How To Have A Vegan Easter
Published on March 18, 2013 by GirlieGirlArmy · 1 Comment
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For the animal-conscious, Easter can seem a little off-putting, what with all the marshmallow monstrosities and the overdoses of ova. But when the kids in your life start begging for every princess-themed egg-dying kit and foil-wrapped hunk of candy they see, there’s no need to barricade yourself in the bedroom with pastel-colored Oreos and dare anyone to open the door until you’ve achieved a sugar-induced coma. Savvy vegan companies have got Easter all wrapped up in a tidy little basket.
Let’s start with the inescapable eggs. Craft companies are offering easy-to-decorate versions that aren’t the product of factory farming in wood, craft foam, and clay. PETA is featuring EggNots, dye-able ceramic eggs that come packaged in a realistic carton, on its website. Of course, I don’t know about you, but when I was a kid doing an Easter-egg hunt at school, I always made a beeline for a certain type of egg: the plastic ones. They held all the candy! Unless things have changed a lot in the past (mumble) years, the plastic egg still reigns supreme.
Vegan Bunny & Eggs, $22-42 @allisonsgourmet.com
To stuff these little plastic treasure troves, there are a wealth of drugstore-variety candies that are vegan, including Airheads, Bottle Caps, Dum Dums, Fun Dip, Jolly Ranchers, Laffy Taffy, Runts, Smarties, Sour Patch Kids, Super Bubble gum, Sweet Tarts, and Twizzlers. And for fun basket-stuffing options, check out some of the cool vegan versions of common Easter fare, such as PETA’s chocolate bunnies, Sweet & Sara’s Veeps (vegan Peeps), Sjaak’s peanut butter eggs, and Allison’s Gourmet’s “Speckles” Chocolate Rice Crisp Bunny.
Sweet & Sara Veeps, $4.95 @sweetandsara.com/
And then there are the pastel Oreos that you’ll no longer be hoarding in the bedroom.
by Michelle Kretzer
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- Coloring Easter Eggs Is Not All It’s Cracked Up To Be Adults in make-believe bunny suits … candy hidden in pastel plastic eggs … baskets overflowing with shiny polymer grass and marshmallow chicks.It's Easter again! And half the fun is the outrageous synthetic vibrancy of the whole spectacle. But for all the holiday's up-beat, day-glow artificiality, part of the secular tradition has very real implications for one of its central icons. I'm talking about chickens because from them comes the egg—spring's central archetype, predating even the Christian tradition, representing the new life and (re)birth observed in nature following the vernal equinox. But forget all that—all kids know is that they just love to dip them, like blank canvasses, into bright dyes, transforming snow-white shells into bursts of color. It's a beloved ritual, and it's fun!
But for hens, it's anything but fun. Let's take a second look at this tradition to make sure we align with the spirit of what we're actually celebrating—and maybe take some minor corrective action (without throwing the baby out with the bathwater).
More than 95% of all eggs sold in the U.S. (hundreds of millions) come from hens who spend their entire lives crammed into tiny, filthy wire cages. Each hen lives her entire life in a cage with up to 10 other hens—each hen has a space the size of a notebook piece of paper where they are unable to spread even one wing. This is their whole existence. Thousands of these cages are piled on top of one another, causing feces and urine to fall down onto the hens below. Because of the intense confinement, hens' beaks (including sensitive cartilage, bone, and tissue) are cut off with a searing-hot blade. Some hens are in so much pain that they are unable to eat afterward, and they eventually die miserably of starvation. Hens frequently suffer from debilitating sores, bruises, and infections, and some get their limbs caught in the wire cages. None receive veterinary care (it's too costly), and so they succumb to a slow death. Decaying bodies of those who've died are left to rot among the living hens in the cage. When hens' bodies are unable to produce more eggs (the industry calls them "spent"), the industry does what is called "forced molting": This is a cruel and extremely inhumane practice in which hens are kept in the dark and given no food for up to 18 days—this shocks their bodies into another laying cycle. More eggs equal more money. By the time they are sent to slaughter, more than a quarter of all hens suffer from broken bones, and nearly all have osteoporosis because of severe calcium loss. However, these are not the only victims of the egg industry. Male chicks who neither lay eggs nor grow fast or big enough to be considered useful for their meat are considered useless and are therefore discarded. An undercover investigation at the largest hatchery in the U.S. showed innocent, confused male chicks being callously thrown alive into grinding machines, where they are dismembered and crushed, or being put into plastic bags to suffocate to death. The egg industry is a horrible business no matter which way you look at it.
For those of you wondering about free-range and cage-free eggs, those labels are not regulated, so most of the time these are just deceptive marketing claims that companies use to sell their products. For example, "cage-free" can mean that the hens are out of cages but still crammed wing to wing in a filthy, dark warehouse, and "access to outdoors" can mean they have access to a 12-inch-by-12-inch hole in the wall that leads to a dirt pen the size of your living room, but the likelihood that more than a handful of the hundreds of hens in the warehouse will ever get out there for more than 10 minutes is very slim. Unless you are personally going to the small farm down the street to pick up your carton of eggs each week (and you have personally seen the hens and their living conditions), it's almost guaranteed that the eggs (and all the products containing eggs) you buy in the supermarket fall into the 95% of eggs obtained from factory-farmed hens. Furthermore, even if you are buying eggs from your neighbor, it still supports the eggs industry and its unethical practices, since all hens likely came from a hatchery, where "useless" male chicks are killed.
Of course, it would be easier to stick to tradition and allow my daughter to color Easter eggs. But knowing what I know about where eggs come from and who suffers the price, it would be irresponsible for me to do this, especially as a parent. I want her to "fit in," but if that means checking her principles at the door, then I don't want her to fit in. As much as I'd love to carry on a tradition and enjoy an activity that I myself once enjoyed, I can't do it in good conscience. I can't put my blinders on and dip eggs with my child pretending that I don't know who was at the other end of that egg and all that they endured.
There is a never-ending supply of fun Easter activities online, even ways to color "eggs" without using eggs from hens. You can actually get more creative, and better yet, you can keep the final product! So break out the markers, paints, stickers, stencils, glue, glitter, beads, and fabric, and have fun with your kids.
Here are a just a few examples of materials that kids can use to make and decorate "eggs":
1) Paper mache: Learn how here.
2) Plaster of Paris
4) Wood: Learn how here.
5) Styrofoam: Learn how here.
6) Fabric: Learn how here.
Traditions are not so much about the actual activity itself, but more about the memories and patterns created from them. They're about comfort and familiarity, and they are usually about spending quality time with loved ones. So our family will skip the tradition of coloring Easter eggs from hens—and in its place, we will find an activity that better mirrors our beliefs and principles. Hopefully our child will look back and remember not that she "missed out" on coloring eggs but that she was lucky to be part of a family that didn't support an industry that was merciless to animals.
HAPPY Easter to all!
Robyn Moore is a writer, Mother, and creator of the NYC Vegetarian and Vegan Families Meetup group. It’s a place for families to gather and exchange ideas, and where veg kids can have fun without having to worry about what they can eat or participate in. It’s a group of families who are choosing to raise their kids humanely, according to the belief that animals are not here for our use, whether it be for our food, products, entertainment, or […]
- Peep! Peep! Easter Marshmallows, Vegan-Style.Easter is on its way, and what do all the healthy girls do when they look longingly at the piles of electric pink and yellow peeps sitting at the counter of their drugstore? Pass on by. But now we can plan in advance and order these amazing hand cut and hand painted marshmallows from Sweet&Sara so we can still get our yummy on, sans grody ingredients! Each bunny, chick and egg is naturally colored with beets/turmeric rather than freakish chemicals... so your kids can eat them without growing gills and they are packaged totally elegantly enough to bring to a dinner party and not feel juvenile.
Marshmallows never tasted this good. Order them now for a special discount. 10% OFF - enter code E10.
Order online here: http://sweetandsara.com
And GirlieGirl Army Members Can Win a package of these sweet treats by leaving a comment below telling us why you want 'em. You must be a GirlieGirl Army Subscriber to enter. If you aren't one and would like to enter, sign up here first, then leave your comment below. The winner will be chosen by the Sweet&Sara Team by March 26th 2010 and will be notified via email and in the comments area […]
- Gourmet Easter ^Bunnies^, Caramel Truffle Eggs, & Chocolate Matzo ToffeeSo excited to stuff these in our faces. Hey, we'll even pretend to celebrate Passover and Ash Wednesday if the gettings are this good!
Bluestocking Bonbons are making these adorable bunnies and divine matzot for the hoildays. Lagusta (the lass behind Bluestockings) tells us; "People who like the matzo toffee go *insane* over it and are subject to fits of being unable to write in anything but caps when it's mentioned." YUM.
It goes without saying that both items (like everything else Lagusta makes) are made from organic, vegan, and fair-trade ingredients. Score.
If you are going the elegant route, Allison's can't be beat.
This adorable egg comes filled with vegan and all-natural candy. Natural Candy Store (online) is a great place to come back regularly for "supplies."
Vegan peeps exist! And they are better than the originals, especially when made (with love) by Sara Sohn. They are 100% gelatin-free, as if you'd want to actually eat a "colorless water-soluble glutinous protein obtained from animal tissues such as bone and skin." Barfing.
Seriously, why would you eat "mainstream" candy made from boob milk, unethically obtained ingredients, animal tissue, and gag-alicious crud when you could eat this stuff? Okay, maybe not everyone can afford the slightly higher price points on these more gourmet options featured above, but you can buy plenty of accidentally vegan candy (albeit not organic or fair-trade) at your local market. See this list for ideas. And always check out the Kosher-for-Passover section of your local supermarket, it's a treasure trove of veganism (without meaning to be!) Just check ingredients. Our last foray to that section hooked us up with a yummy carrot cake mix, dark chocolate covered matzah, and chocolate covered jelly rings.
Or make your own candy!
Hannah Kaminsky (of BitterSweet) made these adorable peepers above. Swipe her recipe here.
If you are fan of chocolate eggs, make these your own damn self for pennies.
Vegan Easter Eggs
* 1 8-oz. package non dairy cream cheese, softened at room temperature
* 3 cups powdered sugar
* 12 oz. vegan chocolate(whatever type you like, melted
* 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
* Decorations - chopped nuts, unsweetened cocoa, toasted flaked coconut, etc.
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