When Christmas turkey’s not an option

Between wheat and dairy allergies, Christmas dinner is a battlefield for some students (Graphic by Alex Dascalu/AQ).

When second-year St. Thomas University student Juandi Correa’s family comes together, they can’t eat meat, seafood or dairy. His mom’s lactose intolerant, his sister’s a vegetarian and Correa doesn’t eat red meat, seafood or dairy for environmental and health reasons.

It can make Chrismas dinner challenging.

Correa’s family cooks together and looks for recipes everyone can enjoy. Still, he said he and his sister have to eat Christmas dinner regardless of whether it has meat or dairy.

“Sometimes they force us, but only during Christmas dinner because it’s the only thing that’s going to be available to eat,” Correa said.

Kenzie Acheson, a second-year STU student, said Thanksgiving with her family wasn’t too hard. She could avoid dairy products, like coffee creamer, for a few days but with two weeks of Christmas break, she said avoiding dairy products might be more difficult.

Acheson cut dairy out of her diet because of her irritable bowel syndrome. Whenever she eats dairy, she’ll suffer a range of unpleasant symptoms

“I’ll literally just go home and suffer,” Acheson said.

A lot of her family’s dishes include dairy products and sometimes she can’t find alternatives.

Regardless, Acheson said she doesn’t need to justify asking for dairy alternatives at home and her family usually accommodates her dietary needs.

Third-year STU student Gillian Little has a wheat allergy.

“It’s worst thing in the world,” she said.

Little said Christmas dinner is okay for the most part but she has to request a a gluten-free batch of her favourite food, stuffing. Still, making this alternative dish requires the most expensive ingredients, which are often smaller portions and less tasty.

“I do feel a little bit guilty,” Little said.

“Gluten-free food or anything that’s ‘special’ costs so much money.”

Andie Amaya, a fourth-year STU student who is also a vegan, said her mother buys Tofurky and replaces products like butter with vegan alternatives. Her grandmother’s stuffing recipe is also adapted to make it more vegan friendly.

She said her mother, who’s also vegan, supported her when she decided to go vegan two-and-a-half years ago and helps make her the lifestyle easier.

“I feel really included at home,” Amaya said.

“My mom and I just make vegan desserts and stuff like that.”