As the author of Santa’s First Vegan Christmas, I am probably revealing no surprises when I say that two of my favorite things in the world are veganism and Christmas! With my passion for celebrating the holidays vegan-style, I couldn’t help but notice certain holiday movies that inspire, enlighten, or simply entertain, and also happen to include ethical lessons that are sure to resonate with vegans. So grab a cup of soy nog and put these holiday flicks on your list of things to enjoy this month with friends and family.
1. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
In this adaptation of the beloved Clement Clarke Moore poem of the same name, a family of mice face a dilemma during the holidays: the father and son conflict between Father Mouse and his son Albert could threaten to shut down Christmas for all the mice in town. Ultimately, skeptical Albert risks offending Santa Claus and alienating the entire town for what he feels is right, only to discover that sometimes the right thing to do can be different than what we first believe. Although ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas doesn’t have a specific vegan message, the family of mice is concerned about ethics. Also, personification aside, the story of the mice and how they lived always made me contemplate the lives of real-life mice when I was a child. The film will inspire other children to think about compassion, which can be felt even for the troublemaker character of Albert.
2. Pieces of April
Katie Holmes plays the vegetarian title character in Pieces of April. Although the film revolves around April making a non-vegetarian meal for her family at Thanksgiving, that alone is sure to remind many vegans of their own family gatherings wherein vegetarians and non-vegetarians must co-exist around the holiday table. There is also a scene in the film in which the vegan character of Tish discusses how she never eats anything with a face and despairs of turkeys being eaten when they were “once a living, breathing soul.”
3. Riding in Cars with Boys
As Riding in Cars with Boys opens, the main character Beverly is a little girl who is enjoying Christmastime with her family. Relatives sing Dominick the Donkey with the enthusiasm of a spiritually moved Christmas choir as stockings are hung by the chimney with care. However, Beverly has kissing boys on her mind … even as a very young girl. In a hilarious scene, she even asks her dad for a bra for Christmas. Star Drew Barrymore has spoken up regarding animal-rights in the past, and long-time vegan Sara Gilbert has a supporting role. Other than that, I appreciate the fact that Beverly takes on life on her own terms despite some mistakes she made as a teenager, while staying true to herself despite great adversity.
4. A Very Brady Christmas
When it first aired in 1998, A Very Brady Christmas was the highest-rated film of the year for CBS. As a sequel film to the beloved series The Brady Bunch, the made-for-television movie brings back all its main stars (except for Susan Olsen). Other stand-out cast members include Jerry Houser and Caryn Richman, who has long been an advocate for animal rescue. A Very Brady Christmas ties complex storylines with each character in a large extended family, and yet it takes a dramatic turn when ethical architect Mike Brady leaves suddenly on Christmas to rescue workers for a client who has refused to heed his safety advice. From laughing along when the family sneaks around to eat pie (the scene never fails to make me want some vegan pumpkin pie!) to thinking seriously in scenes of ethical consideration, you might decide to make it one of your holiday traditions. The film is available on DVD in the shag carpet edition of The Brady Bunch box set, or you can stream the film for free on Xfinity and Hulu.
Who doesn’t love vegan actor James Cromwell? He has enjoyed such a diverse career and is such a lovable guy. In Babe, he plays Arthur Hoggett, and Cromwell credits this movie as inspiring his transition from vegetarianism to veganism. Babe tells the story of a pig named Babe. Horrifically, he is almost chosen to be the family’s Christmas dinner, and it really brings to light how awful the practice of taking the life of a sentient being is. Babe is an endearing, spirited character and proves himself as useful when he alerts the Hoggett family to problems on Christmas Day. This movie will make people think about animals and how they are used in society. The feel-good part of the film is in the sensitive portrayal of the desires of non-human animals as not so different from our own.
Robin Raven is the author of Santa’s First Vegan Christmas.