12/24/2014 10:44 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Why Having a Happy Vegan Holiday Matters

I love this time of the year because, to me, the holidays really emphasize how important it is to be kind to one another. With every email that ends "Have a Happy Holiday!" I'm reminded that during the rest of the year we often let the busy-ness of our lives overtake our sense of humanity and kindness.

At the end of the year we change: Charities report higher donations, we remember the family member or friend we haven't spoken to all year, and we take the time to smile at strangers. This year I would like us to consider extending that kindness to all creatures -- those we share our couches with and those we share the planet with -- and to make some decisions that may help our planet be a little more green for generations to come.

Using the word "vegan" doesn't mean pulling out your Grateful Dead shirt from decades ago or growing your own soybeans. Using the word vegan means considering your food and your lifestyle options and looking for the kindest choices. Vegan means being kind, and if vegan means being kind you can see why thinking vegan during the holidays is even more important.

Where to start?

Food is our first consideration when we want to make kinder choices. There are so many easy ways to substitute plant-based ingredients for animal ones that finding tasty alternatives to your favorite holiday treats has never been easier!

A few ideas:

Love your baked goods?

One of the easiest and most healthy substitutes you can make is to use flaxseed in place of eggs. Vegan Baking has a great article on why flax makes a dynamic egg alternative and how to use it.


By choosing flax, you are making a kinder choice for the planet. Industrial egg farming burdens the planet. You are also extending kindness to others including the highly-sociable chicken who spends her life crammed into a tiny cage. But as importantly, you are also making a healthier choice for yourself as flax seed is considered by some to be one of the most powerful plant foods on the planet, helping reduce the risk of stroke, cancer and diabetes.

Love chocolate?

Go dark! Let the cows hang on to their milk for their babies and do yourself a heart healthy turn by getting your chocolate fix on with dark chocolate. 2014-12-10-darkchoco.jpg

Where else might you make a kinder decision? In your own DIY arts and crafts box.

Did you know that some felts are still made with wool? There is nothing kind about wool. In the old days farmers would pluck any extra wool from their sheep during the molting season. With the invention of shears, sheep farms have become over-crowded camps of animals modified to produce more wool. The real version of those cute little cotton ball sheep we used to make out of toilet paper rolls are now exposed to painful mulesing. Why not wool-free holiday decorations!? How about felt stockings made out of 100 percent post-consumer recycled and BPA-free plastic bottles? I'll bet you'll find plenty of candy canes to put in these re-used water bottles!


And remember to extend kindness to your own furry friends!

One of the easiest decisions you can make and show Mittens that you want the planet to be around forever is to shower her with gifts made from recycled materials.


Old socks make great cat toys, as Melissa Boyle shows us in her ETSY store, Marvelous Melissa .

And Molly Mutt has done a terrific design job of making cotton bed covers we can fill with our old T-shirts to create the most comfortable bed a feline or canine friend could want.

Having a happy vegan holiday doesn't mean eating raw carrots and juicing kale. Having a happy vegan holiday means extending the kindness we feel for each other during this season to all living creatures as well as the planet earth, ensuring that future generations will enjoy their own happy holidays for many more years to come!