When it comes to iconically amiable characters, Santa basically tops the list. After all, he’s dedicated his life to making kids happy.
But if Santa’s so kind and compassionate, what’s he doing drinking cow’s milk and exploiting reindeer? That’s the question that led writer Robin Raven to envision an entirely new image for everyone’s favorite Christmas Eve hero.
“While watching a lot of holiday movies and looking at a lot of Christmas art, I noticed that there was this casual violence within the Santa world that was accepted without question,” she tells Latest Vegan News. “For example, in many old depictions of Santa, he is carrying a whip, and art shows it mid-air about to strike the reindeer!”
So, Raven channelled her idea into a children’s book: Santa’s First Vegan Christmas. In it, a new reindeer, Dana, stands up to Santa and opens his eyes to the plight of non-human animals.
“I was taken aback by the casual violence in holiday tales that goes unaddressed by otherwise kind-hearted heroes. It made me think of how often animals are treated cruelly in real life without anyone taking notice. It also reminded me of instances in my own life where I’ve encountered injustice, and the character of Dana was born,” she explains.
Raven’s words are paired with whimsical art by illustrator Kara Maria Schunk.
The book is now available via Amazon, and so far the reviews are rave. Raven hopes it helps people rethink traditional models. “I was so touched when someone told me it would now be a Christmas Eve tradition to read it with their family,” she says. “That’s the dream. In terms of how it affects people, I hope it encourages them to think about how ‘what is isn’t always right’… It presents a new meaning to Santa’s kindness, which extends to all animals as well as all people.”
So, to cater to Santa’s newfound compassion, what should families leave out for him? “Vegan cookies and chilled almond milk,” suggests Raven. “Also a copy of Santa‘s First Vegan Christmas.”