Vegan holiday gifts (that aren’t just more stuff)

If you’re in the US, it’s pretty hard to miss that Christmas is around the corner–oh, and businesses everywhere would really like it if you would shop ’til you drop.

I enjoy celebrating Christmas, and I’m all for supporting businesses that share my values, especially local, vegan ones. But I cringe at the amount of waste that often comes with all that shopping, and sometimes it’s hard to find the right match of a gift both you and the recipient will feel good about.

Here are some ideas to help you over that hurdle, and help humans and animals alike have a great holiday.

  • They’re tried and true for a reason: food gifts can work for just about anyone, and it’s particularly rewarding to introduce people skeptical of vegan diets to delicious chocolates or other goodies.
    Vegan chocolates from the Violet Sweet Shoppe in Seattle

    Recent finds at the Violet Sweet Shoppe’s new, all-vegan candy store in Seattle. The hazelnut-truffle log is To Die For.

    You can buy fancy vegan treats at Violet Sweet Shoppe, Vegan Haven, Food Fight or an online store like Vegan Essentials.

  • If you’re handy in the kitchen, you can save money and packaging *and* impress your friends, family and coworkers with homemade cookies, bread, preserves, or whatever suits your skills and tastes. Need inspiration? Vegan Cuts not only sells foody things you might want to give, but they posted a great little list of recipes-in-jars you can make yourself. Pinterest is absolutely full of any combination of vegan/crafty/food/gift ideas you can imagine. The book Vegan Food Gifts, which I received myself as a present last year, also has lots of great options.
    Vegan Food Gifts book, by Joni Marie Newman

    This book includes both recipes and tips and patterns for nicely presenting the finished products.

    Remember that not all food gifts need to be sweet–with all the desserts weighing down tables this time of year, quick makings of a hearty stew or spiced nuts can be welcome alternatives.

  • If your local farmer’s market is still running, be sure to check the stalls for ideas! You might find locally made wines, beautiful heirloom beans (that could join your favorite soup recipe as a lovely gift for a cook), nuts, jams, pickles, and lots of other items that will make both the recipient and a local farm family very happy.
  • Do your friends and family like to drink? Wine, craft beers and spirits all can make thoughtful gifts, and with handy resources like Barnivore, choosing vegan options is easy. If you’re shopping at a small winery, brewery or distillery that’s not yet listed on Barnivore, you can ask the proprietors directly about their processing, and support a small business while you’re at it.
  • Don’t forget “experience” gifts! If there’s a museum, park, activity, artist or other interest dear to your gift recipient, think about tickets or gift certificates to add some more of those favorite things to the lives of your loved ones. For spending quality time with a special someone, did you know that both Portland and Whidbey Island, WA have entirely vegan B&Bs?

Last but certainly not least, don’t forget about the extra-generous gift of donating to a charity on someone’s behalf. Invest a bit of time to think of a charity that represents values both you and the recipient share, and make a contribution of any size in the person’s name. Some organizations will notify the honoree directly upon request; otherwise, you can share the good news in a nice card. Vegan Outreach is a wonderful organization that reaches millions of people each year with information on why and how to go vegan, and they happen to have a fund-match in effect through the end of this year, so your gift will go twice as far. Other fantastic options are your local animal sanctuary or shelter, or a food bank, like Northwest Harvest, which will readily earmark your donation specifically for fresh produce upon request.

However you celebrate the winter holidays, if gift-giving is on your list I hope this helps with some ideas. I’d also love to hear your suggestions for favorite recipes, causes, or traditions, or new things you’re trying this year.

**Note: I’m not compensated in any way for these or any other recommendations. These are simply businesses, products and non-profits I like and think you might as well. 

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