Easter: a Christian festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion (good Friday) as described in the New Testament. Additional customs that have become associated with Easter and are observed by both Christians and some non-Christians include egg hunting, the Easter Bunny, and Easter parades. ~ Wikipedia
Being raised Catholic, Easter was a holiday my family celebrated every year. However, as I grew older and eventually moved out on my own, I never celebrated Easter again. Partially because today, I don’t consider myself religious of follow any particular faith other than the belief that we should do no harm. In addition, I have a hard time attending Easter brunches that consist of mostly non-vegan foods. Not to mention, the Easter Bunny just doesn’t excite me the way it used to.
That being said, today, unless you are a devout Catholic or Christian, Easter has a very different meaning. Hallmark stores worldwide are making a killing on Easter cards and decor. Cartons of eggs are being purchased by the millions for the sole purpose of coloring them with food dye and placing them throughout the house as decoration. Rabbits are being bought at pet stores as a special Easter gift to children everywhere.
Since I’m not religious, Easter represents something else to me…….the coming of Spring. I am truly looking forward to seeing colorful spring flowers bloom and feeling warming weather again, especially after the Winter we’ve had. And for this reason, I believe that celebrating Easter, Christian or not, can be really fun. But there are some things that bother me about the common Easter customs I mentioned earlier. Once Easter has come and gone, the Easter cards, crafts and decor, often made in China from non-recycled materials, are thrown in the trash. The eggs, usually purchased cheap at chain grocery stores coming from cruel factory farms are for the most part, discarded. And the bunnies; well, once the poop pellets become a daily reality and the novelty is gone, their fate is often in an animal shelter.
Being of the “do no harm” religion, I think Easter can be celebrated in a more compassionate way and still be beautiful and fulfilling. Here are a few “earth friendly” tips to help make this Easter the most wonderful yet….
If you choose to decorate real eggs this Easter, please consider buying organic eggs from your local Farmers Market or health food store. That way, you support local, humane family farms. To me, less is more, so no more than 6 – 12. Once the celebrating has past, please eat the eggs, whether they be hard-boiled or used in a more intricate recipe. For creative egg dish ideas, please click here. Personally, I don’t feel there is a need to use real eggs anymore for decorating or Easter egg hunts. However, those non-recyclable plastic eggs purchased in bulk at party stores end up in land fills, thus creating more environmental waste. Here are a few beautiful and environmentally friendly egg-less ideas (click on the photos for more info):
No More Bunnies
Rabbits are living, breathing, feeling animals. They are not toys. And as cuddly and cute as they are, they require care and responsibility. So unless you plan on keeping your rabbit for the long haul (approx 9-12 years), please do NOT buy a rabbit from a store for your child this Easter. If you are looking to keep a rabbit as a pet, consider adopting. Every year, hundreds of thousands of rabbits are given up after Easter and are looking for good homes. Here is a link to a local Chicago based rabbit rescue organization: House Rabbit Society of Chicago. And of course, here are some adorable, earth friendly, non-living (and non-pooping) rabbit alternatives that make great Easter gifts.
Think outside the basket
To me, the idea of leaving a basket of candy and chocolate by a child’s bed on Easter morning is just plain crazy. The first thing they do is open the candy and start to eat it, thus protesting breakfast, or anything healthy all day. They run around on sugar highs and eat more and more candy until they are sick. I understand giving a child a sweet treat or two on Easter, but I don’t think it has to be, or even should be, a candy coated pinata, right? If you agree, here are some fun, Earth friendly Easter basket alternatives that will engage your kids, thus allowing you some peace and quiet adult time on your Easter morning. 🙂
Easter Cards look better as Trees
Personally, I feel that Easter (and Christmas, and Birthday) cards are wasteful. In the age of the internet with loads of amazing sites with digital cards and gifts, you can easily get the point across without buying an overly priced card that inevitably ends up in the trash (sorry mom). I think it’s time to stop wasting money on cards (and stamps) and either send an e-card or make a charitable donation to a good cause instead. And let’s not forget the best Easter greeting of all, calling those you love or stopping by to say hello! I know, so old-fashioned of me! Here are some Easter card alternatives……
Vegan Easter Brunch
The title speaks for itself. Here are some delicious, meat free recipes to add to your Easter festivities…….
- 3 lbs multi-colored organic carrots, with tops
- 1 tbs olive oil
- sea salt & pepper to taste
Preheat over to 450. peel carrots and trim tops (if desired). Toss carrots with oil, salt and pepper and place on a non-stick baking pan. Bake at 450 deg for 20 minutes, the reduce heat to 350 deg and bake another 15 minutes or until carrots are soft and browned (stirring occasionally). Note*** You can cook asparagus the same way, and add some lemon zest and lemon juice for a delightful flavor.
Strawberry and Spinach Salad (serves 2)
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
- 1 celery rib, chopped
- 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive oil
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp sesame seeds
- 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
- 2 tbsp toasted slivered almonds
Divide the spinach, strawberries and celery between two salad plates. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, sugar, vinegar, sesame seeds and poppy seeds. Drizzle over salads. Sprinkle with almonds; serve immediately. Yield: 2 servings.
Layered Savoury Vegan Easter Pie (serves 2 as main course)
- 6 carrots
- dried herbs
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil
- 2 leeks
- 1 onion
- 4 asparagus spears
- 1 cup cashew nuts (soaked overnight)
- water or veggie stock
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup cooked lentils
- 4 sheets Filo paper
Heat your oven to 450 deg. Place your carrots whole on a baking tray and coat in a little olive oil, salt, pepper and mixed dried herbs. Roast the carrots for 20-25 minutes then blend until smooth and put to one side. Place your cashew nuts into a blender and pour in enough water to just cover the cashews. Blend until smooth then add 2 crushed garlic cloves, salt and pepper and blend again until creamy. Add a little extra water if you feel it is too thick, you are looking for the consistency of a light hummus. Place to one side. In a frying pan heat a little oil. Slice your onion, leeks and asparagus and sauté on a low heat until softened. Add your cashew cream and cooked lentils to the pan and stir together until your greens are mixed with the sauce. Reduce the heat of your oven to 350 deg. Grease your pie dishes and line with 2-3 layers of Filo pastry, brush with oil or Earth Balance butter between each layer. Divide your carrot purée between the two pies and press down into a bottom layer. Top with a layer of the cashew cream and lentil sauce and then scrunch up the edges of the pastry and brush with oil or butter. Place in the oven for 25-35 minutes until the pastry is cooked and the filling is set. Allow to cool slightly then remove from the pie dish and serve
- 1½ cups (6.6 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour*
- 1 cup (7 oz.) sugar
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- 1 lemon
- ½ cup orange juice
- cold water
- 6 TB canola oil
- 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. lemon extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper cupcake liners in 12-cup muffin pan. Set aside. Mix dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Make sure they are thoroughly combined. Zest and juice lemon. Set aside 1 TB juice and 1 tsp. zest for icing. Place remaining lemon juice and zest in a measuring cup. Add water to equal ½ cup liquid. Make 2 small holes and 1 large hole in the dry ingredients. Pour 1 tsp vinegar in one of the small holes, pour the vanilla and lemon extracts in the second small hole, pour the oil in the large hole. Don’t worry if it overflows. Pour the orange juice and water/lemon mixture over everything. using a mixer, mix until batter is smooth. Portion out the batter in the prepared pan. Bake cupcakes for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before icing with lemony cream cheese-ish icing.
- 3 oz. tofutti cream cheese substitute
- 3 oz. vegan margarine
- 3-4 cups powdered sugar
- 1 TB fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. lemon zest (for garnish)