When you have anyone with alternative dietary or lifestyle needs in the family, some thought has to be made to ensure that the gift you choose is appropriate. As the mum of a family where the majority of us are vegetarian and vegan, I am used to sometimes having to think outside the box when it comes to buying gifts or developing our own family traditions at Christmas. I enjoy sourcing ethical gifts, dairy-free chocolates, vegan nut roasts and cruelty free products at this time of year, to keep our celebrations in line with our beliefs.
Buying presents needn't be a daunting task. Here are some cheap and cheerful, yet thoughtful ideas for what to get for the vegan in your life!
There is an increasing number of stockists of vegan confectionery with brands such as Booja-Booja, Plamil, Moo Free and the Fabulous Freedom Factory producing exciting chocolate gifts. Even supermarkets are doing their own Free-From ranges including sweets and chocolates.
Check out Vegan Town who do an excellent £20 vegan treat box containing 10 to 14 vegan chocolate, sweets and cruelty free goodies. They are available as a one off purchase or as a monthly subscription. I bought one last year and it was incredible. No one has to miss out on sweet treats this Christmas!
Cosmetic companies such as Lush, Montagne Jeunesse and The Body Shop are all proud to be cruelty free, so it's easy to buy lovely toiletries and cosmetics, which always make great gifts.
Faith in Nature is a British company that produces an organic, cruelty free, vegan range of products that use the power of plants for their healing properties and gorgeous fragrances, just as nature intended. They are free from Parabens and SLS so contain no nasty toxins and are packaged using recycled plastic.
I love their Pineapple and Lime shampoo and conditioner, made with an uplifting blend of pineapple, lime and mango, bursting with tropical fragrances. It is fruity and fresh, bringing some much needed sunshine into your morning shower. The handmade Faith in Nature soaps contain essential oils and natural ingredients. The Coconut Soap has a lush tropical scent and moisturising properties. The soaps come individually wrapped in 100g bars. The Rejuvenating Facial Wash contains aloe vera which has antioxidant properties. It is a simple product that foams with water, cleanses, refreshes and feels nice on the skin. The Restorative Hand Cream contains hemp oil which is rich in Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and minerals. It's a great saviour product for the winter, keeping hands soft and moisturised.
It makes a very thoughtful gift to buy a selection of products such as these and package them up in a basket, box or bag, to make a bespoke pamper hamper. Faith in Nature products can be purchased at discounted rates at www.discount-supplements.co.uk, online suppliers of health and fitness items at low prices. Prices start at £1.81 for the bar of soap to £6.05 for the hand cream.
Kitchen gadgets always make great gifts for aspiring vegan cooks. Shops such as Lakeland stock lots of gadgets and gizmos, some with a novelty touch, some more serious. When it comes to a fun kitchen gadget that has a real Christmas vibe, the Chef'n Twist 'n Sprout is perfect. If you are a fan of vegetables - and in particular Brussels Sprouts - this is an excellent gift idea. It's a bit of a novelty - but is also actually pretty useful when it comes to making Christmas dinner.
Preparing sprouts is pretty laborious, but with the Twist 'n Sprout, it is much more fun. This gadget has a circular blade with a point. You pierce the stem with the point and then it works like a reverse pencil sharpener, boring out the core with a simple twist. It trims the outer leaves and takes out the core for evenly cooking your sprouts. It'll be a god send on Christmas Day!
The Twist 'n Sprout is £7.95 from Lakeland.
Another great gift idea for vegans and vegetarians is to make your own bespoke hamper, filled with exciting foodie products. It's great at this time of year because there is such a lot of choice in supermarkets, pop-up shops, food halls in garden centres or from gourmet brands. Many products are accidentally vegan so just check the labels when you are shopping. You'll be surprised how many products are suitable. Here is a selection of some really interesting foodie treats that are perfect for Christmas.
Barry Norman is best known for being a movie buff, but he also makes some excellent premium pickled onions, which taste as good as homemade ones. They are hot and spicy, crisp and crunchy, adapted from a nineteenth century family recipe. A festive essential! RRP £2.40 from Ocado.
Clement Faugier's Vanilla Chestnut Spread is a festive treat containing crushed candied chestnuts in a sweetened, vanilla flavoured chestnut puree. Eat it on its own or with vegan ice cream, on crepes, in a pastry or as a topping for toast. Christmas in a can! It is available from Waitrose for £2.05.
Opies is a family owned food company dating back to the 1880's. Their quality foods are just perfect for Christmastime. Take for example their Pickled Walnuts, packed by hand these are a world renowned English delicacy. Great with some vegan cheeses and crackers on Boxing day. They make a delicious sounding potato, mushroom and walnut salad. £2.49 from Ocado.
Opie's Stem Ginger in The Famous Grouse Whisky is new for 2016. Young ginger stem is carefully preserved in an alcoholic syrup, and is another Christmas essential. It can be used in recipes or poured over vegan ice cream for a simple, but very indulgent dessert! It is £8.00 from Ocado.
See the whole range with many vegan and veggie friendly products at www.opiesfoods.com.
Whoever you are buying for this year, just have fun with it and enjoy giving something thoughtful!