As we count down the days to Christmas, we’ll be busy joining festivities with our family and loved ones - hopefully eating delicious food, enjoying many a tipple and, fingers crossed, reuniting with our loved ones from afar.

Christmas is a time of kindness, generosity and joy. We believe this sentiment should be extended non-human animals too.

That is why we’ve outlined some tips on how to enjoy an animal friendly Christmas this year.

Opt for an animal-free meal

Sadly, in Scotland, many animals are still raised on factory farms, in overcrowded barren barns of cages for their entire lives. They are deprived of fresh air, daylight and opportunities for enrichment. An estimated 73% of farmed animals in the UK are raised on factory farms.

One of the most powerful things you can do to boycott animal cruelty in the intensive farming industry to stop buying their products. There are so many vegan alternative roasts available in supermarkets or at local independent businesses (a special mention to our local Edinburgh favourite - FacePlant Food– who offer everything from a roast to a full Christmas dinner!). Even vegan pigs in blankets, stuffing and Christmas desserts are commonplace in supermarkets now.

Or why not get creative in the kitchen with your family and make your own vegan main? From a mushroom and ale vegan pie, to a vegetable lentil loaf, there are so many tasty options.

Gift animal-free fashion

When shopping for gifts this year, make sure to double check that fur and leather products are faux! The UK Governments are currently considering including tighter restrictions, or even a full ban, on the import of fur into the UK, but it is still currently legal for retailers to sell fur.

To be even more animal friendly, and environmentally conscious, why not visit your local charity and vintage shops and pick up a second-hand bargain? Fast fashion is a huge environmental problem and buying second-hand, or from truly sustainable businesses, to gift your loved ones is a great way to spread the message.

Celebrate festivities at displays that don’t exploit animals

Sadly, a variety of individuals and companies offer animal experiences in Scotland which compromise the welfare of the animals involved. During the festive season, these include reindeer appearing in venues such as shopping centres, theme parks and local high streets, loud and busy ‘experience’ evenings at zoos, and bird of prey exhibits.

These animals are forced into unnatural environments that are a far cry from their natural habitats for days or weeks on end. They will likely be exposed to bright lights, noisy environments, music and busy crowds.

Not only can exhibiting animals for festive celebrations cause them great physical and mental suffering, but it also suggests that animals are not sentient beings, but rather are Christmas props to be used for our entertainment. To ensure an animal-friendly Christmas, please avoid any events or displays using live animals and choose to celebrate and shop at those venues that aren’t using live animals!

Check in with your companion animals

Christmas can be a very busy, exciting and noisy time! Remember to check in to see how your dog is coping with the change of routine and environment.

Some dogs may be happy to see lots of faces and have new experiences, others may be over-stimulated and overwhelmed. Pay attention to your dog’s behaviour and signals, and adapt any situations which may not be positive for them.

We’d also recommend creating a designated safe space in your home for your dog to retreat to when they are finished socialising and need a wee bit of solitary quiet time. And remember to keep chocolate out of reach!

Avoid firework displays

The noise of fireworks can be a real source of fear and distress for companion, wild and farmed animals. Firework displays on private properties are particularly stressful, as people in neighbouring houses are unlikely to be given enough notice to put preventative measures in place to try and reduce their animal’s distress.

Instead of supporting firework displays, why not join firefighters at Pocklington Fire Station in using the money that would be spent on buying fireworks or travelling to displays to support local animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres by buying a couple of cans of food? Our local animal rescue heroes need more help than ever right now!

Christmas gifts
We wish you and your loved ones, a very merry, animal-friendly Christmas!