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On Halloween night, ask not for whom the doorbell rings. It rings for thee. by Vicki F. Stevens, VLCE

I hope you’re not one of those people who pull the shades, turn off all the lights and hide from trick-or-treaters on Halloween night. In addition to being super-Scroogey (if you don’t mind me mixing my holiday metaphors), you’re missing out on a perfect opportunity to spread a message of kindness to animals along with a sweet, tasty, vegan treat. Think about it—unlike at a tabling event where you sit and hope people approach you so that you can engage them, on Halloween the kids come straight to your door!

Every All Hallow’s Eve for the past two decades, my husband Richard and I have prepared and distributed vegan Halloween treat bags to the trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood. We fill each bag with an assortment of vegan goodies, including the all-important message item. For example, this year each treat bag will contain a dark chocolate peanut butter cup, a packet of “bunnies & bats” fruit snacks, a mini-chocolate bar and a jumbo magnet that reads, “Be kind to the animals. Especially the small ones. They’re very delicate.”

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Note: I purchased the magnets from Upon request, they gave me a generous discount on a bulk order.

Since I’ve become a nutritionist I don’t like giving out candy that contains high fructose corn syrup or artificial colors. In past years we’ve included non-candy items in the treat bags as well, such as Halloween-themed pencils, mini-comic books and monster-shaped rubber finger puppets. Message items we’ve distributed have included homemade stickers—some featuring our cat Serena—temporary tattoos and “be kind” buttons.

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Be careful if you include a button, though. You’ll want to take steps to ensure kids don’t accidentally stick themselves with the sharp pin. When we’ve included buttons, we’ve attached them to backing boards with a warning—in English and Spanish—to be careful of the pin.

You may be thinking our treat bags are rather elaborate; we are able to spend a bit more because we tend to get fewer than 30 trick-or-treaters each year. (Plus, we just really enjoy doing this.) If you are lucky enough to get 50 or more kids ringing your bell—or you simply want to keep costs down—you can still spread a pro-animal message without breaking the bank. For example, consider attaching a message sticker to a piece of candy or a toy. The point is to pair the positive message (“be kind to animals”) with positive reinforcement (vegan treat!).

I encourage you to be thoughtful about the message you include in the treat bags.”Be kind to animals” is a sentiment everyone can agree with, appropriate for all ages. Your goal is to spread a positive vegan message, not anger parents and have them prohibit their kids from ever trick-or-treating at your house again.

We have no data on the impact our yearly treat bags might have on their recipients. At the very least, we hope we are planting a seed of kindness and raising awareness of vegan brands.

So, on October 31st, queue up the spooky music, turn on the porch light and answer that doorbell or knock with a vegan treat bag in hand!

Vicki F. Stevens, VLCEA nearly 30-year veteran of the animal welfare field, Vicki F. Stevens, VLCE, has led and contributed to a variety of programs at national animal protection organizations. In her spare time Vicki has earned a BA in women’s studies, an MS in nutrition and integrative health and has raised six cats (most formerly feral) to geriatric adulthood. Vegan since 1988, Vicki is unapologetically obsessed with the English Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and thinks Keats stinks. Visit Vicki on Twitter.


  1. I love these ideas, Vicki. The year I gave out your leftover temporary tattoos, all the kids were clamoring for them. I need to hunker down and put some thought into this year’s offerings. I love Halloween, I love trick-or-treaters, and I love combining it all with some animal advocacy to youngsters.

  2. Catherine says:

    I am so grateful for these ideas. I was a bit stumped as to what to give the trick or treaters this year, but i hadn’t even thought of non-edible items. Looking forward to getting my treats together.