Vegans and vegetarians are usually familiar with looking at label ingredients and asking cooks what goes into their meals. But holiday food can be new, different, and symbolic – meaning non-veg friendly ingredients might show up in unexpected places.
If you are hosting a vegetarian or vegan guest for Easter, be sure to get familiar with what is a vegetarian and vegetarian entertaining first.
Chocolate and Candy
Mention Easter and the first thing that pops to mind (or to mouth) is chocolate – and lots of it.
Chocolate is trendy – dark chocolate is linked with antioxidants and health benefits. Unfortunately, most Easter chocolate is milk chocolate, especially those cute little confections that come in pretty pastel colours.
Besides being less “healthy” than dark chocolate, milk chocolate is out-of-bounds for vegans. And white chocolate (while not technically chocolate) contains milk products as well. When shopping for vegan or vegetarian chocolate, keep the following points in mind:
- Most milk chocolate products are suitable for vegetarians but not vegans.
- Confections, especially those with caramel or cream centres, are likely to contain milk ingredients and eggs or egg whites.
- Dark chocolate is more likely to be vegan. Seek out ethical, environmental or organic brands for more vegan choices, such as fun Easter shapes and sweets with extra goodies like nuts or crispy rice pieces (but be ready to pay more).
- Gummy candies and jellybeans tend to rely on gelatin (made from animal bones) for their jiggly texture, making them a no-no for vegetarians and vegans
- Hard candies can be coated with beeswax, which vegans do not eat
- Marshmallow candies are made with gelatin
- Red candies may be coloured with cochineal, a colouring made from crushed beetles
Eggs find their way into everything around Easter time. Baked goods, noodles, and desserts tend to incorporate this seasonal ingredient, which is bad news for vegans and for lacto-vegetarians who don’t eat eggs.
Even though dyed Easter eggs are not usually eaten, they still use animal products. Vegans would likely prefer an animal-free alternative like reusable plastic, ceramic, or paper maché decorations.
Food is the centre of holiday gatherings. Try these easy substitutions for a vegetarian or vegan Easter meal:
Breakfast and Brunch:
- Traditional hot cross buns made with egg and milk
- French toast containing eggs
- Classic Vegetarian Breakfast
- Irish soda bread or other quick bread made without eggs and milk
- Oatmeal Pancakes
Lunch / Dinner
Vegetarian and vegan main dishes can be made and shared by all. Buffet-style suppers are a great opportunity for omnivores to try new dishes too.
- Hard-boiled and deviled eggs
- Easter borscht made with ham and eggs
- Main dishes of lamb and ham
- Cream soups containing milk products
- Broth-based soups made with chicken or meat broth
- Scalloped potatoes made with milk or cream and chicken broth
- A sweet-and-sour vegetarian main dish instead of ham. Try Swedish meatballs or a tofu stir-fry.
- A dish of white beans and savoury herbs instead of lamb
- Fresh green vegetables like peas and sweet-and-sour cabbage
- Light vegetables soups
- Potato dishes made with unsweetened soy milk and vegetable broth
- Easter breads
- Jelly desserts
- Chocolate-tofu mousse
- Vegan cookies
- Strawberries dipped in melted vegan chocolate