Dear EarthTalk: I'm looking for cool holiday gift ideas for a strident vegan who won't tolerate items that make use of animals or animal products. Any ideas? -- Doug Halpern, Washington, DC
Well...an Omaha Steaks gift box is definitely off the table as an idea, but there are plenty of great gift options for the vegans or even just the animal-friendly among us. Food-wise, how about a gift certificate to the recipient's favorite vegan restaurant or natural foods store? Or how about a subscription to Vegan Cuts' monthly "Vegan Snack Box" containing chips, cookies, sodas, teas and other vegan goodies, delivered right to the doorstep? Kids (and their vegan parents) might like Vegan Cuts' No Whey! Christmas Extravaganza! Gift Box containing an assortment of vegan candies including whey-free chocolate. Yet another option is Vegan Store's Care Package Basket, containing vegan versions of mac'n'cheese, jerky, parmesan, cookies, taco filling, chocolate bars and even "chicken" noodle soup.
Personal care products are another retail segment where vegan products are starting to flood the marketplace. Lush Cosmetics, Mineral Fusion and Andalou are just a few of hundreds of U.S. based firms now selling vegan-friendly make-up, moisturizer, soap, shampoo and other health and beauty products. To find more, check out the Environmental Working Group (EWG) free "Skin Deep" cosmetics database.
DIY-types might want to consider making their own vegan health and beauty products to give to that finicky vegan you love. Earth911 has collected and linked out to a list of some 50 "recipes" you can use to make your own peppermint sugar scrub bars, calendula lavender salves or coconut mocha face masks.
And remember: Being vegan is about much more than what you put in or slather on your body. If that special vegan someone needs new kicks, check out Merrell's line of vegan-friendly shoes and sandals, featuring a wide range of casual and technical footwear options for men and women. Some other manufacturers of vegan-friendly active footwear lines include Garmont, Brooks, Wills, Lowa, Treksta, Keen and Zamberlan. Meanwhile, the vegan glamour girl on your list might like a new pair of heels from OlsenHaus, which crafts stylish women's footwear from renewable plant-based materials and man-made materials--but no animal products despite the fact that their shoes often look like real leather or suede.
Vegans who like to wear their lifestyle choice on their sleeve might like a t-shirt or bracelet from the online store of leading vegan blogger Vegan Zombie. Screen-printed designs look hip and feature pro-vegan messaging. And warm up that chilly vegan with Save the Duck's Hooded Puffer Jacket featuring Plumtech down-replacement vegan insulation. For a wealth of additional ideas for gifts for vegans with a flair for clothing, check out the non-profit Farm Sanctuary's Vegan Fashion Shopping List which links out to dozens of animal-friendly, cruelty-free clothing and footwear lines.
Of course, non-vegans would love receiving any of these gifts as well, giving the giver the satisfaction of doing the right thing by animals and the environment whether or not the recipient appreciates it.
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