The holiday season can sometimes be complicated for vegans and animal activists, especially when our compassionate worldview extends beyond food and branches into different realms. Obviously we choose not to consume animal products, but aside from that, many of us want our material goods to be ethically-sourced, too. So when giving and receiving gifts, we are often faced with a few challenges – or perhaps it’s better to think of them as opportunities to lead by example.
Here are some tips on giving gifts that you can feel good about:
• Support animal- and eco- friendly, fair-trade retailers. There are a host of cool and compassionate gift ideas at Farm Sanctuary’s online store.
• Vegan cookbooks make great presents – while also spreading the joy of cruelty-free cuisine. Even better, bake some cookies to go along with the book.
• Make a gift donation in someone’s name.
• Give the gift of life. Giving the gift of a farm animal sponsorship is a wonderful way to honor a friend or family member while also making a tremendous difference in the life of a rescued animal.
• Make a homemade gift. One year, I made bath salts, put them in pretty jars, and added red and green food coloring to them to make them festive. Crafty presents like this can be personal and touching. Plus, they’re easy on your wallet.
• Shop at thrift stores. These stores often sell new-used items that not only make great gifts but can also lighten your consumer footprint. They sometimes sell decorations and gift wrap, too.
As for receiving gifts that are in line with your own ethics, you can let your family know in advance what you are and aren’t comfortable with getting. For example, tell your mom that leather purses aren’t your thing, but there are great online stores that sell fun and funky vegan bags. Then, inform her about the truth behind down, leather and wool. Also, many major Web sites will allow you to create a “wish list” that you can fill with gifts that float your fancy.
Another option – my personal fave – is to tell your family that instead of a material present, you’d like them to give you the gift of going vegan for a month.
Share your ideas for compassionate gift-giving and receiving in the comments section below.