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!
I wrote a post for Girlie Girl Army that I wanted to re-share on my website. It’s a piece for parents who are raising vegan kids. I hope it will give you the courage and pride to raise a child according to principles of integrity and compassion. Here it is!
"Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar." -- Bradley Miller
ORIGINAL ON Girlie Girl Army:"When I tell people that I’m raising my child vegan, I sometimes feel as though I have to defend and explain my decision. My decision is passive, I'm just leaving out certain foods from her diet. But parents who are feeding their kids meat, dairy, and eggs are actively adding in foods. So shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t they have to defend their decision to purchase that hot dog that came from a pig who never stepped foot on grass or saw the sky (except from the slot in the truck on her way to the slaughterhouse) and whose mother was forced to live in a tiny metal crate amid her own urine and feces, where she was unable to even turn around or take a step forward or backward for weeks on end?
Why don’t parents who are feeding their kids meat and other products taken from animals have to defend their decision? They’re giving their kids cow’s milk, which is exactly that … cow’s milk! Isn’t that a little strange? It’s meant to fatten up calves. Humans are the only species that drinks another species’ milk, and we’re the only species that drinks any milk past infancy. Casino mogul Steve Wynn said it best: “It’s liquid cholesterol!”
What exactly is it that people are concerned that my child will be missing out on … high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity? It surely can’t be protein, calcium, or iron because there are tons of healthy plant-based sources (spinach, nuts, whole grains, vegetables, beans, and fortified juices, cereals, pasta, etc.) that don’t have the added fat and cholesterol, not to mention the hormones and antibiotics.
The sad truth is, in this society, any behavior or child-rearing decision that goes against the norm is often seen as wrong or irresponsible. Even weird. And that’s a shame because it often prevents people (in this case, parents) from doing the right thing. Unfortunately, society’s backlash is a strong deterrent, and so is the desire to adhere to the status quo.
NYC Veggie Parade, 2012
Despite the many studies indicating that vegan diets are not only appropriate for children, but may in fact be healthier (for example, the American Dietetic Association—the nation’s largest group of nutrition professionals—stated, “Well-planned vegan diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes”), parents are still opting to add animal products to their children’s diet, mainly as a result of tradition and being constantly bombarded with messages from the dairy and meat industries. Years of slogans like “Milk does the body good” and “You need meat for protein” have been drilled into our heads by multi-billion dollar industries pushing their products. If milk does the body so “good” then why is it that the countries that consume the most milk are also the countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis- and vice versa. And the more animal protein that a population consumes, the higher the prevalence of osteoporosis. There is a big protein myth out there, but the fact is Americans eat about 400% more protein than necessary, and even vegetarians eat more than they need.
It would be unethical for me to feed my child meat, dairy, or eggs based on what I know about how animals are raised for food. You can look the other way or deny that it’s as bad as they say, but the truth is, the majority of meat/dairy and eggs sold in this country (>95%) come from animals who have been raised in appalling conditions in overcrowded, filthy warehouses, where they are crammed into small cages and crates and denied basic necessities, including fresh air, sunshine, grass, and companionship. Simply put, I don’t believe that animals should be treated like this, so I’m choosing to leave cruel animal products out of my child’s diet. I’m teaching her that if she wants to help end animal suffering and also not knowingly contribute to major environmental problems including climate change, water and air pollution, deforestation, and soil erosion she has to be a part of the solution, and that means not supporting it (with dollars). This is what it really means to live according to your values.
Catskill Animal Sanctuary
People raise their children according to their own set of morals and values. Just like a Buddhist wouldn’t raise her child Catholic and an environmentalist wouldn’t raise his child to be wasteful, I wouldn’t serve my child chicken fingers or ice cream. Children are little extensions of ourselves (at least until they’re old enough to make their own decisions). In our society, we typically do not allow children to make the decision to participate in anything that is morally questionable until they are of age. Since I consider the way that animals are raised for food in this country to be morally abhorrent, I therefore would not impose animal products upon my child and would not allow her to make that decision until she is old enough to think critically and understand the consequences.
So instead of focusing on what a vegan child is not getting (fat-laden, cholesterol-filled slabs of meat as well as milk, cheese, and eggs from miserable animals who’ve been raised in terrible conditions), let’s focus on what they are getting (a healthy balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds). And my daughter is getting a whole lot more than that including a moral compass based on compassion, justice, courage, and integrity. So if you’re raising a vegan child like I am, stop being on the defensive, and start embracing it! Be proud that you are living with intention and consciously choosing compassion over cruelty!"
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!
Marsha from The Institute of Humane Education shares some very valuable tips for raising kind and compassionate children. As parents, it's our job to model and guide the behaviors we wish to see in our kids...and this post will show you how to do that. It will re-energize you....and make you rethink your role as a parent. These seven insightful tips should be on your "to-do-list" everyday!
Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child as it is to the caterpillar. - Bradley Miller
Guest blog by Marsha Rakestraw from The Institute for Humane Education (IHE)
When people are asked to list the best qualities of humans, kindness and compassion are always at the top of the list. We're able to be compassionate with others in large part because we can empathize with them. Empathy and connection are key to a healthy, compassionate person (and a healthy, compassionate world), and studies show that we're innately wired to be empathetic; even at a very young age we demonstrate (and show a preference for) empathy.
But in a culture dominated by violence, cruelty, and self-absorption, empathy and compassion must be nurtured; and studies show that young people are becoming less empathetic than in generations past. It is during the early years that the foundation for our children's beliefs and behaviors are formed. As your child's first and most important teacher, parents have an important opportunity to start building pathways to kindness and compassion for people, animals, and the earth, starting when children are very young.
Here are 7 tips for helping nurture compassion in your children:
1. Educate yourself about ways to be compassionate to people, animals, and the earth, so that when your child starts asking questions and exhibiting behaviors that do (or don't) reflect your family's values, you have the knowledge to help. Additionally, as your child gets older s/he will be exposed -- through media, friends, school, and other sources -- to messages and values that may not value compassion. By educating yourself and maintaining mindfulness, you'll be ready to take action to help protect and nourish your child's sense of compassion for others. There are a variety of resources available (including those in IHE's Resource Center).
2. Model a message of compassion. Every day you are modeling a message, and your children are watching and learning from everything you say and do. Are you modeling the message you want to convey? Consider your choices: the food you eat, how you get from place to place, the way you communicate, the products you buy, and all your other daily choices. Do they reflect your values of compassion toward animals, people, and the earth? If your actions don't match your values as much as you'd like, start making small changes, and talk to your children about why you're choosing differently.
3. Read books and tell stories showing compassion and care for others. Stories are a wonderful teaching tool, and of course, regular reading and storytelling build important communication skills. Consider the values and messages in the stories you read to your children, and look for stories that encourage compassion to animals, other people, and the earth. There are numerous resources available, including IHE's Resource Center, and websites like Vegbooks. You can also share stories from your own life about how you learned compassion for others.
4. Build reverence. We tend to protect what we love. If we want our children to connect deeply with others in the world, we need to provide them with regular experiences that nurture and celebrate their love and compassion for animals and the earth. We can engage our children's innate curiosity and invite them to observe ants, get to know a tree, learn about the other beings around them, and explore the beauty and uniqueness that is part of their world.
5. Provide direct experience with others. It's so easy to make judgments and assumptions about others when we don't know them personally. Help nurture a compassionate spirit by providing lots of opportunities to engage with others. Observe animals in their natural habitat at a park; visit a farm animal sanctuary with your child; take your child to events and locations that expose them to people of a variety of backgrounds and experiences; plant a garden; go camping; take a hike (or at least a walk around the neighborhood).
6. Gently guide their choices & help them think critically. Teach your children right away how to engage kindly with animals, other people, and the earth. If you see them involved in unkind behavior (such as hitting your family dog), have an age-appropriate conversation with them to gently guide them to a kinder choice. As children grow, instead of just telling them an answer ("We don't eat eggs because we believe it's important to be kind to animals"), we can ask them open-ended questions that help them think critically about why your family makes the choices it does.
7. Provide them with opportunities to help. Even from an early age, children can be involved in helping others. From accompanying you to take a meal to a sick neighbor, to fundraising for a compassionate cause, to volunteering as a family at an animal shelter, there are numerous opportunities to cultivate generosity and empathy. Just be careful that the experiences are age- appropriate for your child.
To gain additional tools and support for raising a conscientious, compassionate child, sign up for IHE's online course, Raising a Humane Child, which begins April 9. Find out more & register here.
Marsha Rakestraw is the Director of Online Courses, Online Communications & Education Resources for the Institute for Humane Education and is a 2005 graduate of IHE's certificate program. Although she is not a parent herself, Marsha has taught at the PreK-graduate levels and worked for more than 14 years as a children's/young adult librarian. She misses doing family storytimes, but now dedicates her time to working and volunteering as a humane educator. When not trying to make the world a better place, she's hanging with her husband or entertaining her precocious puppy and schizophrenic cat in Portland, Oregon.