What Is ‘Nochebuena’? Vegan Tips for a Compassionate Christmas Eve

Published by PETA.

The holidays are possibly the best time of the year, with gifts, friends and family, parties, and lots of food! But tradition is no excuse to serve the flesh of a dead animal who was capable of feeling love, joy, and fear. This year for Nochebuena, a Christmas Eve holiday celebrated in the Latine community, PETA is urging families around the world to celebrate with a vegan feast. With plenty of delicious vegan ham brands to enjoy, it’s easy to spare pigs during the holidays (and long afterward).

What Happens to Pigs Used for Food?

From the moment they’re born to the day they’re killed, pigs raised for food are surrounded by blood, dirt, terror, disease, and death.

Workers on farms sexually assault and artificially inseminate female pigs throughout their lives. Mother pigs are confined during most of their pregnancies to gestation crates, which can be as small as 2 feet wide. This space is too narrow for them to turn around or even lie down comfortably.

Farmers separate piglets from their mothers when they’re less than a month old. The tails of these defenseless babies—devoid of protection, exposed to terrifying sounds and smells, and violently mistreated by farmers—are often docked (i.e., cut). Workers sometimes use pliers to cut off the tips of piglets’ teeth or pieces of their ears, without administering any painkillers.

piglet on farm has tail cut off© Andrew Skowron / We Animals Media

In slaughterhouses, workers hang pigs upside down, submerge them in vats of boiling water to remove their hair, and then stab them in the throat, often while they’re still conscious.

pigs slaughtered for nochebuena © Aitor Garmendia / Tras los Muros

All this happens while other animals stand in a line, watching in horror and waiting, hopelessly, for their own painful death.

How Many Pigs Die Each Year?

An estimated 121 million pigs are killed for food each year in the U.S. alone.

Who Are Pigs? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Eat Them During Nochebuena

Pigs are playful, friendly, sensitive, and intelligent animals. Much like humans, they are soothed by music, love playing ball, and even enjoy getting massages. If given the choice, pigs would spend their days foraging, playing, and lying in the sun.

two piglets snuggling on grass

Here are some delicious vegan lechón (roasted ham) options for Nochebuena:

Check out prepared items from vegan butcher shops, which are on the rise:

Why Should You Go Vegan This Holiday Season?

Many New Year’s resolutions include eating better, getting healthier, and doing more to make the world a kinder place. The good news is that you can accomplish all these goals by going vegan—and you’ll enjoy delicious, satisfying meals as well. But there’s more good news: Going vegan means you could save nearly 200 animals per year.

So what are you waiting for?

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind