CHRISTMAS is a time for love and laughter, celebration and indulgence, good food and fine wine. It's also a time for compassion - and what better way to show it than by making your feast vegetarian.

Every year, around 30 million turkeys are slaughtered for food - around a third of them for Christmas. Wild turkeys are graceful and intelligent birds which fly up to 50mph and live up to ten years. Turkeys reared for meat die some time eight and 26 weeks old. These birds can barely walk, let alone fly.

Viva!, the national campaign group, has filmed inside turkey units across the UK. The undercover footage shows injured, diseased, dying and dead birds, and the overcrowded and noisy conditions they live in. Mutilated beaks can be seen on nearly every bird. Many are covered in blood and injuries and cannot walk.

When they reach the abattoir, turkeys are hung upside down before being moved down the line to slaughter. About 80 per cent of them receive painful electric shocks from the water bath that is supposed to stun them.

Don't let anyone tell you that missing out meat means misery - it doesn't. Supermarkets are increasing their selection of veggie/vegan products to meet the growing demand. Also check out your local health food shop.

For a list of veggie Christmas treats and where to find them visit You can also download Viva!'s Christmas Celebration Feast leaflet with recipes for starters, main courses and side dishes -so gloriously self-indulgent and mouthwatering that you won't have to worry about leftovers!

Alternatively, phone Viva! on: 0117 944 1000, or write to Viva!, 8 York Court, Wilder Street, Bristol BS2 8QH.

Toni Vernelli, campaigns manager.