I’ve found that answering “What do you want for *insert gift-giving celebration here*” is now more difficult as a waste-conscious, wannabe-minimalist vegan. However, this year I decided to ask for gifts that I felt would help the animal rights movement, and move humanity one step closer to the vegan world that I can currently only wish for. Here are my favorite gift ideas that vegans may consider asking from their friends, family and/or colleagues. The following gifts are budget-friendly (in terms of donations, remember that a little can go a long way), or are completely free, so they create win-win situations for all parties involved.
1. Donation to a Farm Animal Advocacy Group
In general, advocacy groups that speak on behalf of farmed animals are extremely under-funded. While all human-inflicted animal suffering is deplorable, the scale of suffering experienced by farm animals far outweighs the suffering of other domesticated animals. Farm animals make up 99.6% of all domesticated land animals used and killed by humans in the United States. However, only 0.8% of donations made to animal charities go to farm animal organizations. Animal Charity Evaluators (ACE), who find and promote the most effective ways to help animals, release annual charity recommendations that highlight the most effective animal advocacy organizations.
2. Donation to a Farm Animal Sanctuary
Farm animal sanctuaries are frequently in dire need of financial support, so are greatly appreciative of any sized donation that comes their way. You may consider setting up a crowdfunding campaign to keep track of donations for an animal sanctuary of your choosing. Donations allow sanctuary owners to better support their existing residents, or to rescue and rehome animals that are on the cusp of being culled like spent dairy cows, or unproductive egg-laying hens (AKA ‘waste products’). These sanctuaries bear many costs including animal feed, bedding, deworming, equipment and infrastructure, and urgent medical care.
3. Dinner at a Vegan Restaurant
Over the past few years, plant-based eateries have been popping up all around us. However, with worldwide COVID-19 lockdowns, the past year has been extremely challenging for many hospitality businesses. Hence, vegan restaurants may need your support now more than ever. Asking the non-vegans in your life to grab dinner with you is also a great way to introduce them to the plethora of delicious plant-based foods available to them. If dining out is not currently possible where you live, see whether your favorite vegan diner sells vouchers, or if you can take a rain check on that celebratory dinner.
4. Animal Rights Merchandise
After becoming aware of fast fashion’s ethical and environmental qualms, I almost exclusively wear secondhand clothing. However, finding second-hand vegan merchandise seems nigh impossible. Buying ethically produced clothing is the next best thing, and doesn’t need to break the bank either. In the Soulshine sells organic cotton t-shirts for as low as 8 USD. Their Balinese employees are paid on a per-piece basis, and can earn 40% above minimum wage. Furthermore, they have now collectively donated over $10,000 to vegan-related causes. Your t-shirt activism doesn’t need to be outwardly ‘vegan’ if you’re concerned about public backlash. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find someone offended by a shirt that simply says, “All animals deserve love”.
5. Vegan Artwork
Just like with clothing, artwork can effectively deliver bold, thought-provoking statements concerning veganism. However, with a picture being worth a thousand words, I thought this deserved its own separate category. You can find many amazing vegan art accounts on Instagram by searching through hashtags like #veganart and #veganartivist. Supporting these artists through requesting a commission, or supporting them on membership platforms like Patreon, ensures they can continue creating free, shareable content on social media. Displaying vegan artwork in your home or on your work desk can grab the attention of the “veg-curious,” and inevitably get vegan conversations flowing.
6. Movie Night with a Vegan Documentary
This gift idea is completely free, and relatively easy to execute. You can simply tell your non-vegan friend or family member that you’d really appreciate it if they’d sit down to watch a vegan movie with you. Providing vegan snacks to your companion is optional, but recommended! Animal rights lie at the heart of veganism, and I believe all non-vegans should watch Earthlings or Dominion to learn where their ‘food’ comes from. However, suggesting watching a documentary that focuses on the health or environmental benefits of veganism, may be met with less reluctance. Great documentaries on Netflix include What the Health, The Game Changers, Cowspiracy, and soon-to-be-released Seaspiracy. More non-graphic movie suggestions can be found here.
7. Vegan Challenge Sign-Up
Having all my friends, family members, and colleagues voluntarily sign up to a vegan challenge may well be my dream gift. Realistically, however, this gift idea will probably only be well-received right off the bat by those closest to you. However, you may be pleasantly surprised by the number of people willing to sign up to a vegan challenge, after watching a vegan documentary with you. Challenge 22 and Veganuary run free challenges all year round, where participants adopt a plant-based diet for 22 days and 31 days respectively.
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Photo: Unsplash; In the Soulshine; festivelydead via Instagram