Hell is being a vegan in Green Bay
October 13, 2010 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Vegan care package for a male college freshman: Products? Mail order sites? GO!

I would like to cultivate better relationships with my younger cousins. My cousin C. is a freshman at a small liberal arts college about 1.5 hours from home, and I'd like to send him some stuff. Price range: let's say $40, tops.

Catch 1: He's been vegan for a year or so. (This may have changed with dorm life, but I'll assume it hasn't -- I recall that it wasn't for any particular ethical or nutritional reasons, though.)

Catch 2: Even though it'd be way easier, I'd rather not just ask his mom what he likes, or even tell her that I'm doing this. There's a lot of tangled family crap behind this (specifically: she's in a terrible depression swing, and the whole family treats us all like we're 5). I really want these relationships to be separate from our normal family structure, so we can begin to interact like independent adults and support each other.

So what are some good vegan things to send him, knowing that he will maybe share them with his friends and is still a mildly picky eater? Everything I've seen through Google seems to be based on "healthy eating" or things that seem more suited to career people/home cooks with more refined palates. Zingerman's really only has vegan gummi bears :(

I'd like to either order a bunch of stuff from a single site to get it mailed or pick some stuff up locally (we have Whole Foods and a thriving local co-op) and send them that way. Suggestions for other things to tuck in there would also be wonderful.

posted by Madamina to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Pangea, Fast and Furless, and you're done.
posted by clavicle at 8:43 AM on October 13, 2010

Vegan Dandies marshmallows and maybe some vegan chocolate for delicious s'mores.
posted by wayland at 8:47 AM on October 13, 2010

Best answer: I'd go for a mix of sweet and savory items. It's pretty easy to find vegan chocolates at Whole Foods and co-ops. Whole Foods' 365 brand chocolate truffles are super yummy or you could get some Newman-O's (or even regular Oreos are vegan) if you think he might like cookies better. Both places will likely have bulk snacks like rice cracker mixes or sesame sticks that will likely be vegan. There's also vegan ramen style instant soups. I think if you go to Whole Foods or your co-op and find an employee to help you pick stuff out, you'll be golden.
posted by radioaction at 8:50 AM on October 13, 2010

Food Fight! sells vegan snack food, pretty much all of the junk food variety.
posted by medeine at 8:51 AM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Gnu Bars should be available at your Whole Foods and they are vegan.
posted by Medieval Maven at 9:10 AM on October 13, 2010

Holy shit, RAMEN. Commenting again just to second that idea, it's gold.
posted by clavicle at 9:14 AM on October 13, 2010

Vegan protein powder so he can make smoothies if he misses a meal. And a stick blender if you really want to splash out.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:21 AM on October 13, 2010

Best answer: Perhaps beyond the scope of the care package, but: rice cooker and Roger Ebert's The Pot and How to Use It (with the caveat that it's not so much a cook book as a thinking-about-cooking book).

Or: Mark Bittmann's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

My boyfriend is vegan, and if he had actually learned to cook in college (rather than now, at 26) I think his life would have been much improved.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:24 AM on October 13, 2010

I love VeganEssentials. Sharkies fruit gummis for sweets/post-exercise quick sugar, vegan gum, a variety of 1.5-oz bags of Stonewall's Jerquee in different flavors for savory snacking, agave nectar to go in tea/coffee, some instant meals with or without mockmeat, Candy Tree licorice. And maybe some vegan lip balm and extra socks since it's getting cold.
posted by brainwane at 9:26 AM on October 13, 2010

Primal Strips!
posted by smirkyfodder at 9:31 AM on October 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you're going to pack the items yourself, I highly recommend sending some homemade vegan goodies along with the gifts. Receiving baked treats in care packages is a rite of passage in college and a reminder that you have folks who care about you. This recipe is super-easy and should ship well.

If your cousin's family situation is a little dysfunctional, I'm guessing homemade treats (or those from a vegan bakery if you're nervous about baking) would be especially appreciated.
posted by annaramma at 9:40 AM on October 13, 2010

Heartily seconding Food Fight! Their online store is great, and they have lots of fun items which would make a pretty jazzy care package. I'd choose a container of nutritional yeast for healthy goodness, and then just add a selection of things that sound fun.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 9:45 AM on October 13, 2010

minimus.biz has some vegan options -- you'll have to look through -- but they have mini and trial sizes of mainstream brands. They make super-popular dorm care packages, people always go nuts for them when I send them. You can pick individual items or care packages. (I think you can also have individual items packaged up pretty.)

If you can stray away from food, they have options like a laundry care package, a dorm first aid care package, etc.

The three most popular that I've given people are the Cold & Flu care kit (soups, teas, kleenex, cold meds -- there's no obvious dairy or meat but it's processed dried soup so you'd have to check labels); the Dorm Medicine Chest; and there a kit of NOTHING BUT CONDIMENTS that every college student I've given it to has gone crazy for. They also have mini rolls of duct tape that are very popular. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:44 AM on October 13, 2010

Veggie Brothers is super awesome. It can be a bit pricey with shipping and whatnot, but so very good.
posted by Zoyashka at 11:07 AM on October 13, 2010

Seconding the Dandies. Also Vegan Mars/Snickers etc. candybars. Maybe Tings (people on vegan forums love those).
posted by davar at 11:54 AM on October 13, 2010

Most Ramen isn't vegetarian, let alone vegan. Lumen foods has a nice array of vegan jerky. Shelf stable, high in protein, and good for snacking.
posted by chairface at 12:50 PM on October 13, 2010

These cookies are DELICIOUS.
posted by delicate_dahlias at 7:26 PM on October 13, 2010

Socks, gloves and hat made with bamboo or cotton yarn. Also, Lush sell a lot of vegan products if you have one near you - not all their range smells particularly girly.
posted by mippy at 7:42 AM on October 14, 2010

Response by poster: Well, last night I was driving home and passed the Whole Foods, so I turned around and did a little poking around. It was surprisingly harder than I'd expected, because not all of the products were labeled as being vegan. (The guy said, "Oh, yeah, there's a big green V!" and there totally wasn't. Thanks, dude.) I saw a lot of stuff that was probably disqualfied because of the honey content; I'm not sure if he would care, but I didn't take the risk. There were a few other things, like instant oatmeal packets, that had nothing but oats and apples and cinnamon, but I got super paranoid that I was missing some sort of natural flavoring that came from, like, goat lungs. (Mmmm.)

So I grabbed a crapload of stuff, probably spent way too much, took some stuff out at the register and then took some more stuff out at home. (The RL's raspberry licorice: reasonably tasty, but kind of waxy.)

Here's what made it in the box:
Newman's Own Organics Pretzel Rods and original Newman-Os
Annie's Bunny Fruit Snacks (or what KathrynT refers to as "[daughter]'s crack")
Soms SurfSweets sour worms and bears
365 Instant Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
Some ginger cookies that were kind of local to his home and looked more home-baked
Four Simply Asia and Annie Chun's Noodle Bowls (in place of ramen)
Five flavors of Larabars, including Jocalat (for that "oh shit class is in two minutes" time, aka ALL THE TIME)

So... hope he likes it. Thanks, all!
posted by Madamina at 9:17 AM on October 14, 2010

Response by poster: Oh, P.S. I actually have three male college freshmen cousins this year (it was kind of wacky in late 1991...), so I was trying to think of something else to send the other two. The Roger Ebert suggestion is FANTASTIC; I've been wanting that for myself, and it'd be great not only for the wonderful writing but the encouragement to experiment with limited resources.
posted by Madamina at 10:24 AM on October 14, 2010

That sounds so awesome! It is great that you do this. As you noticed it is not always easy and it is usually expensive to buy vegan convenience foods and therefore I think most vegans appreciate food gifts way more than non-vegans do.
posted by davar at 12:45 AM on October 15, 2010

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