Yes, Easter is right around the corner, and yes, it's another food-centered holiday (but aren't they all?)! What is a vegan family to do?
Since my oldest child was only 9 months old or so when we became vegan, every Easter we've had as a family has been vegan. Over the years, we've celebrated the holiday in different ways. I remember the first Easter when Kaylee was old enough to participate in our large extended family's Easter egg hunt. Kaylee must have been a year and a half, and I thought she would enjoy participating in the event. But how would I keep her from eating the non-vegan candy from the Easter eggs she found? My solution was to fill some of the plastic eggs with candy I had brought, and mark each egg with a small sticker. It worked pretty well. I learned that not all kinds of stickers stay put on plastic eggs. The stickers didn't lie flat and some peeled up a bit, but, for the most part, the marked eggs served their purpose. I helped Kaylee find the stickered-eggs, and her older cousins also gave her the eggs when they found them. Kaylee filled her basket and had a good time.
As more Easters had passed, we changed things up a bit. As my kids were old enough to understand things more and as my family became accustomed to our veganism, we have experimented with having all the parents fill the collective "pot" of eggs with candy they had brought and had all the kids gather whichever eggs they happened to find. When all the eggs were found, the kids switched the vegan candy for the nonvegan kind, and everyone got what they wanted in the end (which is how we do trick-or-treating at Halloween as well).
I do remember purposefully skipping the egg hunt a few times over the years as well. For one thing, I don't really love my kids to eat candy in the first place. For another thing, it was kind of a hassle to do the sticker thing, and it's not always super fun to have to monitor your kids to make sure they don't accidentally wind up with some Hershey's chocolate eggs--yuck! Also, we have an Easter egg hunt courtesy of the Easter bunny at our home first thing in the morning. They don't really "miss out" if we forgo the extended family event, and we don't end up with a huge bowl full of candy that I end up throwing away in a few days.
Some vegans might not even want to do an egg hunt in the first place. Maybe that's because the use of the eggs can be viewed as representing yet another way to exploit chickens. I'm actually not really sure about that...(any thoughts?) But for us, doing the egg hunt is a way for me to continue a tradition that I loved participating in as a child, and one that gives my kids pleasure and lets them do something that most kids do. I also look at the symbol of the egg as the start of new life as sweet baby chicks emerge from their first home.
However you feel about doing an egg hunt with your children, you may still be interested in hearing about some totally awesome vegan candy! I recenly ordered the candy I will be using this Easter, and I discovered some new treats. Have you or your children ever looked longingly at the brightly-colored sugary marshmallow Peeps that line candy aisles this time of year, only to be turned off by the nasty gelatin that fills the innocent-looking candy? Well, fret no more! Vegan "Peeps" are here, but now they're called Peepers and Skippers and are made by awesome vegan marshmallw-makers Sweet and Sara! While I have not tasted them yet, they look adorable and I do looove the different varieties of marshmallows from this company. (When it gets closer to summer, I'll pass on my tips for vegan camping trips, including discussing vegan s'mores! Yum!) Both online stores, Vegan Essentials (veganessentials.com) and Pangea (veganstore.com) carry the bunny and chick version of this new treat, but Pangea also carries an egg-shaped variety as well. They are not quite so sugary-looking as their nonvegan counterparts, and the Sweet and Sara marshmallows are hand-painted with organic belgian chocolate. It can't get better than that!
My other favorite candies to use for Easter are Whizzer chocolate eggs (think healthier version of M&Ms) and confections from my more recent favorite candy maker, Sjaaks. The Whizzer eggs come in small bags, so order several bags if you think you'll get addicted. (I know that one of my friends doesn't really care for these eggs, but my family really likes them, so keep that it mind when ordering online.) Sjaaks chocolates ROCK! They have several filled varieties of chocolates, including mint, peanut butter, almond butter, and caramel. We LOVE the peanut butter- and almont butter-filled ones in our house! Sooo good! Pangea also has Vanilla cream eggs which they liken to the Cadbury variety of the (vegan's) past, and I also ordered them this year having enjoyed them last year. Both websites have different Easter treats to offer, including cute chocolate bunnies, so be sure to check both out to see what appeals to you. Jelly beans are sold on both sites, and I've bought both of the two varieties before, and have bought one bag for this year. I also buy the Starburst jelly beans which are conveniently vegan, from our local Target store. I like the tropical ones, though I'm not much of a jelly bean gal. They are a good price, you get a bigger bag than the those sold online, and they taste yummy. I'm sure they have many more questionable ingredients--not as far as veganism goes, but in the way of "what the heck is that in the ingredients list" and "how do they get such pretty bright colors" kind of thing.
So as you can see, I have put a lot of thought into Easter and it's goodies! You'd think I'm obsessed with candy and chocolate, and in a way, I am obsessed with the latter, but we really don't consume sugar all that much. I do admit that it's fun to indulge a little every once in a while, and the bags of candy that you buy from Pangea and Vegan Essentials are so small that buying several kinds of candy doesnt' really go that far. That being said, if you are into Easter, or at least exploring the world of vegan sweets, dive in and see what you like! You just might take a step back into your childhood where you give all of the black jelly beans to your parents and feel a little guilty as you bite off the head of your chocolate bunny...