Vegan Food Gifts Giveaway

Grooming Avon & JezebelAnd just like that, the holidays are over! Christmas was a low-key affair at our house. Avon, our 6-month-old kitten, is prone to getting into things that he shouldn’t. So we knew that a tree would quickly be climbed, the lights would be chewed on, and the ornament hooks would be swallowed. Instead, we put up a wreath, and that was it.

I usually get into making Christmas cards and sending them out, but this year I took a pass on Christmas, and you know what? It was wonderful. When Christmas was over, there were no ornaments to pack up or boxes to put away. I simply found room in my cupboards and closets for gifts, and that was that.

Sleepy AvonSleepy Avon 2Since Avon is endlessly interested in ribbons and string, I put off wrapping presents until Christmas Eve when I could just transport wrapped gifts to our car outside. David and I filled the day making food for Christmas, so that we wouldn’t have to spend any of the holiday in the kitchen. David baked a few pies, and I worked on some handmade Christmas gifts.

Vegan Food Gifts by Joni Marie NewmanThis year I gave two handmade gifts, both from ideas/recipes in Vegan Food Gifts by Joni Marie Newman. Vegan Food Gifts came out in 2012, and it’s been on my wish list ever since. It’s filled with the best kind of presents – thoughtful, usable, and made with love.

The book opens with pretty ways to package gifts like making your own envelopes, bags, and boxes. There are printable recipe cards, hang tags, and labels with illustrations by vegan artist, Kurt Halsey.

The recipes include sweet things to give that are fully prepared like Cool Lemon Cookies, Orange Chocolate Linzers, and S’more Brownies. Then there are gifts that the recipient can make with compiled ingredients. That chapter is called “Just Add Water.” In that chapter there are recipes like Sweet Lemon Iced Tea, Double Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Southwestern Three Bean Soup. Each recipe includes ideas on the best way to gift it (i.e. in a box, bag, or jar).

Pasta Basket - Vegan Food GiftsOne of the gifts I made for my cousin was from the chapter on themed gift baskets. I was inspired by the Pasta Party-themed basket. I put together a basket of my favorite polenta, the pasta from a local pasta maker that has been my obsession this year, and a shiny new colander. I included one of the infused olive oils from the book, using a jar I found at TJ Maxx and a chalkboard label from Kidecals.

Infused Olive Oil - Vegan Food GiftsThe infused olive oil I chose was Sun-Dried Tomato, Garlic, and Basil Olive Oil. It’s so simple to make. Just pour olive oil into a bottle along with sun-dried tomatoes, fresh cloves of garlic, and dried basil. I didn’t get to taste it for myself, but it smelled wonderful. It can be served over pasta or salad, used as a dip for bread, or sautéed with vegetables.

Bloody Mary Mix - Vegan Food GiftsThe other gift I made was for my dad, and it was from the chapter on homemade liqueurs, infusions, and mixers. I made the recipe for Bloody Mary Mix. Bloody Mary’s were one of my favorite drinks before I was vegetarian. It’s like a drink and a snack all in one – an adult version of tomato soup with celery, pickles, and olives. Unfortunately, most Bloody Mary’s include non-vegan Worcestershire sauce, which is made with anchovies. This version, though, uses vegan Worcestershire sauce. It also includes fresh lemon and lime juice, which made it taste bright and flavorful. It was one delicious Bloody Mary! (Yes, I did get a chance to try it before giving it away. Priorities.)

The recipe includes a printable recipe card, so that the recipient knows how much vodka to add when making the drink. I took the book to a local print shop and had them print it out on cardstock, along with printing a gift tag for the Pasta Party basket.

Celery Salt - Vegan Food GiftsAlong with the Bloody Mary Mix, I included jalapeño stuffed olives for garnish and celery salt for salting the rim of the glass. I like to use and repurpose my jars.  So for the celery salt, I just used a clean jar that had formerly been used for saffron, got celery salt from the bulk bins, and added a chalkboard label to the outside.

There are so many more gifts that I can’t wait to give from Vegan Food Gifts. It’s loaded with ideas that would be perfect for birthdays, holidays, host/hostess gifts, and presents for people who have a new baby in the house or on the way.

Joni has offered a copy of Vegan Food Gifts for a giveaway! You can start planning now for birthdays and Valentine’s Day. The giveaway is open to readers in the U.S. and Canada. A winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a complimentary copy of Vegan Food Gifts and complimentary labels from Kidecals. The thoughts and opinions are totally my own.  Post contains Amazon affiliate links.

What Not To Buy Vegans For Christmas

What Not To Buy Vegans For Christmas + How to find vegan clothingThe first year that I was vegan, for my birthday one of my closest friends gave me a necklace on a leather cord and a tiny jar of honey.  I could totally understand the confusion over honey (that’s commonly misunderstood), but the leather was a little perplexing since I’d been vegetarian and avoiding leather for a long time before that.  Still, when a product seems normal and neutral to one person, they don’t always consider the history of said object.

This time of year there’s no shortage of gift idea lists, but what about ideas of what not to buy?  Obviously vegans eschew meat (including fish), dairy, eggs, and honey.  But what about things for the closet and cupboard?  How do you know what to look for when searching for vegan clothing, body products, and jewelry?

What Not To Buy

1.  Leather or suede goods:  In addition to not consuming animals, vegans don’t wear the skins of animals either. Cows, pigs, sheep, and goats are killed by the millions every year for their skin. After suffering things like castration and branding (without anesthetic), the animals are trucked to slaughter. Sadly, the softest leather comes from baby animals like calves and lambs, and even from unborn calves whose mothers have been slaughtered.

Check labels on purses, shoes, jewelry, and luggage. On shoes, the materials are usually noted on the tongue, at the back of the shoe, or on the bottom. Stay away from leather, leather trim and patches, and instead look for words like cotton, manmade, synthetic, or vegan leather.

2.  Wool, Cashmere, & Non-synthetic felt: Vegans don’t wear clothing made with an animal’s hair. While many assume that the process of wool removal is a simple hair cut, the process is often done with an emphasis on quickness over compassion, and can include painful procedures like tail docking and mulesing. When the wool production of sheep declines, they are sent to slaughter.

Stay away from cashmere, pashina, mohair, angora, camel hair, and shearling. Check the labels of sweaters, scarves, mittens, and coats and look for cotton, polyester, acrylic, or synthetic. You’ll usually find it either at the back of the neck or alongside the body of the clothing. Felt can either be made with synthetic materials or with wool. Just check the label before buying.

3.  Down or Items with Feathers: When looking at coats, cushions, comforters, or pillows, stay away from those stuffed with down. Geese and ducks are plucked either after slaughter or while they are still alive.  During “live plucking,” the birds’ feathers are painfully ripped out of their bodies while they are held down without anesthetic.

Avoid accessories with feathers.  Look for labels like polyester-fill, cotton, synthetic, or down-alternative.

4.  Bee products: Vegans avoid animal byproducts, including bee products like honey or beeswax. Bees make honey by regurgitating nectar, and they then store it in the cells of their hive as a source of nutrition in winter months.  Vegans avoid honey and other bee products, because those products don’t belong to them; they belong to the bees.  Some candles, body products, cosmetics, shampoos, and conditioners will include things like beeswax or honey. Just a quick reading of the label on the outside will let you know if it contains those products or not.

5.  Bone China:  Before buying plates, bowls, or cups, remember to flip them over and check the bottom for the words “bone china.” Bone china is made from the ash of burned bones and used in ceramics. Instead, choose porcelain or earthenware.

6.  Pearls: Pearls are made when an irritant enters an oyster, who responds by coating it with nacre. Since naturally-occurring pearls are rare, pearl makers have expedited the process by inserting irritants into the oysters. It’s reported that fewer than half of the oysters survive this process. After the pearls are removed, 1/3 of the oysters are put through the process again, while the others are killed.

Synthetic pearls are available or choose a different piece of jewelry.

7.  Silk: Silk comes from silkworms, who weave the fiber to make their cocoons.  The silkworms are steamed or gassed alive in their cocoons to obtain the silk.

Instead buy clothing made with materials like polyester, nylon, or rayon.

8.  Fur: Fur comes from animals who were raised, trapped, and killed for their fur like rabbits, minks, and foxes. Animals on fur farms spend their lives in cages, and then their lives are ended by suffocation, gas, poison, or electrocution.

If you want to buy fake fur, look for words like faux, polyester, and acrylic.  It should be noted that while faux fur is available, some vegans avoid wearing it, because they don’t feel comfortable in something that may be mistaken for real fur. Plus, there have been cases where fur was marked fake, but then turned out to be the fur of dogs and cats.

If you’re still looking for vegan gift ideas, Kristy has a slew of good ones over at Keepin’ It Kind.