This year (2020) will be my 5th Christmas as a vegan! In my pre vegan days, I LOVED Christmas. It was, by far, my favourite time of year and it felt so magical to me. When I became vegan, I started questioning Christmas. How can it be such a happy, magical time of year, when so people are eating turkeys and pigs in blankets, indulging in dairy chocolates and desserts, cheese boards, tiny plastic toys in novelty crackers, over consumerism, presents packaged in plastic, plastic and more plastic... and, unfortunately, the list goes on. As I thought about these things, I was filled with sadness and Christmas lost it's magic.
However, this year I am bringing the magic back!
This post is for anyone else who, like me, lost the Christmas magic when they became vegan. Here are the things I am doing to keep Christmas happy- for us, for the animals and for the planet.
(Image by Brett Sayles)
Gift Giving and Receiving
Over the last few years, I have become so much more eco conscious and, as a result, Christmas present giving and receiving has changed. Over consumerism is a huge problem. The production of more and more new items puts a huge strain on the planet. We buy so much more 'stuff' than we need, resulting in more demand, more waste and higher production of unethical and environmentally straining products. Clothes, toys, accessories, gadgets, decorations and more.. every new product you buy has a lasting impact on the planet. Gift giving is a lovely part of Christmas, but there are ways to do that are kinder to the planet. Here are the ways I have adapted gift giving and receiving to fit with my values:
• Donations in Lieu of gifts: As a minimalist, I do not buy items that I don't need, or that don't add value or purpose to my life. I make conscious choices about items that I bring in to my life and my home and I usually buy them second hand or from small sustainable businesses. Because of this, I usually opt out of gift receiving at Christmas. Instead, I ask my friends and family to donate to a charity in lieu of presents. This year, I am raising money for the homeless in my local area and I can't think of a better way to spread a little Christmas magic than helping those in need.
• Charity shop challenge!! : I LOVE charity shops! They are amazing places to find second hand gems and give to charity at the same time! So at Christmas time I often get my gifts for other people from charity shops. Some people may think it is strange to buy someone a second hand gift, but i think it's awesome! I can still show someone that I care with a second hand gift and I am not compromising my values and morals in order to do so! This year, I bought my niece and nephew charity shop gifts and my husband and I are doing a £10 charity shop challenge, seeing what special second hand gift we can find for each other for just £10. It's fun, eco friendly and saves a LOT of money too!!
• Home made, upcycled gifts: I love making gifts! I don't want to give away the items I have made my family this year (incase anyone's reading!), so I will keep this vague! Homemade gifts are extra special and you can recycled items like jars, bottles, pots and tins that you may have in your recycling to hold homemade preserves, chutneys, baked goods, candles, infused beverages and more! Get creative, upcycle and make special gifts for your loved ones.
• Buying from eco friendly, vegan businesses: When picking special gifts, choose vegan, sustainable businesses over high street chains and large, unethical online stores. There are so many amazingly thoughtful gifts out there that have been created by someone who cares deeply about animal rights and the planet. Show your support for those businesses! Knowing that a gift has been hand made by someone who cares, makes the gift extra special!
2. Vegan food
There are so many amazing vegan options now! Gone are the days of nut roast .. or... nut roast. Vegan meats, wellingtons, pies, tarts, yorkshire puds, mince pies, chocolates, ice creams, custard, Christmas puddings... you name it- you can find it vegan! Just pop to your local supermarket! It's that easy! Or, if you want to give your money to the people who really care about animal rights, there are lots of amazing vegan companies who are passionate about animal rights and the planet! Some of my favourites are Clive's pies, Booja Booja, Tofurky, Vbites There is absolutely no need to breed, own and slaughter millions of innocent animals. Choosing a vegan option is also kinder to the planet. According to the UN Environment Programme 'meat production is one of the most destructive ways in which we leave our footprint on the planet.' So keep Christmas kind, pick a vegan option and enjoy!
Decorating your home can be really fun and festive. When I was a child, I loved the day we decorated the tree with Christmas songs playing in the background! I like to keep my decorations eco friendly and here's how:
• I have used the same decorations every year. Every year, they go in a box and stay safe until December, when I enjoy reminding myself of the lovely decorations I have. Some are hand made, some had been gifted to me, some I found at Christmas Markets from local sellers. They are all different and unique and many have a memory attached, making them extra special.
• Charity shop decorations! Yes i'm about to big up charity shops again, but honestly, you can get all of your tree decorations second hand!
• Homemade tree decorations are simple and fun! You could use items from your recycling and get creative! A little paint and some bio degradeable glitter can turn rubbish in to sparkle for your tree! Or take inspiration from nature and hang pine cones or dried orange pieces!
So those are a few ideas for an eco friendly, vegan Christmas! I hope they can inspire you and help you bring back a little bit of Christmas magic! Remember that traditions can change. Christmas can become a time of joy, respect and compassion and it is ok to make new, better traditions for a planet in need of some TLC.
I'm now off to bake some vegan Christmas chocolate brownies and make some Christmas crackers out of toilet roll tubes!
Merry Vegan Christmas