Long gone are the days when veganism was thought of as a
passing fad. Veganism is increasing in popularity every year, with almost half
the UK vegan population making their switch to veganism in 2018. With this
switch came the sudden rise of plant based, cruelty free products. The UK has launched
more vegan products than any other country in the past 2 years. I’m sure you’re
aware of the massive impact Gregg’s had on the nation when it launched a vegan
sausage roll, and boy, did it work out well for them. As the demand for
veganism increases, businesses are cashing in on the gap in the market, and new
innovative solutions are appearing across high-street stores. I think I speak
for everyone when I say “TAKE MY MONEY!”
The simple fact of the matter is veganism is here to stay, and the chances are that even if you’re not interested in a plant-based diet yourself, you know someone who is. But what do you buy a vegan for Christmas? Whether you know someone who has been vegan for several years or is planning to sign up for Veganuary in the new year, finding the perfect gift can be difficult when you’re not an expert in all things vegan yourself. To help get you in the vegan buying zone, we’ve put together a short guide complete with the dos and don’ts when buying for the special animal loving individual in your life, as well as a few of our favourite foodie gifts and stocking fillers for the season.
I can’t speak for everyone here, but the chances are that your vegan giftee is going to be interested in vegan food. Everyone has different tastes, so it’s worth having a rough idea of what they like. For example, not everyone loves fake ‘meat’ products; they’re not interested in replicating something they find pretty gross (fair enough), whereas others (like me) are more than happy to eat something that looks and tastes just like meat, as long as it isn’t actually meat. When veganism first appeared on the scene it was all about healthy eating, whereas now with the popularity of vegan junk food spots and Instagram accounts like Ugly Vegan, things have definitely changed.
In October 2018, Waterstones had over 3,500 books with the
word ‘vegan’ in the title alone, not including the more subtly titled vegan
literature such as How Not to Die and Thug Kitchen. A quick ‘vegan’
search of their site now returns over 7,000 results. Don’t get me wrong,
this is totally great, but how are you supposed to know which ones are good?
Just because Jamie Oliver is jumping on the band wagon and releasing a vegan
book for 2019, doesn’t mean he really knows what vegans like to eat. Firstly,
try to narrow it down by the interests of your giftee. Are they new to
veganism? Looking for healthy evening meals or Cheat Day treats? Here are some
of our top recommendations for delicious vegan eating and the essential
cookbooks for any shelf in 2020.
BOSH originally made their name with short online cooking
tutorial videos, the vegan answer to Buzzfeed’s Tasty channel. Easy and
delicious, these recipes are definitely worth having written down for everyday
use. These are the kind of recipe essentials that any vegan needs in their
kitchen for day to day easy meal ideas. Expect recipes such as Cauliflower
Buffalo Wings, Onion Bhaji Burgers and Vegan Churros with Chocolate Sauce
I don’t know if you’ve ever watched Dirty Sanchez,
the UK’s answer to Jackass back in
the early 2000’s, but if you did, I’m sure you remember co-star Matt Pritchard.
Long gone are Matt’s days of enduring excruciating pain for the entertainment
of an audience. He’s now a fitness freak, breaking world record after world
record and doing it all with the power of plants. Dirty Vegan is perfect
for the more health-conscious foodie, with easy recipes that use delicious and
seasonal ingredients. Expect recipes such as Squash and Mushroom Momos with
Yuzu dip, and recipes that really pack a punch like a The Full English Pileup
with homemade tofu scramble, seasoned sausage, baked beans, garlic mushrooms
and hash browns (and apparently it’s good for you?!)
Junk Food: A Down & Dirty Cookbook - This revolutionary book by Zacchary Bird says ‘no thank you’
to the traditional ideas of a healthy plant-based diet. Being healthy is great
and all, but what about when I want to eat a burger dripping with melted
cheese, fried chicken that leaves my fingers greasy, or a loaded plate of
deep-fried potatoes piled high with toppings? This book epitomises the modern
vegan diet. Why would you need to give up the food you love just because you
want to live a cruelty-free lifestyle? We’re not saying you need to eat vegan
junk food all the time, but this is a great book to satisfy your inevitable
junk food cravings every now and then.
Although vegan food is massively improving, buying something
new is always a risk. Some of it is really good, and some of it is shockingly
bad. Without being able to trial what you’re buying beforehand, there is a very
strong chance that it might taste rubbish. Sure, it might be expensive and in a
fancy box, but that doesn’t mean anything. When you’re buying a vegan food
product, it’s most likely attempting to replicate something they can no longer
eat. Often the best of these are standardly packaged supermarket cheeses and
chocolates. But if you’re looking to get them a foodie treat that actually tastes
good, here are a few of our recommendations:
Chocolate Box - This personalised Christmas chocolate box from Etsy not only
offers up some incredibly indulgent and delicious Chocolate truffles (all vegan
of course), but they come in a beautifully presented box, with the option to
add personal messages to make it a real treat. We can assure you that whoever
you buy these decadent delights for will have a very joyful Christmas indeed!
Camembert - Let’s be honest, vegan cheeses can often be awful, and
although they are rapidly improving, there are a lot out there that are simply not
good. However, this one I can honestly recommend. Tasting similar to camembert,
with a super creamy and delicious texture, it comes in well-presented packaging
and looks the real deal. Great added into a leftover vegan turkey sandwich with
BeFries Sauces - Mayo is not always the easiest thing to make vegan, but this independent Belgian chip shop based in the vibrant city of Brighton know exactly how to make mayo taste good, no eggs necessary. With fancy flavours like black truffle, bold basil and spicy samurai these mayonnaises are changing the vegan sauce game all over the UK. You can use them to level up sandwiches, wraps, to stir into pasta dishes, or of course as a funky dip for the humble chip.
Choice Voucher with Vegan Options - This cooking choice voucher from one of London’s top cooking schools allows you redeem against any of their evening weekend classes. Luckily for vegans based around London, that includes vegan pasta making and vegan sushi making. Myself and my colleague Alex were lucky enough to go and trial their vegan pasta class, and oh man is it something special. The kitchen itself is absolutely beautiful, and an extremely calming environment. The staff were friendly and knowledgeable, and the food was phenomenal. Plus, it’s BYOB, so you can enjoy a gorgeous glass of wine as you sit down and tuck into your impressive creations. I understand that you may think I’m biased here, but I promise you, if someone bought me this as a gift, I would be over the moon.
Vegan Cookery Class in Glasgow - On the other side of the UK, Tennents Training Academy are offering an equally delicious vegan cookery class in their high end 14 station kitchen. This experience will see students learn under award winning chefs. They’ll share their tips and tricks on exactly how to perfect the art of vegan cookery. During this in-depth 4-hour masterclass, expect recipes such as tortellini with walnut sauce and pear salad, wild mushroom ragout on crispy polenta, marinated aubergines with oregano and spring quinoa salad. It all sounds delicious to me!
Caribbean Cooking Class in Birmingham - My third and final cooking lesson idea is for all those Brummie vegans out there who like a bit of spice. This adventurous Caribbean cooking masterclass will take your taste buds on a tantalising adventure. Expect vibrant and fruity flavours of the Caribbean islands, with classics like rice and peas, sweet potato Jamaican curry and flaky vegetable patties.
If your giftee is already a whizz in the kitchen and they’ve mastered all they need, then why not buy them a cool little gadget to help them out in with adventurous new recipes? If they’re a fan of cooking and love to try exciting new vegan trends, then a good gadget can make all the difference. We can assure you, these three tools will inspire your giftee to cook up a feast, and who knows, you might even get an invite!
Pasta Machine - Pasta can be so easy and so satisfying to make once you know what you’re doing. You may have to put that little extra effort in, but if you love cooking then it’s a ton of fun! This nifty gadget will see your giftee creating Ravioli, Tortellini and Tagliatelle in no time.
Tofu Press - Pressing tofu is a constant inconvenience for fans of the spongy vessel of flavour. It’s essential in most dishes to improve the taste and texture of your tofu, and once you get that extra liquid out, your tofu is ready to adsorb anything you throw at it. But, it can be a real pain trying to awkwardly flatten it under books and pans. Made and sold by vegan couple Adam and Susanna, this convenient device is one of the best on the market.
NUTRiBULLET Blender - A blender is a great contraption to have in any kitchen, but for vegans the possibilities go on and on. Being vegan means you often need to make sauces from scratch, that others have readily available to buy in a jar. Having a blender is great for making pesto without the cheese, blitzing up nuts with water to make creamy sauces, and if you want to get really fancy, blending your own spices.
Vegan Chocolate Tasting Workshop - This artisan chocolate tasting experience in East and West Sussex allows participants to taste single origin chocolates from around the world. Your expert teacher will help you appreciate chocolate like never before, learning how to differentiate between flavours, aromas and regions. And of course, it’s 100% vegan!
Harry Potter Themed Bus Tour & Dining Experience in Edinburgh - This experience combines a love for plant-based food with a love for wizards. With over half the vegan population being millennials, and millennials growing up with Harry Potter, I bet it’s pretty likely you’ll know someone who’ll love this gift. The novelty red bus will be decked out in Hogwarts house flags as you explore the city that inspired J.K Rowling to write her series of famous wizarding books. Add an extravagant vegan meal of pizza to the mix, and I can’t imagine how anyone could be disappointed.
Camden Town Vegan Food Tour for 2 - This tour is jam packed with more vegan food than anyone could possibly dream of. We strongly advice arriving hungry! Following an expert vegan pro around the lively town of Camden, you and your giftee will trial some of the best vegan food London has to offer. Focusing on the ever-popular vegan junk food, you can expect dishes such as fried chicken, loaded nachos and spicy tacos. For anyone outside of London who would be completely lost for choice in the bustling hub of Camden Market, this tour will open their eyes to the best vegan street food currently available.
Although diet is a massive part of it, veganism is not only about what you eat. Veganism is a way of life. This means not using any products that test on animals, or use animals in any way for the benefits of humans. This unfortunately makes buying everyday beauty products and clothing a lot more difficult than you may imagine. If I’m honest, I could probably make a whole separate article on this alone, but I don’t want to bore you. So, I’ll share my top 3 favourite non-food related vegan Christmas gift ideas and let you do the rest.
Handmade Sustainable Fashion - Lucy and Yak are saying no to fast fashion. Not only are all their clothes built to last, they’re eco-friendly, local and of course, vegan. Not to mention, they look great! Their latest fleece style jackets are not only comfortable and warm, they’re made from 100% reused plastic bottles pulled from our oceans. How? I have absolutely no idea. But I want it.
Vegan Lipstick Making Experience - This vegan lipstick making experience allows participants to get involved in making their own beauty products, showing just how easy it is to do it completely without involving any animals. Not only is it sustainable and cruelty free, it means you get to make the exact shade you want, and have fun doing it!
Eco-Friendly Jewellery - Has it ever occurred to you before that jewellery wouldn’t be vegan? The sad fact is, a lot of it isn’t. This handmade rope charm bracelet is made from 100% sustainable cotton rather than leather. The silver is eco-friendly and completely recycled. With a number of cute pendants to choose from, we recommend ordering quick if you want it to arrive in time for Christmas !
Sometimes when the time is right, you don’t want a thoughtful or expensive gift, you want something fun or funny. Secret Santa presents and small gifts to put a smile on a friend’s face will always have their place at Christmas. The thing is, some of the novelty vegan gifts around are honestly just offensive and a little insulting. Here are a few of my favourite secret Santa gift ideas for this Christmas.
Hairy Beaver - Quite frankly, the name is hilarious. It’s sure to get the desired reaction from any recipient, vegan or not. On top of that, it’s actually quite a cute little thing to have on your kitchen windowsill or bedroom table. Who doesn’t love a plant to liven up the room, especially when it makes you giggle whenever you look at it?
Vegan Not Vegan - This game is a little silly and slightly infuriating, because most of these things can be made vegan even if the standard version isn’t. But this is still a fun little game to play between vegan and non-vegan friends to see the superior food knowledge you need to have when you’re on a restricted diet.
Vegan Tote Bag - This one
is just a great gift (granted the giftee has the right sense of humour).
Straight to the point and a little vulgar, this tote bag from Ugly Vegan lists dumb
questions/statements that most vegans have heard one hundred zillion times since making
the switch to a plant-based diet.
What shouldn’t you buy a vegan? There are quite a few things
you’ll need to bear in mind this Christmas when shopping for your vegan
buddies. For example, did you ever think that most candles aren’t vegan? This
is because a lot of them use essential oils that have been tested on animals.
It’s a similar deal with soaps. Just because you aren’t buying a fake fur coat
or a 100% leather purse, doesn’t mean that the item you’re buying is vegan. Stay
away from wool, cashmere, silk and feathers. Also avoid items such as bone
china (made from ground up animal bones) and pearls.
It’s good to show your support for your vegan friends and
family, and I promise you they’ll appreciate you doing so, but also it’s
important to remember that veganism - although very important to them - isn’t
everything that defines who they are. Maybe they love reading and movies. Why
not buy them tickets to a theatre
adaptation of a book they love? There are plenty of presents for vegans and
non-vegans alike that would still be an amazing gift. You don’t always need to
single out a specifically vegan present when buying for a vegan. If they love
keeping active, then maybe they’d be interested in trying Archery or Ice climbing. Escape rooms are always
popular gifts too! Making sure you don’t get them anything that is offensive or
that they can’t use is important, but there are endless other possibilities
available that I’m sure they’ll love. If you’d rather get a less vegan
orientated gift this year, then go check out our Guide to Gift Giving article.
I hope you’ve found the perfect Christmas gift for the special vegan in your life and learnt a little more about the fantastic world of veganism. If you would like to browse our foodie experiences for vegans, you can do so here. You can also check out our wide range of experiences here, with vegan and non-vegan gifts for all.