The guid to buying vegan gifts, cruelty free beauty, and hamper building.

It's that time of year, and for one reason or another I think most people love it or hate it, the lights are up, the stores are packed and everyone spends a little more than they need to on the food shopping.

Well this year we got ya covered, at Arjuna we understand that not everyone celebrates Christmas, but if you do or don’t I am sure you can find at least one of our blogs useful for the winter season, be it trying to find the birthday present for that one December birthday relative (c’mon, change your birthday, you have a good excuse!), or celebrating the season with the in-laws, or maybe you just want some winter warmer recipe ideas.

In the following blogs we’re going to cover jumpers, cruelty free bathing, vegan cheeses, meat free dishes, gluten free desserts and much more, and for those of you with little ones that still believe in Santa we will even cover the best vegan cookies and plant based milks to leave out by the fireplace.

Got that lactose intolerant friend to buy for? No problem, we will be covering our top dairy free cheese, not to mention how to build the perfect hamper!

And these certainly wont be just for veggies and vegans, as we will also be helping those who are not with how to shop for their veggie and vegan friends and family this festive season with cooking tips and helpful gift ideas. Also I mentioned jumpers earlier on, that’s right we are going to be covering how to buy ethical jumpers this season be it for yourself or someone else to keep cosy, as lets face it everyone needs a cosy winter jumper.

How can you be more waste free when it comes to gift wrapping and cards? We got it, we’re on it.

The non-vegan’s guide to gift buying for vegans

With veganism becoming more and more mainstream, it is nearly inevitable that your list of people to buy for will include a vegan. But what to get them? The list of things that are “off-limits” can sometimes seem long and bewildering but we’re here to make the process as stress-free as possible.

Essentially, buying for a vegan is just the same as buying a present for anybody else, except you are making sure that your purchase is as ethical as possible. many vegans care about supply chains, ingredient provedence and worker welfare, just as much as they care about avoiding products that contain animal parts. As such, your buying experience will depend very much on who you are buying for, their preferences and desires.

Food

For chocolate lovers, you can’t go far wrong with a box of decadent truffles. Try Booja-Booja’s selection box, a range of Ombar Chocolates or a couple of bars of Vivani’s iChoc (Choco Cookie anyone?) Ask an Arjuna worker to point out the vegan chocolates in stock for you.

How about a hamper of Arjuna products? We have a vast array to choose from, from vegan cheeses to snack bars, soaps and lotions to specialist cooking ingredients. Alternatively, we stock gift vouchers at the till, so your gift recipient can compile their own!

Top tip:CHECK THE INGREDIENTS

Some non-vegan ingredients are also allergens, so helpfully, these should appear in bold on most products in the UK (such as milk, eggs and fish). However, there are a couple to look out for – honey, meat (in gelatine), beeswax and whey (from milk) can sometimes pass you by.

Clothes

An item of clothing with a vegan message on it is bound to go down well with the average vegan – they won’t pass by the chance to identify themselves to fellow human beings who share their values, or give a stranger something to think about. Try UK based company Viva la Vegan for catchy slogans or search on Etsy for something special.

If you’re looking for something more basic, try an ethical clothes company such as The Third Estate or Ethical Superstore, or simply browse the high street, making sure to check the labels to avoid silk, wool and leather. H&M are currently rated among the most ethical of the high street retailers by independent review body Ethical Consumer, though their score is still only half that of some smaller, independent clothes shops.

Kitchen gadgets

For all that vegetable preparation! You could try a spiralizer, a juicer or food processor for those likely to try making their own vegan cheeses, chocolate mousses, smoothies and milkshakes!

Other ideas

  • A subscription to a magazine that fits their interests. Try Plant-Based, Vegan Life or The Vegan Society magazine for vegan-specific content, or look for political, environmental or arty zines written by people in the local community.
  • A vegan subscription box – The Vegan Kind offer boxes of sweet treats and other vegan nibbles on a gift subscription service. Choose from the Lifestyle box (ie tasty treats!) or the Beauty box and get innovative vegan product samples delivered to your loved one’s door every month!
  • Recipe boxes – just like Hello Fresh and Gousto…but for vegans. The best known company is called Plant Curious, though there are others such as Allplants that deliver entire ready-made vegan meals instead of recipes…ideal for the high-powered vegan in your life!


Our 4 top cruelty-free beauty gifts

The reality is that I’m sure there are so many great beauty shops online and on the high street, but from our experiences we have come up with this list of some of our favourites, so we apologise if we left you off, and we would love you to comment with your favourite cruelty free beauty brands too!

LUSH

I am placing lush in our top 6 cruelty-free places to buy beauty and bathing gifts, while some people find that their shop and products are an assault on the senses, we can’t deny that their products are well, just lush.

Not only are all their products cruelty-free, but many of them are also vegan-friendly and labelled too! From pre-made hampers, gift sets or items you can buy to put your own together, they really have got it covered.

Not only that but with them now making a stance against plastic! Not only do they do plastic free soaps and bath bombs but this range has been extended to shower gels, yes you heard me a plastic free shower gel, and yes you can even find plastic free make-up! Many of their gift sets are wrapped in reusable scarves or you can buy one to wrap yourself.

There is another reason why lush comes at the top of my list this year to, they are taking part in petitions and campaigns to make a difference with a anti fur campaign earlier this year, anti fox hunting displays and wildlife petitions and of course their charity pots, you can also support a good cause.

GREEN PEOPLE

Green People have made it in to our top 6 beauty suppliers, while they may still have plastic packaging there is no denying that what’s inside them is good, not only are they a cruelty-free company with no animal testing they also don’t use any harsh chemicals making them better for more sensitive skin. But to top it off their products are also all certified organic and they sustainably grown plant ingredients, and on their website they state that 10% of their profits go to charities.

They looks nice in a gift hamper, they do vegan, they do a range for babies and children, they do night and day creams and whilst at Arjuna we don’t think that beauty products need to be labelled with a gender they do have a “men’s range” and you can even order sample packs.

EDEN PERFUME

Now there are a few reasons I’ve decided to add Eden perfumes into the list and one is that perfume seem to get forgotten about when we talk about beauty products, it can also be more tricky to find cruelty free or vegan-friendly ones on the high street, let alone zero waste ones.

Eden perfume is unique in that they have a shop in Brighton and also travel all over to different vegan markets and events, but the reason for me why they really stand out is that you can refill your bottles with them. You can do this by either going into their store or sending your bottles to them by post to have them refiled and sent back to you! On top of this the entire brand is vegan friendly so not tested on animals or containing any animal derived products so I really recommend these as a great gift (maybe to yourself).

FACE THEORY

I came across Face Theory whilst browsing the net in seasearchr beauty/skincare shops that stand out above the rest, and one one of the reasons I’m including them in the top 6 is because they offer all of their products in a fragrance-free option. It can be hard to find products for your skin if you are sensitive to chemicals of fragrances, so having this option seems like a fantastic idea, they are also parabens and sulphates free with the entire range being vegan too! (being vegan means that they are also a cruelty free company) The products themselves are made in their very own lab in Sheffield and the website is very helpful in helping you create your very own skin routine with gift sets available too.

How to do the perfect hamper

So we felt this would be a good one to throw in, hampers are one of my favourite things to put together, not just during the holiday season, but for weddings, birthdays etc.

If your stuck on getting someone a gift’ a hamper is the perfect option

so basically how do you do the perfect hamper?

First you need to decide the theme of your hamper, is it going to be just food? Is it going to be bath and beauty? Is it going to be a night time hamper? Or maybe its for a child or baby?

here are some easy tips to follow when putting together a hamper, now you also need to decide how much your going to spend on the hamper and the size, I have personally done hampers for friends with around 8 items but if its a gift for the whole family maybe you want to go for something bigger? But I have also done small gift sets of 4 items for when you just need to put together a small gift maybe for the office friend of the partners sister?

First you need you box or basket to put all the gifts in , now as someone who doesn’t like waste I have a few suggestions, for example you could make buy a wicker basket and make it part of the gift or maybe a picnic basket if you are doing a food hamper. But there are also cheaper alternatives so personally for the ones I have made I wen to local shops and got a box, you want something rectangle that doesn’t have really high sides, so that you will be able to display the gifts nicely.

I have then covered the box in magazine pages or tissue paper, you can also use magazine pages scrunched up and shredded in the bottom of the box and placed under and around the items to give it a nice full effect so it doesn’t just look like a bunch of products thrown hell pelt into a box.

Now have you decided the theme?

Now here is a general rule I go by:

4 aspects to the hamper

So for food I would choose, sweet, liquid, spread and savoury, then you could have 1 of each, 2 of each, 3 or however many of each for however big you want to go with your gift.

So for food

sweet – chocolate, sweets, biscuits, treats

Liquid – I have wrote liquid and not drink as you could put alcohol in or maybe a fancy oil? Or a nice cordial?

Spread – pate, jams, chutney

savoury – crackers, crisps, nuts, pickles

Using these 4 aspects and having an equal number of each ensures that you have a nice mixture of goodies, of course you could go for an entirely sweet hamper and choose to do chocolate, chewy sweets, biscuits and jams? And again you can choose 1, 2, 3 or however many of each f these items.

Want to do a bath and beauty hamper?

Hair – Shampoo, hair oils, conditioner?

Body – Shower gel, bath gel, soaps?

Relax – bath salts, candles, bath crystals, bath bombs

face – moisturiser, toner, face cream, face masks

How about one for the kids?

Edible – sweets and chocolate

Educational – a book or something for learning

Play time – action doll? Dinosaur? Play animals?

Building – a make your own kit or colouring set to encourage hands on skills

I feel that this is a really easy method to use when building a hamper so that I dont get stressed out with how many items or not making sure that they hand up with a hamper full of just crackers (although there would be nothing wrong with that if thats what you like).

As always we hope this blog has been useful for you, and if you have any other insoghts on vegan gift buying then pop on a comment!