What Do I Buy A Vegan for Her Birthday?!: Vegan Gift Guide

This may seem like a no-brainer. It’s your best friend’s birthday and you need to buy her a present. She’s a fashion-forward, clothes and jewelry hound with a sweet tooth. She swoons while thumbing the pages of Vogue and can’t pass a Godiva shop without moaning with pleasure at the smells wafting out. Finding a gift for her will be a piece of cake.

Rewind a bit…

About a month ago you and your friend, let’s call her Ramona, go for coffee. You order your usual frothy drink, but she blindsides you and orders a café latte with almond milk! “Are you lacto-intolerant now?” you ask her. “No, I’ve decided to be a vegan,” she replies. You sip your overpriced specialty drink and ponder what Ramona just shared. She’s your bestie and you support her in whatever crazy idea she takes on. As long as she doesn’t try and convert you, you’re fine with it. Ten seconds later you’re conversing about demi vs full-cup bras and have completely dismissed Ramona’s vegan revelation.

Wake up, we’re back in the present. And speaking of presents…

Now it’s time to shop. You’re not concerned, after all, you’re not going to buy her a steak.

You head to the mall with lots of ideas in mind for that perfect gift; scarf, statement necklace, candy, really cute make-up bag, a frilly fragrance. She’s so easy to buy for…or is she?

Here’s the tricky part, it’s not just what Ramona eats that makes her vegan – it’s also what she wears, sprays and slathers on her skin.

What you need to know:

  • Scarf, Clothing– might be silk, wool, angora – all from animals
  • Jewelry – could have a leather cord, feathers, bones – all from animals
  • Candy – will probably have milk, whey, honey, and/or gelatin – all from animals
  • Shoes, Purse, Belt – all could be made from leather (and you know where that comes from…animals!)
  • Perfume, Lotions, Makeup – tested on animals and/or contain animal ingredients

Now your shopping trip is a bit more daunting. With every marvelous piece of merchandise you caress, you’re wondering…”is it vegan-friendly?” You’re getting frustrated. You love shopping, but this just isn’t fun any more.

You take a break and head to your favorite coffee shop where you will dole out five bucks for a much-needed dose of caffeine. And while you’re there you buy Ramona a gift card for her birthday. Not very thoughtful or personal. But, hey, she started it!

(This post contains affiliate links)

**Vegan Gift Guide**

Gifts under $25 

 

Ed Gorey Dracula Handmade Zippered Pouch - Etsy
Ed Gorey Dracula Handmade Zippered Pouch – Etsy

 

Pacifica Perfume – French Lilac, Cruelty Free

 

Terranova Rain – Cruelty Free Parfume

 

 Yulip Brick Red Color Natural Lipstick – Cruelty Free

 

bird door hanger
Handmade Bird Door Hanger – Etsy

 

vegan chick keychain
Vegan Chick Keychain – Etsy

 

herbivore elephant necklace
Silver Herbivore Charm Necklace – Etsy

 

Vegan Box of Chocolates

 

Hand Stamped Silver Pawprint Toe Ring - Etsy
Hand Stamped Silver Pawprint Toe Ring – Etsy

 

friends not food
Friends Not Food Vegan T-shirt – Etsy

 

Skinny Bitch Vegan Cookbook Box Set

 

Vegan with a Vengeance – Cookbook

 

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World – Cookbook

 

The Oh She Glows – Vegan Cookbook

 

Gifts under $50

 

Chandelier earrings Etsy
Handmade Ball & Jack Chandelier Earrings – Etsy

I bought earrings from this seller – love her whimsical style!  Same seller as the sloth earrings below.

 

chandelier earrings Etsy
Handmade Chandelier Sloth Earrings – Etsy

 

Etsy zippered pouch set
Handmade Floral Vegan Credit Card Storage, Passport Holder, Key Ring, Luggage Tag Set – Etsy

 

Handmade Long Boho Tassel Necklace - Etsy
Handmade Long Boho Tassel Necklace – Etsy

 

Papaya Zen Flower Arrangement Makeup Bag

 

Handmade Celestial Print Pillow - Etsy
Handmade Celestial Print Pillow – Etsy

 

Hand Poured 2-Wick Soy Candle - Etsy
Hand Poured 2-Wick Soy Candle – Etsy

 

Organic Spa Set - Etsy
Organic Spa Set – Etsy – Body Butter, Body Polish, Lip Balm

 

Natural Artisan Facial Skincare - Etsy
Natural Artisan Facial Skincare Gift Set – Etsy

 

Etsy skin care / candle
Skin Care and Soy Candle Gift Set – Etsy

 

High Protein Vegan Snack Gift Box

 

Snack Attack Vegan Snack Gift Set

 

Off the Shoulder Sweatshirt - Etsy
Off the Shoulder ‘V’ Sweatshirt – Etsy

 

Off the Shoulder Vegan T-shirt - Etsy
Off the Shoulder Vegan T-shirt – Etsy

 

Hand Woven Scarf - Etsy
Hand Woven Scarf – Etsy

 

yoga mat bag
Handmade Yoga Mat Bag – Etsy

 

Ralph Faux Leather Green Belt

 

Pig with copper heart necklace
Silver Pig with Copper Heart Necklace – Etsy

 

vegan gold bar necklace
Vegan Gold Bar Necklace – Etsy

 

Etsy tank top Herbivore
Pink Herbivore Tank Top, Racer Back – Etsy

 

50 Nespresso Espresso Pods for OriginaLine Maker

 

Gifts under $100

 

2 in 1 Pink Himalayan Salt / Essential Oil Diffuser

 

Plant Therapy Pure Essential Oil Gift Set

 

Handmade Garden Wind Chime - Etsy
Handmade Garden Wind Chime – Etsy

 

Fun Handmade Black & White Polka Dot Bag with Bunny in Top Hat - Etsy
Fun Handmade Black & White Polka Dot Bag with Bunny in Top Hat – Etsy

 

Zoya Enchanted Nail Polish Gift Set

 

 

Handmade Personalized Mug with Lid - Etsy
Handmade Personalized Mug with Lid – Etsy

 

Hand Knitted Floppy Summer Beach Hat - Etsy
Hand Knitted Floppy Summer Beach Hat – Etsy

 

Bee Free Honee - Vegan Honey - Amazon

Honee 100% All-Natural Bee-Free, 12-Ounce (Pack of 4)

 

Organic Cotton Hand Printed Scarf $10 to Wildlife Conservation
Organic Cotton Hand Printed Scarf
$10 to Wildlife Conservation

 

Handmade Cork Backpack - Etsy
Handmade Cork Backpack – Etsy

 

Vegan Handmade Wallet with Squirrel - Etsy
Vegan Handmade Wallet with Squirrel – Etsy

 

Handmade Big Lazy Pink Bag - Etsy
Handmade Organic Cotton Big Lazy Pink Bag – Etsy

 

Vegan Handmade Crossbody Shoulder Bag - Etsy
Vegan Handmade Crossbody Shoulder Bag – Etsy

 

Vegan Handmade Crossbody Shoulder Bag - Etsy
Vegan Handmade Crossbody Clutch Bag – Etsy

 

vegan jewelry etsy
Vegan Love Dainty Stackable Rings – Etsy

 

Nutri Ninja Personal Blender

I bought this blender for my daughter and son-in-law for Christmas and they use it daily!

 

Gifts $100 & Over 

Handmade Vegan Soap - Soap of the Month Club - Etsy
Handmade Vegan Soap – Soap of the Month Club – Etsy

 

Oversized Rainbow Fringe Tote Upcycled from Bouncy House - Etsy
Oversized Rainbow Fringe Tote Upcycled from Bouncy House Material – Etsy

 

Large Crab Beach Bag Upcycled from Sail Cloth - Etsy
Extra Large Crab Beach Bag Upcycled from Sail Cloth – Etsy

 

Handmade Woven Summer Beach Bag Tote - Etsy
Handmade Woven Summer Beach Bag Tote – Etsy

 

Handmade Duck Egg Blue Linen Throw / Bedcover - Etsy
Handmade Duck Egg Blue Linen Throw / Bedcover Large- Etsy

 

Handmade Organic Throw / Spread with Pineapples - Etsy
Handmade Organic Throw / Spread with Pineapples – Etsy

 

Handmade Organic Celestial Throw Blanket - Etsy
Handmade Organic Celestial Throw Blanket – Etsy

 

Handmade Bath / Spa Robe - Etsy
Luxurious Handmade Vintage Inspired Midnight Blue Linen Dressing Gown – Bath / Spa Robe – Etsy

 

Handmade Cotton Knit Open-back Sweater - Etsy
Handmade Cotton Knit Open-back Sweater – Etsy

 

Nespresso Essenza Espresso Maker

This is a great little espresso machine.  I bought one about 5 years ago for my son for Christmas.  We love it!  Nespresso also has excellent customer service.

And for the Girl Who Has Everything

Unique Porcelain Doll Head Sculpture - Etsy
Unique Porcelain Doll Head Sculpture – Etsy

Ok, she’s a little creepy, but in a pretty way.

I painstakingly picked each and every one of these gifts.  Well, I did handpick them, but it wasn’t a pain – I love to shop!!  So if you need help finding that perfect gift for your vegan friend, guy or gal, I’d be more than happy to go shopping with you!  Warning: put on some comfortable shoes – I’m an Energizer Bunny in the mall.

 

Staples for the Vegan Pantry: Plant-Based Shopping List

 

“Good morning, world!” Mug of coffee in hand, you grab paper, pen and start your shopping list…

  • almond milk
  • tofu
  • ?
  • ?
  • ?

shopping cart

 

Uh, let’s see – you want to try this plant-based diet thingy, but you have no clue what to buy? Is vegan organic? Is organic vegan? Do I need to go to a special market? Is it going to cost me my first-born?

Completely flummoxed, you grab your second coffee, head to your cushy chair and watch an episode of Monk. Be honest, you know you’re not going to watch just one. Hours later you haven’t added anything else to that dang list. You sigh and think, “I’ll be vegan tomorrow.”

If I may…

Vegan and organic are two entirely different things. Vegan just means plant-based; no meat, dairy, eggs or honey (more on the bee topic in another blog).

Organic means grown and produced without chemicals, fertilizers or pesticides. I try to by organic whenever possible, but sometimes the wallet won’t allow. Check out the dirty dozen list to see which products are the worst offenders. Then buy non-organic for the items not on that list.

Yes, eating vegan can be pricey, but it doesn’t have to be. If you want to buy tofu, seitan, tempeh, nutritional yeast, and pre-made vegan food, the grocery bill can add up quickly. I would recommend first trying to cook without these strange, new ingredients, then experiment with them one at a time.

 

PANTRY ITEMS:

I would definitely get ya’ some Almond milk (or other non-dairy milk, i.e., cashew, rice, soy, coconut). Trader Joe’s has the best price for organic unsweetened almond milk.

Earth Balance buttery spread. It’s amazing! You can bake with it, mash your taters’ with it, spread it on toast… It comes in several varieties including soy-free and organic. I LOVE this stuff and I know lots of non-vegans who use it. Don’t go overboard though, it still contains fat, salt and one tablespoon has 80 calories.

So, those are the only two weird ingredients you should add to your list. Not so alien, right?

Quinoa (KEEN-wah) – Known as the ‘ancient grain’. Quinoa is not actually a grain – they are seeds. Quinoa is a complete protein which makes it ideal for vegans. It is pricey if bought from your local grocer so I buy a large bag, 4.5 lbs., from Costco. It’s their own brand, Kirkland. It’s organic, pre-washed (the best part) and it’s a great price! If you want to buy a smaller bag, Amazon has a decent price on Nature’s Earthly Choice.

Brown riceorganic, if you can

Beansorganic canned black beans, pinto beans or any that you prefer. Dry beans.

Lentils – organic green, red and/or black

Maple syrupthe real deal is expensive, so you can substitute with agave or vegan cane sugar – not difficult to find. Some folks use stevia or monk fruit, but I don’t like either – they taste artficial to me. My daughter’s friend uses the monk fruit sweetener and loves it – you may want to give it a shot. Costco has organic maple syrup at a good price.  Maple syrup at Amazon.

Veggie stock – I usually make my own, but when I get lazy, I buy it at the grocery store. They usually have one or two that are organic. It’s much better to make your own, then you control the amount of salt.  Pacific Foods veggie broth at Amazon.

Peanut butter – again, I like to buy organic. But if you don’t want to pay that much, at least get the natural – no added sugar or salt – just peanuts.  Organic peanut butter at Amazon.

Organic Steel cut or Rolled oats – these are good cooked into meatloaf, burgers, cookies, muffins or added to smoothies.  Steel cut at Amazon.  Regular oats at Amazon.

Coconut oil – this is a great, multi-purpose oil, if you get some on your fingers, just rub it into your face – great moisturizer! (I’ll expound on this marvelous oil in another blog). But some people don’t like the coconut flavor it gives to dishes. You can use olive, peanut or grapeseed oil if you prefer. If you do use the coconut oil, Costco has the best price! Be sure to buy organic, extra-virgin and unrefined.  Amazon also has a great price for coconut oil.

 

Some perishables I like to have on hand:

Onions – I like a variety here; yellow, red, shallots, scallions

Sweet peppers – red, green, orange, yellow

Hot peppers – if that’s your thing. I like spicey!

Mushrooms – large portobello caps are great on the grill. It’s fun to try different varieties of shrooms.

Garlic – duh

Ginger – fresh is the best!

Lemons & Limes

Nuts – walnuts, peanuts, cashews… to name a few

Ground flax seed – not a necessity but a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. I like to add it to cereal, salads, veggies and smoothies. It can also be used as an egg substitute in cooking/baking when added to water (3T. water + 1T. ground flax = 1 egg). Costco has the best price, but it’s 10 lbs. – that’s a heap o’ flax!  So, I prefer to get it from Znaturalfoods.com.  Sorry if you don’t have a Costco where you live – hopefully you have something comparable. If not, look online for some deals. It’s best to buy the whole seeds and grind them in a coffee grinder as needed. Keep unused portion in fridge and be sure to use ground, not the whole seed – ground is more thoroughly digested and you absorb more nutrients.

I’m sure there are loads of items I could have added to your list, but that’s enough for now. Ok, just one more…tahini. Tahini is a paste made from toasted sesame seeds. It’s one of the ingredients in hummus. It’s so yummy. It can also be used in salad dressings, dips, sauces or to make a delicious candy called halvah.

Tahini is easy to make. If you feel so inclined, buy sesame seeds in bulk or it will be way pricey. You can get 2 lbs. at Znaturalfoods.com for only $10.99.

So uncork a vegan wine or pour a cold vegan brewsky and cook up something awesomely vegan. Well, perhaps you should cook before you imbibe!

Got questions?  Don’t be afraid to ask, I won’t bite…..I’m vegan!

food wine

p.s. Some liquor is not vegan so be sure to go to barnivore.com before you buy.

p.p.s. Pinterest.com is one of my favorite sites to get ideas for vegan recipes.

p.p.p.s. I am not affiliated with any of the above-named companies.

 

 

 

 

 

What is this Mystery Meat?: Vegan Food Demystified

Don’t be scared of vegan food, it’s just food. Ever heard
of tempeh, nutritional yeast, seitan, tofu? Do they sound foreign, intimidating or just plain gross? I have cooked with each of these ingredients but you don’t have to in order to enjoy a delicious vegan meal. If you decide you’d like to venture out, be brave and try something exotic, these foods aren’t going to put hair on your chest (sorry guys) or turn you into one of those weird vegan creatures. Hey look, Mikey likes it! You never know, you might too.

So, what exactly are these specialty items?

vegan food unsplash

Tempeh: [tem-pey]

tempeh is a traditional soy product originating from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a patty or block form. It is commonly sliced thinly then fried, baked or grilled, but it can also be crumbled to be used in soups, stews, stir-fries or taco filling. It’s got a somewhat nutty flavor. I am not a huge fan, but I eat it occassionally for a change of pace and because it’s packed with protein.

I buy it at Whole Foods but my local grocer also carries it.

One cup of tempeh has 30.8 g of protein!

Nutritional Yeast:

nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast, often a strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and sold in the form of flakes or as a yellow powder.

Vegans most commonly use it to make cheese sauces or cheese dips. I made a nacho sauce with it once and my non-vegan niece devoured it!

I like using nutritional yeast so I buy it in bulk – 16 oz. bag Frontier Co-op at Amazon for about $10. – otherwise it can be pricey if you use it often.  Some people complained about the taste and/or smell of this brand.  I guess I got a good batch because mine was fine.  If you want to try it out without buying a whole pound, I recommend Bragg’s – it’s more expensive, but it’s a brand I like and trust.

Nutritional yeast is an excellent source of protein (it is a complete protein) and vitamins, especially B-complex.

Seitan: [sey-tan]

seitan is a chewy, neutral-flavored, protein-rich food made from cooked wheat gluten. It is very similar to the look and texture of meat when cooked making it a popular meat substitute.

The store-bought version is generally high in sodium, fillers and other unhealthy additives. Seitan is rather easy to make from scratch, I did it so it must not be too difficult – I’m not a lover of cooking, I cook cause’ I have to eat.

Seitan is versatile – it can be baked, steamed, sauteed, simmered. It absorbes flavors well.

If you don’t want to eat soy, this is a great alternative. If you have a wheat allergy, stay away!

Seitan is high in protein but is not a complete protein, so pair it with some beans and rice.

Tofu: [toh-foo]

tofu is a soft, bland, white cheeselike food, high in protein, made from curdled soybean milk. Mmmm, curdled soybean milk – my favorite! It is also known as bean curd. You’ve probably heard of tofu but have you ever tried it? Tofu gets the brunt of a lot of jokes, but it is a great staple in the vegan world. In fact, I’m going to dedicate a whole blog to TOFU. But for now, a few facts…

Tofu is one of the oldest foods in the world and one of the most nutricious. It contains all eight essential amino acids, is rich in magnesium, phosphorus and selenium. It also contains copper, vitamin B1, calcium and iron.

What I love – it’s high in nutrition, but low in fat! Tofu, I’m so glad I met you. Ok, being honest, I didn’t love it when I first tried it, but it grew on me especially since there are so many recipes using tofu. Breakfast, lunch, dinner AND dessert – tofu has you covered.

Feeling overwhelmed? Well, here are a few recipes approved by vegan and non-vegan palates. I didn’t include tempeh because it’s not my favorite and I don’t cook with it that often. But if you want a recipe using tempeh, go to Pinterest and you’ll find dozens.

1. Garlic Pepper Soba with Chili-Roasted Tofu http://thefirstmess.com/2014/12/04/garlic-pepper-soba-with-chili-roasted-tofu-recipe/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+TheFirstMess+(The+First+Mess)

2. Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce https://foodwithfeeling.com/vegan-nacho-cheese-sauce/

3. Vegan Pulled BBQ Seitan

Vegan Pulled BBQ Seitan

I hope this demystifies vegan food somewhat. Don’t be afraid to try some vegan recipes, with or without these strange ingredients. If you don’t like what you prepare, call me – I have a nephew who will eat anything! But don’t give up, try another!

So whether you eat it or give it to my nephew, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Yay or nay – and why.

Eat, Drink and be Vegan!

How I Became a Vegan in One Easy Step

Cheese balls, cheese and crackers, cheesy cauliflower, cheese pizza, cheese on drywall, a big ole’ chunk o’ cheese. What could possibly be better than cheese? More cheese, of course! I would gasp if I heard anyone say they didn’t like cheese. I swear, I know people that don’t. I was indisputably a lover of cheese……until I wasn’t. And here’s why…

 

I became a vegan because of the book ‘Skinny Bitch’ by Rory Freedman & Kim Barnouin. I had been a vegetarian for a very, very long time – (I’m vintage). But this vegan stuff is a whole new can of worms (vegan gummy worms – yum).

 

It’s a great and funny book – well, funny until you get to Chapter 8 – then it gets serious. I think that’s the chapter that reached in and pulled my heart from my chest.

 

As I was sobbing my guts out, I was touched by a vegan-fairy-godmother and ‘poof’, I’m a vegan. Silly? Not so much.   I really did become a vegan on the spot – cold tofurkey. I never thought, “Oh, but I’m going to miss cheese and ice cream, and milk” because the realities of animal cruelty in the dairy industry, so vividly portrayed in the book, were permanently etched into my brain and I didn’t want to be a part of it just because of my selfish desire to eat some cheddar. And by the way, did I happen to mention that I loved cheese?!

 

I try not to judge non-vegans even though, believe you me, they surely judge me. ‘Believe you me’ – what does that even mean? Googled it – it’s archaic English and is an emphatic form of ‘believe me’. Hmmm, ok – you needed to know that, right?   I think, often times, people think I’m going to try and convert them or that I’m going to go into a lengthy litany (is that redundant?) of how much healthier it is to eat a plant-based diet. So they come at me in offense-mode. “Plants have feelings too, you know,” some of them bark. Or “How can you eat tofu? It’s disgusting!” That’s ok because I’m prepared for those folks thanks to another book – ‘Vegan Freak : Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World’ by Bob Torres & Jenna Torres. This book talks about how to deal with the haters, people that don’t have a clue, and people that have a clue but want to keep their head in the sand. It talks about how to handle family, in a civilized manner, during family gatherings. This title ‘Vegan Freak’ makes me laugh because it reminds me of a trip to Whole Foods in my pre-vegan days. I met a lady in the dairy/nondairy aisle and she told me she was a vegan. All I could think of was, “what a freak!”

 

But I must admit I am judgemental – it’s hard not to be. However, all the criticism goes on in my head because no one wants to be told off, told what to do, or feel they’re being perceived as the devil. I’d rather a situation present itself where I can educate someone – they’re much more receptive that way (especially if they’re tied and gagged! Kidding…not really…yes, kidding).

 

There are a lot of overzealous vegans out there that make a bad name for vegans when their enthusiasm is used only for attacking non-vegans. Ain’t gonna’ work – hate to tell ya’. Please, vegans – be kind to ALL animals, including humans.

 

I am the only one in my family who is vegan, none are even vegetarian. But I’m so

blessed – they don’t tell me I’m crazy, tell me I have to eat meat to get enough protein, or think I’m a pain-in the-posterior. Well, they might think the latter, but they never express it. And they always have lots of vegan dishes when we get together for meals. They research vegan recipes, ingredients, meat and dairy substitutes, then prepare delectable eats. And guess what, the non-vegans eat MY food and find it quite surprisingly delicious! Cause’ guess what, gang…it’s real food!

 

When my boyfriend (soon to be fiance…are you reading this, Stanley? I’m waiting….!!) takes me out to dinner, which is a lot, he goes online to check out the menu at several restaurants and if they don’t have a nice variety of vegan options, he won’t take me there. Oh yeah, he’s not vegan or vegetarian. I know that some vegans choose to hang out solely with other vegans – they shun anyone else. That’s fine for them, but I choose a different approach. I’m hoping that by associating with non-vegans, I am setting an example of kindness to all sentient beings… and slyly infiltrating their psyche.

 

We must be patient, and understand that no matter how much we want it, not everyone is going to want to become a vegan. Too bad, because the world would be a better place if they did…less animal cruelty, healthier people and a healthier planet.

 

I’m here to spread some vegan love and pray you’ll give veganism a chance!