Receiving a non vegan gift – what to do? Keep it? Return it? Give it away?

Christmas is coming up and as a vegan it’s not just the food you need to plan and think about or worry about the family and friends who ask “why can’t you just eat meat/fish today and put aside your veganism for the day” or the family who joke that “all you can eat is salad” or  “vegans are drinking the fishes home or eating the cows food” type of jokes. I am lucky that no one in my family says things like that to me or asks me to “just eat meat today”, but i know others are not as lucky!

As a vegan you also need to think about gifts a little extra, such as …. what happens if i receive a gift that isn’t vegan? For example make up, hair products, skin products even clothes or candles can be non vegan. It can be hard enough knowing what to buy yourself but then trying to tell others all the things that aren’t vegan can feel like too much or complicated.



I don’t know how it is in other people’s families but in mine we usually just give one special gift to each other or we receive gifts that we really need but don’t buy for ourselves or can’t afford. Also i am lucky that my family really take into consideration my veganism and last year i received vegan and cruelty free make up, a subscription to a vegan cooking magazine and even vegan chocolate as well as money to buy what i really needed/wanted. I was so thankful that the make up i recieved was vegan because it is always a little embarrassing to have to ask the person giving you the gift if they kept the receipt or have to sell or give away the gift.

For the younger generation it might be easier to tell them that if they are buying you gifts to maybe stay away from certain things such as anything with leather or wool, maybe buy present cards in stores instead of actual products or suggestion items where there is very little risk it could be non vegan. For elderly people it may not be so easy to know what is vegan or not vegan and tring to explain may take too much time and energy or you may feel like you are ungrateful if you are trying to explain, but then just suggest no gift or something that there is little risk it won’t be vegan!


So… what do you do if you recieve a gift that isn’t vegan. It can be considered very ungrateful to ask if they kept the receipt so maybe that isn’t the first thing you want to do, however if it is a close family member or friend then maybe they will understand if you explain why you would like to exchange the gift. Otherwise you can always try to sell or give away the gift. Or depending on what it is you could keep it and then explain to the person giving you the gift that it isn’t vegan and maybe avoid buying that product again and explain which products or brands in the same category are vegan for next time or if they buy a similar gift to someone else.

If i receive non vegan food i give it away and if it is make up or example beauty products then i see if i can swap the products for another one at the store or online company it was bought, however if it is example a lipstick which is almost vegan but contains beeswax or honey then i might still use it but just explain to the person that for next time they might keep that in mind.

All of this can sound very ungrateful and many don’t have the confidence to talk to their friends or family about it and i understand that. It is also up to you what you want to do if you receive a non vegan gift, it will happen sometime in your life and it is your choice to make. Even if you may not have bought the product the problem if you use it is that you then “condone” the usage of it and even promote the usage of it. For example, if i receive non vegan make up or beauty products and use it and then my friends ask what brand it is and i tell them and then they go buy the same brand, then i have basically promoted and encouraged my friends buying non vegan products. But instead if i use vegan products and my friends go and buy the same products then i have promoted the use of that brand or product…. so that is one of the reasons why using non vegan products isn’t a good idea even if you personally haven’t bought it. It’s a bit like saying “Oh, i didn’t buy the dairy ice cream but i will try it anyway because it is not ME who is promoting or adding to animal cruelty. “…  I mean if that’s how it worked then all vegans could just go take free dairy and meat products because “they aren’t contributing with their own money”…. but it still creates a demand even if *you* didn’t spend the money.

However this is just my thoughts. And when it comes to receiving gifts my best suggestion is to remind friends and family that you want vegan products if that is what they are buying or to ask for present cards or money so you can buy the products/items instead and not have to worry about receving non vegan items.

And what about buying present for others? Does it need to be vegan?

My answer to this is yes…. because even if YOU won’t be using the product and it is not for you, if you buy a product that isn’t vegan you are increasing the demand for that product even if it isn’t specifically for you. Also the problem is if you example buy shampoo that isn’t vegan for a friend and they love that brand and keep buying the same brand then you have promoted and encouraged the use of a non vegan product. So my suggestion is to buy vegan products for others as well… i mean why buy dairy chocolate for others when you could buy non dairy chocolate? Or why buy non vegan make up when you could buy cruelty free and vegan make up? etc etc

This is my opinion on it anyway. What are your opinions? Do you buy vegan gifts for others?  And what do you do if you receive a gift that isn’t vegan?


11 Comments Add yours

  1. livenotsurvivesite says:

    Hello, could you make a post about vegan dishes for christmas? I have just been vegan for five months so I have no idea what I could cook for christmas. Would be great to read some recipes!


    1. Yes I’ll try do that 🙂 However what dishes are “traditional ” Christmas dishes depends on what country you live in…. so what’s traditionally eaten for Christmas in Sweden may vary from where you live haha!


  2. Conni says:

    This’ll be my first Christmas as a vegan, so I’ve just reminded my family not to buy me anything that isn’t vegan. That’s a very good point, though, about what to do with gifts you may receive that aren’t vegan! I think to avoid embarassment I’d probably keep it (but maybe give it away later, depending on what it is) and make sure I hammer home the point a little better for next Christmas/birthday etc. 🙂


    1. Exactly! Nothing to feel bad about if you do keep something bevause sometimes it can hurt the person who bought the gift so then maybe just giving it away a little while later works and just reminding everyone to make sure the gifts are vegan… just so that everyone (and the animals!) Are happy haha!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Conni says:

        Yeah, definitely 🙂 Good post, gave me something to think about (have I made it clear enough etc) Thanks x


  3. Anniiitschka says:

    That’s so true! I completely agree with you. I mean, I’m not a 100% vegan yet, but I’m working on it both food and everything around.
    Luckily in my family it’s nearly the same. We just buy small presents and last year we just enjoyed the time we had together. But when it comes to birthdays (where i definitely receive gifts), they always ask what i want, so there is nearly no risk that i get something non vegan 🙂

    Greets from Berlin


  4. I think if I brought vegan gifts for people I would worry that they wouldn’t like them because they are obviously going to be different to their usual brand of clothes/perfume/toiletries etc? I can understand your point about not buying non-vegan though as it only goes to further support that product. So its tricky. I am reminded over this about a friend who was brought up as vegetarian – her whole family was vegetarian too – and when it came round to events like Easter and Christmas her parents brought her children carob confectionary rather than the usual dairy even though my friend was no longer vegetarian and didn’t raise her children as vegetarians either. Sorry to say that she always used to throw the carob chocolate away. I would hate it if I brought gifts for people they didn’t like or wouldn’t use so I think what I`ll do is give store card vouchers as gifts – that way they can choose what they want to buy.


    1. It’s always hard to buy gifts for others and I Usually stay away from buying things like make up, perfume etc as that is so personal. And like you wrote, I would recommend buying present cards, they may not be as personal but I find it’s usually easier as then the person can buy exactly what they want and you don’t need to think about what’s vegan or not! 🙂


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