Christmas: A time for being with family and friends, enjoying good wine, good food, and (of course) wonderfully rubbish Christmas telly. For many of us, it’s also a time to think about the reason why we’re celebrating – the arrival of baby Jesus, Immanuel (‘God with us’). At Christmas, we remember the wonderful message of peace, hope and love that God brought to us in Jesus.
That message stays with us as we go about our festivities, and should hopefully make us think about the ways in which we can reach out to those around us, and also about how we personally can become part of this message of peace.
People are becoming increasingly aware that switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet is one of the ways in which we can have less impact on our environment and also reduce animal suffering (not to mention coming to the realisation that the food can taste pretty incredible too!). I've been a very blessed vegan of late, getting invited to a completely vegetarian Thanksgiving (my first ever Thanksgiving, being a Brit!), having a vegan christmas meal at the wonderful Warehouse Cafe in Birmingham (run by Friends of the Earth), and then another one at Mildreds in London.
The Warehouse Cafe, Birmingham.
The food at both of these restaurants was absolutely fantastic, but I have to say that Mildreds topped it for me because they sold a good selection of organic vegan wine and beer, and being able to pick wine from a menu in the knowledge that no animals were harmed in the making of it made a nice change! Still, to The Warehouse Cafe's credit, you're allowed to bring your own wine and no corkage is charged, so it's a good place to go if you're looking to save some pennies! As I said, the food at both of these veggie restaurants was fantastic, so do take your meat-eating friends along for a change of scene (my friend said her meal was, and I quote, 'better than the steak [she] had last night)', so there's no excuse to all go to a standard restaurant...
What surprised me most is that both of these places were packed and full of all sorts of people, of all ages. It's simply lovely to overhear someone ask 'Is this vegan?' when an extra dip is put down next to them. It sounds so trvial saying that now, but it's undeniably reenergising realising that you're not alone in your attention to this issue, and gives you fuel to keep pressing forward in the knowledge that lots of other people are by your side. As the tagline of my blog says, I genuinely do feel that food is yummier when it's in sync with what we believe, and it's lovely to share this fellowship with others.
Last week I hosted a little mince pie and mulled wine night, and thought I'd share my vegan discoveries with you: I found some gorgeous vegan mince pies at Waitrose, and vegan mulled wine from Marks and Spencers. (I also got some dairy free fudge from Waitrose, and it was delicious; I would never know the difference!)
Although I know that veganism is my personal choice (and one that I'm very fortunate to be able to make, since I live in a wealthy country where a vast choice of food is readily available), something really does jar with me when I think about the fact that during a lot of people's celebrations they'll be eating animals that have suffered for all of their lives. It just seems to contradict the very thing that christmas represents: Hope, love, freedom, and compassion. I spoke to a Christian I met during a train journey on Sunday, and he mentioned how we often separate the spiritual and the physical, and I've been thinking about this since.
Why is it that we consider some things in the realm of the spiritual, but other things purely physical, and just 'the way things are'? It's of great significance that, in the birth of Jesus, God became flesh. I think that much can be gained from combining these two elements, since what we do, eat and wear can link into the spiritual, can be a testament of our faith, and can help us feel more connected to God and those around us. We can make choices in this physical world that can help us grow spiritually.
At this time of year, it can perhaps seem a little harder than usual to stick to our vegan guns when there are so many tasty non-vegan treats about, but I feel that this season of peace and good will to all men entails thinking also about God's wonderful creation, and our capacity for compassion towards it.
I for one will enjoy my Turkey-friendly christmas dinner and will raise my glass of champers (vegan, obviously!) to the hope of more peace and light coming into the world during 2010, and for me, this hope encompasses all of creation (remember, God's eye is even on the sparrows!)
Before signing off, I have to post this wonderful cartoon by Naked Pastor (Link to your right in the blogs section).
It was actually created in reference to Thanksgiving, but I thought it was equally apt for this christmas post...If I ever get the animal sanctuary farm (attached to the vegan restaurant and christian bookstore) of my dreams, then I'm definitely going to adopt a Turkey. They are so creatively ugly that they are wonderfully beautiful!
Link to this particular cartoon here:
Also, if you fancy doing some reading over christmas, I read an interesting discussion on another blog by a fellow christian vegan. The post and the discussion that follows is worth a look.
And here's another (recent) Christmas cartoon on Naked Pastor that you might like:
So many of us are frustrated with the fact that this issue is off the radar for most christians...How do we best go about raising awareness of this in the christian community? Get thinking whilst you're supping you're mulled wine!
Anyway, MERRY CHRISTMAS to you all. I hope Santa brings you vegan treats and that many a vegan glass of champagne finds its way to you.