Vegan gifts: How to choose them and where to source them

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Buying gifts for a vegan doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming, if you know what to look for and the questions to ask sellers. For an easy introduction into buying for plant-based loved ones, read on.

The following tips will help you get it right every time, whether you’re buying birthday gifts, Christmas presents or anything else.

Know the difference between vegan and cruelty-free

vegan vs cruelty freeTo the uninitiated, these two phrases could mean the same thing, but they don’t. Anything labelled as vegan will be cruelty-free by default, but the same cannot be said for the other way around. Always try to ascertain fully vegan credentials, and if you’re not sure, contact the manufacturer before buying. Don’t be fooled by a Leaping Bunny mark either. This simply means that no animal testing has occurred to make the product, not that the ingredients are free from animals themselves.

Read more about the difference between vegan and cruelty-free.

Understanding terminology such as cruelty-free will be especially important if you are planning to buy cosmetic or skincare gift sets. Unless specifically labelled as vegan, they could contain a number of animal derivatives, such as beeswax, carmine, lanolin, honey and gelatin, all of which are avoided by strictly plant-based people.

If you get really stuck, try looking at vegan makeup artists and skincare specialists, to see which products they use in their own kits and what they recommend to their followers. But don’t forget that celebrity lines often tap into trendy markets, such as veganism. Kat Von D has an extensive makeup range that is all vegan, Rihanna’s Fenty line has a lot of suitable options as well. 

Try to support small businesses

black-owned businessesIt’s by no means a hard and fast rule, but if you’re buying for a vegan, they will most likely appreciate you going the extra mile and finding an independent retailer to support. Supporting small businesses that make niche products helps to increase demand and contributes to accessibility.

Another benefit of shopping small is that you are more likely to be able to find out detailed information about production methods, often through a one-on-one conversation rather than through a faceless contact form. If you explain that you are looking to buy for someone who leads a vegan lifestyle, they should be able to help you avoid anything that doesn’t fit the bill, therefore minimising time lost.

Artisan gift ideas from small independents can be extra personal, so jewellery and keepsakes work well. For a vegan that wears their heart on their sleeve, a pendant that displays their plant-based status would be a lovely idea, but more subtle offerings, such as bespoke keyrings, would be fantastic too.

Don’t be afraid to take the food route

vegan food giftsYou don’t need to eat a plant-based diet to be able to put together a tasty and varied hamper, and it’s a vegan gift that is guaranteed to be well received. Despite what some people think, veganism isn’t a restrictive diet at all and has produced many foodies that can’t wait to try the latest and greatest mainstream substitutes, as well as weirder snacks that shouldn’t work but do. Chocolate-covered chickpeas anyone?

If you’d rather not take the lead and curate a box of goodies yourself, there are plenty of excellent online retailers that offer varying sizes of gift hampers and you can even select a recurring monthly treat package, as a subscription service. These usually contain the newest releases and the more unusual flavour profiles.

Take all the guesswork out of pampering

cruelty-free spaWho wouldn’t enjoy a day of pampering? Vegans, if they can’t be sure that the products being used are aligned to their ethical choices. You might not realise, but everything has the potential to be animal-based, from massage oil to nail varnish and even the candles lit in the studio. If you can find a location that seeks to avoid animal products, you have a winning idea in terms of vegan gifts that will be hard to beat.

Essential oils shouldn’t be a problem, if they are high quality and unadulterated, but everything else poses a risk. Even if you simply want to book a haircut for your recipient, you’d need to think about what shampoos and conditioners are used, colour brands and even the types of brushes being used. When you start to get into the nitty-gritty, it becomes clear what a minefield vegans have to navigate, just to enjoy some me-time.

Gift vouchers aren’t a lazy option

vegan gift vouchersBefore you rush off to your nearest WHSmith, we aren’t talking about ‘standard’ gift vouchers here. You’ll find that most independent shops now offer some kind of voucher scheme, to allow supportive friends and family members to buy something that gives choice as the ultimate present. Restaurants are increasingly getting in on the act as well. If you’ve been for dinner somewhere you know your recipient loved, why not simply ask if they offer a pre-paid option?

We recommend that you play it safe and buy vouchers for fully vegan companies, just in case there has been a shift in ethics that you don’t know about yet. Some people suddenly stop supporting any company that sells products made from animals, and you wouldn’t want to waste your money.

Support a cause

vegan giftsDid your loved one turn to veganism as a result of something specific? If so, you could make a donation to a relevant cause, in their name, as an incredibly thoughtful and selfless present. There are thousands of animal sanctuaries in the UK, all of which need more money for food and supplies, not to mention animal advocate charities that seek to make real change in commercial industries.

Charities always need financial support and to have their message spread far and wide, which is why making a donation, supporting via direct debit or sponsoring an animal can make a tangible difference, while also making the vegan in your life feel glad that they are the root cause of your generosity. Look close to home as well, in case you have local organisations that would be glad of funding. Alternative food banks are starting to become more prevalent and are always in need of support as they rarely receive as much as mainstream food donation centres.

Pay for a membership

gift ideas for vegansIs your intended gift receiver a card-carrying vegan? If not, what a great idea for a gift. Yearly membership to The Vegan Society gives them access to a huge range of resources, puts them in contact with likeminded people and can be an inroad into more community involvement.

The Vegan Society has long been a source of unbiased and non-extremist information and has recently launched its new youth membership, so if you are buying for someone under the age of 26, it’s just £5 for a full year. There’s plenty of volunteering opportunities, information about new campaigns and everyone in the society itself is so helpful.

Quick ideas for vegan gifts

vegan presentsWhen time is of the essence and you simply need to click and buy something that you know is vegan-friendly, we think the following are thoughtful yet unfussy:

  1. Natural coconut shell bowls, for the ultimate in social media-worthy smoothie bowl posts. You could go a little further and include some unusual buy trendy ingredients as well, including tiger nuts and spirulina.
  2. A reusable coffee cup with extra eco points thanks to a cork heat-protective band. Customise the colour scheme too, for a more personal touch.
  3. Sustainable clothing. If your vegan recipient is a fan of dungarees, check out some of the UK companies who are paying a fair wage to their workers and offering transparency about overseas manufacturing methods.
  4. Makeup gift sets from reputable vegan companies. Keep things neutral if you aren’t sure and look for glitzy packaging that can be recycled or reused.
  5. A stylish diffuser, complete with a selection of essential oils. We recommend choosing a selection that is geared towards relaxation, better sleep and relieving headaches.
  6. Sonic face cleansers make light work of washing away the day’s grime and they happen to be a beauty must-have right now too. Wrap with a suitable face scrub as well for bonus brownie points.
  7. A selection of vegan lip balms might not sound exciting, but when you consider that most contain either beeswax or lanolin, having a stash of quality balm in stock is a valuable commodity.
  8. New cookbooks are being released all the time and nobody ever said that being able to whip up too much tasty food is a bad thing. Buy a book that focuses on seasonal vegan eating for a sustainable edge.
  9. Fancy fizz. It’s true, you can find vegan wines and champagne, and in limited edition funky bottles too, just in time for Christmas.
  10. A food delivery subscription helps the busy vegan foodie in your life eat well and with minimal fuss.

Buying vegan gifts isn’t a mammoth task, especially if you can spend a few minutes looking into which brands come recommended by respected societies and groups. Remember that knowledge is power and that makes for excellent presents.

Amy Buxton
Amy Buxton
Amy is a committed ethical vegan, raising a next generation compassionate human with her husband and their beloved dog, Boo. A freelance writer with a background in PR, she decided to use the COVID lockdown period to refocus her client base and has come to The Vegan Review as a senior writer and editor, before moving into her external content director role. "What we should be doing is working at the job of life itself" is Amy's mantra, courtesy of Tom from The Good Life.