Question: I find it very challenging to be veg(etari)an when having family gatherings. Is there any advice for this?
Answer: It is of course best to invite and treat the whole family to a veg(etari)an restaurant with outstanding food, to change their opinions about veg(etari)an food, to let them realise they it can be tasty and healthy at the same time.
If there is reluctance, you can still join them at wherever they choose to eat, but order veg(etari)an options on the menu. If there are not many options available, you can eat before or after, but still join in the gathering by ordering drinks.
Another way is to eat at home, which is usually at more senior family members’ homes, by adding bought or prepared tasty and healthy veg(etari)an dishes to what is available, to share with all. To not be imposing or divisive, there should not be insisting that others only eat what you bring, which can be seen as bonus options for them, not for limiting their options.
Express goodwill and chat as usual while eating. The Buddha taught that all sentient beings were reborn as our family members before, in many interconnected past lives. If we reflect thus, it does not make sense to please a few family members by eating many more family members for the rest of this life. When possible, there should also be gentle but clear sharing of why eating more veg(etari)an food is kinder and wiser for one and all.
How Should All Aspiring For Buddhahood Eat And Drink?