Published by PETA.
Easter is meant to be one of those great holidays in which Christians share quality time with their families and celebrate their religion in a festive and peaceful manner. But somewhere along the way, the message got skewed and animals have paid the price for it.

Growing up, tradition was an important part of my family. Despite the family bonding that happened around Easter, I always felt as though some aspects of our Easter tradition just didn’t quite fit the compassionate message that Jesus seemed to stand for.

As far back as I can remember, my mother would wake me up every Easter morning, and I’d excitedly get dressed in a pastel, floral getup—the kind that includes frilly socks and a pink woven wide-brimmed hat. I’d slip into my purple wool cardigan while my mother donned her massive black mink coat.

We would then go to church and come home for the long-established Easter egg hunt (using real eggs that we’d dyed the day before). Afterwards, my sister and I would tear through our Easter baskets, which were filled to the brim with milk chocolate coins. Easter dinner would typically consist of a gigantic roast, potatoes with turkey gravy, bread and butter, dirty rice, and seafood gumbo.

Years later at 13, I began questioning everything. I asked myself why we ate foods that cost animals their lives and why animals were killed to make coats. I began to research how animals are exploited and quickly went vegetarian after I discovered the gruesome truth that I had searched for.

Now as an adult, I still celebrate Easter but put my own twist on the traditions so that no one has to suffer for my celebration. On Easter morning last year, I slipped on a cute lavender summer dress with a cotton cardigan. I donned my new pleather wedge heels and walked a few blocks to church. For Easter dinner, I cooked up a savory vegan gumbo (a recipe that my mother was excited to come up with from scratch!), and for dessert, I enjoyed a vegan dark-chocolate bunny that my parents had mailed to me.

Cruelty-free Easter? I think the peaceful Jesus that I’ve grown familiar with would agree with that sentiment.

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