Halloween treats and ahimsa

Do I uphold the yama (moral rule) of ahimsa (non-violence)? My automatic answer is, “Of course.”

When I think of non-violence, my mind leaps to egregious examples of violence. Murder. Arson. Chasing cats with vacuum cleaners. I’d never do any of that.

But then I read books that define ahimsa broadly. In addition to not harming other living beings, it also means not harming the environment or yourself. So, you’re violating ahimsa if you blithely eat takeout food using throwaway plastic containers and utensils, or if you’re still kicking yourself over wasting your 20s in a misguided relationship.

Which leads me to Halloween. We typically give trick-or-treaters the usual stuff, from fun-size M&M packs to Hershey miniatures. They’re cute and nostalgic; who can resist candies with names like Mr Goodbar or SweeTarts? But of course “milk chocolate” is barely chocolate, just a crazy amount of sugar and the bad type of fat. The appeal of cheap candy lasts for 15 seconds. It’s not worth it!

So why give that junk to innocent, impressionable little kids? Might that be a violation of ahimsa?

products_raisins_minisnacks_lThis year I got raisins for trick-or-treaters, plus a bag of milk chocolate squares (the raisins looked too earnest). Then, at the last minute, someone else in my household got a box of Ferraro Rocher chocolates for the kids. So, we ended up being kiddie sugar suppliers again.61UZRh4xTkL._SL500_AA280_

Maybe it’s no big deal. Despite my eating a ton of mainstream candy as a kid, I was always twig-thin. My childhood penchant for sugar petered out in college, with no residual ill effects; I did not lose my teeth or become an adult junk-food junkie. In fact, I cherish my memories of trick-or-treating and gathering a ridiculous amount of loot. Would my memories be as colorful if I’d never chewed a Tootsie Roll or nibbled a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup or salivated at the mere sight of Jolly Rancher Watermelon Stix?

Still, if it were up to me, I’d banish mainstream candy. It’s too sugary, too artificial, and way too plentiful.


  1. I have a theory that food should increase in cost as it gets less healthful for you. So fresh fruit and veggies would be 50 cents and candy bars would be sold by the pound at a higher rate. A salad at a restaurant would be $5 and a cheeseburger $10. The world would be a better place!


  2. I think banish would be too harsh, but at least get it AWAY from kid height at the check out counters at the Supermarket.
    Luring kids to a tantrum and the parents to buy the poison in effort to quell an embarrassing scene.
    We did give out candy, but for our kids, they snack on Sunbars and Nuplus.


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