Easter 2015: Surviving Easter brunch as a vegetarian or vegan

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By: Danielle Waldron
dwaldron@flavor574.com

Hailey J/Flickr

As a kid, Easter and Christmas were among the only days we had carte blanche to eat junk food as much as we wanted and nobody could say anything about it. 

If your parents are anything like mine, though, they told you not to put all of your eggs in one basket — or stuff all of your candy in your face on one day. 

No matter what you practice, Easter symbolizes a few things: warmer days ahead, chocolate bunnies, pastel-colored sweets and one heavenly brunch.

But what about those who can’t munch the ears off the chocolate rabbit because they don’t eat dairy? And how do vegetarians do Easter brunch sans ham or lamb? 

HEADING OUT FOR BRUNCH 

Brunch buffets are a popular choice for large families or those with visitors — there’s always a little bit of something for everyone.

While most places share menus and options ahead of time, it’s a good idea to call ahead and ask about special diet options or allergens. Fresh fruit and oatmeal are safe options, but vegans should check to be sure the oats aren’t made with milk.

A few simple tricks could help you through the menu or buffet line: 

  • Casseroles: Be sure to check the filling of a casserole for meat, bacon bits or eggs — all popular mix-ins for breakfast casseroles. A lot of casseroles are bound with creamy soups, which are usually not vegan-friendly. 
  • Protein: Sorry, vegetarians, but there’s really no replacement for glazed ham carved for brunch. If you do eggs, get a protein boost with scrambled or hard-boiled eggs — bonus points for eating pretty dyed eggs!
  • Pastries: Never assume pastries are vegan-friendly unless it is very clearly marked. Most pastries and croissants are laden with eggs and milk. 

BRUNCH AT HOME 

It doesn’t have the convenience factor of going out for Easter brunch, but preparing your own foods for special diets at home means more options for everyone.

This is my second Easter as a vegan, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss cinnamon rolls, chocolate candy and hard-boiled eggs my Mom makes just right (I didn’t inherit that gene). 

Swap bacon and ham for mock meats if you’re into that. Popular brands like Boca and Morningstar Farms can easily be found at your nearest grocery store. 

Some specialty pastries can be purchased ahead of time at health food stores, but you can also make them at home by swapping regular milk for soy milk and switching eggs with a simple ratio of 1 tbsp. flaxseed meal and 2½ tbsp. water, according to Minimalist Baker. Whisk well and let it refrigerate before tossing into your pastry dough or batter. 

EASTER BASKET GOODIES

Chocolate bunnies and jelly beans are hard to forgo, but there are other things to clue in the Easter Bunny for: 

  • Gift cards 
  • Gum 
  • Dairy-free chocolate 
  • Hair bands 
  • Hand sanitizer or travel size lotion 

Above all, spend the holiday welcoming spring and enjoying the company of family — good food and decadent pastries are a bonus.
 

Follow digital producer Danielle Waldron on Twitter @DanielleWaldron
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