Vegan Halloween: Tricks and Treats
As a child, Halloween was hands-down my favorite holiday of the year. When else were you allowed to spend three hours in a row taking candy from strangers? It was like the basic rule of childhood was suspended for one blessed night! I refused to carry that little plastic pumpkin bucket, opting instead to bring a pillow case to lug my haul. I'd come home, sort my candy by type - chocolate in one pile, suckers in another, gum in yet another - and try to determine how long the candy would last me if I ate just five pieces a day. My goal was to gather enough free candy to last me until next Halloween. I eventually stopped trick-or-treating when I was 22 - yes, 22! I felt I finally couldn't get away with it any longer.
by Erin Pavlina
When I went vegan in 1997 I assumed my future children would not be able to go trick-or-treating. I thought it would be cruel to make my child hand over all her chocolate after spending hours collecting it. I figured we'd just stop celebrating Halloween and go see a movie that night instead.
When my daughter, Emily, was two years old, I decided to dress her up as a kitten and take her trick-or-treating. We went with friends, and I collected the candy for Emily (boy, did that bring back happy memories!). I was planning to give the candy to our friends or to a women's homeless shelter, but I was suprised by the amount of candy we got that appeared to be vegan. PETA publishes a great list of vegan candy, and lo and behold, we had a lot of it! I realized that fully 40% of our haul was vegan. We gave the non-vegan candy to our friends and kept the lollipops, hard candies, and other vegan treats for ourselves. Since Emily was too young to actually eat the candy, I decided to do the honors myself. What a sacrifice, huh?
After that night I finally realized that Halloween could be just as fun and exciting for vegan kids as it is for non-vegan kids. Here are some tips for making your child's Halloween a bastion of wonderful, happy memories.
Trick-or treating isn't the only way to spend Halloween. Older kids often have Halloween parties. If your vegan child is attending a non-vegan Halloween party, find out what they're serving and try to send the vegan equivalent. Be sure to send your child with a goodie bag so he or she doesn't feel left out. Alternatively, you can throw your own Halloween party and invite the neighborhood kids, your child's friends, or the kids from your vegan family group. Here are some tips for having a fun and successful vegan Halloween party.
- Warn your children not to eat any candy until they bring it home for sorting.
- Decide in advance with your children how they will dispose of their non-vegan candy so there are no suprises and no arguments. Options include homeless shelters, non-vegan friends, the trashcan, or businesses.
- Often people give out several different candies (chocolate and non-chocolate items). Show your kids the list of vegan candy in advance and advise them to select the vegan candies at houses that offer such a choice.
- Go trick-or-treating with a group of vegan kids and parents so that your kids aren't the only ones in the group with dietary restrictions.
- Create a special, all-vegan goodie bag for your kids and swap it for the candy they bring home in their pillow case or bucket.
With a little planning, your child's Halloween will be just as fun, scary, and sweet as the Halloween's you remember.
- Decorate the house with festive Halloween decorations.
- Make sure the kids come in costume.
- Serve vegan snack foods such as: veggies and dip, fruit skewers, nuts, potato chips, hummus and pitas, tortilla chips and guacamole. Or serve dinner foods like tofu dogs, veggie burgers, or vegan pizza.
- Serve apple cider or make a Halloween punch.
- Make popcorn balls and decorate like scary monsters.
- Carve pumpkins together.
- Serve cupcakes with frosting and sprinkles, and stick a plastic Halloween toy in the top like spiders, pumpkins, or black cats.
- Let the kids bob for apples.
- Make a haunted maze in your house for the kids to go through.
- Rent scary movies and serve popcorn for the older kids.