It’s almost time for Easter! Are you prepared?
What does that mean for us vegans… lots of indulgent chocolate of course! But Easter isn’t just about the edibles. There’s plenty of things to do that are cruelty-free and fun too. Every year, I see many posts about vegan Easter eggs (and you can see my own round-up of the best Easter treats here) but what about the rest of the festivities?
I’ve put together a simple vegan guide to Easter… including activities that may not be as animal-friendly as you think, alternative things to do, and meal ideas. Enjoy!
Common Easter Activities
First of all, let’s get the nasties out of the way. There are a few common Easter activities that seem harmless at first sight, but may not be in line with our ethics or veganism.
- Bottle-feeding lambs – this is a hugely popular Easter activity. Families head along to a farm and the children get to feed bottled milk to lambs. It all seems very cute initially. But it greatly contradicts vegan values in three ways. Firstly, these activities are usually done on working farms, where animals are used for profit (usually meat or breeding). The lambs are not kept there forever, allowed to grow happily into old age. Where would be the money in that? Secondly, these lambs are eventually killed for meat, when they are still babies. That sweet baby we’re feeding will be dead within a month. Do us or our children really agree with that? Thirdly, we are bottle-feeding them for our own entertainment… and paying for the privilege! This causes them stress. Wouldn’t they much rather be having their mothers milk directly from the source, as nature intended? If you’d like to find out more about lambing, check out VIVA’s fact sheet. By supporting these farms and lambing, we are supporting the exploitation of animals.
- Hatching chicks – many schools take part in hatching projects, where eggs are hatched in an incubator. The children handle the chicks, and learn about them. While it may be seen as educational, it is very distressing and confusing for the chicks, who have literally just been born. There are also far better ways of educating children about the subject – visits to sanctuaries, videos and roleplay for example. What’s more, schools often pay the supplying farm for the privilege of this experience, ploughing money back into the egg and poultry industry. The chicks are also usually returned back to the originating farm, where their fate is gruesome. Whether this is done at school, home or elsewhere, the ethics involved are questionable. Incubated chicks have a much higher chance of deformity. In nature, they would be hatched by their mother, and raised for some time in the family. Most chicks never get to see their mother. They are then either killed at the farm (male chicks have little value to farmers), raised as egg-layers or for meat. Either way, these animals never stand a chance at a healthy, happy life. Animal Aid have a great leaflet with further detail.
- Buying bunnies – the number of rabbits purchased at this time of year is crazy! Well-intentioned parents wanting to please their children, or give a special gift. But people forget that rabbits are a 10-year commitment. They need space to run around the home, and just like any other animal companion, should be treated as part of the family, not something to be locked in a cage and just brought out for cuddles. Bunnies need a litter box, they like to chew on things, and they need playtime. They often kick and scratch when scared, so are not ideal for small children. Once people find out these facts, the poor pets are often given away. Sometimes, they’re even released into the wild! Many discarded rabbits end up as product-testing subjects or euthanised if not re-homed. Make sure your toiletries are cruelty-free to minimise demand for these products.
- Family meals – as vegans, we’ve all had to endure big family get-togethers with a huge roasted bird (or animal parts of some kind) on the table. For some of us, the smells and sights are enough to put us off our own food. Does anyone else find they can smell meat and dairy a mile off now? There are really two options in these circumstances – the first is to attend, but take the most delicious food you can think of, and offer it around! You may find others at the table wishing they had the vegan options instead. At the very least, you’re giving a positive, appealing portrayal of veganism. The other, more controversial option, is not to attend. Of course, you may feel this isn’t an option if it’s a very special occasion. But please remember, you shouldn’t be doing anything that makes you feel anxious or compromises your morals. If the vegan option is poor or you’re paying, you’re absolutely within your rights to request a change of venue or politely decline the invite. If you decide not to attend, you can always show up after the meal to socialise and still be part of the festivities. But whatever you do, make sure you have something great to eat before!
Easter isn’t all doom and gloom of course – it’s a lot of fun! There are so many lovely, animal-friendly things we can do as vegans. Read on to get some inspiration.
Vegan-friendly Easter Activities
Easter and the start of Spring is a great time to get creative! Preferred activities will, of course, depend on if you have children in the family, your own interests, and so on. Here are a range of ideas to get your imaginative juices flowing. No cruelty involved!
- Visiting a farm sanctuary – for Mother’s Day this Sunday (UK), we’re going to afternoon tea at an animal sanctuary. Their sole purpose is to take in rescued farm animals. The food is 100% vegan, we get to have a tour around the sanctuary, and any money spent goes straight back to the animals’ wellbeing. I’m really looking forward to it! Do you have a rescue, sanctuary or rehabilitation centre near you? Find out! You could have a look around, volunteer or see if they have any special events.
- Easter trails – this one is a great tradition for kids, and you can get mini easter eggs at Sainsbury’s (6 for £1.25). You could also make a more sophisticated trail for adults too with clues and riddles – it’s great fun. Go DIY by make eggs from paper mache and decorating them. Simply hide your creations in a large garden and create clues for them to be found. The last egg should be extra-special! Ever heard of geo-caching? Look it up! It’s perfect if you want to get out of the garden and do a longer trail. There are some great ready-made routes for adults and families to follow.
- Egg painting seems to be popular in recent years. As vegans dont use animal products, we can take part in this with some beautiful alternatives. Salt dough eggs, wooden eggs, eco-eggs – they’re all obtainable! Try to keep your environmental impact down if possible by avoiding plastic eggs. You can use paint, or even make your own food colouring, to decorate them.
- Other Easter crafts for kids – making bunny masks, buying an egg mould and making your own chocolate easter eggs, creating easter cards, making bonnets… the list is endless for things to do at home. I really love Eggnots!
- If bringing a new animal companion into your home is something you have fully researched and are committed to, please adopt rather than shop. Contact animal rescues and shelters, rather than pet shops who breed these animals for profit. And please bring your new pet home when the house is quiet and they can be introduced slowly – big family gatherings are not ideal.
- Keep it simple – go on a family walk, spot the signs of Spring and take a picnic along!
- Create a herb or vegetable garden – purchase organic seeds from your local nursery. Next year you could be using your own produce to make a beautiful Easter lunch!
- Plant Easter lily bulbs and spend some time in the garden.
- Take delicious food to any family gatherings, and ensure there’s enough to go round. The family will be impressed with how great vegan food is! You could even host your own vegan Easter lunch.
- Plant a tree – just make sure you have permission if it’s not on your own land.
- Sponsor an animal at a local sanctuary or rescue – they will really appreciate the funds.
Easter Meal Ideas for Vegans
For such a happy occasion that celebrates life, Easter really does involve a lot of infant death. Lamb is a popular choice for a traditional Sunday roast (and some people go for rabbit too). These poor babies are killed at around 8-12 weeks old, having barely experienced life yet. But we can have a delicious meal, with none of the cruelty.
For a lamb alternative, try out dark seitan with a mint sauce. If you’re really adventurous, I even found a vegan ‘rack of lamb’ recipe! Other great roasts for the centre of the table are Tofurkey and VBites, and many supermarkets have their own brand too. If you’re not fussed about these substitutes, try a wild rice meatloaf or Spring vegetable tart.
Don’t forget the Yorkshire puddings! I’ve tried out this recipe and it is delicious. No eggs in sight!
Other foodie ideas for Easter:
- Hot Cross Buns
- Vegan Devilled Eggs
- Easter Egg Houmous Toast
- Fruity Egg Baskets
- Copycat Creme Eggs
- Cinnamon Bunny Cookies
All of the above recipes go to external sites that I often cook from – let me know if you try any!
I hope you found this guide useful. If you’d like ideas on gifts and treats to buy this Easter, please head over to our post on Easter Gift Ideas.
What will you be doing this Easter?
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