occasions valentine's day

a vegan valentine’s guide – part 2

12 February 2019 | By Cassell

In Part 2 this section we will dive into some ideas for alternative gifts. perhaps you aren’t into the typical chocolates and flowers and want to get something out of the box for your loved one? After all, there’s only so many small bears a person can have!

If you are looking for vegan versions or info on more traditional gifts, head back to Part 1 :)!

Instead of chocolates, how about another edible treat…?

It’s always nice to treat yourself or someone you love with something sweet, but if you aren’t able to find vegan friendly chocolates that fit your taste or budget, why not do something different this year?

Sweets

Love Hearts

Swizzel's love hearts

Swizzel’s love hearts

image credit: Swizzels

Remember the classic Swizzels’ Love Hearts? Well did you know that not only are they totally vegan, but you can get personalised rolls of Love Hearts from the company for just 60 pence?! For that price you could get a fair few to make up a longer message. How cute and retro would that be?! You can even get a vegan hamper! You may know that Tom and I met at primary school, so for us, this is a classic blast from the past that would go down well any time of the year!

Turkish Delight

Turkish delight

Turkish delight is usually vegan friendly

Personally, I prefer chocolate, but some people go crazy for this stuff. They certainly look pretty and if your loved one enjoys it, you’ll be glad to know that it is virtually universally vegan.
The authentic recipe uses cornstarch, so proper Turkish Delight will be naturally vegan, but some producers may use gelatine instead. So do double check the ingredients, but you should have a great chance of getting a vegan sweet treat!
Hotel Chocolat sells theirs in a rather attractive wooden box, but at £14 is quite a bit more than you’d spend on a supermarket box. Or try and find a pink box in honour of the day!

Cake

When I asked my husband, “what do you think is a traditional Valentine’s gift?”, he answered emphatically without skipping a beat with: “Cake“. Hmmmmm. I’m not sure that it’s traditional for everyone, but I have to admit that over the years he has bought me some lovely cakes from various specialists.

So instead of chocolates, why not say I love you with a nice cake?!

Vegan Cakery

Based in Leicestershire, the Vegan Cakery makes exceptional baked goods.  We’ve had a Battenburg, yule log and other treats from them over the years and they never disappoint. Though be warned, you need to get your orders in early as their reputation and popularity means that they are incredibly busy. Though it’s too late for this year, keep them in mind for next year’s Valentine’s when hopefully they will still be making this super cute Large Valentine’s Biscuit!

vegan cakery valentine's biscuit

The Vegan Cakery’s special Vegan Valentine’s Biscuit!

Lola’s Cupcakes

You’ll find Lola’s all over London these days, but you can also order online for delivery.  Happily they have expanded their free-from range to offer vegan cupcakes, large cakes and brownies.

Lola's Vegan Cupcake Box!

Lola’s Vegan Cupcake Box!

The Vegan Cupcake Box is £20.10 for 6 (Vegan Fudge, Vegan Lemon and Raspberry, Vegan Pistachio & Cherry, Vegan Strawberry and Vegan Passionfruit).

Lola's vegan brownies

Lola’s incredibly delicious vegan brownies

Personally, I don’t even bother with the cakes and go straight for the brownies. Oh. My. God. The brownie is without question one of the best things I have ever put in my mouth. Ever.  You can order a box of 6 for £16.50.

 

Vegan Antics

These guys started online and turned out to be based in our hometown of Gravesend. Within a few years they opened up a shop in town, so we’ve got to try their wares quite often. The cakes are nicely made, but are pretty heavy on the sugar. They also do gluten free versions.

Asda

Asda vegan chocolate torte

Asda’s Extra Special chocolate torte

Whilst it’s not exactly a cake, it is a more easily available vegan, sweet treat.  You can pick up this nutty, smooth chocolate torte at Asda for just £4.  We’ve enjoyed it several times; and it’s even certified by the Vegan Society.  Just remember that it needs time to defrost.

Instead of flowers…a gift that keeps on giving?

Whilst flowers are beautiful, they die and fake flowers don’t really have the same appeal.  After all they need to be dusted… So how about giving something that lasts way beyond Valentine’s Day?

  • Magazine subscription: There’s a wide range of great vegan magazines now; when you sign up you often get a free gift too.
  • A supercharged gift box of their favourite things: Show how well you know them with a beautiful basket or box filled with things they love.  For example, their favourite tea, bubble bath, a new book, candle, chocolate bars etc, with a few extra surprises.
  • A book of reasons why you love them: You could put together a notebook of all the things you love about them, or add those notes to a printed photobook or handmade album. After all, the most thoughtful gifts are the most appreciated. If that’s a bit daunting, then how about a classic, handwritten love letter?

    fountain pen on paper

    What about writing a meaningful love letter by hand, that could be treasured forever?

  • Gift box subscription: Why not spread the cost of a big gesture and sign up to a gift box subscription? There are many vegan boxes out there to choose from, but I can personally enjoyed getting one from the Goodness Project. My work friends treated me to a maxi Vegan Goodness box for a birthday.  It was nicely wrapped up and filled with lots of goodies including some nice surprises that I’d never seen before.
  • Charity gift: Whether it’s a general donation or a gift that has a particular purpose like sponsoring an animal, pick a particular cause that is meaningful to them.  It should show them that you care too, and hopefully leave lasting impact way beyond one chilly day in February.

Instead of champagne or wine… indulge in another tipple?

Beer

Like many women, I love beer.  As such, I do feel that it’s a shame that it gets aimed squarely at men so much. Whoever gets to enjoy it at the end, treating your loved one to a mini hamper of their favourite beers is a good shout.

Whilst not all beer is vegan, it’s really easy to find vegan brands. Well known lagers like Heineken, Amstel, Beck’s, Carlsberg and Budweiser are all vegan-friendly.

If you want to get a more artisan brand, Meantime and Camden Hells breweries make awesome beer.  For a strong beer with an unusual backstory, try Trappist beers.  They are brewed exclusively by Trappist monks across 14 monastaries (6 of which are in Belgium).  My favourite vegan friendly Trappists are the Westmalle Dubbel and Tripl.  Watch out as they are darker than usual lager, and very strong; 7% and 9.5% respectively!

Baileys Almande – Vegan Baileys. Enough said.

Baileys dairy-free, vegan Almande version

Baileys dairy-free, vegan Almande version

Hah, well there’s a bit more to say… I tried this for the first time last year and wow, wow, wow, it was amazing!

It tastes just like I remembered the original Baileys tasting: simultaneously sharp, creamy and boozy with that warmth at the back of your throat. Happily, this vegan version is made with almond milk instead of from cows.

Also, the bottle is so much prettier!

After what seems to have been a soft launch, it is appearing more often.  We last got a bottle from Asda, and even saw it on offer alongside regular Baileys at the Christmas market in Amsterdam. So instead of fizzy champers or wine, perhaps grab a bottle of Baileys Almande (around £20 for 75cl) and a tub of vegan Ben & Jerry’s, cosy up under a blanket on the sofa for a truly cuddly night in?! Don’t forget the ice cubes!

Instead of perfume or aftershave… something else that smells pretty?

It can be a bit nerve-wracking to pick out a fragrance for someone else when you don’t have a clear idea of what type of scents they enjoy. After all, if they don’t particularly like it, there’s not a lot you can do once the box is unwrapped. Luckily there’s lots of easier ways to set the mood with something that smells gorgeous.

Candles (though they aren’t always as nice as they smell)

Right first off, strike any candles that contain beeswax off your list, though I’d be surprised if you are consistently tripping over natural beeswax candles in your shopping travels! Vegan-friendly candles are made from either a petroleum base (parrafin), vegetable wax or soy wax. If only natural colours and fragrances that did not derive from animals have been used and they were not tested on animals either, then that should make them vegan friendly.

candle, tulips and heart

Pretty scented candles make for a lovely gift

However, you might want to consider the benefit of choosing soy or vegetable wax candles, as burning those that contain paraffin can cause and aggravate respiratory problems. Using natural candles instead helps ensure that fewer toxins are burnt off into the air in your home environment, and thus to be inhaled by the people and animals within it.  So what follows are not necessarily recommendations, but pointers to hopefully help you decide what’s best.

TK Maxx

I love buying candles in TK Maxx for several reasons:

  1. There’s usually a good range of soy candles to choose from at very good prices.
  2. You can pick up some fantastic brands like Neom Organics (made with vegetable wax) at a fraction of the retail cost.
  3. I like the random, jumble sale vibe, and never quiet knowing what I’ll find!

Chances are that you will find something in there that won’t be easy to find anywhere else, and so it will turn out to be a nice surprise. Just make sure that you are able to get those darn sticky labels off; they can be a nightmare sometimes!

Yankee Candles

I can’t even comprehend how many thousands of candles Yankee Candles sell every day, so it stands to reason that they use refined paraffin wax as opposed to soy wax. Many people are devotees to the brand, and their wide range of scents mean that you should find something your partner likes with relative ease. If keeping it vegan is your only concern, then you should be able to buy with confidence, but I would strongly recommend thinking about this in the future.  They are made in the USA and as far as I can see, do not export to China, so animal testing should not be a concern.

Jo Malone – a well liked luxury brand, but one to avoid

Another brand that is well known for it’s candles is Jo Malone. Given their high price point (a “travel” candle costs £23, £120 for a “deluxe”), you’d expect that they would use the best ingredients. Sadly, despite their alluring natural scents, they are based in paraffin wax.

Also, whilst they state on their website that they are “committed to the elimination of animal testing“, they conversely sell in China which insists upon it!

Whether it is just their skincare or the candles as well that is tested on animals is another question which perhaps one of you might be able to answer for me, but as it stands, they unfortunately represent another example of profit over values, and I would avoid them and their candles.

But there’s hope… if you’re in Kent…

To end this segment on a happy note, I can wholeheartedly recommend Gaia Creations. They make soy candles with natural fragrances by hand, and I totally love that they are a local business. I found them at the Rochester Christmas Market in Kent some years ago and I have been buying their products ever since.

Gaia Creations vegan candles

The Kent-based Gaia Creations make gorgeous vegan, natural, soy candles

image credit: Gaia-Creations.com

My particular favourite is Fairy Dust, a very sweet and floral scent that fills the room beautifully. My Mum was the pickiest person when it came to fragrances and even she loved it so much that I got her one. Also, my sister particularly adored the candle I got for her that had real wood as a wick; she loved the way it crackled!

For everyday home use (i.e. fighting the smell of 3 indoor cats!), Tom and I usually get the more economical melting tartlets for use with tealights in a wax burner. They are fun as you can get a selection pack and then break off little bits of different ones as you fancy. I love these candles and the company, as you can feel they are truly made with love.

You can find their candles in Kent (Rochester, Gravesend and Faversham) but keep an eye out for their online shop and any events they may be at. If you aren’t able to get a hold of their awesome candles, check out your local crafts shops and see if there are any local producers to you; chances are that there’ll be someone out there doing it!

Bathing and skincare goodies

It’s always nice to get a treat for the bath, shower or self-care that you wouldn’t get yourself. When it comes to scents and whatnot, well, you’ll have to figure that bit out, but here are some great shops and brands that have vegan-friendly products and don’t test on animals to get you started:

  • Lush
  • Cowshed
  • Holland and Barrett (Dr Organics, Sukin, Faith in Nature…)
  • Neal’s Yard Remedies
  • Superdrug (check their own brand items)

Ok, so that’s it for vegan Valentine’s Day gift ideas!  Hopefully you found the perfect gift to give!

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