Ultimate Vegan Gift Guide
Gifts are always difficult to choose, even for those we know well. If your vegan friend's birthday is coming up and you're still not sure what to buy, this short guide will help you find a gift (or at least a category!) they will appreciate.
First of all, gifts depend greatly on personalities, there’s no universal “gift for vegans”, so bear that in mind. But there are some non-vegan products vegans are sometimes gifted and left in an awkward position, so let’s check these first.
Things not to get for a vegan
Sounds obvious, but can be sneaked into many normally-looking products. Belts, purses, accessories, even trousers with a small leather brand label. Double-check the materials before purchasing.
The most misleading label of them all: cruelty-free. Cruelty-free only means that a product was not tested on animals. But it could still contain animal-derived ingredients! If there’s no vegan label on the bottle or a brand’s website, probably best not to buy it.
Tacky things with the word vegan on them
Not such a long time ago, someone thought: “What do all vegans have in common? Being vegan? I should capitalize on that!” This was the start of the practice of making ugly things and writing a word on them: keychains, tote bags, t-shirts, etc. If they have a cool message or graphics (and if the person likes such things), sure, why not. But if these items only have this word slapped on with zero aesthetics, it’s obviously a cash grab.
So, what gifts to buy for vegans?
Nothing speaks louder than money. However, receiving money seems a bit impersonal, like we haven't put in the effort to think about a gift. This is where vouchers and donations come in. Find an animal sanctuary they like or a cause they care about and donate the amount of money you’d spend on a gift. No amount is too small! Screenshot the donation, print it, and put it in a nice envelope. Warms every vegan’s heart, guaranteed.
Remember those cash grabbers from two sentences ago? Well, they lurk behind books too. Veganism is unfortunately sometimes still seen as a fad, and trendy words seem to sell products. Still, books and cookbooks are a great choice for those who like reading about diet, animals, health, and other topics related to veganism. When browsing books for somebody else, read about the author as well. If they are a vegan, go for it. But if the author isn’t a dedicated vegan but a company printing books about all topics with no criteria whatsoever, it’s better to keep looking for a better book.
Weekly / monthly subscription
All of us have some wishes we’re just too rational to fulfill. This is the point of gifts, getting spoiled with something we couldn’t justify buying ourselves, right? Maybe your friend or a loved one has wanted to try something on a pricier side but didn’t want to waste money. It’s your time to shine. Pay for a weekly subscription for a vegan meal kit delivery service, a monthly beauty box, a subscription to freshly ground coffee beans… options are almost endless. This is a great way for your friend to see if they like something before committing to it.
Finally, a hands-on activity. It takes more time and effort, but it’s bound to score points in the emotional department. Roll up your sleeves, find a good recipe, get the ingredients and make a cake! The recipe doesn’t have to be wild or glamorous; even a simple cake shows you care and want a gift with soul.
Contrary to the popular meme about how vegans always tell everyone they are vegan, that doesn’t happen that often. In other words, the fact that someone is vegan doesn’t mean they want all the things in their life to be about veganism. Don’t forget about their other hobbies or interests. But if they are into this kind of thing, it’s hard to go wrong with donations, books, subscription services, and of course, cake.
David van Beveren is founder and team leader of Vegan Hacktivists. In 2019, he founded the animal rights tech organization to promote vegan activism and to address gaps in data and technology in the vegan movement.