Animal Aid

A veggie merry, animal-friendly Christmas!

Posted 1 November 2004

The festive season will soon be upon us, with 'eat, drink, spend and be merry' the mantra of the moment. As the streets come alive with twinkling lights and the shops deck their windows with dazzling displays, seasonal spirit and festive cheer will fill the air.

At the one time of year when most people are determined to be happy, raising the issue of animal cruelty can make you look like a killjoy. But the truth is - for millions of animals, Christmas celebrations are the cause of considerable cruelty.

Slaughtered and eaten; given away as presents like disposable toys; and forced to perform silly tricks for the sake of entertainment - these are just a few of the ways in which animals suffer for our seasonal pleasure.

Cruelty-free guide

Pages from the Compassionate Christmas booklet

With a little thought and action however, you can make sure your choices have not caused harm to animals. Our new booklet, 'Compassionate Christmas - your guide to animal-friendly fashion, food and fun' shows you how. This colourful, 20 page booklet is packed full of information and stylish photography and has sections covering food & drink, fashion, make up, entertainment and more. Compassionate Christmas is the ultimate guide to a cruelty-free celebration - and proves that it's not about sacrifice and denial.

Download the new booklet here or send for a free copy as part of our Compassionate Christmas Pack.

Tale of the Christmas turkey

Give the turkey a break this Christmas and go veggie instead. Photo credit: Dave Clegg

Approximately 30 million turkeys are killed in the UK each year and around a third of them are slaughtered for the Christmas table. Tragically, turkeys don't raise much sympathy amongst the general public - they are often the object of ridicule and disdain - but spare a thought for these poor, ungainly birds. They may not be pretty as a peacock or cute as a kitten, but turkeys experience pain, fear, discomfort and distress just like any other animal.

And it is humans who have turned them into the clumsy creatures they are now. In the wild, turkeys roost in trees, are fiercely protective of their young, can fly at up to 50 mph and live for around 10 years. Today, the vast majority are reared on factory farms, crammed by their thousands into dark and dirty sheds, with barely enough room to move. Most are slaughtered at around four months.

Every second of every day is the same inside a factory farm. They will never know sunlight or fresh air. The atmosphere is cloying, heavy with the stench of ammonia and faeces. Turkeys - as with all poultry - are forced to stand and lie in excreta-soaked litter, which will probably not be changed for the duration of their lives. Many birds suffer painful ulcers to the feet and legs.

The quest for cheap meat has led farmers to use selective breeding techniques which enable them to fatten the birds faster. The rapid growth spurt turns them into juvenile giants and puts intense pressure on their developing bones. Turkeys grow so huge, so quickly, that their legs are unable to support their ballooning bodies. With swollen joints and ulcerated feet, even shuffling from foot to foot is painful. Annually, thousands of turkeys (and chickens and ducks) collapse under the strain of their own body weight. Unable to get to food and water from the dispensers scattered around the unit, they die from thirst and starvation.

Those who survive the short, painful and deprived existence in the fattening sheds meet a brutal and bloody end at the slaughterhouse.

Christmas dinner veggie-style

Instead of carving up the corpse of a dead animal, why not have a delicious vegetarian celebration? In the past, you might have had to put up with a boring (or not so boring!) nut roast or a plate of trimmings and not much else, but nowadays there is a wonderful selection of tasty meat-alternatives available, including fake 'turkey', 'chicken' and 'ham'. You'll find a fantastic selection in the bigger supermarkets and any good health food shop.

Savoury strudel

Try some of our fantastic veggie recipes like this savoury Christmas strudel. See our vegetarian pages for lots of hints and tips on going veggie.

If you want traditional Christmas-with-a-twist you could have veggie sausages wrapped in veggie bacon with some slices of soya 'turkey'. But why not try something different, such as the delicious menu suggestion from renowned vegetarian chef Rose Elliot featured in our booklet. How does two-pear salad followed by savoury Christmas strudel and boozy ice cream for dessert take your fancy?

Putting compassion into fashion

Leather-free fashion

With rounds of dinners, drinks and office parties looming on the horizon, party frocks will be aired and the glam factor upped. But behind the fashionable façade, cruelty to animals often lurks.

Most people are horrified at the idea of animals being killed for their fur, and thankfully - in the UK at least - real fur items are rarely seen outside of the pages of Vogue magazine. But beware! The trim around cuffs, collars, hoods and boots might not be fake, as you probably assume. Rabbit fur is frequently used, and 90 per cent of farmed foxes end up used as trim. Domestic cat and dog fur from Asia has also been found on cheaper garments. Check the label before you buy and only purchase synthetic!

And what about the poor cows whose skin is turned into shoes, bags, and belts? Leather and suede are not just by-products of the meat industry. Selling off every bit of the carcass is what makes killing animals profitable.

Fear not, followers of fashion! Nowadays, synthetic alternatives to leather and suede are so realistic it's virtually impossible to tell the difference. Most high street shops stock a range of stylish synthetic shoes, which are often designer copies at a fraction of the price. It's easy to find sparkling sandals and bejewelled boots made out of man-made materials. Fake leather jackets, skirts and trousers are cheaper than the real thing, with the added bonus that you won't have to have them dry-cleaned. So grab your bag, put your party shoes on - and step out in absolutely fabulous cruelty-free style!

Drop dead gorgeous?

Beauty Without Cruelty cosmetics

Even though an agreement between the cosmetics industry and the Home Office has meant that no licences to test make-up on animals have been issued in the UK since 1998, elsewhere in the world, multi-national cosmetic companies continue to test their new ingredients and concoctions on animals. And these products are still marketed over here.

Behind cosmetic 'breakthroughs' such as wrinkle-busting moisturisers, longer-lasting lipsticks and lash-lengthening mascaras lies the stigma of cruelty.

Labelling is often deliberately misleading and the claim that a cosmetic is 'not tested on animals' does not guarantee that it has been humanely produced. For although the finished product might not have been tested, individual ingredients could have been.
Humane Cosmetics Standard Ensuring that cosmetics are truly cruelty-free can be tricky, but one of the best ways is to look for the logo shown right, which means that the products have been approved by the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection's Humane Cosmetics Standard scheme. To win approval, companies must prove that they do not conduct animal testing themselves, commission any one else to do so on their behalf, nor buy ingredients which may have been tested by the supplier.

Of course your easiest option of all is to buy Beauty Without Cruelty make-up, which is BUAV-approved and now stocked in the Animal Aid online shop!

To receive your copy of the Compassionate Christmas guide, send for a FREE Compassionate Christmas Pack.

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