If you’re looking forward to a vegan Christmas in France then you’ll want to ensure that any gifts you give to friends and relatives are 100% vegan. If you’re an environmentally-aware vegan (and who isn’t these days?) you’ll probably also be keen on ethical giving too, avoiding things like too much plastic and packaging, and focusing on local, fair trade or environmentally sensitive gifts.
Issues to consider when vegan Christmas shopping
The basic rule is to ensure that any gift does not contain any animal ingredients or derivatives, or involve any animal exploitation in its production process. So, that means checking the labels and avoiding products made of leather, wool or silk, and any food items involving meat or dairy. Cashmere scarves are out, as are sheepskin slippers or hampers laden with foie gras and cassoulet. You’ll also want to check that any cosmetics, perfumes and the like don’t contain any animal ingredients and have not been tested on animals, so look out for labels like One Voice and Leaping Bunny on your presents.
Give a quintessentially French gift
Every region, in fact almost every town, seems to have its own ‘traditional’ product, from Calissons d’Aix in Provence to marrons glacé in the Ardeche to minty Vichy pastilles from the Auvergne. The shops and supermarkets fill their shelves with festive gift boxes, and some may be vegan-friendly. However, they are unlikely to labelled as such. It’s a case, as always, of checking the labels, especially looking out for egg white, blanc d’oeuf, in sweets. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid the heaps of foie gras that abound at this time of year and also watch out for cheap, mass-produced ‘tat’ from China. A couple of quintessentially French present ideas are Savon de Marseille based presents, lavender from the south, and speciality salts from the Camargue or Guerlande regions. Or, track down a bottle of French vegan wine or champagne.
Support vegan producers and manufacturers
What better than supporting a local, small business, an independent producer or a vegan shop or manufacturer. In a previous article I covered vegan candles, and gave a shout out to Bougies d’Aquitaine’s hand-poured vegan candles. Luxurious gifts that anyone would be happy to receive. There are also a couple of ‘expat’ vegan soap and cosmetics producers based on France. Check out Earthsense Organics, whose range of body care products are not only vegan but zero waste, plastic free and fully compostable or recyclable. That Soap’s range of beautiful gifts, the majority of which are vegan, are handmade in the south west of France – I can personally vouch for the solid shampoo bars.
Don’t forget the animals
If you’re anything like me, then your own furry family companions will be high on your Christmas present list. But let’s not forget all the other less fortunate animals in the world. There are so many different ways we can help and support all the excellent rescue and rehabilitation work that goes on, in France as well as worldwide. You can buy a calendar, Christmas cards or branded gifts from your favourite animal charity or vegan sanctuary. Better still make a donation or sponsor an animal as a gift – many charities offer sponsorship card and gift packs, sent direct to your recipient. These cyber gifts are a great way to avoid packaging and plastic, and shipping costs, too.
Spread the vegan word
If you’re hunting for presents for vegan friends and family there’s a whole world of choice. In addition to some of the ideas listed above, where the vegan credentials may go unnoticed as the champagne bubbles flow, tracking down cruelty-free presents will be greatly appreciated by your fellow vegans. Logo clothing, vegan leather bags and cyber charity gifts will no doubt all be well received. And, if you think some of your non-vegan friends may be open to a little mild persuasion, or even gearing up for Veganuary themselves, then how about a celebrity vegan cookbook to start them off on the road to a new cruelty-free lifestyle.