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The Pain of Being Vegan At Easter

Updated: Mar 30

What is the pain of being vegan at Easter time and what can we do to make it easier?

Easter is a significant religious holiday that commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, as described in the Christian New Testament. There are other religious and spiritual celebrations that take place around the time of Easter, such as the spring equinox, Passover and some Sikh and Hindu festivals. However, beyond its religious significance, Easter has led to the creation of various cultural practices and traditions and these have come together in ways that make Easter fun for everyone. The problem for vegans is what these cultural practices involve as, more often than not, they mean using animals as some form of sacrifice.

a girl with Easter eggs in a basket
Easter equals three things, rabbits, eggs and lamb

Easter Traditions

A lot of what Easter encompasses involves using animals, in the UK when you think of Easter, you think of Easter bunnies, Easter eggs, a leg of lamb and, for many people, fish for Good Friday, all of which involve the use of animals.

  • Easter Eggs: The most iconic symbol of Easter in British culture is the Easter egg. Eggs symbolise new life and fertility, fitting symbols for a holiday celebrating resurrection and the arrival of spring. In the UK, people exchange chocolate eggs and hold Easter egg hunts, where children search for hidden eggs. The problem is that most of these chocolate eggs are made with dairy, this means that cows are forced to have babies that are taken away and killed so that people can collect the milk to use in the chocolate. It can feel that every Easter egg that you see is symbolic of a calf who died.

    • Make It Vegan: Getting vegan Easter eggs and other vegan chocolate Easter sweets is incredibly easy. Most supermarkets and many smaller shops stock dairy free Easter products from brands such as Nomo and Moo-free. Supermarkets, such as Asda, Tesco, Sainsburys and Morrisons sell their own brand vegan Easter eggs which can be cheaper that than the branded alternatives. For those struggling to find what they want in supermarkets, online shops will supply everything you need and deliver to your door. Also, share your non-dairy Easter eggs with everyone and, if they are interested, explain your choice to go dairy-free.

  • Easter Bunny: Similar to other Western cultures, the Easter Bunny is a popular symbol associated with Easter in the UK. Children believe that the Easter Bunny delivers Easter eggs and treats and this can involve taking children to Easter celebrations where live rabbits are brought in for children to play with. This is not good for the rabbits, putting them in boxes, taking them to a strange place and enclosing them with children who will touch, pick up and chase the rabbits, believing that it is all fun, causes huge amounts of stress to the animals.

    • Make It Vegan: Celebrating Easter doesn't have to mean getting close to a real rabbit. You can decorate with paper rabbits, print out colouring sheets for children to make their own decorations or colour them yourself. You can use soft toys that you already have and get everyone who is coming to bring their own rabbit toy. It's also fun to have one or two people dress up as the Easter Bunny. They can head an Easter egg hunt that means finding tokens instead of sweets with the person collecting the most tokens getting a prize rather than children collecting baskets full of chocolate eggs.

  • Roast Lamb: Lamb is a traditional Easter Sunday meal in many British households, with the animal symbolising the Lamb of God in Christian theology and this, for many vegans, is the most painful part. In the lead up to Easter, supermarkets and restaurants will advertise their lamb, huge posters with pictures of meat are everywhere but every piece of meat used to be an animal. People will talk about how much meat they are going to eat, you hear a lot conversations about "a nice leg of lamb". The leg was nicer when it was still walking around attached to the rest of the animal.

    • Make It Vegan: Having a vegan Easter is very much like having a vegan Christmas. You can have a roasted stuffed butternut squash, a vegan wellington, roasted Portobello mushrooms or a lentil loaf. You don't have to cook from scratch as, again, supermarkets now stock a lot of vegan alternatives in the fridge and the freezer sections. Easter is a good time to challenge yourself and try something new. Also, remember that, if you are going to a friend or family member's home to eat you can talk to them ahead of time and arrange to bring a vegan main dish with you to share if they don't feel comfortable cooking for you themselves.

  • Egg Rolling & Decorating: Egg decorating involves embellishing real chickens' eggs with colours, designs, and decorations. Common methods include dyeing eggs with natural or synthetic dyes, painting designs using brushes or markers, and applying stickers, glitter, or other decorations. Egg rolling typically involves rolling hard-boiled, often decorated, eggs down a hill or slope. People taking part compete to see whose egg can roll the farthest without breaking.

    • Make It Vegan: If you are going to take part in egg decorating or egg rolling you have some options. First of all, do you want to make your own eggs or would you rather buy them? If you are making your own eggs you can make paper mache eggs, clay eggs, with air drying clay, or salt dough eggs. All of these can be decorated once they are dry. If you are going to buy eggs you can get wooden or plastic eggs, with wooden eggs being better for the environment and easier to decorate than plastic.

There are also traditions that don't involve animals, Easter parades, hot cross buns and bank holidays can be completely animal free. For example, you can go to an Easter church service that doesn't bring out a lamb as a symbol of Christ. Making bonnets doesn't use real eggs but any animal based decorations, such as feathers, don't have to be used. Kids can dress up, make Easter bonnets and go on egg hunts. Schools and towns will put on parades and people come together to share a meal and celebrate the time of year. The Easter bank holiday, which spans from Good Friday to Easter Monday, is a four day public holiday. This means that schools and many businesses are closed, allowing families to spend time together and take part in Easter-related activities. These traditions are about people being together and sharing a happy time, making memories. If we are going to involve animals, let it be the ones that we already share our lives with, our companion animals. An extra walk in the park, a few extra treats, a long cuddle session, these are the ways that we should involve animals in Easter.


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