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How to throw a vegan, cruelty-free and eco-friendly Christmas

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From homemade crackers to present swaps, here’s how you can throw a vegan, cruelty-free and eco-friendly Christmas.

Being a vegan at Christmas is not just about changing the food you eat — it’s about how all of the choices you make have the power to either help the planet or harm it.

We are on the countdown to Christmas now and it certainly is a strange one this year. People seem to be trying to spread that little bit of extra Christmas cheer: decorations have gone up early, people have gone to town adorning their houses with even more twinkling lights than usual, and although we are living in such strange and unpredictable times, there truly is a sense of morale. Everyone really is doing their best to keep the positive vibes and festive spirit up.

The year 2020 really has shown people what is important and what isn’t. A lot of people are re-evaluating their lifestyle choices, their diets and how they live their lives in general. A recent poll by Veganuary revealed that 32% of people have been eating more vegan food since the first lockdown began in March. Nearly 73% of those people say they have been doing this for health reasons. Veganuary has also seen a huge increase in the number of people signing up to take part this year. More than 400,000 people are joining in compared to 250,000 in 2019, taking the total number of participants to a million.

Covid-19 has once again highlighted the link between farming methods and pandemics, which certainly seems to have had an impact on people. More than 41% of those surveyed by Veganuary gave this as the answer for them moving towards a vegan lifestyle, with more than a quarter of Britons eating plant-based this Christmas.

Our carbon footprint

cruelty-free christmasThe 21st century has brought many exciting developments to our world, which many of us would struggle to live without now. However, with that, it has also brought about many negative aspects to our lives.

Whether we like to admit it or not, we live in a society fuelled by consumerism and technology. Everything we do has an impact on the environment and the beings we share this planet with. Although being aware of these issues is not isolated to veganism, researchers at the University of Oxford states that eating a vegan diet could be the “single biggest way” to reduce your environmental impact on the earth.

Therefore, if people are concerned about the impact they are having on the planet, transitioning to a plant-based diet is a surefire way to reduce their carbon footprint. More and more people are becoming aware and are looking to make simple changes to their lifestyles, so that they ensure they live in a way that helps the planet rather than contribute to its destruction.

Simple swaps

vegan christmasAs Christmas approaches this year, we wanted to share some of the simple swaps that everyone can do to have a positive and eco-friendly impact. The first thing to do to reduce animal cruelty is leave animals off your plate and choose to eat plant-based foods instead. A delicious tried-and-tested recipe for Christmas lunch is this mushroom wellington from BOSH!, recommended by vegans and non-vegans alike. Supermarkets all offer a wide range of plant-based options now as well, which means there is a huge selection to choose from for those that would rather not cook.

Read our interview with BOSH!’s Henry Firth and Ian Theasby.

When it comes to food, a lot of people go overboard at Christmas, buying more than they genuinely need. An important principle for us to all start living by in the West is to only buy what you need. We live in a society where we overbuy everything and just throw it out when it is no good. 

By buying less, we waste less. When we really stop to think about how fortunate we are to even be in a position to celebrate Christmas, buy food and give presents — we realise that that’s something to be grateful for and not a position to take for granted.

Christmas is a season of spreading love and peace, and gift-giving, so how about donating to charities or going through your wardrobe and gifting warm clothes to people living on the streets? The majority of us don’t need ‘more things’, so rather than falling into the consumerism trap, this is a lovely way to spread love and give to those in need more than ourselves.

Check out our guide to the best Christmas gifts for vegans.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

zero-waste christmasWe may have all heard this saying but people may struggle to know how to incorporate these principles into daily life. Christmas is a great time to try these eco-friendly measures out for yourself, and it’s not as complicated as it may sound. By following the three Rs, you can create a system that can shrink your household’s carbon footprint.

Opting for secondhand toys and gifts, giving homemade presents and doing present swaps with people — trading things that are no longer wanted or used are all great ways to be greener when it comes to gift-giving.

Making your own crackers can become a lovely family activity and tradition too. Each paints a cracker, fills it with a handmade Christmas hat (made to measure), writes jokes for each other’s crackers and adds an eco-friendly gift. These cracker presents won’t just end up straight in the bin after the meal, and it is a lot more fun for all the family.

Another great idea on how to ditch the plastic and save the pennies is to use brown paper as wrapping paper. Keep it simple by simply wrapping brown string around your parcels, or get creative and dig out the paints to turn your brown paper into works of art.

Being vegan isn’t about perfection. However, it is about having the intention to lead a lifestyle that causes the least amount of harm to animals and the planet. These simple swaps are just a few examples of ways we can help reduce our carbon footprint. If we all strive to make little changes to how we celebrate Christmas and the choices we make in our daily lives, together, we really can make a difference.

Tina Newman
Tina Newman is a writer, makeup artist and qualified Animal Nursing Assistant living in Suffolk, UK. She is the author of the vegan children's book series Vivi the Supervegan and mother to two little supervegans of her own. Tina had been vegetarian for 21 years until she found out what happens in the dairy industry and in September 2017 she went vegan overnight. She has been a passionate animal rights activist spreading awareness and helping to educate others ever since.