Most of us have experienced the struggle of trying to find plant-based versions of festive food for an upcoming holiday. It’s easy enough to find a vegan turkey or Christmas roast these days, but Easter can be a little trickier.
This is partly because, while vegan “meats” have clear packaging to indicate that they are plant-based (any may even be stocked in a designated plant-based aisle at the store), vegan candies often don’t make a point of telling you that they’re vegan.
Even if they do, they can easily get lost in the sea of all the fun seasonal candies that are vying for our attention at this time of year, leaving you to pick up every item and check out the ingredients lists one at a time.
This year, we hope to make the process a little easier by giving you our guide to building the Ultimate Vegan Easter basket!
Let’s start with the foundation: the basket itself. There are lots of popular DIY designs for cute baskets, like ones made from boxes of candy, and while we encourage you to try these out with the vegan candies we’ll be talking about later if that sounds like your style, for now we’ll just compare the two most popular options.
Many people opt for plastic Easter baskets, because they are durable, they come in bright colors, and they tend to be on the cheaper side.
Unfortunately, plastic can be a problematic material for vegans. Obviously there is the concern of the environmental impact, which raises some questions as to whether plastic use is ethically acceptable for vegans, but a bigger problem is the potential for animal-derived ingredients.
Many plastics use ingredients called “slip agents” to reduce friction in the final product, and these typically come from animal fats. Not all plastics are made this way, but since it can be nearly impossible to verify whether a given plastic contains animal fat or not, you’ll have to decide how you feel about the possibility if you do want to use plastic baskets.
The other common option is natural willow or wicker baskets. While they can be more fragile than plastic ones, they look much classier, and they definitely aren’t made from animal products. If you want to be certain that your basket is 100% vegan, this is probably the way to go.
We’ve already mentioned that plastic can be an issue for vegans and environmentalists alike, but sadly, it’s the most commonly used material for Easter basket grass. Luckily, there are a ton of alternative options! Here are our favorites:
- Paper – Paper Easter basket grass is pretty readily available, and you can even find it made from recycled paper or make your own. With this option, you can save and reuse the grass to pack other gift bags and boxes throughout the year.
- Wheat grass – Using real grass in combination with a willow basket will create a beautiful natural look. Wheat grass can be juiced after the baskets are emptied, or it can be composted. Either way, it won’t end up in a landfill like plastic!
- Cloth items – Although they won’t create quite the same look as grass, cloth items like napkins, shirts, and fabric scraps can help to pack your Easter basket. It’s a great way to sneak an extra, non-edible gift in, too.
The Main Event
And finally, the part you’ve been waiting for: the candy! Don’t worry, there is no shortage of sweet treats that are free from animal products, so you won’t have any trouble filling up as many vegan Easter baskets as you need to this year.
We couldn’t possibly list them all, but we’ll address the ones that we think need to be talked about the most, including popular conventional candy that happens to contain no animal products and our favorite ethical, plant-based, environmentally-friendly brands.
SweeTARTS Chicks, Ducks, & Bunnies – These seasonal SweeTARTS are made from dextrose, maltodextrin, malic acid, and less than 2% of calcium stearate, natural flavors, blue 1 lake, blue 2 lake, red 40 lake, and yellow 5 lake.
All of these ingredients have the potential to be vegan, but there’s a chance that a couple of them are not. Calcium stearate is normally derived from plant sources, but it can come from animals, and a handful of food products still use the animal-derived version.
Natural flavors, likewise, could contain pretty much anything, including any animal products, but animal-based natural flavors are pretty uncommon in candies. So, while there is a bit of information missing, it seems likely that this candy could be vegan, and we know this is close enough for many.
If SweeTARTS are something you enjoyed before going vegan, you may find that they are vegan enough to continue to deserve a place in your Easter basket.
Moo Free Chocolate Bunny Bar – Moo Free is offering three Easter-themed products this season, but the bunny bar is the cutest! It’s made from sugar, cocoa [37%] (cocoa butter, cocoa mass), rice flour, Inulin, and sunflower lecithin.
Like VEGO, Moo Free is committed to producing ethical chocolate, so we don’t have to worry about iffy ingredients like sugar. They use organic, Rainforest Alliance cocoa, their packaging is made from recycled materials, and they also donate to animal rights and environmental causes.
The brand is quite well-loved, and their chocolate has been winning awards from magazines, newspapers, websites, and more for over a decade. Whether you go for the bunny bar, one of their Easter eggs, the Bunny Bag or a non-seasonal chocolate, Moo Free’s treats will be perfect in a vegan Easter basket.
VEGO Hazelnut Chocolate Pralines – VEGO is a reputable independent vegan company. Their Vegolino Pralines are made from organic cane sugar, organic hazelnut paste (27,5 %), organic cocoa paste, organic cocoa butter, organic sunflower lecithin, and organic vanilla extract.
Although some things on this list, like sugar and cocoa, aren’t always vegan-friendly, we trust VEGO to get their ingredients from the right sources.
VEGO is a fully vegan, environmentally conscious company, and all of their products are organic and Fairtrade certified. Their packaging is all easily recyclable or compostable, and they donate 10% of their annual profits to animal and human rights organizations.
So needless to say, we love what they’re doing! We picked this product in particular because we think the decoration and convenience of individually wrapped pralines fit nicely in an Easter basket, but their other chocolates would make equally wonderful Easter treats.
YumEarth Spring Fruit Gummy Snack Packs – YumEarth is an great allergy-friendly snack business but not all of their products are vegan. Lucky for us their Spring Fruit Gummy Snack Packs are vegan and are the perfect Easter Basket stuffer. You may find the spring fruits shaped like bunnies or pieces of fruit.
The link we provided is for the bunnies. They contain Organic Rice Syrup, Organic Cane Sugar, Pectin, Citric Acid, Ascorbic Acid, Natural Flavors, Organic Color From Concentrate (Apple, Carrot, Pumpkin, BlackCurrant), Organic Sunflower Oil and Organic Carnauba Wax.
Unreal Chocolate Snacks – The Unreal Chocolate snacks, in the Milk Chocolate Gems or the Dark Chocolate Peanut Gems are 100% vegan and replicate the dairy-filled M&M & Peanut M&M’s–except they are made with much cuter colors that are perfect for your spring Easter Basket.
Easter Bunny Rabbit Poop Soap – And for fun, we found this Vegan Easter Bunny Rabbit Poop Soap! It’s made out of Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Shea Butter, Distilled Water, Sodium Hydroxide, Sodium Lactate, Kaolin Clay, Fragrance, Mica and Castor Oil. It also comes in it’s own cute tin for gifting.
Even if finding vegan food to fit a holiday can be an intimidating process, there is always a solution, so take a deep breath and relax! You should have no trouble at all gathering the perfect components to build the ultimate vegan Easter basket.
We hope our guide will make it easier for you to pick a basket, decorations, and treats that are compatible with your version of veganism, without sacrificing anything in the way of aesthetics or taste.