Healthy vegan kids and Halloween – hmmm. Every year, you may think, how are we supposed to handle this holiday that is centered around the consumption of unhealthy foods full of sugar, dairy, eggs and artificial colors and flavors? If you’re like me, you don’t want to deprive your child of the fun of dressing up and trick-or-treating, but at the same time you don’t want to teach unhealthy behavior.
As a vegan, I also want my child to understand how animals are commodified by others, not only in obvious ways such as for meat and cheese, but also in more hidden ways, including candy. By helping my son navigate social situations, including holidays, I hope to help prepare him for a lifetime of choosing kinder alternatives.
When I was a little kid, I used to love Halloween. I liked candy, but more than anything, I loved dressing up. My mom made all my costumes. I loved going out and collecting my loot, then coming home, spreading it out on the living room floor, organizing it by type and trading with my sister, Sarah.
Every family creates their own holiday traditions and just like when I was a kid, at our house, we make a big deal out of dressing up. My son, William, has been a pirate, a train engineer, a Jedi, a firefighter and a Ninja. Besides trick-or-treating, we do lots of other fun Halloween activities.
We go to a pumpkin patch and pick out pumpkins, then come home, carve our pumpkins and roast the seeds. Last year, we took William to a Halloween costume party at his Tae Kwon Do school. He had a great time. This year, we’ll probably go trick-or-treating at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op as well as in our neighborhood. We’ll also check out local community events. Here in Sacramento, I follow a great family website called Sacramento Sidetracks which lists kid-friendly events.
When we take William trick-or-treating, he is allowed to keep all the vegan candy he likes. He can then trade in some of his non-vegan candy for the “premium” vegan candy we have purchased such as OCHO, Justin’s, Little Secrets, Endangered Species and Go Max Go Foods. (Go Max Go Foods makes vegan versions of all your favorite candy bars. They are available at www.naturalcandystore.com. As far as I know, they don’t make mini sizes for Halloween, so I’ll probably just get a couple for William.)
What to do with the non-vegan Halloween candy your child collects? A few options are to take it to you or your partner’s work and put it out for co-workers, donate it or throw it out.
Here is a list of our favorite organic, fair-trade vegan candies (all available in mini sizes for trick-or-treating), along with some familiar favorites.
- Mini Dark Chocolate Coconut OCHO Bars (only this flavor is vegan)
- Justin’s Mini Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups (only dark chocolate are vegan)
- Little Secrets (organic, naturally colored candy-covered dark chocolates; similar to M&Ms; only classic dark, raspberry, sea salted peanut and seasonal peppermint are vegan)
- Endangered Species Bug Bites in Dark Chocolate
- Yum Earth Organic Lollipops
How about some even healthier (but still fun) treats?
- Mini Lara Bars
- Fruit Leather
- Mini bags of pretzels
Some classic Halloween candy just happens to be vegan. When trick-or-treating, our son is allowed to keep these candies. For complete lists of vegan candies, visit Peta’s List of Vegan Candy and VegNews’ Guide to Vegan Candy. Print out these lists and have them handy for when your kids dump out their loot at home.
- Fun Dip
- Sweet Tarts
- Charms Blow Pops
How about some non-candy treats? Many kids today also have food allergies. The Teal Pumpkin Project is part of Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE). They are raising awareness of food allergies and promoting inclusion of all trick-or-treaters throughout the Halloween season by asking families to offer toys instead of treats to make Halloween fun and inclusive for kids who cannot consume many of the common ingredients found in commercial candy. You can signify your participation by putting out a teal colored pumpkin or one of their printable window signs.
I ran all these non-candy ideas past William and he thought they were all cool and would be just as happy with any of these as with candy. Here are a few of our favorites:
- Chinese Yo-Yos (These are very affordable. We gave these out as party favors one year at William’s birthday party and they were really fun!)
- Mini cans of Play-doh
- Glow-sticks, glow bracelets or glow necklaces
- Bouncy balls
- Pokemon cards (William’s idea) or other playing cards
- Friendship bracelets
- Mood rings
- Chinese good luck coins
Do you have ideas and suggestions for a compassionate, vegan Halloween that you’d like to share? If so, please comment below. I’d love to know how you and your family handle this candy-filled holiday.
I hope this article has been helpful and will make your Halloween more fun! If so, please leave a comment and share!
Thanks so much and Happy Halloween!