10 ways to help the animals this holiday season

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      Every December, many people turn their attention to helping the homeless and hungry people they ignore the rest of the year.

      However, it’s not just our fellow humans who could use our support. Many animals—of the nonhuman variety—are vulnerable and suffering, and could benefit from our assistance at this time of year.

      Here’s 10 ways that you can help the animals this holiday season.


      1. Sponsor a rescued animal

      Hearts on Noses pig sanctuary.
      Hearts on Noses

      Taking care of all those abandoned and neglected animals costs sanctuaries money that’s often in short supply. At Mission’s Hearts on Noses sanctuary, you can sponsor a pig for $25 a month.


      2. Buy cruelty-free presents

      Vegetarian Shoes at Nice Shoes.
      Stephen Hui

      Gift ideas include non-leather shoes, wool-free sweaters, and plant-based cosmetics that haven’t been animal tested. Vancouver’s Nice Shoes stocks footwear, Bambii Clothing designs streetwear, and Whistler Naturals has skin-care products that fit the bill.


      3. Skip the turkey at Christmas dinner

      Vegan Christmas dinner.
      Stephen Hui

      Your dinner centrepiece doesn’t have to be a carcass. Try Field Roast’s hazelnut cranberry roast en croute, Tofurky’s vegetarian feast, or Gardein’s holiday roast for a delicious change. Or, buy a copy of What to Feed That Effing Vegan: The Holiday Edition, the latest e-cookbook from The Vegan Project, and make a veggie-lentil loaf.


      4. Volunteer at an animal sanctuary

      Charlie, a chicken at SAINTS.
      Alissa Raye

      It’s a lot of work to provide sanctuary to dozens—or even hundreds—of animals. In B.C.’s Lower Mainland, the Senior Animals in Need Today Society, Greyhaven Exotic Bird Sanctuary, and Richmond Animal Protection Society are always looking for volunteers (and donations).


      5. Give someone a vegan cookbook

      Vegan cookbooks.
      Stephen Hui

      The best way to help animals is to not eat them or products derived from them. Having a solid collection of vegan cookbooks at home can help in this regard. Titles by Vancouver-area authors include Carla Kelly’s Quick and Easy Vegan Slow Cooking, Dreena Burton’s Let Them Eat Vegan!, and Vesanto Melina’s Cooking Vegetarian.


      6. Donate to an animal welfare group

      Vancouver Humane Society bus ad.
      Vancouver Humane Society

      Animal-welfare organizations such as the Vancouver Humane Society and B.C. SPCA work tirelessly to reduce the suffering of animals. Both charities accept donations of money and securities. Meanwhile, advocacy groups such as Liberation B.C., Mercy for Animals Canada, and the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals can’t issue tax receipts for donations, but their work is vital to the cause.


      7. Eat at a vegan restaurant

      Collard roll-ups at Indigo Food Café.
      Stephen Hui

      Fully vegan eateries, by definition, don’t serve animal products. Vancouver is home to several of these joints, including Eternal Abundance, Gorilla Food, Graze, Indigo Food Café, Panz Veggie Restaurant, and Vegan Pizza House. There’s also Paradise Vegetarian Noodle House in Burnaby and Chomp Vegan Eatery in Port Moody.


      8. Don’t use animals as gifts

      Bunny at Rabbitats.

      Unwanted pets often end up being abandoned or neglected, and this keeps organizations like Rabbitats and the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association busy. However, if you’re serious about taking on a new family member, adopting an animal may be right for you.


      9. Leave vegan cookies and plant milk for Santa

      Vegan mini chip butter crisp cookies.
      Stephen Hui

      Surely, Santa Claus would appreciate something different than the usual plate of chocolate-chip cookies and glass of cow’s milk. Vancouver bakeries Edible Flours and Fairy Cakes both make excellent vegan cookies. If you’re no fan of soy milk, give almond, flax, hemp, oat, rice, or sunflower milk a try.


      10. Make Meatless Monday a New Year’s resolution

      Vegetarian spring roll vermicelli at Three Jewels.
      Stephen Hui

      Every Monday, people around the world go meatless for animals, health, and the environment. Earthsave Canada’s Metro Vancouver Veg Directory can help you find a place to eat. If you’re already observing Meatless Monday, how about going vegan or vegetarian?


      How else can we help the animals this holiday season? Please let us know in the comments!



      Help O.W.L - Vancouver Orphaned Wildlife Association!

      Dec 5, 2013 at 12:24pm

      These people are the best!

      They are volunteer driven for the most part and help all the injured and sick birds of prey (owls, eagles, falcons, etc...).


      You can even go to their location and see some of these awesome birds! Live! In Delta (Boundary Bay)! Yes you!



      "The Orphaned Wildlife Rehabilitation Society is a non-profit organization whose volunteers are dedicated to public education and the rehabilitation and release of injured and orphaned birds. OWL became a Society in January 1985. (Registration No. S-19879.) OWL is licensed through Fish and Wildlife."

      "OWL’s primary goal is to rehabilitate and release sick, injured, and orphaned birds of prey. However, there are some rare cases where a bird suffers permanent injury and can not survive in the while and seem to adjust well to human contact. These birds remain at OWL as a permanent resident and become an Education Bird. These birds are used as “ambassadors” to their species, helping educate the public about birds of prey and environmental conservation."

      (No, I do not work or volunteer for OWL. I just learned how absolutely amazing they are... GO OWL!)

      Hoot Hoot!


      Dec 6, 2013 at 3:36am

      Great tips!

      Laina Purcell

      Dec 13, 2013 at 11:22am

      Here is another local Association that could really use our help: http://www.orphankittenrescue.com/about_us

      Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue Association (VOKRA) is a no-kill, non-profit, registered charity dedicated to the rescue of cats in the Lower Mainland. We also coordinate rescue work with other groups in BC.
      VOKRA does not have a shelter. Instead, we provide over 100 individual foster homes throughout the Lower Mainland. In this way we are able to protect the very young from colds, distemper, parasites and other transmissible illnesses. In a home environment, our cats are safe and well socialized, with lots of love and attention. VOKRA covers all of the costs and provides ongoing support to foster families.


      Dec 14, 2013 at 12:14am

      I am either slow or stoned or both.

      I genuinely thought this might be gift ideas for people with pets.


      (Ya...nothing says Holidays like Mom's veggie-lentil loaf)