Unfortunately we don’t live in a cruelty-free world. Things are always easier to swallow when we just ‘assume’ and ‘hope’ that all the ingredients we consume have come from responsible kind farmers who genuinely care for the things they farm and not just their profit. Maybe that was the case once upon a time, but with the modern day demand and eating habits we have become accustomed to, sadly this is far from reality.
I think we are all slightly deluded in thinking that eggs (even free range) come from happy, free hens. Our milk from a sweet cow with a bell around it’s neck, being milked gently by a heidi-esq attractive woman in yellow daisy-filled sunny fields. Meat from frolicking happy pigs, cows and chickens, who skip their way to the slaughterhouse after a ‘great life’ being stimulated and roaming free. Chocolate is no exception. We think of it as a guilty pleasure with few consequences, however they contain an ingredient whose farming is contributing to climate change and destroying the orangutans natural habitat... Palm Oil.
As the WWF puts it: "Palm oil is the most widely consumed vegetable oil on the planet, and it is in about half of all packaged products sold in the supermarket. While palm oil is the most efficient source of vegetable oil, its rapid expansion and uncontrolled clearing of irreplaceable tropical rainforests threatens some of the planet’s most important and sensitive habitats home to orangutans, tigers, elephants & rhinos."  For a more detailed explanation and excellent visual graphic, have a look at this WWF’s article
There are an extortionate amount of products that contain this incredibly popular fatty acid - it is in everything! From shampoo, bread and biodiesel to make-up, chocolate and biscuits. And yes, that includes our beloved Easter Eggs!
Palm Oil and Animal-Free Easter Eggs (hell yes - where can I find them?!)
Quite a tricky thing to find, so we have done the work for you and here are our favourites:
Booja Booja: exquisite indulgence made with simple organic ingredients and everything is dairy, gluten and soya free. http://www.boojabooja.com/
Moo Free: award winning dairy, gluten, wheat, lactose, casein free. Suitable for vegetarians and registered vegan, made using organic and ethically sourced ingredients wrapped up in fun, environmentally friendly packaging. http://www.moofreechocolates.com/
Free From: scrumptious alternative to milk and dark chocolate, with zesty choc treats. Free from dairy, wheat and gluten. No artificial colours, flavours or hydrogenated fat. Suitable for vegetarians and coeliacs.
Divine: the only fair trade and ethical chocolate company which is 44% owned by cocoa farmers.
While Fairtrade ensures farmers receive a better deal for their cocoa and additional income to invest in their community, company ownership gives farmers a share of Divine’s profits and a stronger voice in the cocoa industry. http://www.divinechocolate.com/uk/
Keltar: online store selling unique buscuits, chocolates and sweets, only using products that are palm oil free or made using certified sustainable palm oil. http://www.keltar.com/chocolate/palm-oil-free-chocolate/
While I am sure there are more options out there, it is clear to me that these fantastic alternatives need to be far more readily available and offered alongside the onslaught of unethical chocolate that is overflowing from every other shop, and equally targeted towards children.
I dream of an ethical Easter Egg Hunt! (we have to dream big don’t we?!)
Easter is also a time when we consume one of the highest amounts of meat.
Mass farming is not only inexplicably cruel to living animals, (only for them to get the consolation prize of a horrific, merciless journey to their painful, torturous death), it is also seriously damaging our planet.
It is in all our best interests that we certainly drastically reduce our meat intake or better yet - eliminate it. A tough thought I know for a meat eater, but certainly not impossible. It doesn’t have to be cold turkey - pardon the pun! Any reduction is better than none. I have found it is better gradually, and it allows your tastes to re-develop. I have made that journey myself recently and am currently enjoying being a mostly-not-strictly vegetarian - more of a pescatarian I suppose (though I hate labels or any feeling of strict rules), who is actively trying to reduce my fish intake too. Having been a meat eater all my life, with a 'meat is necessary', 'meat is the most delicious' and dated 'meat is your only main source of protein' trained brain, it was not an easy switch initially. Knowing what really goes on to mass farmed animals (please watch the film Earthlings if you don't already have an up to date understanding) was something I couldn't ignore anymore and it has felt so amazing to finally have the strength to align my actions with my ethical values. What you buy, you vote for in life - I simply couldn't possibly vote for and therefore enable and encourage this continual abhorent treatment of beautiful animals. Every vote really does count. However, the abundance of exciting, nutritious and absolutely DELICIOUS vegetarian/vegan food has certainly made it easier, as well as opening up my eyes and tastebuds to such an exciting and inspiring world that I urge everyone to explore. Without rules or boundaries.
Here are some wonderful ideas for a meat-free Easter
For those who simply need something meaty to bite - Mussels!
Mussels instead of Beef or other farmed animals are a much healthier and environmentally friendly option. They contain more protein than beef, more vitamins, less fat, are far cheaper, super quick to cook, take on all world flavours with ease, are mouth wateringly delicious and have absolutely no impact on the environment.
Veggies are the HEROES
Below are a couple of my favourite inspirational women - chefs - food lovers, who really do make the humble vegetable shine like a superhero.
Poppy & the Bees - Awesome vegetable, garden and bee lover (and bee keeper!) Louise is a true inspiration and has some incredibly tasty and exciting recipes that she creates with produce straight from her vast and bountiful garden all year round. She is constantly creating new thoughtful, delicious recipes with the planet at the forefront of all of her choices. And to be able to harvest your very own honey from your very own bees?! Pure gold! Literally. It's safe to say that I am quite in Awe :) Here are a few recipes to try your hand at, perfect for the Easter table to share among good friends and family. (All links to the recipes are at bottom of this article)
Anna Jones - Anna believes that vegetables should be put at the centre of every table, and is devoted to helping people make a long-term commitment to eating well and feeling amazing. I bought her incredible book 'A Modern Way to Eat' and have literally squealed my way through many of her recipes. Exciting, simple, achievable dishes that I highly recommend. Here are a few to tantalise your tastebuds ...
And finally, a fabulous Easter table would be incomplete without these delightful ethically made mixed cotton napkins. Whatever the weather, Spring will have definitely sprung with these colourful buds blooming from the plates, and all trimmed off nicely with a pretty cotton lace edge.
Here are the links to all those delicious recipes:
Leek & Fennel Gratin - http://poppyandthebees.com/leek-fennel-gratin/
Blushing Beetroot & Potato Boulangere - http://poppyandthebees.com/blushing-beetroot-potato-boulangere/
Mushroom & Asparagus Tart- http://poppyandthebees.com/mushroom-asparagus-tart-with-harissa-spiced-feta/
Arancini - Creamy Vegan Risotto Balls - http://poppyandthebees.com/arancini-crunchy-creamy-risotto-balls/
Parsnip Pancake Fritters - http://poppyandthebees.com/parsnip-pancake-fritters-with-garlicy-spinach/
Beetroot Tart - http://annajones.co.uk/recipe/beetroot-tart
Smoky White Bean Quesadillas - http://annajones.co.uk/recipe/launch-party-quesadillas
Mushroom & White Bean Burger - http://annajones.co.uk/recipe/really-hungry-burger
Cranberry Pear Tart - http://annajones.co.uk/recipe/cranberry-pear-tart-with-an-oat-pecan-and-honey-crust
Elderflower & Pistachio Polenta Cake - http://annajones.co.uk/recipe/elderflower-pistachio-cake