While planning your special lunch for Christmas Day, why not spare a moment to think what the poor turkey will go through, and consider a vegetarian alternative?

Seventeen million turkeys are reared annually for meat in the UK, the majority of them in such overcrowded conditions that proper inspection, to ensure their welfare, is impossible.

There is no specific legislation to protect the welfare of farmed turkeys and serious abuses continue to occur. The average Christmas turkey will have had a miserable life.They are frequently tightly packed together in the dimly-lit sheds. At slaughter, "spent" breeding males may legally be hung in shackles for up to three minutes (fully conscious), despite the fact that many weigh as much as a ten-year-old child, and many suffer from extremely painful hip injuries.

For me, Christmas is about family, rest, and goodwill to all beings. It won't ruin Christmas to skip the turkey. In fact, Going veggie on 25th December will help reduce the appalling suffering of turkeys and would best demonstrate the true spirit of Christmas.

Coun Paul Blanchard, Chaucer Lane, York.