Christmas presents that support a vegan lifestyle?
December 18, 2013 12:43 PM   Subscribe

My parents, both in their 60s, have recently gone "mostly-vegan" for health reasons. I'd like to get them some Christmas gifts that support this decision (and their overall commitment to more healthy eating). I've already gotten them some kelp noodles (they loved them at a vegan restaurant we went to). Other thoughts about basics/add-ons/general useful and inspiring stuff for a couple of vegan noobies?

Rather than get them, say, a big basket of vegan treats and goodies, I'm thinking about gifts that could be folded into a vegan lifestyle-- like kelp noodles, which can help inspire different kinds of dishes.

posted by enzymatic to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Are you looking to get them food, or tools, utensils, supplies, and the like?

The first thing that came to mind for me was a mandoline for making things like zucchini ribbons and other more interesting ways of serving vegetables.
posted by Sara C. at 12:44 PM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

This is a job for a big ol' crate of delicious top-notch spices from Penzey's - while they are tasty on ALL types of food, vegan food often benefits from some extra flavoring lovin' to make it special.

Also: when I am cooking vegan stuff (I'm not vegan myself, but cook that way semi-often), I make frequent use of my Cuisinart and Microplanes. Can't ever have enough Cuisinarts and Microplanes.
posted by julthumbscrew at 12:49 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

Do they have a good vegan cookbook? Lots of recommendations on the green. I personally really like the Veganomicon and the Post Punk Kitchen.

Baking replacements also might be a nice idea. Spectrum vegan shortening, applesauce, carob chips, flax or a different egg replacer. Those are nice things to have around for baking that might also encourage some vegan lifestyle type stuff.

And of course, vegan nutritional yeast.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:50 PM on December 18, 2013

I'd consider giving them the Eat to Live cookbook and perhaps some of Dr. Fuhrman's tasty food items like his seasonings or vinegars.
posted by bearwife at 12:51 PM on December 18, 2013

I think assorted oils would be great. High quality olive oil, roasted sesame oil, hazelnut oil. All are very flavorful and healthy!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:52 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I see spiralizers mentioned a lot in vegan recipes (particularly for noodle replacements). A food dehydrator is another good tool (fruit leathers, dried fruit, etc).
posted by telegraph at 12:52 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Some things I've been pondering lately:

Small veggie chopper

Spiralizer (similar idea as a mandoline but noodles are supposed to be easier)

A Moosewood cookbook

And other ingredients they may not think to use, like nutritional yeast, different types of grains or legumes. Maybe this pantry list will give you some ideas too!
posted by brilliantine at 12:54 PM on December 18, 2013

My favorite vegan cookbooks are Vegan Eats World and Veganomicon.

Food things I would love: spices (especially ones that are suited for Indian or Southeast Asian cuisine); fancy oils; fancy salts; some long-lasting specialized condiments like pomegranate molasses.

Useful cooking things: mandoline; spice grinder; immersion blender; microplane.
posted by Jeanne at 1:01 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

The great food blog Serious Eats recently ran a Gift Guide for Vegetarian Cooks. I would trust their picks.
posted by neroli at 1:04 PM on December 18, 2013

See The Ultimate Plant Strong Shopping Guide by Engine 2.
posted by blub at 1:17 PM on December 18, 2013

How about looking up a local vegan cooking class?

Maybe find a few local restaurants that have vegan dishes on the menu and a smattering of gift cards. One of the hardest times to stick to a diet is when you're too tired/rushed to cook.

I'd also think about some of their favorite holiday dishes and make a gift basket of vegan style replacements. For example, if they're big christmas cookie bakers maybe a vegan baking book, applesauce, egg replacer, dutch process cocoa, agave/brown rice syrup, etc. If they do up a big Christmas turkey maybe a book about making setain, some gluten flour, yeast extract, chick'un bouillon cubes, etc.
posted by fontophilic at 1:18 PM on December 18, 2013

Nthing some really handy and useful cookbooks. (Personal recs: anything by Isa Chandra Moskowitz--especially Isa Does It, as it focuses on delicious meals easily whipped up on a weeknight, Terry Hope Romero's Vegan Eats World is awesomesauce too.)

I pretty much agree with everyone's utensil/equipment recs too. If you wanted to be a super great child, you could get them a juicer. (I have a thing for fresh juice.)

A gift certificate for a local well-stocked natural foods store wouldn't go amiss either. Barring that, a basket of the basics--smoked paprika, nooch (nutritional yeast), herby salts, miso, liquid smoke, good curry powder, vital wheat gluten (make seitan!), etc--would be excellent too.
posted by Kitteh at 1:19 PM on December 18, 2013

Spices and seasonings are good, and I love Penzeys for that.

My favorite vegetarian (not vegan, although it contains a lot of vegan recipes, and has vegan variations for almost all of them) is How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

Kitchen tools: julienne peeler (I use this instead of a spiralizer, because spiralizers are big and expensive compared to this little thing), a quality kitchen knife, cutting boards, microplane grater, spice grinder, blender

If ingredients are hard to find where they live: flaxseed meal, chia seeds, hemp seeds, vital wheat gluten, raw cashews, dried mushrooms, coconut oil, miso, beyond chicken.

Some indulgent snacks might be nice to--some vegan dark chocolates, marshmallows, or whatever kind of snacks they enjoy.
posted by inertia at 1:26 PM on December 18, 2013

On the kitchen accessory front -- My most used kitchen item has been a high speed blender. They are awesomely helpful for soups as well as smoothies. Also great if they don't have it is a good mandolin. And some good blade-proof gloves to save their fingers.
posted by bearwife at 1:37 PM on December 18, 2013

agree with any cookbooks by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. if they love cookies/cakes/pies and are sad to not have them now, she has a cookbook for each of those and the cookies and cupcakes are AMAZING. haven't tried the pies one yet.

vegan cooking sometimes requires "odd" supplies that they might not have access to if they're in a small town or something. nutritional yeast, agar agar, agave nectar, vital wheat gluten, etc. maybe you could get them those things OR get them a big gift card to one of the vegan supply sites (i'm blanking right now, sorry. i'm not the vegan in the house).
posted by misanthropicsarah at 1:57 PM on December 18, 2013

Single-serve blenders (perhaps something like this), for making individual smoothies and blended drinks? And a big jar of flax seeds, which are wonnnnderful.
posted by mochapickle at 2:29 PM on December 18, 2013

Some heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo can be very good. If they're newly vegan, I recommend cooking some up and adding some sliced vegan sausage.

These cassoulet beans (American-grown version of the very expensive Tarbais bean) are really wonderful. I tried an all-out vegan cassoulet and it was brilliant. Do include the breadcrumb topping, if you try it.

You can find several vegan versions of any recipe on the web, just by searching for "vegan [whatever] recipe" or, in many cases, "vegetarian [whatever] recipe". If your parents have particular dishes that they like, you can find a few recipes for them and print them out nicely (include the address of the recipe site at the top, in case they want to look around some more). Here's a cassoulet recipe I found by searching for [vegan cassoulet recipe] - it ends up not being vegetarian, but I left out the sausage (or maybe I used vegetarian sausage) and it was great. It's not the first hit, but after reading the top 6-7 recipes it was the most promising.

Veganism isn't only about beans, of course, but beans are greatly improved with good seasonings. I made my own bay leaf topiary (just for fun) and it's wonderful to have and very pretty. A small plant has grown about 4' high in just a few years, and I was able to use the leaves for seasoning in the first year. Every once in a while, I trim a few branches and let them dry out in the kitchen. If you want to give your parents a little plant, a bay plant could be a good choice.

We've been given the extravagant and lovely Fruit of the Month Club. We've already eaten the organic pears, often served sliced in half with freshly-ground nutmeg on them.
posted by amtho at 5:08 PM on December 18, 2013

There is such a thing as vegan milk chocolate (although I realize that, if they're vegan for health reasons, finding sugary substitutes for everything might not be the best choice...).
posted by amtho at 5:10 PM on December 18, 2013

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