It’s the holiday season, a time of celebration and gift giving for many all over the world. However, if you’re looking to avoid animal products you receive a non-vegan gift, it can be hard to know how to react. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, here are some suggestions for navigating the festive season.
5 Ways to Deal With Receiving Non-Vegan Gifts
1. Politely Refuse
“Politely” is the keyword here. No one likes to feel like they have failed or made a mistake, and most times, the gesture will have come from a kind place. While it can feel uncomfortable, explaining why you can’t accept the gift may also be a great opportunity, particularly if the person’s understanding of veganism is limited.
Be sure to read the room, this approach may not fly in all situations. But try to be patient and compassionate and you may have just turned something awkward into an opportunity for a little more kindness in the world.
2. Publicly Accept, Then Talk to the Gift Giver Later
If you feel uncomfortable turning the gift down publicly, you could accept the gift and meet up with your gift giver later. Explain to them why you’re so thankful that they thought of you but due to the nature of the gift, you can’t accept it. If they feel embarrassed, reassure them! Although society is everchanging and growing, we live in a non-vegan world and it’s an easy mistake to make. It might even be a conversation that helps them reconsider some of their own purchases.
3. Return It
If your gift giver included the receipt with your present, or still has it and can give it to you later, you could take it back to the store and find something cruelty-free. The gift giver still ends up giving you something, and you get a gift that is more in tune with your beliefs.
4. Donate to Charity
You may feel uncomfortable using or wearing the gift yourself but if you donate it to charity, you’re putting some good back into the world and helping others. If you give your present to a charity shop that benefits animals, then your gift is even working toward a cruelty-free world.
5. Accept the Gift
The truth is, no vegan is perfect. While it’s important to strive to do your best, some things – like animal fat in bank notes and lactose in birth control pills – are difficult to avoid. Veganism isn’t about perfection. By definition, it’s about doing all you can to make ethical choices where “possible and practicable.”
If refusing or returning non-vegan gifts isn’t a viable option for you, or if your grandmother has been hand-knitting you a sweater secretly for months and you don’t want to hurt her feelings, then sometimes it’s best to accept the gift. If you feel comfortable, you could still explain to the gift giver your vegan values and why, on this occasion, you will accept the gift they have lovingly made or chosen for you.
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