Gifts for vegans and vegetarians are readily available through hundreds of online retailers and hundreds of popular gourmet food stores, health food stores and stores, such as Whole Foods and Trader Joes. A number of retail shops such as Los Angeles’s Alternative Outfitters or Humanitaire in Costa Mesa CA, are also chock full of awesome vegan gifts. Just a few offerings available at vegan gift stores include all-vegan, cruelty-free, and sweatshop-free shoes, belts, bags, wallets, guitar straps, t-shirts, faux fur and makeup.
When shopping outside of designated vegan and vegetarian stores, there are a few things to be aware of when selecting gifts for vegetarian/vegan friends or family members. You can’t go wrong with items that help vegan-supported organizations such as Green People (www.greenpeople.org), the International Vegetarian Union (www.ivu.org) and the Green Products Alliance (www.greenproductsalliance.com). Also, read the labels. Words like organic, cruelty-free, botanical, fair trade, herbal, handmade and natural will keep you out of the faux pas zone and in the safe zone. If you’re buying food for your vegan friend, even foods made with gelatin or honey are off limits. So read, read, and then read some more! The general rule of thumb is to avoid meat, fish and fowl-based ingredients for strict vegetarians. Also avoid fish oils, lard and gelatin. For vegans, avoid everything on the list above in addition to eggs, honey and dairy. Again, go organic whenever you can.
When buying vegan gifts such as clothes, you don’t have to stick to hemp only. Seek out cotton fabrics, linen and bamboo, and detailing made of plastic, rubber, metal, cloth or wood. Never buy a vegan or a strict vegetarian gifts that contain leather, wool, suede, feathers, silk, shells, or of course, fur. It’s safe to say that anything that does not contain any animal derived ingredients and it 100% cruelty free, is a safe bet. And by 100% cruelty free, we mean not even a fly or a beetle was harmed during the manufacturing process.
Next up are vegan gifts for the beauty queen. Yes, vegans and vegetarians do wear makeup. Vegan men and women avoid all products that contain lanolin, silk protein, beeswax, gelatin, honey and collagen. Vegetarians are a bit more flexible, but when in doubt, ask your friend or family member what’s off limits. Also, avoid makeup brushes and sponges that contain animal hair or other fibers. L ook for synthetic brushes or natural, organic, herbal or botanical based ingredients in beauty products like shampoo, lotions and conditioners.
If you just don’t have the time to read labels and hunt for a vegan retailer, you can never go wrong with a book or a gift card to your favorite local health food store or organic food emporium. Just about every major bookstore carries magazines and cookbooks that support the vegan and vegetarian lifestyle. Don’t forget to make sure your reading material is environmentally friendly and cruelty free.
To locate vegan and vegetarian organizations, businesses, retailers, food stores, and more, visit the Vegans World Network at Vegans World Network, www.VegansWorldNetwork.org.