Dreaming of a Green Christmas

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Christmas Pets

Photo Credit: AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by Justin Beckley via Flickr.

By Heather Moore

Are you dreaming of a green Christmas, one that makes animals, the planet, and people merry and bright? Then celebrate the holidays with a healthy vegan feast and cruelty-free gifts. ‘Tis the season for peace and good will, after all. With a vegan feast on the holiday table and “green” gifts under the tree, you’re sure to wind up on Santa’s “nice” list.

If you want to have a Christmas meal that’s easy on the planet (not to mention animals and your arteries), skip the turkey, ham, and other animal-derived foods and celebrate the season with a savory vegetable potpie, stuffed squash, or other meat-free main dish. Traditional sides such as mashed potatoes and stuffing are easily “veganized” with soy milk and margarine.

What’s so ho, ho, horrible about ham and turkey? Meat production wastes natural resources and contributes to climate change. According to Worldwatch Institute President Robert Engelman, the “world’s supersized appetite for meat” is one of the main reasons why greenhouse-gas emissions are still increasing rapidly. The North Pole just won’t be a winter wonderland if Santa’s wearing Speedos and polar bears are clinging to melting ice floes.

But there’s hope: A 2010 United Nations report revealed that vegan foods require fewer resources and emit fewer greenhouse gasses than meat and dairy products do. National Geographic estimates that, on average, a vegan—someone who eats no animal-derived foods, including meat, eggs, and dairy products—consumes nearly 600 gallons of water per day less than someone who eats a typical Western diet, which is high in animal products.

But there is one “animal” you don’t want to leave out of your eco-friendly holiday preparations: a mouse. Slide yours on over to the PETA Mall, where you’ll find a virtual sleigh-full of “green” gifts, including handmade vegan truffles from Missionary Chocolates, an eco-friendly company that uses the best local, fair-trade, and organic ingredients possible. The chocolates go great with shade-grown organic coffee that’s produced without the use of pesticides, herbicides, or chemical fertilizers. The proceeds from the coffee help PETA save animals, so it’s sure to warm everyone’s soul.

Many other companies in the PETA Mall offer cruelty-free, environmentally friendly gifts, including Universol Aromas Soy Candle Co.; CherryBerry, a great source for stylish, eco-friendly, nonleather handbags; and Ethical Ocean, which sells cruelty-free cosmetics, jeans made from sustainable threads, vegan shoes, and much more.

If you prefer a less “material” gift, consider sponsoring a working bullock or donkey rescued by Animal Rahat in India. Or spread some cheer (and compassion) by choosing another “virtual gift” for a neglected animal.

But remember: “Green” isn’t just for Christmas—strive to make cruelty-free, Earth-friendly choices all year-round.

Here’s wishing you a happy, healthy, and humane holiday!

Heather Moore is a staff writer for the PETA Foundation, 501 Front St., Norfolk, VA 23510;

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