This Christmas will be my first vegan Christmas and I’m honestly so excited.
My journey with veganism this year has been so eye opening from a cooking and flavour experimentation perspective. Vegan food is delicious. Because vegans know how to make it delicious. Am I right my Vs?!
Food is incredibly emotional. There are so many memories connected to food. Did that food poisoning put you off a certain food? Yep, memory. Why does birthday cake taste so much better on your birthday? Yep, memory again! What do you want to eat when you go to the cinema? Popcorn? Oh that’s right, memory. And Christmas is definitely one of those times.
I was asked the other day ‘won’t you miss turkey this Christmas?’ and I reflected on it and what I realised was, my connection to turkey was actually always only my connection to family Christmas and the emotional connection I have to Christmas dinner.
Turkey itself I always found to be a bit tasteless, dry and something I endured once a year. My favourite part of Christmas dinner has always been the roast potatoes, sprouts, cranberry sauce, thick gravy, horseradish and all the things I definitely intend to eat this Christmas as well! If turkey was so great, why didn’t I use to eat it all year round? Tradition.
Tradition can actually be rooted in memory and a memory is made up of so many individual elements, thoughts, feelings, smells, visuals, we can easily have the same experience, even if we change one small element. The element itself is not your memory.
I still intend to eat delicious food, in fact probably even more delicious and enjoyable this year because I’m eating what I want to be and I have a higher awareness of compassion and my impact on the earth than I have ever have at Christmas time. I am going into the new year a stronger, wiser, healthier and more compassionate version of myself and I am so immensely happy on the path I am on, I wouldn’t want to change any of that just for the sake of tradition.
Christmas dinner for me is all of my family and people I love around me, lots of noise and voices and laughter, Christmas music playing in the background, big steaming plates of food being carried to the table, the nostalgia for childish excitement, delicious smells drifting from the table, the warm and cosy atmosphere while it’s howling outside, the pulling of crackers and rustle of Christmas hats, popping of champagne, clinking of glasses and the pure love and joy that completely surrounds me. That for me is what makes Christmas dinner. Not a dead turkey.
I’m going to share some Turkey facts, some of which you may find distressing to read, but are really important to understand the origin of food so I’d urge you to keep reading.
- Over 20 million turkeys were slaughtered in the UK last year, 12 million of which in the lead up to Christmas.
- Turkeys are normally slaughtered at between 9 and 21 weeks old, whereas the natural lifespan of a turkey is 10 years.
- Turkeys are removed from their crates and hung upside down by their legs from shackles on a moving line for around 5 minutes. At slaughter, turkeys can weigh between 5 – 28kg and so the pain caused to heavy birds can be significant.
- Turkeys are dragged head first through an electrically charged stunning water bath to make them unconscious before having their necks cut. For a bird to be stunned, rather than receiving an electric shock, the electric current must pass through its brain before contacting any other part of the body. However turkeys are large and have a big wingspan which can touch the water before their heads which is incredibly painful and distressing.
- Once the turkeys have been slaughtered they are placed in a scalding tank designed to loosen the feathers before plucking. But if a stunning bath isn’t used, many turkeys are killed by having their necks dislocated however research has shown that this does not always have an immediate effect and so they can enter the boiling water alive.
The phrase I hear a lot from meat eaters is that the animals are ‘humanely’ killed.
There is no humane way to kill something that does not want to die.
So this Christmas, would your Christmas experience be any less by changing one element of your tradition? I don’t think it would be, and you’d save a life in the process. And get a warm fuzzy feeling in the process.
If you have any questions about veganism, or Christmas food, feel free to get in touch or leave me a comment below!