Choosing Gifts for Vegans

gift box

What's in the box, for vegans. Photo by cohdra @ morgueFile

When it comes time to give to that special vegan in your life, it is best to keep two things in mind:

1. We cannot find some of our favorite treats in vegan form, so tasty goodies are always welcome.

2. Depending on how widely we cast the net of our beliefs, we may be offended by gifts that contain animal products, gifts that contain animals products — even if they don’t involve the death of the animal or insect (for example, wool, silk and honey), gifts that come from companies that test on animals, or gifts that in any way give the impression that we support cruelty.

(Who’s Alice?)

(Alice and I are friends and former backpacking partners who write for some of the same online companies. She’s offering some topics and opinions that are a little bit different than my usuals. Not to mention that in hard times gifts do take on more importance, whether you’re vegan or not. — JT Hats)

fivefingers shoes

Bikila Five Fingers Running Shoes -- All Vegan


Many companies now seek to fill the need in the market for products created without animal involvement, without any cruelty associated with their manufacture; however, you must be vigilant when selecting an item for a vegan. Sneaky forms of meat are often included in foods and ingredients of animal origin are used within many personal products. Watch for terms such as albumen, casein, milk, milk chocolate and whey, and be aware that the phrase “natural flavors” may mask animal ingredients. If you have any doubt, look for the “V” symbol that designates an item as vegan.

If you need to search for a gift, terms such as cruelty-free, vegan, animal rights, and vegetarian (be aware these products may contain ingredients which are not vegan. Vegan is a more strict definition) may help you find appropriate products.

Many vegans are also involved in environmental causes, slow or local food movements, and prefer items with a small footprint, few or no pesticides or unneeded chemicals, etc. These interests can help you expand your gift search.

Chocolate

Who doesn’t love chocolate? Being vegan, we can’t walk into the local grocery and convenience store and expect to pick up a candy bar. We have to plan ahead for our chocolate cravings. You can help by giving a delicious treat to the vegan in your life. Whether a single bar, an assortment, or a box of filled delights, you just about can’t go wrong. There are several manufacturers who make chocolate specifically for vegans.
Lara Bar and Luna Bar — the caramel nut brownie flavor is incredible.

Vegan Candy and Chocolate Links:

Chocolate Decadence
Vegan Chocolate
Harbor Candy Shop

Clothing, Footwear and Personal Care

For vegans, finding shoes can be a major difficulty. Almost every readily available shoe is made with leather components. You may be doing your vegan a great favor if you can find a good shoe, belt or wallet. If you are unsure of size or fit, gift cards or a liberal return policy will be a great help.

A wry t-shirt slogan can make a strong political statement or simply get a laugh, but a t-shirt can also provide the wearer a way to broach the subject of vegan life, food restrictions or animal rights with others. This softer method of educating non-vegans on a vegan lifestyle may enable the wearer to get her point across without seeming confrontational.

Trinkets, mugs and keychains are  enjoyable, make good stocking stuffers and help get out the message. Younger people like to trumpet their choices, so these may be even more appreciated by them.

Personal care products are something we all need. A selection of makeup and brushes, shampoo and conditioners, lotions, soaps or creams will have practical value as well as making a good gift. Essential oils are available for the body and to provide a pleasant aroma in the home.

Strict vegans have a tough time eating out. Even restaurants that supply a complete ingredient list for their dishes may not observe strict rules within the kitchen to prevent the cross-contamination of vegan dishes with meat. And some restaurant staff are less than cooperative when you have to ask numerous questions or admit to being vegan.


Eating in can be an event if you receive a fun new batch of foods or flavors to try, so consider creating a basket of sweet and savory vegan treats or a collection of basic ingredients the recipient can use to make a favorite dish or new recipe. Spice up your vegan’s life through a gift of oils or savory ingredients. Delicious, exotic spices from around the world add to the flavor and zest of cooking. Paired with a nice cookbook or intriguing recipe, they make a nice choice year around. For college students, quick meals and snacks that can be easily prepared between work or classes are indispensable. Several selections arranged in a nice tote or backpack are the way to go.

Media

Books make a great, simple gift. Easy to carry, simple to wrap, filled with information. Whether you choose a cookbook, guide to animal rights, or a moral treatise, your gift is sure to be appreciated. Books by naturalists, poets and peacemakers; books on food politics, food production and food safety; and books on organic gardening, self-sufficiency and raising heirloom vegetables may also appeal.

A wide range of magazines on special interests are also available.

Of course vegans love music! You need not find a “vegan” band to give appropriate music. If your vegan is into yoga, mood music is a good choice. If your vegan is political or into culture, world music is a fantastic choice. Unsure what he will like? Consider an iTunes gift card.

Wrapping

You may want to find a recycled wrap or one which can be recycled, use a gift bag, or even give the gift without wrapping. A fantastic idea: buy a scarf or length of cloth, one which can then be used for another purpose, to use as wrapping. Simply wrap it around the gift and knot the ends for your “bow.”

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