Christmas is upon us, a time for festivity, tinsel, generosity, and joy! Or is it?
We are made to believe that Christmas is a happy time - perhaps it is for some humans - but, for the millions of innocent animals who are murdered needlessly for human greed, Christmas means cruelty.
In the UK and US alone, almost 50 million turkeys are eaten on December 25.
It's a huge number, and it does not include the geese, pigs, chickens, cows, ducks and so many other lives that are taken during this holiday. That number also doesn't consider the fear in every single one of those hearts.
A tradition of horror
People from the West condemn the Chinese Yulin Festival (and rightly so) where thousands of dogs and cats are set on fire, beaten, boiled or skinned alive in the name of culture and tradition.
However, most of those who are against the Yulin 'tradition' ignore the fact that they partake in their own Yulin style 'festival' happening throughout this month: Christmas.
I am lucky to live in a home with all vegans (my mummy, brother, and 10 animal friends), but many vegans have to live in non-vegan households, where their parents, siblings, children or roommates consume animal torture, daily, and may mock the 'only vegan in the village'.
Although I live with plant-based-peeps, our extended family - despite being fully aware of the cruelty - continue to contribute to carnism. They too, like many non-vegans, come up with all the typical excuses against going vegan.
When they do this, I tend to treat the situation like outreach, doing my best to plant as many little seeds in their minds as possible, reminding them of what they' re doing and why I don' t do it.
For some reason, I think it's harder to get my own family to understand than it is with a stranger stopping at The Earthlings Experience.
Christmas brings all the family together, that extended family, the ones we don't always speak to, the ones who have a lot to say with a vegan in their midst.
So, besides the rotting, abused carcass that traditionally sits in the center of the table with all the accompanying plates of death, during the infamous Christmas meal, vegans are often subject to humiliation, relentless questioning, 'jokes' and judgment.
They mock because it's easier than confronting the truth. This 'banter' can come from any members of the family, spurred on by each other's 'hilarious' comments: Uncle Joe who 'loves his meat', Grandma Betty who 'supports her lovely, local butcher', Cousin Adrian who thinks 'plants feel pain too!' - and worse.
Vegan charity PETA reveals the life of turkeys destined for the Christmas table
No tolerance for anti-speciesism
This can feel disheartening, embarrassing and frustrating. The topic of veganism is not carnist entertainment, and no matter how much we try to help our family comprehend the reality, if you're outnumbered, it can be hard to be taken seriously.
But there is a way to shut the defensive haters up and make them listen to you.
In order to show my family (and other non-vegans in my life) that I am serious about veganism, that I will always advocate for animal liberation, and that I will no longer tolerate speciesism, I have taken the Liberation Pledge.
The pledge is a promise to live vegan, a promise to never sit at a table where there are products of animal exploitation, and a promise to encourage others to do the same.
This will demonstrate peacefully but powerfully, that not only do I refuse to sit with animal torture on the table, but I also refuse to sit with the people consuming it.
At any and every instance, we must highlight the wrong that's happening daily and make, especially, the people closest to us aware that we will not participate in or tolerate their cruelty. (The Liberation Pledge website has helpful tips on how to answer questions regarding veganism and the Pledge.)
Veganism is not a joke
As a movement, we need to show that veganism is not a joke. It is necessary. Because, in the grand scheme of things, the discomfort or awkwardness that vegans may feel at family gatherings, is nothing compared to the animals' suffering.
When we keep in mind the victims, we don't feel embarrassed or frustrated, we feel empowered in the knowledge that we are trying to make a difference to the lives of animals, the planet and each other.
Never forget why you are vegan. Don't give up on the animals who need us, and always, always speak up. Remember that a vegan is on the right side of history and a vocal vegan is trying to create a better future.
"Those who have the privilege to know, have the duty to act." - Albert Einstein