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!