ONCE again the festive season is upon us but we might be forgiven for forgetting that all this celebrating comes with a price.

The message of peace and goodwill may extend to all men, but sadly this happy state of affairs does not include the animals.

The stuffed, plumped up version of the turkey served on the dinner plate is probably only 15 weeks old.

Its short life spent in a dingy, dirty, overcrowded shed crammed with crippled birds overdosed with antibiotics and growth hormones to force if to reach slaughter weight as quickly as possible.

The lives of the pigs, raised in their thousands to produce the fatty, juicy pork sausages and sausage meat with which the turkey is so liberally stuffed, fare no better.

These highly intelligent, sociable animals are often raised in isolation for breeding purposes, or in dirty, overcrowded sheds.

There is an alternative. We can choose to buy organic meat from free ranging animals or we can go vegetarian, and settle down to a “Cruelty Free Christmas” conscious of the fact that no animals have suffered to provide our Christmas feast.