British stars Leona Lewis, Ricky Gervais and Joanna Lumley have joined Humane Society International/UK in urging people to celebrate an animal-friendly Christmas and Holiday Season.

The celebrities are supporting HSI’s “Cruelty-Free Christmas Pledge,” and join HSI in suggesting a range of festive and animal-friendly options, from having a veggie Christmas lunch to refusing to buy animals as gifts.

“Christmas and the holidays should be a time for celebrating peace and compassion, but sadly that’s not the case for so many animals who suffer unnecessarily for the festive season,” says Leona Lewis. “It breaks my heart that millions of turkeys will be killed for the table, beautiful fur-bearing creatures will be skinned in the name of fashion and hundreds of puppies, kittens, rabbits, hamsters and others will end up abandoned as unwanted presents. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Join me in taking HSI/UK’s Cruelty-Free Christmas Pledge and show our animal friends you care.”

Take the HSI Cruelty-Free Christmas Pledge and:

  • Save a turkey by having a delicious vegetarian celebration meal. Nearly 16 million turkeys are killed each year in the UK — around 10 million during Christmas alone. There are plenty of veggie turkey-style roasts available from supermarkets and health-food stores, or try a Meatless Mondays recipe.
  • Avoid animal testing by buying cruelty-free cosmetic and perfume gifts approved by the international Leaping Bunny scheme.
  • Don’t buy fur. More than 50 million animals each year suffer and are killed for their fur, either on factory farms or in steel traps in the wild. Animal fur is commonly unlabelled or misrepresented. If you’re not sure whether it’s real or fake, don’t buy it.
  • Don’t buy animals as gifts. A pet is a long-term responsibility and shouldn’t be bought on impulse. Hundreds of animals are abandoned after Christmas as unwanted gifts. If you or your family still want a pet after Christmas, visit your local rescue shelter and give a homeless animal a home.
  • Give a humane gift that saves animals from abuse or neglect. Humane Society International offers unique on-line humane gifts that help HSI front-line animal rescue, relief and campaigning.

“Animal cruelty doesn’t really make the ideal Christmas gift,” says Ricky Gervais. “It seems so absurd to me that someone might think they’re treating a loved one to a bit of luxury by buying them real fur. Actually they’re buying them what’s left of an animal that’s been caged its whole life and then killed by gassing or electrocution. How luxurious is that? It’s the same with perfume if you don’t check that it’s cruelty-free you could be buying a product that’s been dripped in a rabbit’s eyes until they’re weeping sores. It hardly says Happy Christmas to me. So the solution is simple, just think before you buy something – has an animal had to die a horrible death for this? If it has, choose something else.”

HSI/UK promotes a policy of “eating with conscience” by embracing the “Three R’s” – reducing the consumption of animal-based foods, refining our diets by consuming animal products from suppliers who adhere to standards that reduce animal abuse, and replacing meat and animal products with plant-based foods.

“At Christmas time it makes me feel happier to think that no creature has suffered just so that I can celebrate: so I shall be going for a delicious vegetarian option,” says Joanna Lumley. “If you eat meat, and can afford to, do think of buying free-range or organic; but just this once why not be a bit daring, and dance under the stars with a cruelty-free plate of fabulous vegetables, stuffings, pies and sauces. Happy Christmas, everyone… and that message is for the birds and beasts as well, who share our planet and the life we all live.”

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