It’s almost the end of October, and like many of you, I’m trying to think up a better costume idea than the one leveraging my natural likeness to TLC’s Honey Boo Boo.
And while finding the right costume that’s clever, resourceful, funny, and/or attractive is challenging, perhaps the scariest part of Halloween for new and seasoned plant-eaters is how to navigate the plentiful world of not-so-vegan candies and treats.
You may be wondering…
– What goodies can I pass out that are vegan and satisfying enough to keep the neighbor kiddos from toilet papering my house?
– What do I bring to that Halloween or costume party that will charm vegans and omnivores alike?
– What do I do with the innards once I’ve carved an awesome likeness of my dog into my organic, locally-grown pumpkin?
Fret not, friends. We’ve got you covered with the tricks and treats that will ensure that the only scary part of your Halloween will be when your friend dresses as the Paleo Diet (Message me if you actually do this – I want to see pictures).
The Scary Stuff: What to Avoid?
Mosey through the aisles of your local drug store or supermarket and you’ll likely find gobs of candy, all bagged up and ready for givin’. Unfortunately, most candy contains animal ingredients that are as harmful and unhealthy for you as they are for the animals. Avoid ingredients such as Casein, Gelatin (rhymes with “skeleton,” and that’s not a coincidence since it’s made from animal bones and other nastiness), Lard, Pepsin and Stearic Acid (from pig stomachs), Rennet (from calf stomachs), Confectioner’s Glaze (from bugs), Urea (it’s animal urine, y’all), and Cetyl Palmitate (from whale and dolphin heads – can’t make this stuff up), to name a few. Feeling overwhelmed by the scariness? Check this handy list and this spooky article for more ingredients to run from and alternatives to embrace.
For the Youngsters
Trick or Treat: Pass These Out
Whether you live in a neighborhood or an apartment building, chances are, you’re going to have some trick or treaters. And, while we don’t promote a junk food lifestyle, some holidays just call for a little somethin’ sweet. You’ll be happy to find that many conventional and readily-available candies are accidentally vegan, and most importantly, wrapped. While it’s a tender notion to want to whip up some of your famous fleur de sel truffles to hand out to the neighborhood kids, it’s a good rule of thumb to stick to wrapped, store-bought candy (the parents will thank you). Consult the VegNews, VegforLife, One Green Planet, and PETA lists for candies, familiar and unique, to pass out when the ghouls drop by. Natural Candy Store also has an excellent assortment of affordable candies that are explicitly labeled for special diets, including vegan, Kosher, allergen-, and gluten-free.
If you want to score points with parents – but have the kids cursing your name when they sift through their bags of treats – you can pass out healthier fare like individual bags of nuts, trail mix, raisins, or Flaxseed Oil capsules (just kidding about that last one).
Get Interactive: Make & Do!
These recipes are easy, tasty, and appeal to kids’ sense of, well, grossness. Behold, popcorn balls that look like brains, green and purple cupcakes, and mashed potato ghosts. Also, check out these kid-friendly craft ideas to keep everyone feeling festive. The time-honored tradition of going to the pumpkin patch and carving gourds is a great way to teach children about reusing and repurposing. Have fun with the assistance of this family-friendly carving guide, and then make this delicious bread using the leftover pulp and seeds.
For the Adults
Party Goer: Bring These!
Whether it’s an office luncheon or a fancy costume party, everyone, and I mean everyone, likes goodies from Obsessive Confection Disorder. Their fudges, caramels, and bars o’ bliss make excellent gifts, as well. Check out Rescue Chocolate for their generous mission (all net profits are donated to animal welfare and rescue organizations) and tasty combinations (hello, Peanut Butter Pit Bull). If you’re a s’mores type, you’ll be thanking your lucky stars for Sweet and Sara for making vegan marshmallows, and thus camping, possible. For the raw foodists among us, you can’t go wrong with some Hail Merry tarts and macaroons, or some Cloud9 raw vegan fudge. Moreover, get local and check out vegan bakeries near you. Sticky Fingers in the DC area and Sweet Freedom in Philly boast darling Halloween-themed cupcakes and cookies that will delight even the biggest Betty Crocker devotee.
Get Possessed in the Kitchen: Make These!
Nothing will earn you more street cred than making knock-their-socks-off vegan cookies, cakes, pies, candies, and other sweet things that make peoples’ hearts flutter. And while there are a lot of recipes out there that will do the trick, I’ve compiled five of my favorites. Drumroll, please…
– Candy: Salted Chocolate Cookie Butter Cups
– Raw: Halloween Raw Vegan Cookies (so pretty!)
– Cupcakes: Chocolate Orange Halloween Cupcakes
– Pie: Post Punk Kitchen’s Maple Pecan Pie
– Cake: Halloween Black Coffin Cake
Monster Bash: Throw a Killer Party
I know you. Your house is totally spotless right now and you’ve got cider mulling on the stove and your costume all figured out. You’re organized enough to throw a vegan Halloween party. Good on you. Here are some ideas to make it even better.
– Invite some friends, family, kids, whomever, and have a candy bar making party!
– If you hold a costume party, why not award for the most inventive, recycled, or eco-friendly costume?
– Check out this party’s sample menu, and make your own variations.
– Make some savory and festive appetizers, like these flaky Halloween Stuffed Biscuits or these Ghastly Tortilla Chips and Ghoul-camole.
– Serve up some of this punch, and save me a glass.
Do Something Good: Let a Black Cat Cross Your Path
Black cats have long been synonymous with Halloween, but did you know that ebony dogs and cats are also 50% less likely to be adopted than their light-colored counterparts? This prejudice is largely attributed to Western folks equating black cats with bad luck, but ask anyone who’s ever owned a black cat or dog and they’ll tell you they’re good luck all-around (and they make you look slimmer). Why not open your heart and home to a less-adoptable pet, or support or volunteer with organizations aiming to debunk these stereotypes. Note: Some shelters may not be adopting out black cats during Halloween due to precautions around superstitious cruelty toward them. Check with your local shelter or rescue to see how you can help.
Ashlee Piper is the Community Manager at GetVegucated. She is a social worker, AADP-certified Holistic Health Counselor, and owner of All Is Wellness, a boutique yoga and holistic health consultancy, where she shepherds people toward a more compassionate, cruelty-free, and joyful lifestyle. Her no-nonsense tips and insights for a happy veg life can also be found via her mischievous blog, The Little Foxes. She is obsessed with Surf Sweets.