I’ve never understood why we celebrate the birth of Christ with a leg of ham. Wasn’t he Jewish? His mum was Jewish, so even though Jesus was to go on to become the CEO for the Christian church, he wasn’t a ham man. I like ham. Just not a whole leg. The idea of having to remove everything on the top shelf of my fridge to house the leg of a dead animal for a few weeks makes me feel a bit queasy.
What’s happening to me? Have the vegans won? With two out of five of my kids vegetarian and the other two vegan, the whole turkey-ham-fest of Xmas is just a waste of flesh. No barn animal needs to die for our baby Jesus. (We’re not really Jesus people, but we do like the public holidays.)
This year I’m going to attempt a Vegan Christmas. Maybe I’ll stuff an eggplant with…eggplant. A bowl of nuts and a green salad and you have a vegan Jesus situation. Fortunately some wine is vegan. I feel like the vegan theme kind of fits with the whole Virgin birth scenario – I mean Mary wasn’t into meat either… It’s not just the mindless consumption of cold meats that I am questioning – it’s the mindless consumption of everything.
It seems ironic that we celebrate the religious significance of a humble birth with a corporate Chistmas orgy of eating and gifting. We gift each other with shitty unwanted products mass-manufactured overseas by factory workers on $2 an hour, or T-shirts made by third-world children for our first-world children. Now isn’t that the spirit of Christmas!? The exploitation of the world’s most disenfranchised. But hey – their suffering is good for our economic growth! Can you smell the third-world poverty? It’s the toxic reek of new plastic. The suicidal stench of your new iPhone. I am not buying-in this year.
I think a vegan Xmas has to go the whole hog (please pardon my meat-based metaphor – it’s just hard to find a vegan vocab alternative. I could go the whole capsicum… easier to change our diets first I guess, and then language will follow). So, I’m going for a fair trade Xmas; and that means nothing will be purchased from a department store. I won’t be snapping up any blood-tinged bargains from the clothing factories of Bangladesh. Every purchase I make will be conscious of where the item has come from, what resources were used, who made it, and how they were paid. That’s why I have to start now. If you want to make change you have to be a slow consumer. You have to do your research. You have to read labels. You also have to consider the need for your consumption, and the environmental cost across the entire journey of the item. It’s so exhausting being conscious!
But you can’t hear Greta’s call-to-arms and go back to Kmart. Even for the Santa photo. I mean where was that middle-aged man sourced? What’s his beard made from? We need to start using real old fat men with real white beards. Where possible, all purchases should be sourced and/or created locally. And what I buy shouldn’t be meaningless. It should have meaning, and be something the recipient is actually going to use. I have many adult daughters – they all have very active uteruses. Christmas is ostensibly about the ‘fruit of thy womb Jesus’ – so I’m thinking of menstrual cups. After some Ecosia’ing (the tree-planting alternative to Google), I found a company that makes them here in Australia! Eco-friendly, medical grade silicone. I can’t wait to see their faces!
There’s local market stalls. There’s ceramics and jewellery made by local artisans. And there’s the op shop. When you limit your consumption to eco-friendly locally produced, or fair trade products, it makes you a lot more mindful about what you buy. And what you wrap it in. Generally Xmas morning in our house is a three garbage bag ordeal of collecting discarded boxes, excess packaging and piles of cheap coloured paper. This year we’ll be wrapping gifts in banana leaves, brown paper and string. Or maybe the felt I’ve made from the hair I pull from the plughole in the shower – all my girls have long hair. So do I. It’s a naturally occurring renewable resource. So if Mandy Nolan is going to attempt a socially conscious fair trade vegan Xmas – why don’t you? If we all did it we’d make a significant impact and send a message that the corporate growth machine needs to be derailed.
If I pull this off it will be a miracle. Perhaps if I’m very very good I’ll get a halo for Xmas and you can all address me by my new title ‘The Vegan Mandy’.