Easter is a beautiful time of the year. Spring flowers are blooming, birds are singing, egg hunts abound, and there are plenty of chocolates and sweet Easter treats to choose from. Images of adorable baby chicks, bunnies, and lambs pop up in advertisements and all over social media. As a Christian, Easter symbolizes a celebration of life through Christ. In fact, Easter is one of the most important holidays to Christians because we celebrate the resurrection; however, after becoming vegan I have started to look at the symbols of Easter, and how many fail to see the not so cute side of the holiday. Let's look at five of them.
Easter, and the Easter bunny go hand in hand. The bunny is probably the most widely recognized image associated with Easter. Several of my local grocers and supermarkets have an entire section overflowing with bunny items including books, stickers, toys, and baskets that contain stuffed toy bunnies of all shapes and sizes. They look cute and fluffy, but bunnies often face immense cruelty. According to PETA, they are the third most abandoned animals in shelters.They are not Easter gifts or temporary pets to be soon discarded. They can live 10 years or longer, and people often times do not want to make that commitment. When it comes to product testing, many companies use bunnies to test their products. This includes forcing substances into bunnies stomachs, or dripping chemicals into their eyes. This despicable practice needs to stop. How can you help? Look for products with the cruelty-free symbol. There are numerous products that are both vegan and cruelty-free. You just have to do your research.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 62 million chicks are born worldwide every day. If you think that number is staggering, check out this fact: An article in Poultry Science states as of 2018, 7 billion day-old male chicks are culled worldwide each year in the egg industry. Culling is the practice of grinding up living baby male chicks in a high speed grinder because they are not profitable for the egg industry. In addition to grinding, suffocation, electrocution, and sometimes gases are also used to induce unconsciousness. There are a number of organizations fighting to prevent this atrocity that sadly continues to happen everyday. What can you do? There are numerous egg-free options at your local supermarket. Try some today!
There is a popular view that lambs are not very smart, but that is quite the contrary. Animal Sentience: An Interdisciplinary Journal on Animal Feeling, states that lambs are "complex, individualistic, and social." They are extremely intelligent and capable of problem-solving. They display emotions that can be understood by studying the position of their ears. According to the global organization Four Paws, "When they experience stress or isolation, they show signs of depression similar to those that humans show by hanging their heads and avoiding positive actions."
Lambs are also a popular Easter meal. A quick online search yields recipes like "roasted Easter lamb" among many others. Over two million sheep and lambs are slaughtered for meat each year. Although sheep can live twelve years, lambs are typically slaughtered when they are 6-8 months old by being shocked with high voltage and hung upside down to have their throats slit. What can you do? Instead of opting for lamb, try some savory and delicious vegan alternatives. Companies like Gardein, Field Roast, and Tofurky make amazing plant based meats and roasts.
Did you know that Americans spend billions of dollars during Easter each year? According the the National Retail Federation, spending this Easter is expected to be the second highest in NRF history and expected to bring in $18.2 billion. Paas, the world's largest manufacturer of Easter Egg dye, is used on more than 180 million eggs a year. More than 300 million hens are used by the egg industry every year. They are literally born into a life of misery with the males being killed at birth, and the females are turned into egg producing machines crammed into tight living quarters and often never seeing the light of day. Their lives ultimately end in slaughter. What can you do? Again, look for egg alternatives and options. Millions of eggs equals millions of suffering hens and chicks.
From chocolate eggs to chocolate bunnies, Easter is a holiday known for sharing and consuming baskets filled with sweet treats. The average celebrant is expected to spend and average of $152 on baskets, candy, and decorations. About 90 million chocolate bunnies are produced each year worldwide, and over 60 percent of Americans prefer milk chocolate instead of dark chocolate. In order to produce milk chocolate eggs and bunnies, you have to go to the source-a dairy cow.
The life of a dairy cow is heartbreaking. Cows produce milk the same reason humans produce milk: to nourish their babies. Instead, baby calves are taken from their mothers shortly after birth so the milk can go to humans. As I researched about the lives of dairy cows, I became increasingly troubled. I am proud to be part of Mothers Against Dairy. Mothers against dairy was founded by Ashley Capps, and according to the website it's "devoted to elevating the stories of vegan mothers for whom motherhood influenced their decision to reject dairy and go vegan, as well as reflections from mothers who were already vegan before becoming a parent, but whose mothering relationship deeply reinforced for them the injustice of dairy farming."
What can you do? Reach out to Mothers Against Dairy to tell your story. There are many non dairy chocolate options, and I also like making my own vegan chocolates as well.
As you are celebrating the Easter season and taking part in festivities and celebrations, let these images and this information be a reminder to you. The choice is yours. Each person can make a positive impact. Veganism is on the rise, and more and more people are demanding meat and dairy free options, including vegan Easter treats. Don't just take my word for it. Do your own research into the information provided. Wishing you a happy and thoughtful Easter!
About Tabatha James
Tabatha James is a wife, mom, and children's book author navigating her way through a vegan way of life!