If you could color Easter eggs in exactly the same way that you did as a child...AND not contribute to animal suffering by using real eggs, then wouldn't you? You can! Eggnots have arrived! Eggnots are ceramic eggs that look and feel the same as a real eggs. I hope all parents who care about animals will try these. Check out how beautiful the natural dyes came out... I think it's important that as vegan parents, we don't isolate our kids or limit their experiences and activities just because they're vegan. Vegan kids shouldn't have to miss out on anything-- there's a vegan version for almost everything out there. With a little effort and creativity, parents can find or make alternatives to common and holiday non-vegan activities. This includes coloring eggs on Easter. Of all the industries that use and abuse animals for food, the egg industry is arguably the worst in terms of animal treatment and suffering. Hundreds of millions of hens live in prison-like conditions-- stacked in wire cages on top of one another in filthy, windowless sheds where they're confined to a space the size of a piece of paper for their entire lives. Read more here.
Knowing the cruelty behind the egg industry, we could not in good conscience buy a carton of eggs and color them with our daughter. We had to find an alternative. The past few Easters, my daughter really enjoyed painting clay eggs, making paper mache eggs and doing other fun egg-type activities, but this year we were able to actually participate in a tradition that I remember doing as a child myself...dyeing "eggs" in mugs. We used the vegan-friendly Eggnots. They're so realistic that you'll think you're holding a real egg! I highly recommend them for vegan kids, as well as for kids who are allergic to eggs. I also recommend them for anyone who cares about animals-- it's one easy way to choose compassion over cruelty.
Eggnots are one of those products that give me hope and a glimpse into what the future can (and should) look like...a future that doesn't exploit animals for our needs and wants. Slowly, but surely, cruelty-free replicas are replacing non-vegan products. I think most people rely on animal products out of habit and comfort, but if you could have the same experience using a vegan version without harming an animal, then wouldn't you opt for that? Even Bill Gates gets this idea! He recently wrote a blog post on his website about how plant-based alternatives to animal food products are the key to a healthy, sustainable future! Instead of using artificial store-bought dyes that in addition to being non-vegan, are also toxic, we decided to make our own using natural fruits and vegetables. Using this post as a guide, we created:
BLUE: blueberries (boiled frozen blueberries in hot water, then strained blueberries leaving just the juice)
GREEN: chlorophyll (a few drops of liquid chlorophyll in mug)
RED: cherry juice
YELLOW: turmeric (boiled water with a few teaspoons of turmeric)
The colors came out beautiful and vibrant as you can see from the pictures. I was pleasantly surprised. We will definitely be doing this again next year, and adding more colors to our mugs!
From the Eggnots website:
- Realistic- they look and feel just like a real egg
- Inedible- no refrigeration needed, no mess and no smell
- Non-perishable and eco-friendly- EggNots ceramic will last forever!
- 100% safe for those with egg allergies
- Vegan-friendly- no animal products used!
- Convenient- No hassle of boiling and disposal!
- Made in the USA
If you could color Easter eggs in exactly the same way as you remember as a child...AND not contribute to animal suffering, then wouldn't you? You can. Use Eggnots!
HAPPY EASTER TO ALL!
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star...vegan birthday here we are!
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
My daughter recently turned two. We celebrated her birthday in Vermont, and the theme of her party was Twinkle Twinkle Little Star-- which is one of her favorite songs. We shined lights in the shape of stars onto the ceiling, had glow-in-the-dark star stickers on the wall, a nightlight projecting Planet Earth, star confetti, star balloons, and other fun outer space decorations. But the real "star" of the party was the desserts. I made a round cake with white coconut whipped cream frosting to represent the moon, and yellow cupcakes in the shape of stars.
Besides the fact that most food coloring/dyes aren’t vegan, there are studies linking them to a whole host of health problems, including behavioral issues in kids. They are everywhere: in baked goods, cereals, snacks, candy, and many other common products. Even if my daughter wasn’t vegan, I’d want her to steer clear of these toxic products, there’s just nothing good about them. With some experimentation and creativity, it's easy to find natural, safe alternatives using vegetables, fruits and spices. No chemicals involved! Check out this beautiful bright pink frosting I made using just raspberries.
For my daughter’s birthday, I needed yellow dye for her star cupcakes. With a little help from my Twitter friends, I tested out turmeric. It worked perfectly! I mixed it into the frosting little by little, and tasted it as I went along to make sure that the flavor of turmeric wasn’t detectable. What I ended up with was a beautiful yellow-colored icing. I was so happy with the results that I plan to use turmeric from now on whenever I need a yellow dye.
Here’s the recipe for the cake/cupcake batter I used-- which came out soft, moist and delicious! I also included the recipe for the two icings I used: coconut whipped cream for the moon cake, and fluffy buttercream frosting for the star cupcakes. Enjoy!
VANILLA CAKE RECIPE
1 cup Sugar
1 2/3 cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup water
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Grease and sprinkle some flour into an 8 inch cake pan or round (your choice)
- In a large bowl combine sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt
- Cut the shortening into your dry ingredients
- in another bowl combine vegetable oil, vinegar, vanilla extract, and water to the bowl, mix well
- Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix well.
- Pour cake batter immediately into pan and bake
- Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean
Remove cake from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Then place the cake upside down on a plate and allow it to cool an additional 10 minutes before frosting.
COCONUT WHIPPED CREAM Ingredients:
2 (14-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk
1/3 cup vegan powdered sugar
1. Chill coconut milk in refrigerator from 4 - 12 hours. Chill whisk attachment from mixer, if room in fridge.
2. Attach whisk attachment to mixer. Open cans of coconut milk, being careful not to stir or shake the contents inside. Carefully scoop the top, thick part of the coconut milk from inside the can; discard the remaining coconut liquid/water. Place thick coconut cream in a medium mixing bowl; add sugar.
3. Whip until just smooth and thick, about 20 seconds. Do not overmix-- mixture will fall and become thin. Use whipped cream immediately, or refrigerate up to 4 hours prior to use
FLUFFY BUTTERCREAM FROSTING
* This recipe is from the book Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.
½ cup nonhydrogenated shortening
½ cup nonhydrogenated margarine
3½ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup plain soy milk or soy creamer
- Beat the shortening and margarine together until well-combined and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for about 3 more minutes. Add the vanilla and soy milk and beat for another 5 to 7 minutes until fluffy.
For more delicious vegan cupcake and cake recipes, check out this book.
It should be in every vegan parent's kitchen!
Enjoy the recipes and happy vegan birthday to all!
If you are raising vegan kids, you will most likely not be coloring real eggs for Easter. No problem, there are many other fun ways that kids can make and decorate “eggs”, so read on for ideas!
As I child, I enjoyed dropping tablets into water-filled mugs and watching the color change. Then I would dip away, and watch as the eggs went from bright white to red, yellow and green. But now, years later, knowing what I know about how millions of hens live and die for their eggs (see below), I can’t ignore the facts. For every dip, I would have visions of miserable, frightened hens crammed into filthy, wire cages unable to even spread one wing. So I would not feel good about it and could not do it in good conscience. It's not an activity that I want my child to participate in. As a family, we try our best to vote with our dollars, and we definitely do not want to vote and in essence, give our stamp of approval for animals being treated in such cruel ways. Some traditions are better left in the past, and that is exactly where I will leave this one.
Luckily, there are many alternatives to coloring real eggs that are just as fun, arguably even more fun! Kids can buy or make wooden, glass, paper mache, clay, paper, playdough and other eggs. They can decorate these eggs with paint, crayons, markers, chalk, fabric, beads, jewels, stickers, yarn, ribbon, foil, and other materials. You can even use natural food dyes such as beets, blueberries, saffron, cranberry juice, red wine, tumeric, raspberries, and anything else you can find in your kitchen pantry that can act as a dye. Better yet, use recycled materials found around your house and outside. This will get kids thinking creatively. You can also bake vegan cookies using an egg cookie cutter, and kids can decorate those. The ideas are endless! So be creative, and have fun. Most of all, if you are going this route, don’t apologize. Be proud that you have chosen not to do an activity (no matter how traditional it is) with your child that involves using a product that came from an animal who suffered greatly and had to pay a very high price for it.
Recently, I visited one of my best friends-- she found this great recipe for clay, which she shaped into eggs, and let dry for a few days. Our kids had a great time painting them! A BIG thank you to Heidi for organizing this special activity!
Here are a few pictures of the girls painting their eggs, followed by the clay recipe so you can make it too! Enjoy!
Elizabeth and Charlotte
1/2 cup cornstarch
1cup boiling water
1) Mix all ingredients in a bowl
2) Boil to a soft ball stage (until thickened). Careful not to burn--reduce heat after boiling point.
3) Knead until dough-like
4) Wrap in wet cloth to keep for a few days
5) Form the shape that you want
6) Let dry
Last year I wrote a guest blog post for Girlie Girl Army about the egg industry and alternatives to coloring easter eggs. Here's an excerpt: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”), so 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 often 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 and order at restaurants 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 callously killed.
This is the face of battery-caged hens.