A Vegan Halloween
Q: “I am the mother of a four-year-old who desperately wants to go trick-or-treating this year. She wants to dress up like the other kids in our neighborhood and collect her bounty of sweets. Unfortunately, though, our family is vegan, and most of these candies are not. In years past, we were able to avoid the topic by being out of town. Not to mention, she was younger and did not yet fully comprehend this holiday. What are your thoughts on this issue? I want her to have the experience of trick-or-treating, but I definitely don’t want her eating milk-filled candies.”
A: Halloween is a festive time that children look forward to for months. Not only is it fun for kids to dress up and play pretend (often well into the tween years), but also, as Jerry Seinfeld puts it, “everyone we know is just giving out candy!” This is every child’s dream come true, and vegan children are no exception.
Children with a plant-based diet don’t have to forego all of the Halloween traditions and festivities. Parents have lots of options on this holiday, including:
1) Go trick-or-treating and donate the non-vegan candy to a charity like an orphanage or a shelter for homeless women and their children.
2) Go trick-or-treating and turn in your candy to a dentist in exchange for cash.
3) Go vegan trick-or-treating. Set up an exchange with other vegan families in your community so your kids can have the trick-or-treating experience and only receive vegan sweets. You could have a list of addresses and drive to each person’s house to get the candy. Or you could organize a “trunk-or-treat” at a public park or other favorite gathering place where the involved families park their cars and kids walk from car to car to get the candy.
4) Skip trick-or-treating and start a new Halloween tradition just for your family. Maybe you stay home together and carve pumpkins, bake cookies, and tell ghost stories. You could take a special Halloween weekend vacation. Maybe you go to a haunted house together or go out as a family to see a scary movie. Whatever would make Halloween special for your family, creating meaningful rituals is an important way to bond and enjoy time together, and traditions like these last a lifetime!
5) Skip trick-or-treating and stay home to pass out candy as a family of vegan ambassadors. Hand out cruelty-free candy to the trick-or-treaters who knock on your door, along with a pamphlet of information about veganism. You can either use a pre-made info sheet or make copies of a flyer you come up with as a family.
6) Skip trick-or-treating and throw a Halloween party with other vegan families where kids still get to dress up and everyone brings a special vegan sweet to share.
If you do choose to take your children trick-or-treating, make sure you have a discussion first about what they can expect. This is also a good time to revisit and reinforce our reasons for compassionate eating. Reading That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals could even become a part of your family’s annual Halloween routine! When children have explanations and know what to expect, they are usually enthusiastic about making changes – especially if there is a fun alternative in store!
Being vegan doesn’t mean we have to forego those cultural rituals and rites of passage that enrich our lives and allow us to fully experience life as members of our society. Sometimes it means modifying those rituals to fit with our values and sometimes it means creating new rituals just for our family or a small group of friends. The rituals our family develops together are often more meaningful and lasting than those we inherit from our society.
Have fun, be safe, and Happy Halloween!
Allyse Sonnega is a dedicated yogini, educator, mother, vegan, and overall uplifting human being that provides great service to the world through her peaceful thoughts, words, and actions.