Christmas is a time of joy, love and gratitude, however (warning, i'm about to put a downer on Christmas- but don't worry I'll pick up the mood again very soon!) many of the Christmas traditions contradict this. The mass killing of animals for the grand Turkey dinners (an estimated 14 million turkeys were killed last year in the UK alone), the slavery and maternal grief of dairy cows for the advent calendars and chocolate boxes, crazy Christmas consumerism for presents, presents and more presents and all of the Christmas crackers, cards, gift wrap and present packaging leading to unnecessary waste and plastic pollution.
The good news is this: Christmas doesn't have to be like that! We can all enjoy a cruelty free and sustainable Christmas if we just do things a little differently.
So here are my ideas for an eco friendly, vegan festive season:
1. The Christmas Dinner!
There are SO many options now for us vegans! We could have Tofurky, seitan steaks, veggie sausages, pies, wellingtons, nut roasts and more! My personal favourite is the creamy mushroom pie from Clive's Pies which is stocked in Waitrose and many health food shops. Team that with some vegan cashew cauliflower 'cheese', some veggies and a big helping of crispy roast potatoes, all covered in warm, rich vegan gravy and you have a mouth watering roast right there! For crispy potatoes without goose fat, cut the potatoes, boil them first, drain the pan, add a little oil, rosemary and a pinch of garlic granules- put the lid back on the pan and shake it all together so that the potatoes 'mush' a little! Then transfer them to a baking tray and roast until golden and crispy! Sooo yummy!
2. The Sweet Stuff
Vegans don't have to miss out on the sweet treats at Christmas time. Many supermarkets stock vegan mince pies, apple pies and crumbles, vegan chocolates and pudding pots, ice creams and custards! Some of my favourites are the chocolate fudge hot pudding from Freaks of Nature, Vego bars (if you liked Nutella, you'll love these!), absolutely everything from Booja Booja : The truffles, the ice cream!! Soooooooo yummy! Moo Free make yummy chocolate and even make vegan advent calendars and chocolate santas!
3. The Christmas Crackers
When I was little, I used to get so excited about pulling the Christmas crackers when we sat down at the table! The element of surprise, the team work, the bang and the jokes inside is what makes a cracker special- and all of those things can be done sustainably! Why not ditch the shop bought novelty crackers (that come in plastic boxes with plastic gifts inside) for home made crackers! Spend an afternoon up-cycling your toilet roll tubes! It's good to give things a second use! Find little charity shop gifts/ vegan chocolates/ mini vegan soaps etc to put inside your crackers. Write out your own jokes on recycled paper- or write out little 'would you rather' questions for great and slightly weird conversation starters! You can buy the cracker snaps online (the thing that goes 'bang!') . Then once you have all the parts, cut a tube in half, tape you cracker snap to the inside, place your gift and joke in the center and wrap it up with the used Christmas paper you kept from last year!! ( or aim to do that bit next year!)
4. Christmas cards and wrapping paper
In a time where we all communicate through our phones on Whatsapp an social media, it's a lovely sentiment to send a Christmas card- but it's also a waste of precious trees. So I will always side with the trees on this one! This year, avoid buying new Christmas cards. They usually come packed in plastic sleeves, so you'll be avoiding that too! Some eco conscious companies use recycled paper for their cards and compostable con starch sleeves for packaging , so look out for those ones. Or, use this time as an opportunity to call someone and wish them a Merry Christmas! You can also get E cards which are emailed to the recipient and usually involve festive music, sparkles and dancing of some sort!
For eco friendly wrapping paper, re - use the paper from the previous Christmas presents you received! it does involve some careful unwrapping but it's worth it. I am also a fan of the gift bag - you can get recycled kraft paper gift bags that can be re used over and over. Just put the gifts in- hidden in a little recycled tissue paper! No sellotape needed at all. Then grab the bags back before they get thrown straight in the bin!!
How about keeping packing materials that have been sent to you in the post over the year from your online purchases, and use the boxes and the packing paper - just tie a red ribbon around it and it will look festive enough!
5. A sustainable approach to gift giving
Christmas gift buying can get a little out of hand and very expensive. All those gifts amount to lots of packaging and encourage consumerism in a time when we need to be acquiring less. Every item created has a history. Almost every item leaves a scar on the planet- whether it be made from plastic that won't degrade, made from materials using lots of water, harmful dyes and pesticides, or items made from ingredients that exist because of animal exploitation. The planet needs us to slow down, so how about this year, take a sustainable approach to present buying?
You could find eco friendly, vegan gifts! Gifts made from up-cycled materials, sustainable materials such as bamboo, hemp and organic cotton. Maybe buy zero waste gifts and items that have an important use- such as tote bags and reusable coffee cups There are lots of vegan, eco friendly small companies that create unique, special pieces in the most sustainable way possible. If you are new to Rekindle and have just stumbled across this blog, then - hello- i'm Lisa and I upcycle second hand clothing and other pre loved items, to raise awareness for animal rights and promote veganism! (Apologies for the plug!)
Or you could set a challenge with your friends and family to buy presents from charity shops! You can get some real gems in charity shops! It saves money, it helps charities and it encourages people to re use items.
Maybe you would rather set a 'DIY' challenge, where you make a preset for everyone. You can even use second hand materials. Or make everyone yummy vegan chutneys in glass jars, or flavoured gin in glass bottles!
So there you have it! 5 ideas for a Vegan, eco friendly Christmas! I hope that many people will be embracing compassionate living this year. It really is so important to adopt sustainable lifestyles and Christmas shouldn't be an exception! Embrace it! Enjoy making it vegan and eco friendly! Have a fabulously vegan festive season!