Saturday, April 3, 2010

Cardboard Egg Decorating

Holidays can be traumatizing times for many vegans. Not only because so many holiday traditions revolve around (typically non-vegan) food items, but also because they are usually the times of year that we are most subjected to ridicule and challenge when encountering friends and relatives that we don't regularly interact with. The first major holiday following a transition into veg*ism can be the most trying and hostile circumstance a veg*n ever finds himself/herself in.

Several moons ago, Easter was my first holiday as a vegetarian. Thanksgiving was my first holiday as a vegan, but in my experience I have found that the adjustment from meat eater to vegetarian exposed me to far more hostility than the adjustment from vegetarian to vegan. As such, I always remember Easter as being the holiday that I was told numerous times that it is 1) Not within my power to "change the world" (last I checked I wasn't arrogant enough to think that it was?) 2) Just a fad I was buying into 3) Not worth the trouble and 4) Damaging to my health.

Those memories ensure that Easter is a humbling experience for me, even to this day.

Unlike other holidays, Easter is particularly challenging for vegans not only because of the food-based traditions western culture holds for this time of year, but also because the major activity - dying eggs - is as unvegan as it gets. At Christmas we decorate trees. Vegan Friendly. At Halloween we carve pumpkins. Vegan Friendly. At Easter our society has taken it upon themselves to take what doesn't belong to them and decorate it with paints and dyes.

I can't be too critical because growing up I positively loved decorating eggs. Way more than carving pumpkins. We grew up doing them pysanka (Ukrainian)-style both at home and at school. The whole lot - hot beeswax (also not vegan) and brightly coloured dyes. I would be excited about it for weeks preceding Easter. So sure, I understand why people participate in this activity.

When we go vegan we often mourn the loss of certain traditions. I've never been critical of this process. Because you are saddened by your choice to never eat that Easter ham again does not mean you are any less confident in or comfortable with your choice. You are not mourning the loss of that item, you are mourning the loss of your association with it and the comforts of home and childhood that partaking in it often brings to you. In due time, those old traditions are replaced with new, cruelty-free ones and you don't have to miss anything anymore.

Welcome to the world of non-egg Easter egg decorating.

Step 1: Go to your local craft store and see what they've got. I got six cardboard eggs for $3.00. They also had wooden eggs available. If you can't find either of those, any dollar store has plastic eggs this time of year and they can just as easily be painted.

Step 2: Paint the eggs white (or whatever colour you like).

Step 3: Find some synthetic, non-toxic crafting paints and synthetic brushes (watch out for camel and horse hair brushes!).

Step 4: Paint away!

[It was really warm here yesterday, hence Paul's shirtless egg painting. Although in his particular case it looks like he is wearing a shirt anyway. For the record it took him nearly two hours to do his egg because he insisted on making a God of War egg. Now he expresses some concern that the symbol means something horrible that he doesn't know about.]

As you can tell by the first picture posted, I have the artistic prowess of a five-year-old. I didn't let that stop me from letting the (somewhat juvenile) creative processes flow and neither should you.

This is such a great activity for little ones, because unlike real eggs these are not fragile in the slightest. Believe it or not, in my younger days I was even clumsier than I am now. In the third grade when our class was finished painting our eggs I managed to trip and drop mine on the floor, just as art class was ending. An Easter egg massacre. Oh, how I cried.

Avoid that kind of childhood trauma with non-egg eggs. It would take a lot for little ones to even slightly damage cardboard/paper eggs (believe me, I dropped the lot of them several times while trying to arrange them for the above pictures).

Further, I always found it annoying that I'd work so hard on an Easter egg and then would have to throw it out a week later because my mom was afraid it was going to break and the house would succumb to the smell of rotten eggs for all eternity. So I think the most appealing thing about this project is that you can keep the eggs forever, adding to your collection each year.

So paint some non-egg eggs this Easter. And while you're at it....

Happy Easter to all of those who celebrate!


Jennifer (It Ain't Meat, Babe) said...

I remember that kind of dinner when I was first vegetarian! One dinner in particular when I asked if a dish had meat in it and my Dad said, "Oh, just eat it! It's not like it's a religion or something!" I also got the "it's just a fad" and "you're going to make yourself sick" stuff. Ah well, sixteen years later I'm still a vegetarian, very healthy, and my family has (mostly) come around.

Mary said...

For myself I found that once the first major holiday was over and done with, the second major holiday was easier. And the third, even easier than I don't think friends and family even notice that I'm "different" anymore, it's just (delicious) life now!

The Kuntrageous Vegan said...

pllllllllease show the picture of the God of War III egg! my husband is obsessed...or was...until he realized how short it was (whew!)

Mary said...

I didn't get a chance to take a picture of just the God of War egg that Paul made, but it is the brown one on the left in the first picture (of course my camera battery is dead now). It's just the main symbol (which we've since found out is just the symbol for Omega...not something horrible, as we feared! lol). I sympathize with you greatly...I was a God of War widow for awhile. Nothing compared to being a Halo widow though, which I am very accustomed to as well!

Tasha - The Clean Eating Mama said...

Such a wonderful idea! When my son grows a little older I will be participating in this project with him. I also found you can make paper mache eggs but the process takes time - as in glue, and paper, and drying....

Mary said...

Ah yes, making paper mache from scratch would be tedious - I think you can buy them premade though! Definitely a great activity for kids. And as the years go by you have more and more easter decorations to put out the following year.

Jamie said...

Sorry for the really late comment. (As you can probably tell, I'm REALLY behind on the pile of blogs I follow, thanks to a vacation)
But last year, what we did, was we actually painted squash with food coloring dyes! It was a lot of fun, and we got to eat some of them afterwards!
So that could be an option for people who don't want the clutter of cardboard eggs from earlier years.

Atwood-Family of 4 said...

Thank you so much for this post. I realize you wrote it several months ago but I really appreciate it. We still haven't made the switch to vegetarian but are so very close. As Thanksgiving approaches in a few months here in the US, I wonder if it may be our first veg holiday and I really appreciate the post and comradeship about what I will certainly expect from family members. I also LOVE the idea of wooden eggs! SO much better than hard boiled! I have 2 small children and I can't think of anything more special than to be able to save their Easter eggs every year, to let them actually decorate the house for a few weeks (because in my house we color eggs and eat them the very next day). Beautiful. Thank you again!

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