It's party season, and plant-based or vegan eaters may be just a little anxious. Holiday parties often mean breaking out the fancy cheese, along with creamy dips, eggnog, and a photo-worthy ham, turkey, or roast. When you're eating vegan or plant-based, that doesn't leave you with a ton of options.

But with a plan in place, you can stick with your plant-based proclivities, while still soaking up all the seasonal cheer the holidays have to offer. Here's how to sail through all the soirées on your calendar — not just surviving, but thriving.

Your Vegan Holiday Survival Guide

Here are some easy tips to make any holiday party you attend or host a bit easier for plant-based attendees.

Bring a Vegan Main Dish

Showing up empty-handed to a dinner or holiday party is frowned upon in most social situations — but especially when you've got personal dietary restrictions. If you can, let your hosts know ahead of time that you're vegetarian or vegan, as most consummate hosts will at least try to accommodate. But also let them know you'll plan to bring along a vegan side dish that can serve as a main course for you or anyone else who's vegan, so they don't need to add another big prep to their list.

Try a spelt pizza topped with zucchini and pine nuts, these curry hand pies, or a casserole dish full of vegan stuffed shells.

Whatever you bring, just be considerate of oven space and reheating availabilities — don't plan to actually do any cooking once you arrive — just a quick pop in the broiler or microwave if necessary.

Give Yourself a Bit of Grace

If you're pursuing a plant-based diet but aren't on a strict no-animal-products regimen, consider allowing yourself a little leeway to sample a few of your favorite foods here and there so you don't feel like you're missing out.

A whiskey sour at the company party, a cheese puff at your family friend's bash, and a few oysters and a small slice of beef wellington on Christmas Eve won't derail all your plant-based progress, especially if you load the rest of your plate with veggies and stick to your normal eating habits when you're not celebrating.

And if you give yourself a totally free pass for a week or so? That's okay, too. Show yourself a little compassion and leniency as you navigate this busy season — if you make a misstep, don't dwell on it, just get back on track when it makes sense. Perfection isn't the goal, which is why this plan is all about small lifestyle shifts to help you enjoy the party plans and still stay true to yourself.

Choose the Crudités 

An age-old tactic for avoiding overeating at any party is to fill up on healthy snacks at home before you leave for the event, then steer clear of the cheese boards once you get to the party. This applies to those following any healthy diet plan.

Have some hummus and crudites while you get ready. That way, you won't be so hungry that you're tempted by that charcuterie spread, because you've already eaten your fill at home. Other celebratory foods to try as pre-gamers: Vegan nachos or a small bowl of coconut curry. You can even bring these as welcome nibbles to add to the party spread.

Try a New Recipe

It's easy to get excited about meal planning for the holiday cooking extravaganza when you've got a brand-new, delicious-sounding recipe in your hands. Rather than simply adapting your old traditional favorites, spend some time finding a vegan or plant-forward cookbook you love, then map out the fresh, new, plant-centric meals you want to share with friends and family this holiday season. Maybe it's a vegan Eton mess cake, a roasted squash salad, or dairy-free gooey cinnamon rolls.

Read More: The Best Vegan Dessert Recipes

Make It a Family Affair

The best part about the holidays is surrounding yourself with the people you care about — so why not share your love of veggies and plant-based protein with your friends and family? Ask Grandma to take part in a vegan eggnog taste test with you.

Set up a DIY cocoa bar complete with oat milk and vegan marshmallows on Christmas morning for your kiddos to create their own concoction and photograph their masterpieces. Whip up a plant-based wellington with your partner in the kitchen to serve on New Year's Eve. And check out The Beet's holiday celebratory recipes to make cooking these new treats easy and delicious.

After all, celebrating the season means you're making new memories and traditions to remember while honoring old ones, too. 

For more plant-based inspiration, check out The Beet's recipe library

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