VWPA Advice #007: Can I Insist on a Vegan Party for Someone Else?

If I’m hosting a party/gathering in my home, is it ok to insist that it’s vegan, even if it’s someone’s birthday?
My mom wants me to host a birthday party at my house but my family is insisting on bringing non-vegan items, including cake and ice cream, which makes me mad because those are so easily vegan-izable! What should I do? Is it ok to say no?

Nichole

Absolutely! You are the host and it is your space. If you don’t want animal products in your house, you are absolutely empowered to insist the event be vegan.

An easy way to do this, if you can afford it, is to provide all the refreshments yourself so your guests don’t have to bring anything – just show up and have fun! The party can be your gift to the person of honor, to save on expense.

If finances are, understandably, prohibitive: you can tell everyone exactly what to bring, and leave the tricky things off the menu or under your care. Assign people to bring booze, mixers, fresh fruit, veggie sticks, crackers, mixed nuts, guacamole, salsa, tortilla chips, potato chips, etc. – all things that are naturally vegan or pretty easy to avoid having animal products in. If you want to do something trixy, like cheese or sausage, either provide that yourself or tell a trusted guest to get a specific brand and at exactly what store (make sure they are cool with this and you’re not just giving them a confusing expensive imposing party-mission!).

If you get push-back about it’s someone else’s big day, then you’ll have to draw a firm line in the sand and say, “I understand but this is my home and I won’t have things in my home that make me feel unsafe, unhappy or uncomfortable. If you want to host this event or move the location, I understand, but I will not budge on this matter and I do not want to discuss it further.”

Don’t feel guilty, don’t allow yourself to be bullied. You can try to draw parallels if you think it will help: “Mom! You wouldn’t let me bring drugs into your house would you?! This feels the same to me. I don’t agree with it and I don’t want it in my home.”

If you need reinforcement, listen to our episode about veganism and boundaries (http://veganwarriorprincessesattack.com/023-stop-pushing-my-boundaries/) and know that your vegan warrior princess brethren got your back! You’re not alone!

Callie

Yes I totally agree with Nichole! Please don’t feel guilty and don’t allow yourself to be bullied (because bullying you is exactly what they are trying to do!). If the event is in your home you absolutely have the right to put your foot down. I normally believe in “gentle” approaches, where you would sit down and calmly explain your feeling and reasons, but in this case I would recommend being very firm. Tell your Mom that if they want you to host, then it will be a completely vegan event, no exceptions. If they can’t abide by that, then they can have the event somewhere else. I would also make it clear to anyone else trying to push you that any non-vegan food won’t be allowed in your house (and if someone brings something non-vegan hold firm and don’t allow it in). They are being very disrespectful by asking you to do them a favor, host an event, and then push your boundaries and disregard your feelings and beliefs.

This might seem harsh, but there is a time to wear your activist hat and try to get your family to come around to veganism by slowly getting them comfortable with vegan food and having discussion with them about animal rights; and there is a time to stand up for yourself as a person, as an equal in the family, and demand that they treat you with respect. They don’t have to agree with your beliefs to respect your boundaries.

I know it can be very difficult to stand up to family, especially if you are outnumbered, but no matter how they react, you will feel much better if you stay true to yourself. Besides what are families for if they don’t love and support each other?

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