If you have vegans on your holiday list this year, here’s a handy resource of what to avoid when buying gifts for them. Vegans don’t use anything that comes from an animal or includes animal byproducts. Some of the items on the list may surprise you!
This time of year there’s no shortage of gift idea lists. But what about ideas of what not to buy?
If you have any vegans on your list, you may be wondering what they do and do not want under the tree for them.
This may be confusing at first. I mean, obviously, you’re not going to wrap up a cheeseburger for them. But there’s a lot more that comes with a vegan lifestyle.
Vegans eschew meat (including fish), dairy, eggs, and honey. They also avoid things that include animal byproducts.
Below you’ll find a list of what to look for when buying gifts for them, what to avoid, how to find out if it’s vegan-appropriate, and why they don’t use it in the first place.
What NOT to buy when getting gifts for vegans
Leather or suede goods
In addition to not consuming animals, vegans don’t wear the skins of animals either.
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. Instead look for words like cotton, manmade, synthetic, or vegan leather.
Why do vegans avoid leather?
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.
Wool, cashmere & non-synthetic felt
Vegans don’t wear clothing made with an animal’s hair. Stay away from cashmere, pashina, mohair, angora, camel hair, and shearling.
Check the labels of sweaters, scarves, mittens, and coats. You’ll usually find the label 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.
Look for cotton, polyester, acrylic, or synthetic instead.
Why do they avoid products made with animal 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.
It can include painful procedures like tail docking and mulesing. When the wool production of sheep declines, they are sent to slaughter.
Down or items with feathers
When looking at coats, cushions, comforters, or pillows, stay away from those stuffed with down. Avoid accessories with feathers.
Look for labels like polyester-fill, cotton, synthetic, or down-alternative instead.
Why do they avoid items with feathers?
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.
Vegans avoid animal byproducts, including bee products like honey or beeswax.
Some candles, body products, cosmetics, shampoos, and conditioners 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. It’s easy to find alternatives that don’t include bee products instead.
Why do they avoid honey & other bee products?
Bees make honey by regurgitating nectar. 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.
Before buying plates, bowls, or cups, remember to flip them over and check the bottom for the words “bone china.” Instead, choose porcelain or earthenware.
Why do they avoid bone china?
As the name implies, bone china is made from the ash of burned animal bones.
If you want to buy jewelry for the vegan on your list, avoid any jewelry that includes pearls.
Why do they avoid 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.
Silk is another item you’ll want to avoid when buying gifts for vegans. Instead buy clothing made with materials like polyester, nylon, or rayon.
Why do they avoid 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.
Fur is a pretty obvious no-no when it comes to buying gifts for the vegans on your list.
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.
Why do they avoid 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. Then their lives are ended by suffocation, gas, poison, or electrocution.
Are you a vegan who wants to avoid being the recipient of non-vegan gifts? <– Check out this post.
Content and photos updated December 2019. Originally posted December 2014.