Vegan Thanksgivings Part 2: Enjoying a Plant-Based Potluck

If you haven’t taken a peek at my first installment of Vegan Thanksgivings, click the link right here (it also comes with a BOMB dahl recipe)! I didn’t really get a chance to explain what this mini series is, but Vegan Thanksgivings is basically a mini 3-4 part series on my blog that will briefly recap all of the festive feasts I’ve had prior to and during the Thanksgiving holidays, specifically my first ever vegan feasts!

This particular post isn’t so exercise or even health-related minus the food aspects, but I would like to include a little bit more of my college life in my blog just to show that you can easily incorporate health and fitness into a busy schedule packed with studying, working, stressing out and socializing. You don’t have to gain the Freshman 15, Sophomore 20 or any of that at all, nor do you have to allow partying, drinking and late-night ramen to sabotage your fitness goals. I aim to demonstrate that health should always, always, always be a priority to oneself, whether you’re a student, a small child, a young adult, a parent, or a grandparent. Vitality has no age, race, gender, social class, size, shape, color, or religion. Everybody deserves to live a wholesome, happy life. It is ultimately up to you.

You’re probably thinking, Cassie–why you getting so deep all of a sudden? Well, I’ll definitely update this in a future post that will go live in two weeks, but for now, let’s just say that a long-standing element in my life turned out to be a major reality check. But for now, before we get onto this second part of Vegan Thanksgivings, I just want to say that I still do not celebrate Thanksgiving on an emotional or spiritual level for reasons given in this previous post, but I still partake in holiday parties and other events just to enjoy my social life. I totally respect those who do celebrate Thanksgiving and I keep quiet about my own stance on it. Now that we’ve gotten that cleared up, without further ado, here is the second recap of the series!

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As iterated in my 50 Facts About Me tag, one of my dreams is to host a giant potluck. I can’t say that my dream entirely came true just because I did not host the potluck myself, BUT my college’s vegan club hosted a vegan Thanksgiving-themed potluck at the next meeting on the 17th of November, the Thursday before our holiday break! Delicious food, good friends and joyous vibes? Pretty much everything that I could ever wish for in a potluck!

This potluck came at a REALLY amazing time, because minutes before  this event, I basically spent hours being snowed under class registration. Being a freshman, I’m pretty much at the bottom of the barrel with enrollment priority, and the desired classes were closing by the hour (Whelp, there goes my chances of having no classes on Friday…). Once the time for the potluck finally approached, everybody gathered in the meeting room and started assembling all of the amazing goodies some members were so kind and gracious to make!

We all ended up devouring multiple kinds of hummus, pretzels, raw carrot sticks, broccoli, snap peas, bananas, vegan banana bread, coconut date balls, double-stuffed Oreos, peanut butter cookies, strawberries, black bean quinoa avocado-stuffed bell peppers, garlic sweet potato and regular potato mash, an acorn squash and rice salad, a beet and kale salad, vegan mac n’ cheese, vegan stuffing, and vegan chickpea green curry with basmati rice!

All of the homemade recipes looked so delectable and creative that I gasped. In comparison to the Thai-Vietnamese banquet one or two weeks prior, I could have everything being served! Heck, macaroni and cheese–my childhood favorite–was at my disposal, and I could eat it without the animal products! Same went with the pastries, all of which my roommates and apartment neighbors consistently baked in non-vegan form to a frequency where I almost thought they were creating all of these goodies to purposely make me feel bad about being vegan.

I ended up having three different plates: the first one was my tester helping, where I tried some bell peppers, acorn squash rice, chickpea curry and kale salads. I absolutely loved ALL of these dishes! Then for my second round, I got more curry, kale salad and some macaroni and cheese, which appeared and tasted identical to the childhood mac n’ cheese that I’d enjoy in my much younger days! I was devastated that by the time I was finished, the stuffing had disappeared, so I could not try it! Luckily, I polished off the rest of the strawberries, peanut butter cookies and vegan banana bread! My top three favorite dishes ended up being the peanut butter cookies in first place, followed by a tie between the mac n’ cheese and kale salad, and lastly a tie between the chickpea curry and quinoa peppers!

To cap off the post, I just want to indicate that the holidays do serve as the major times to enjoy food, whether it be the good, the bad or the downright ugly. I’ll admit that the white rice in the acorn squash salad, the pastries and the white pasta in the macaroni and cheese scared me because of my skin reactions to rice and wheat-based foods. Ultimately, I took a deep breath and just tried everything without thinking about nutrients, weight or bloat aftermath, or anything relating to fitness goals. Just taste and appearance. And I felt amazing doing so.

My stomach didn’t hurt after the meal. I felt fine, even better than many meals where I’d actually stuff myself with “cleaner” food. I woke up the next morning with flat abs, no sugar hangover or no dramatic sodium bloat. I also had plenty of glycogen to complete a successful morning kick-ass exercise routine! This goes to show that people who are worried about mess-ups over the holidays can still enjoy their favorite dishes and try fun foods, so as long as they do so in moderation and stress-free.

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So yes, Thanksgiving is indeed behind us, but whether or not you went overboard with the foodies, there is always tomorrow. There will always be 364 more days until now to get back on track. Please do not beat yourself up for one day, or even multiple days. It’s all about how you react afterwards. Are you going to allow your setbacks to define your future, or are you going to allow your setbacks to motivate you to change it? This is the question you have to ask yourself.

Anyways, that wraps up the second installment of my Vegan Thanksgivings mini series! Hopefully you also drooled upon first sight of the potluck dishes as much as I enjoyed consuming trying them! Please let me know down below how you enjoyed your Thanksgiving celebration if you do celebrate the holiday, as well as what you plan on doing for the rest of the weekend!

Have you also enjoyed an amazing potluck? Team Food Baby or No Food Baby?

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