At this time of year, the clocks go forward, the days get a little longer and there’s (usually!) a feeling of excitement that spring has finally sprung! People are preparing to spend Easter weekend with their loved ones (whether it is enjoying each other’s company in person or virtually), and of course, the food.
We have the choice to opt-out of the traditions of cruelty that many of us have been raised on. The wonderful variety of delicious vegan chocolates, recipes and treats means that we can enjoy this time of year even more knowing that we’re not causing animal suffering.
As we lead up to Easter, take a moment to look around as you run your errands in your local supermarket and watch the adverts on your television. What can you see? Chocolate eggs, painted eggs, depictions of spring meadows and young lambs, happy families sharing special times. Easter is synonymous with spring – new life, new beginnings and a fresh start. But there’s something disturbing about how it is often packaged up, marketed and sold to us.
Adverts invite us to fill our homes with spring bunnies, eggs galore and to stock up well to feed our loved ones over the long weekend. Springtime is celebrated with new life – fluffy chicks, leaping lambs and other young animals exploring their world, under the watchful and loving eyes of their mothers.
But little do these babies know, the world they have come into is not as it seems. Cruelty has no season, it happens all year round – and this is why it seems even more heart-breaking when we know the reality of what is going to happen to these animals – in the guise of celebration.
According to the natural fertility cycles of ewes, they would give birth in spring following a five-month pregnancy. However, many farmers now choose to lamb in the winter months instead, changing the ewe’s natural cycle in order to have lambs big enough to slaughter for the Easter rush.
But lambs born in the middle of winter are at great risk of freezing to death on cold nights as they are exposed to the elements – and many do. Young male lambs are also often castrated and most lambs have their tails docked, both are painful procedures that are performed without pain relief.
How can we talk about Easter and spring without mentioning eggs? Chocolate eggs are everywhere and many people spend hours meticulously painting hard-boiled eggs so that children can enjoy an Easter egg hunt on the big day. But the truth is, the egg industry has hidden cruelty – even if the eggs are organic and free-range. Male chicks are useless to the egg industry and are killed at just one-day-old by gassing or maceration (ground alive) – whether born into the caged or free-range system.
Hens are selectively bred to lay 250-300 eggs a year, instead of the 10-15 they would do naturally, meaning their bodies are worn out after just 18 months and they are sent to the slaughterhouse – again regardless if they were caged or free-range.
Chocolatey treats also come with hidden cruelty if made with cow’s milk. Many people don’t realise that cows, just like our mothers, only produce milk when they have had a baby. For us to drink the cow’s milk her calf is taken away within a day or two of birth.
If the calf is male he is useless to the dairy industry so will either be killed at birth (being a dairy breed he will not produce ‘high quality’ meat), killed at around four months old for veal or sent to a feedlot for 12-18 months and then killed for low-grade beef. Female calves follow in their mother’s footsteps and spend 3-4 years giving birth to young who will be torn away from her so that we can have her milk until her body is worn out and she is sent to the slaughterhouse.
The good news is that the wonderful variety of delicious vegan chocolates, recipes and treats now available means we can enjoy this time of year without contributing to the suffering of lambs, chicks or cows. We have the choice to opt-out of the traditions of cruelty that we’ve been raised on, and Veganuary is here to help support you every step of the way.
Join us in our mission to save millions of animals! Try vegan for a month and we’ll send recipes, tips and resources to make it easy.