That Effing Vegan: The Annual Holiday Gift Guide 2018

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Vegan fruit loop ice cream with wild berry macaroon and fruit loop sugar cookie; courtesy of Urban Leaf Catering.

T’is the season, for the annual tradition that we fondly (or woefully) refer to as holiday shopping. Whether you choose to celebrate Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, the Winter Solstice, Omisoka, a combination of the above, or none of the above; may this offer some ideas to shift your traditions this year. Focusing on vegan companies, these providers are not only local, however many of them are integrating philosophies around reducing waste into their products and company ethics. 

With no further adieu, the 2018 holiday guide, featuring the crème de la crème when it comes to vegan-friendly gifts this holiday season. Look no further. Fret no more. We’ve got your effing back.

1. For everyone: support an organization that aligns with your ethics.

Contribute to one of the many organizations and non-profits that are based in Vancouver, and in the Lower Mainland. The majority of animal rescues and sanctuaries, in particular, are always in need of financial support, supplies, and volunteer engagement. Gather a few friends for the day, and volunteer for a few hours. Add a supply drive to one of your Christmas social events (most groups will have a “wish list” on their website). Donate in honour of someone, or in honour of yourself.

Some of our local favourites include: SAINTS (Senior Animals In Need Today Society), Hearts on Noses, Happy Herd, Sea Shepherd, Hugabull Rescue and Advocacy, and Home For Hooves

2. For the ones who say that vegans only eat twigs and tofu: treat them to a culinary experience from Urban Leaf. 

Urban Leaf arrived on the vegan scene a few months ago, and has been making waves ever since. In between some of the best vegan cheese I have ever sampled, a series of pop up dinners, and appearances at some of the biggest events in the city, Urban Leaf is set to become one of the pillar companies of the community. Bring together some of your favourite humans, get Urban Leaf in the room, and you’ll find yourself the reigning champion of the dinner party host contingency. 

3. For the sketpical mother (or doubtful family member in general): take them for vegan high tea.

Tucked away in East Van off of Broadway and Kingsway, La Petite Cuillere is a delightful café featuring specialty baking, almond milk, and soy milk. Vegan pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes, chocolate oreo cupcakes, Earl Grey cookies, and chocolate avocado icing are just the beginning. Drop-ins are welcome, but make a reservation if you’re attending on the weekend or the holidays. My second favourite is Neverland Tea Salon, which offers portions for small sittings, large sittings, and has vegan versions of all the dainty classics, including sandwiches with the crusts cut off. 

4. For the friend that works too hard, never stops, and rarely takes a moment for themselves: pamper them.

Look no further than Willow’s Wax Bar, which boasts the esteemed title of being Vancouver’s only 100% vegan and cruelty free spa. From facials and luxurious skincare, to chemical-free tanning and teeth whitening, to being one of the only places in the city to procure different vegan cosmetics and brands, Willow’s has it all. (Sidebar: Willow’s doesn’t currently offer nail services, however hop over to Line Spa and Polish to cover all your bases.

5. For your friend, family member, partner, lover, co-worker, or anyone with a sweet tooth: vegan donuts. 

Contrary to how much I talk about sweets, I don’t have a major sweet tooth. That said, I fully acknowledge that we have some of the best vegan donuts that the city has to offer, between Dipped and Cartems.  For the sit down cafe experience, visit Cartems; Dipped operates via delivery, special order, or occasionally, hosts pop-up shops. 

6. For the foodie: the most unique matcha you will find in the Lower Mainland from Amoda Tea.

This July, I put a halt on drinking coffee. Part of weaning myself off of coffee was exploring new beverages and tinctures, and that is where I found Amoda. Specifically, the Matcha Bliss, which is a concoction of matcha, cacao, reishi and mac. Put a spoonful in a blender with the vegan milk of your choice, cacao butter, and a bit of maple syrup, and understand exactly why this beverage definitely earned its name. 

7. For the skincare masters:  Loa Botanical Oil.

If you know me or have spoken to me in person since October 2018, chances are high that I have mentioned this oil. It was included in the #VeganPopUp at Little Mountain Shop this Fall, and in less than two full months of using it, it has proven itself a game changer and then some. Loa is 100% vegan friendly, cruelty free, produced locally by some incredible humans I have had the pleasure of meeting, and above all: it works. Speaking as someone who bought almost one of every skin care products in my early twenties (including some of the most expensive), I have never seen such immediate results and such happy skin as I do after using this. As someone who has hyper sensitive, reactive skin, and has also navigated bouts of eczema, this fits the bill, counteracts redness, scarring, and anything you throw at it. My affection for this is so significant, I accidentally dropped my bottle in the sink and meticulously used a tiny dropper to get every last drop into the bottle. 

8. For everyone, to capture a moment (or more): a session with local vegan photographer Tosha Lobsinger. 

Tosha Lobsinger is the powerhouse behind her own aforementioned photography company, runs People People Project apparel, and founded Sarnia VegFest. (We refer to this as a triple threat). This January, she is offering up Mini Photo Sessions, which can include families, partners, business portraits, friends, and of course: animals. Gift cards, info and booking are available via:

9. Above all: support local.

We have an abundance of vegan businesses and vegan restaurants in the Lower Mainland. We help to solidify their positions, ensure in their growth, and aid in veganism moving moreso in the mainstream by (you guessed it) giving them our dollars. Start with a gift certificate or gift basket from any of the following, and you are doing just that: The Wallflower, Soil, Zimt Chocolates, Plantbase Food, Wild Trails Coffee, Umaluma, Virtuous Pie, Chickpea, Meet, Eternal Abundance, Chomp, Indigo Age, The Juice Truck, Tao, Edible Flours, 3G, The Acorn, The Naam..and the list will only keep on growing. 

May your holiday season be magical, safe, full of vegan feasts, and above all: celebrated in a way that ensures animals are being acknowledged, respected, and above all: kept alive. 

– Zoe Peled
IG: @zoemarg 

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