural... everyone asks about what you are eating and what you are NOT eating... What to buy, and what NOT to buy for a vegan.

Fun Solution: This is funny, but I came back with copies of my book, "The Vegan Survival Guide", and shared many of its chapters. It was also easy to explain my lactose intolerance since lately, Brazil started playing tv commercials of enzyme supplements to help with milk digestion. There are also some milk-free cooking shows that are becoming popular on tv, which helps people understand. But most of my Brazilian friends and family used to ask questions like:

  • Is lactose intolerance a "fashion" or "fad" (in Portuguese, the word for this is "moda")?
  • Meaning, is this just a consumer preference, or something like a custom designed diet?
  • Is it for people trying to lose weight?
  • Is it an allergy to milk?
  • What is it?

Now they understand!

The thing is, common signs and symptoms to lactose intolerance often happen 30 to 60 min after eating lactose containing foods. And it's usually hard to debate symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, and sometimes even vomiting.

But my symptoms were often just nausea, rather than stronger symptoms like diarrhea or vomiting ... so my mom thought everything was ok. It took a few years for family to understand that being vegan is ok, and how to feed me a proper vegan diet!

 

The awareness of lactose intolerance in Brazil really made things easier for me. So we ended a fun day with some rice and beans, potatoes and avocado dressing. Thanks to all my cousins!

Challenge #5: The final challenge was leaving town. lol :D

I loved the time that I had with family! I hadn't seen some of them in over 10 years... plus my birthday at the BBQ place was also my 1st birthday party in years.

Fun Solution: I'll be back! ;)

Have you encountered social challenges as a vegan? Which one was the hardest for you?

Be sure to share with all of us below!

 

Please share your thoughts and comments

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