As “the most wonderful time of the year” rolls around, there may be some change afoot: during the last few years, there may not have been as many turkeys gracing Christmas tables as before. It's estimated that around 71% of millennials are serving vegan food for Christmas; whilst over half of Americans consider vegan Christmas options important; and one in five British people plan to have a vegan Christmas dinner this year. In short, plant-based festive food is booming – but what are the reasons behind this growing trend?
By Sascha Camilli: writer, speaker, activist, and vegan fashion expert.
The recent abundance in vegan food offerings has made it possible to have a vegan Christmas that is every bit as delicious and indulgent as its meaty counterpart, but there are more benefits to a turkey-free table than just taste. Here are the main reasons why more people are choosing a plant-based celebration, and why you should join in.
You will save lives.
The first, and for many the most compelling, reason to choose a vegan Christmas is because of the millions of sentient animals who end up on festive tables every year. In the US alone, 22 million turkeys are killed for Christmas dinners every year, while in the UK, around 14 million are killed. That feeling of holiday cheer and cosiness is quickly dispersed by the realisation that blood and suffering hide behind it. Plant-based options are free from cruelty to animals, but offer all the taste and celebratory joy.
You will help protect the Earth.
When you consider the strain that animal agriculture puts on our planet, there really isn't much to celebrate. Animal farming has been named by the UN as one of the leading causes of the climate crisis – while we worry about recycling wrapping paper, researchers at Oxford University have found that the biggest step that individuals can take to lessen their environmental impact is to go vegan. The biggest climate villain on the Christmas table is, unsurprisingly, beef and other meats. So a plant-based celebration helps is not only a delicious way to save lives, it's also a much-needed step towards restoring the health of our planet.
Your wallet will thank you.
The soaring costs of living are impacting many, and Christmas will not make things easier: costly presents, travelling to see family, and other expenses are eating into already strained budgets across the globe. But one way to cut costs might be to ditch the meat and dairy: meat sales are falling as more people realise that plant-based options can be much cheaper. Pulses, lentils, fruit and vegetables can all be much kinder to your budget than turkey and the like. Nixing the meat doesn't have to mean missing out: delightful recipes are at your fingertips with cookbooks like Gaz Oakley's Vegan Christmas and many the online platform Vegan Recipe Club.
It might just be a bit healthier.
We get it, healthy food is not directly a priority during festive times – indulgence is, and very rightly. However, choosing plant-derived recipes might still mean that you might avoid that sluggish feeling and that mid-afternoon bloat. Vegetables offer an abundance of fibre, while plant meats can be lighter than animal-based ones. While vegan replacement foods can definitely be processed and high in sodium, salt, oils, and other substances that may need to be limited for health reasons, a vegan festive offering still tends to be richer in vegetables of different colours, and hence full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Breaking out of a rut and trying new things.
Let's all be honest – we're all a bit tired of the same old turkey and gravy, aren't we? Year after year, serving up the same meal may be tradition, but it can also become something much less festive – a rut. So this year, take the opportunity to create new traditions and bring in a new way to celebrate the season of good will and holiday cheer, by tucking into a plant-based feast that's kind to all.
By Sascha Camilli
Sascha Camilli is a vegan fashion writer, speaker and activist. Her book Vegan Style is out now on Murdoch Books. For more about Sascha, you can read our interview with her. You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
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