Reinvent Christmas - Make it vegan!
Making Christmas “The most wonderful time of the year” for every living being
Christmas is one of the the most wonderful times of the year. Unfortunately it’s also undeniably one of the most polluting times of the year due to overconsumption and bad consumer choices. Wouldn’t it be even more wonderful if the festive season was just as jolly for animals? Fear not, we are here to help! This article is full of advice to help you be kinder to the planet and to animals and to ensure this year you aim for a sustainable Christmas.
Anybody that celebrates Christmas indulges in gift shopping, trims up their house with decorations, puts up a tree and prepares an impressive meal to enjoy with family, friends or on their own. However, there is a dark side to this twinkly, end of year celebration. Indeed, seen in another light, Christmas comes with mass consumption, meat-eating and unnecessary pollution from the wrapping of gifts. So let's ask ourselves what steps can we can take towards a more sustainable Christmas and time of vegan celebration?
1. Trade in the natural tree for an artificial tree
The focal point of any living room at Christmas is the Christmas tree. It plays a key role at Christmas as it’s where the presents are piled up and it’s generally the place where people gather for festive fun. As well as bringing light and sparkle to the occasion, the Christmas tree is one of the Christmas's greatest traditions. But remember, Christmas trees have to come from somewhere.
For over 400 years, people have deforested large parcels of land in order to plant fir trees for the occasion. Once these trees are grown they are sawed down, thousands at a time and placed in vehicles to be transported all over the world. Not only does the Christmas tree industry cause mass deforestation which is harmful to biodiversity and reducing carbon dioxyde emissions, but the fuel emissions from the transportation and wrapping up of the trees is non-negligible. According to Carbon Trust, a natural two-meter tall Christmas tree that is disposed of into a landfill site has a carbon footprint of around 16 kg of CO2 caused by the methane emissions.
16kg of CO2
There is need to have a real tree to get you feeling that fairy tale Christmas magic. As the years go by, innovation has enabled people celebrating Christmas all over the world to get hold of hyper-realistic artificial Christmas trees for a more sustainable Christmas. As part of its drive to make the festive season more planet and animal friendly, plenty of brands have worked on providing people with sustainable Christmas trees. The brand Paké for instance has a wooden tree called "Sapin Sympa” that is a nice alternative to the traditional artificial fir. Please bear in mind that if you get an artificial tree you need to use it for at least a decade in order for its environmental impact to equal that of responsibly disposed of natural trees, according to Carbon Trust. So, choose one that will be with you for decades and decades.
2. Shop for decorations in second hand shops or get creative
Decorations are another important Christmas tradition. It’s easier to take a sustainable approach to decorations because people generally like to get out the same decorations every year which means that they are used and reused. As the years go by, your Christmas decoration collection often expands. In other words, you may have your great grandmother’s favourite Christmas ornament that you inherited standing proudly on the fireplace next to a new figure of Santa Claus. Reusing old decorations is very similar to recycling which is obviously a very sustainable way to celebrate Christmas because it helps avoid mass consumption. Brand new decorations however are rather costly for the planet. Plastic decorations or porcelain ones produced with toxic glue and decorated with equally toxic paint have become the norm in many supermarkets.
To avoid buying new decorations why not look for them in second hand shops? Apart from being a very environmentally friendly alternative to mass-produced new ones, second hand decorations can add a wonderful vintage touch to your home. You could also opt for decorations made out of biomaterials such as wood or decorated with vegetal ink and paint. Finally, you can unleash your artistic side and make your own handmade sustainable Christmas decorations using plants such as holly branches or mistletoe.
3. Shop for gifts in sustainable shops or support local businesses
Christmas is all about giving. If you are really striving for a sustainable Christmas it is important to source your gifts in a way that is not harmful to the planet. Luckily there are plenty of fantastic solutions to consume more responsibly. To begin with, why not rock up to your Christmas meal proudly wearing a pair of MoEa Christmas socks - or give a pair as a gift. Opt for the Viva Las Vegan punchline to mark your vegan celebreation to spread good humour. This way you can perhaps even open the minds of your parents or elderly relatives to veganism! Once they see that leading a vegan lifestyle can be fun and fashionable they may be tempted to give it a go.
A pair of Full-White MoEa vegan trainers would also be a brilliant Christmas present for anyone “dreaming of a white Christmas”.
Apart from sourcing presents from vegan brands, small and independent businesses can also really profit from sustainable consumer choices. Buy cards, candles and presents from independent shops that sell handmade gifts made with love to support small artists.
Christmas wrapping may seem like a fun activity during the festive season. Unfortunately, wrapping paper is often very environmentally unfriendly as the paper is coloured with bright inks and glitter and it leaves you with paper waste. According to Eurostat (the statistical office of the European Union): in 2021, the EU generated an estimated 188.7 kg of packaging waste per inhabitant varying from 73.8 kg per inhabitant in Croatia to 246.1 kg per inhabitant in Ireland.
An alternative to classic wrapping paper is Furoshiki, a Japanese technique for wrapping up presents with cloth and a special folding technique. Furoshiki has become extremely popular in recent years, thanks not only its low environmental impact, but also its unmatched elegance. Unlike traditional wrapping paper, it has the advantage of being more easily reusable. To guide you, here are a few e-shops of sustainable brands where you can buy Furoshiki:
4. Cut out the meat in the Christmas meal
Last but not least, to end your new-me vegan makeover and to complete your sustainable Christmas why not host a vegan meal to ensure a proper vegan celebration? The highlight of many people’s Christmas is often the mouth-watering meal. Traditionally, the centrepiece of the meal is a roasted turkey or other meat. For a vegan celebration, replace the meat with delicious vegetables or nuts enhanced with ingredients such as truffle, spices or saffron. For dessert, serve seasonal fruits such as kiwis or pears, or replace the butter in any cake with plant-based milk. Why not try this vegan recipe, a twist on the classic Christmas pudding, the VEGAN Christmas pudding:
- 30g olive oil or vegan spread
- 30g coconut oil
- 70g self-raising flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp allspice
- 40ml black treacle
- 60ml stout beer
- 2 tbsp rum
- Zest from an orange
- 200g vegan mincemeat
- 25g mixed peel
- 20g chopped blanched almonds
- 70g raisins
- 2 apples peeled and grated
- Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C and line and grease an ovenproof pudding bowl with oil.
- Sift the self-raising flour, baking powder and salt in to a large bowl. Add the cinnamon and allspice. Mix well.
- In a jug mix together the treacle, stout and rum. Pour into the bowl with the flour and whisk together.
- Stir in the orange zest, apple, almonds, currants, mixed peel and mincemeat.
- Pour the mixture into the lined bowl. Place the bowl on a baking tray and surround with 2 cm of boiling water. Bake in the oven for 50 min to 1 hour or until the puddings are springy and firm. Remove from the bowl.
- Allow to cool and either serve or store in an airtight container.
Popular culinary treats such as foie gras can be replaced with aubergine caviar or tapas. Plenty of plant-based cheese businesses such as Willicroft or Jay & Joy can supply you with vegan cheese and plant-based-dairy products to concoct yourself a sustainable vegan Christmas cheeseboard.
In short, for a vegan celebration cut out all meat and replace it with other high-protein foods and and opt for upmarket ingredients to make it that touch more special for a sustainable Christmas.
These are just a few ideas for turning your Christmas into a vegan celebration - it’s easier than you think! We hope we’ve inspired you to take steps with us towards a brighter future and a more sustainable New Year.