20 December 2010

Last minute Christmas gift ideas for vegans and vegetarians


The holidays, although joyous, can often be a difficult time for vegetarians and vegans who celebrate with non-veg friends and family. At a time when we are most seeking togetherness and community, our food and lifestyle choices can unfortunately alienate us; in turn leading us to question what this time of year is really all about.

Deciding to be vegetarian early in my life was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Unfortunately, many of my family members, along with my then family doctor, would respectfully—others disrespectfully—disagree. For many years I was made to feel that my choosing to not eat meat was in some way an insult to not only the chef, but the tradition of the holidays all together. When I became vegan it only got worse. No longer could I accept the gift of a wool coat or shiny leather boots. The term "extreme" was thrown around in a cavalier manner until an emotional outburst on my part resulted in a truce, and a futile, often-ignored request that we do not discuss my veganism.

I learned very quickly that such an arrangement would never work. Being vegan, however foreign and difficult it may be for some to understand, is a defining factor to being me. More than my pronouncement of not eating animals or their byproducts, my choice to live vegan transcends species, race, and gender. It is a choice to live a life of compassion and non-violence. It is my search for peace.

The best gifts that I have been offered as a vegan are those of acceptance and respect. When we start there, the options become endless. So with Christmas only a week away your search for the perfect veg gifts begins in your heart, just like the very spirit of the holiday season. But since so many of us procrastinators are still looking for the kind of gifts that can be unwrapped and enjoyed all year, here are some ideas for veg-friendly treats anyone on your list will love, and you won’t have to stand on line to purchase or ship:
  • A print or online subscription to VegNews, the hottest veg-orientated magazine around, and an unbelievable resource for anyone looking to explore and embrace a veggie lifestyle. www.vegnews.com
  • SporkOnline.com offers fun; easy, delicious vegan cooking classes served any time. Give the gift of a monthly or annual membership starting at a very low $7.95/Month.
  • Remember the old fruit of the month club? Well it is back and better than ever. The prefect gift for a veggie on the run, what’s better than grabbing some fresh, organic fruit to go? Check out, www.thefruitcompany.com, or www.harryanddavid.com/fruitclub for more information. Just be sure to choose organic since conventional items will be contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, and GMOs.
  • Sponsor an animal in need. Farm Sanctuary, located in NY and CA will match your year-end donation dollar for dollar if you donate within the next two days. Find out more ways to help the animals and give the gift of life at, www.farmsanctuary.org. Shelters and sanctuaries all over the country house animals who are in desperate need of holiday cheer. Make a donation in your loved one’s name, virtually adopt a friend, or donate linens, food, or your time and good cheer. Every little bit counts.
  • Or check out a PETA Present: A virtual gift that supports PETA’s fight to stop animal cruelty and abuse. When you buy a PETA Present, an E-card will be sent to the person you choose to honor to notify them of your gift. For more information visit, www.peta.org.
  • And for veg-friendly apparel check out online stores and boutiques that cater to the vegan community. You can rest easy knowing no animals were harmed in the making of the products and your recipient will appreciate your special consideration. Plus, with stores like these ranging from form-fitting funk to classic night on the town, it is easy to find something for everyone in the family. Check out, www.herbivore.com, www.alternativeoutfitters.com, www.vautecouture.com, www.mooshoes.com, www.veganchic.com, www.veganessentials.com, www.greenpeople.org/vegan, and many more can be found with a simple Google search.
Whatever you choose, a veg-friendly gift is the perfect way to embrace the season of peace and love and spread the message of harmlessness and compassion throughout the New Year. Let’s make it merry and bright for everyone.

Erica Settino
Erica Settino is the co-founder and executive director of the non-profit organization, Karuna For Animals: Compassion In Action, Inc. A long time vegetarian turned passionate vegan, she works tirelessly to educate others on the countless benefits of adopting a vegan diet. For more information about Erica and her work visit karunaforanimals.com.

Photo credit: flickr.com/photos/shedboy