What to do with non vegan gifts

How do you handle the situation when someone gives you a non-vegan gift. This past Christmas, I received gifts of meat, cheese, non-vegan wines, chocolates and soaps.

I accepted graciously and said a kind thank you. I felt it would have been rude to say "Sorry I am vegan and cannot have these". Some of the gifts came from unknowing customers, but some came from family and friends that know I am vegan, but may have been unaware that the wine, chocolate and soap contained animal products.

What do you do in this situation? I passed these along to my omni family members, so they did not go to waste.

Mt. Juliet TN

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Great question!
by: Jorge

It just happened to me tonight, my neighbor just stopped by with a plate full of BBQ chicken, -he doesn't know I am a vegan... The chicken looks well prepared and that lots of time was spent preparing it... And as you mentioned; I said a kind thank you, I live alone and I really don't know what to do with it. I hate for food to go to waste specially nowadays that we live in such economic difficulties for many... I could save it and pass it along to someone else, but that would not be until probably Monday... Or would it be wrong to wash it off and give it to my dogs??? :-s Any suggestions would be appreciated...


PS: Thanks for all the info you provide us on your site!

non-vegan gifts
by: Diane

I did a favor for my new neighbor and in return gave me a platter of her special oriental chicken. She did not know we were vegetarians. I told her thank you. Even though my dogs are vegetarian I felt I did not want to throw the food away and gave it to them.(I really don't like to call dead chickens food)My neighbor felt good about the gift and I did not want to hurt her feelings. She fell ill in the summer and I gave her a basket filled with organic vegetables and fruits hoping a message could be sent with the healthy food.

I'd tell them the truth
by: Elena

I understand that you don't want to hurt people's feelings by not accepting their gift, but if you don't tell them that you're vegan they probably will give you non-vegan stuff again and again... When someone gives me some food that isn't vegan, I usually tell people that I thank them very much but that the food will go to my omnivore boyfriend as I'm vegan. No one ever seemed hurt, they were rather interested in my reasons to live vegan. Of course, I have the advantage to have someone here who will eat it so I can still accept non-vegan gifts but won't have to eat them myself.

by: Jake

This is a question that popped up during my first vegan Christmas this year.

For something substantial like food, meat/cheeses etc.. I would either give to someone else, or accept and tell someone to drop that I was vegan into a conversation so it wouldn't happen again. Like the others here, I feel it rude to deny their present point blank!

Other gifts like cosmetics, shower stuff etc.. I find a new home for by either giving or selling.

Subtlety letting them know that you're veggie and not to do it again is important though!

A genuine mistake
by: Donna

My mother-in-law has known that we (me, her son, and our kids) have been strictly vegan since we made the decision four years ago. She has been incredible in her support for us. She is omni. She always has food for us in her house, and almost always serves vegan-only meals at her table when we visit, which is often. If there is more family there, there tends to be both vegan and non-vegan, but we are never excluded. Today she gave me a tea cup for my birthday. It is fine bone china. This as you know is made using ground up cow bones. I know she didn't do this intentionally. However, I feel I must tell her, but picking the right moment will be important and with the utmost sensitivity. She is likely to feel frustrated at how hard it is to cater for her vegan family members. Anyway, perhaps we can decide what to do with the cup together, but I would love it to be returned to the store and exchanged for something porcelain. Wish me luck.

What do you do?
by: Takia

When it comes to receiving gifts that are non-vegan I only do one of two things: I throw it away or I get the money back and put the funds towards vegan foods or goods. It does not make sense to me to resell those items or even give them away because in my opinion I'd be continuing the idea that it's okay to make purchases that cause harm or promote animal cruelty. I feel like as someone who tries to advocate the shift in how we view animals in the way they are treated and used I should not be spreading the message that it is okay to receive or buy animal products - even for non-vegans. Even if it was something valuable or expensive I would not pass it down because I am letting that person know it is okay to contribute to animal cruelty and usage.

Starting over
by: Mel

After being vegan, going back animal-based products and realising what an embarrassing mistake it was both for health and morals, I have returned to being vegan in just last few days but it’s just over a week out from Christmas and I haven’t gotten to telling all my family yet that I’ve gone back to vegan and this time for life.

So while I’m making the conversion over with products etc (I can’t afford to replace all at once) as I run out of not vegan products I’ll only be replacing them with vegan ones. So I have told my family as I see them that if they have already bought me non-vegan gifts that I’ll accept them and use them as they weren’t aware of my change of mind. But after that I won’t be accepting any non-vegan gifts.

My mum said they are never sure with me and thankfully err on the side of caution and where they can they try to only buy me vegan products just in case. My family is super supportive and I feel I’m very close to converting them too. Hopefully next Christmas we will all be a vegan family.

As for gifts from non family members in the past and now I thank them for the gesture tell them that I’m vegan, give them some information about what is and isn’t vegan and ask if they would like to keep the gift themselves or gift it to someone they know or if they mind if I regift it to someone I know who is non vegan. Most are understandable and apologetic for not realising sooner and apologise for possibly offending me.

I tend to work on thank and immediately inform policy. I think people are becoming more aware of veganism and gift giving just opens up another good way of speeding a good message and information about it. (I’m still learning, they're still learning I’m going to undoubtedly make mistakes and so will they. It’s about learning, acceptance and a little give and take will get there in the end and that’s what’s most important)

Merry Christmas all who celebrate it.

So annoyed
by: Alexis

Even family and friends that know I'm vegan have bought me non vegan gifts! Chocolate and bathroom gift sets. Do they know know what vegan is or do they not care? I'm planning on just giving it away to people at work etc.
I think next year I'm just going to tell people not to buy me rather than money being given to industries I'm morally so against. Trying to be forgiving about it but actually really annoyed.
Glad I'm able to vent here lol

Very annoying
by: Jessi

I just don’t understand how family members that know we are vegan don’t do more due diligence to make sure they buy us vegan products! It’s like they never even read what they buy us and still offer us non-vegan food during get togethers, like they just don’t even know what vegan means, even though we explain it all the time! I don’t know if these people are just ignorant or what but they just aren’t paying attention. Even got me a clothing item that was obviously not my size... I’m giving all non-vegan items to Omni family members because they cannot be returned but I hate having to accept cruelty for Christmas when these people should just pay attention or not get us anything at all! And if you’re not sure google it they all have smartphones! No eggs aren’t vegan, no meat isn’t vegan, no we don’t consume fish I mean come onnnn people.

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