The Switch Witch is a tradition meant for families who want to have a healthier, more compassionate Halloween. Kids trick-or-treat, eat a few pieces of candy, then swap out the rest for a special toy from the Switch Witch!
The Switch Witch
For kids, Halloween is all about dressing up in costumes, trick-or-treating, and coming home with plastic baskets, bags, or even pillowcases filled with candy. However, for vegans this presents a problem since most candy is not vegan. Now there is a perfect solution for vegan parents…as well as parents who just don’t want their kids to eat ridiculous amounts of candy filled with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial dyes, carnauba wax, and other chemicals. Enter the Switch Witch.
The Switch Witch is a pretend character just like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. It's similar to the Tooth Fairy, except instead of exchanging a tooth for money, kids exchange candy for a toy. Here’s how it works:
When kids come home with a big bag of candy, parents have a few choices. You can let your kids have a few pieces of candy, you’ll just have to swap out the non-vegan pieces for vegan pieces. Or you can skip the candy altogether and just plan on the Switch Witch taking it all. I don’t recommend the latter because I think it’s important for kids to participate in the ritual of not only collecting the candy, but also eating some (in moderation). If you’re not going to let them have any of the candy they collected (or you swapped out), then it’s probably not fair to even let them trick-or-treat in the first place.
After kids enjoy a few treats, then it’s time to prepare for the Switch Witch. Have kids put all of their leftover candy in a special bowl, or keep it in the original trick-or-treat bag. Right before bedtime, kids put the bag outside of their bedroom door, or the front door. While they’re sleeping, the Switch Witch will fly in and take their candy, leaving a toy in its place. When kids wake up, they’ll be excited to find a special present! Be creative, and add your own touches to help make the tradition fun and unique to your family. Vegan or not, it’s a common sense approach to dealing with too much candy.
Halloween is a favorite holiday among kids, and incorporating the Switch Witch just makes it better. Kids get to trick-or-treat, eat some candy, and they get a special present the next morning.
So what do you do with all that leftover candy? Without kids finding out of course, parents can take the stash to work for co-workers, donate it to a shelter, give it to friends or family, or just throw it out since candy is garbage anyway and not beneficial to anyone's health.
Some parents might feel that it’s only one day when kids get to eat candy, so we should let them eat whatever they want. However, it's not really just one day of candy-- when you spread out the amount of candy that most kids collect, it can, and usually does last for weeks. Seriously, do kids really need that much candy? Won't a few pieces, combined with a fun night of trick-or- treating, and a visit from the Switch Witch suffice?
Incorporating the Switch Witch into your Halloween tradition is a great idea for many reasons. With 1 out of 3 kids being overweight or obese (triple the rate from 50yrs ago), and rates of other food-related diseases and illnesses rising, letting kids consume pounds and pounds of sugary candy (and chemicals) is hardly a smart decision. This, on top of the fact that most candy is not vegan, makes the Switch Witch a perfect solution for parents looking for a healthier, safer, more compassionate Halloween. Start this year, and make it a new tradition that kids look forward to every year.
NOTE: If you think that your kids might be scared of a witch coming into the house, you could revise it and do a fairy, or some other animal. You could even do a "magic box." Kids can decorate a cardboard box, and then leave it outside of their room-- then overnight it magically disappears and in its place is a toy!
Create your own story about the Switch Witch, or pick up one of these books below to share with your kids:
On the topic of Halloween...
Try this amazing recipe for homemade vegan candy corn. I made it last year (and plan on making it again this year ), and it came out perfectly. It tasted just like the original
Here's a list of vegan Halloween candy.
Recipe for vegan pumpkin cupcakes narrated by Petey the vegan.
Celeste Hill is an organizer of Vegkins, a Minnesota-based vegetarian and vegan families group. In this post, she shares her insight on the importance of getting together with other parents who are raising vegetarian or vegan kids. Parents can share recipes and ideas, and offer advice and support to one another, and kids can participate in animal-friendly events, and simply play with other kids who share their same lifestyle. So seek out other veg parents in your community today!
Guest post by Celeste Hill, organizer of Vegkins
Way back before Vegkins came into existence, my husband and I lost touch with the vegan community. There was no Facebook back then. Hard to imagine I know.
Once our son was born, we became cognizant of this missing part of our life. Having children has a way of bringing your beliefs, whatever they may be, into sharp focus. Thus began our search for fellow vegan parents.
After meeting a few local vegan families like the one from These Little Piggies Have Tofu, we were lucky enough to run into Dallas Rising from the Animal Rights Coalition (ARC). She was collecting names to start a vegan/vegetarian family group. We were simply ecstatic. It is all history from there.
Vegkins is a program of ARC, for parent(s) of vegan and vegetarian kids. It meets on a monthly basis within the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. The activities include story hours, playground play dates, holiday parties, vegan soft serve meet-ups, a visit to a no-kill animal shelter, waffle parties, puppet shows, music classes and potlucks.
As a parent, I've found it endlessly helpful to provide my children with a supportive vegan/vegetarian family community. What kid wouldn't enjoy a vegan Halloween party or a waffle party?
What you can't see on a web site or fan page are the friendships which have blossomed from ARC's Vegkins. Many families attend each other's birthday parties and get together socially outside of Vegkins.
Frankly I can't tell you how much it means to our kids to interact with vegan peers. The supportive nature of the group has been amazing. We share advice on handling difficult situations, school activities, as well as recommend books and movies to each other.
Each year, more families join our group and find that niche they've been seeking. It is an integral part of helping our children maintain their veg lifestyle, as well as normalize it. They know other kids out there who are thriving, as they are too.
Lastly, I'll end with a book recommendation, which my young kids love. It is called Happy, Healthy, Vegan Kids. There are beautiful pictures of rescued farm animals living happy and peaceful lives at sanctuaries. My kids are apt listeners when we read this story. It also contains some simple veg recipes. We appreciate the focus on positive pictures since the kids are still young.
Editor’s Note: As Celeste mentions above, it is really important for vegetarian, and especially vegan parents to meet other parents who are also raising veg kids. You can learn so much from eachother, and kids can meet and play with other kids who share a similar core value. Check your local community to see if a veg group already exists (if you live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, join Vegkins, and if you live in the NYC area, join NYC Vegetarian and Vegan Families Meetup) and if not, start your own! Make flyers, run an ad in the newspaper, coordinate it through your child’s school or day care center, or approach a local veg restaurant for help getting the word out. Read my “Start a Group For Vegan Parents and Kids In Your City” blog post on Girlie Girl Army for some inspiration.
Celeste Hill has been vegan for more than a decade and is the proud mother of two vegan kids, as well as an assistant early childhood family education teacher. She has a serious cookbook collection addiction, in fact she won the VegNews Holiday Cookie contest, so definitely check out some of the recipes on her website, Growing Up Veg--a wonderful resource for vegan parents.