Gift shopping for vegans

Want some helpful pointers on shopping for us vegans? Stumped about what veganism even is? Here are three simple guidelines for shopping for us. 



Vegans appreciate:

1. Food that is free of animal ingredients (no meat, dairy, eggs, or honey)

2. Items that are free of animal “stuff” (no wool or down, cashmere, leather, silk, etc.)

3. Cruelty-free products (i.e. stuff that isn’t tested on animals, doesn’t include beeswax).

How can you make sure an item is vegan?

Food: Some labels include “Vegan” or a “V. You can also check the ingredients; many food labels list allergens in bold (milk, eggs).

Clothing: Most clothing and accessory labels list the materials it’s made from. (Some leather is vegan! Learn more.)

Health and beauty products: Check for labels that say “cruelty-free” or have the leaping bunny logo.

Misc: Avoid items that include carmine, palm oil, gelatin, beeswax, whey, and casein.

Feeling overwhelmed (or like there’s nothing left to gift)? Check out these great links for shopping/cooking/whatever: 

Also, you can google “vegan gift guide” to find lots of great curated lists. You might also think outside of the box and consider giving vegan magazine subscriptions, gift certificates to local vegan eateries, vegan cookbooks, DONUTS!!, etc. And, of course, you can also always ask for a wish list. 🙂

Oh, and one other thought: I’d recommend avoiding gifts that poke fun at veganism–the holidays are already stressful and the subject of veganism is often a passionate one, especially for ethical vegans. Why not leave the debates for Facebook? 😉

Thanks for helping your friends be kind. They will certainly appreciate it!


“Why did you create this?”: The backstory

Holidays are cancelled

“That’s it–we’re adults. We don’t need gifts anymore.”

Confession: When I first went vegan, I didn’t trust my family to buy vegan gifts for my husband and me. My family is the type to go overboard for the holidays. Thoughtful gifts, impulse buys, humorous items, and enough non-vegan candy to last until St. Patrick’s Day. I confess that I already have too much stuff (and I have trouble parting with it, despite reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up). And after going vegan two years ago, my first thought was that I couldn’t possibly explain to my family what veganism included–and most importantly excluded (i.e. everything Hershey’s!).  Which led to my next thought: “That’s it–we’re adults. We don’t need gifts anymore.”

Needless to say, my suggestion last year of a “one gift holiday” was awkward, especially as my husband and I were the only ones who stuck to it. (The two Ziplok bags of chocolate candy made me a hero with my coworkers, though.)

As the holidays approach, I’m realizing that maybe I’d been selfish–and maybe a little naive, thinking I could drastically change our family traditions so fast. But most of all, maybe I wasn’t trusting enough. So this year, rather than poo-pooing gifts, I asked if our family could do a “themed” exchange. I thought this would add the fun back into the event while decreasing the amount of stuff to be bought and wrapped (and eventually stored somewhere). I suggested giving something edible, something homemade/personal, or something humorous/ridiculous. My mom pounced, asking we do all three for each couple. Everyone agreed and I was happy. What a great start!

Does my family even know what veganism is?

But as I was making my shopping list today of what I was going to buy for my family (and hitting my regular cruelty-free online shops), I realized I hadn’t given a single line of guidance as to what we would like to be given. Does my family even know what veganism is? I wondered.

I mean, I assumed my family knew what veganism included, but when I think about it, we’ve only talked about it a couple times–and both were discussions over ethics, not details. And when my husband reminded me how a close friend of ours originally thought “veganism” was only eating raw foods? Right. I needed to speak up; otherwise, my joker brother would give us something like three bell peppers (insisting “they’re vegan!”) and my mom would fill our Christmas stockings with Hershey’s again.

Don’t assume! Ask for what you want.

Taking the advice that’s usually given for romantic relationships, I decided to ask my family for what I wanted, rather than assuming and setting myself up for disappointment–or bell peppers. So I created a short, easy vegan gift buying guide for my family. But after emailing this to my family, I realized this might be helpful for others, so here it is! (Note: I’ve edited it a bit to make it fit a broader audience–I definitely didn’t use that market-y speak in an email.)

Am I worried I’m being presumptuous? Oooh, yes. No doubt (confession #2: I’ve sent the email but haven’t heard back yet). But I have to remind myself that my family isn’t spending every day scanning labels like I am. They may not even know what to look for (I sure didn’t at first!) or that things like leather or down are a no-no.

If you’ve read this far, I would love to hear from you!

If you’re not vegan, how would you feel about getting a list like this from a family member? (Please don’t say you’d want to punch them.) And what do you get for the vegans in your life? Where do you shop?

If you are vegan, did I miss something? And how do you handle the holidays with the omnis in your life? Have you set boundaries for gift giving?

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