I’ve been thinking about vegan gift ideas for the last few weeks, and there have already been lots of great ideas put out there by the Toronto Vegetarian Association and the Torontoist‘s Toronto Themed Gift List. Toronto has this great community of creators and crafters, bakers and makers, and ingenuity. There are good organizations to support this time of year, as well as food and products to buy, made right here in the GTA.
Here are my totally biased choices for local/Toronto/vegan gift ideas.
Chocosol (cacao loft -225 Geary Avenue, Monday to Friday 10 am to 6 pm, & several farmers’ markets in the city) is having a several special holiday deals this month where you can get a $50 gift certificate for $40. If gift certificates aren’t your style, and they aren’t really my kind of thing, they’ve got ethically sourced chocolate (They’re even on the Food Empowerment Project’s Chocolate list), or coffee to choose from in various forms.
You can also get multipacks of drinking chocolate, chocolate bars, or coffee at a discount either on site.
My favourite is the Chocolate Plus Gift Packs for $40. It’s not available to pick up from the Farmers market, but it would be the perfect excuse to visit them on Geary Avenue.)
It comes with a puck of their delicious drinking chocolate, a bar of chocolate, a 1 pound bag of cocoa nibs, and a 1 pound bag of organic, shade-grown coffee and your choice of either a drinking vessel (made by Chocosol partners in Mexico) or a book – Get A Life! by Wayne Roberts & Susan Brandum (by two Canadian Food Activists.)
Apiecalypse Now! is a vegan bakery with a great name.
They’ve put together 4 gift baskets, 2 different sizes, in either gluten-free or regular configurations. I really like how thoughtful the whole collection is with respect to ethical and conscious choices, while still being delicious. Having tried some of their baked items at the Vegetarian Food Festival, I’ve always been a fan.
My favourite is the small, regular one. – $49
It comes with an awesome selection of treats including: 2 packs of of organic fair trade vegan Marshmallows (one candy-cane flavour; one sea salt & caramel flavour), organic vegan candy apple made with beet-based red colouring. One package of gluten free macaroon cookie coconut granola with almonds, One package vegan cut cookies (shortbread cookies or gingerbread cookies), One package of vegan drop cookies (chocolate chunk or double chocolate), One package of ChocoSol drinking chocolate, One package of vegan chocolate fudge, Four bags of herbal tea, benefiting the Jane Goodall Institute,Three biodegradable bags of Mulling Spice Blend from Canadian Company — Silk Road Merchant Spices, One bag of creamy vegan caramel popcorn, Two vegan fair trade candy canes. Phew. That’s a lot.
There is a limited supply and a limited time-frame to order (Order before December 15th! Or the sooner the better) but the best part is that it’s a double gift in one. Every basket comes with a donation to Marineland Animal Defense. Win-Win. Check out the online store to order.
The Depanneur (1033 College, at Rusholme, Toronto) has a few things to offer this month that are extra special.
They’re holding Holiday Markets on site (Sundays December 16 & 23 from 4-8pm) with local food talent (though not exclusively vegan food talent). The stuff that’s really exciting is the beautiful the very cool naturally fermented ketchup, mustard, relish, & sriracha from Kate Leinweber. She held a few classes over at The Dep earlier this month (which I missed) on making these things, but you can also just buy them too. They look gorgeous.
There is also Rebekka Hutton of the Alchemy Pickle Co. with fermented veggies, sodas, kombucha, plant based soaps. Her stuff is also available around town at farmers markets, holiday markets, and at the West End Food Coop.
And Emily Zimmerman of Pear & Pepper will be there with Vegan Chocolates. While I’ve never had the chance to try her vegan chocolates, I’ve been to several of her drop-in dinners and supper clubs and they’ve been yummy.
Bunner’s Bake Shop – While they wont be doing any holiday baskets this year, they do have some holiday themed items on the menu and available, especially if you wanted to put together your own little gift basket, or are looking for stocking stuffers.
Tori’s Bake Shop has a great little pack of a Chalkboard Mug with a little pack of cookies. I was lucky enough to get one to add to my chalkboard mug collection on JC’s Family Hanukkah Celebration this year.
Vegan Clothes & Stuff
Nella Bella is a vegan handbag and accessories company that uses solely vegan fabrics to create a wide variety of beautiful products. Available at various retailers in Toronto and beyond including EcoExistence (766 St. Clair Avenue W, Toronto) where you can find a variety of other interesting products.
Truth Belts makes leather-look belts, without the death. They also have suspenders for youngsters, dog accessories, and bracelets.
Local Cook/Raw Books
We’ve got a talented crew of people in Toronto and area, and so no shortage of books filled with great recipes and ideas.
Lisa (Vegan Culinary Crusade) and Nicole (A Dash of Compassion) collaborated on a great ebook called Tiny Treats. Having had the opportunity to try their treats during the monthly treat box package they did in 2012, I can only imagine how lovely their treat book is (although I’ll admit, I haven’t gotten one yet – I plan to.)
As an added bonus every purchase of the Tiny Treats eBook will also help support the Elephant Nature Park in Northern Thailand.
Douglas McNish our resident celebrity vegan chef came out with Eat Raw, Eat Well a collection of 400 Raw, Vegan & Gluten-free Recipes, which I have on my Kobo. It’s full of inventive recipes, and lots of inspiration.
I had the opportunity to try a couple of Christine’s delicious soups at Soupalicious in 2011, and also flipped through her cookbook. You can buy this cookbook online or at Books & Company in Picton, Ontario.
Gifts to Charity
Organizations doing good work to improve the lives of others (non-human animals included) make me pretty happy.
A local collective of Crazy Cat Ladies gathered together and made a Crazy Cat Lady Calendar to support the G&G Feral Colony and Animal Rescue Krew in Lakefield. This adorable project was photographed by the surpremely talented Jo-Anne McArthur (also of We Animals) – you can buy it online here.
Cedar-Row Farm Sanctuary in Ontario does some amazing work to rescue farm animals and give them a forever home. You can learn more about them or sponsor chickens or pigs or goats and more by visiting their sponsorship page.
Snooters Farm Sanctuary a sanctuary for farm animals.
Teja’s Animal Sanctuary - an animal rescue with over 60 animals that wouldn’t be alive if not for Teja’s.
There is a Vegetarian Food Bank in Ontario that could always use your support, as well as several other food agencies in the city.
Now, how about wrapping paper? Toronto Green has been doing Eco-Gift Wrapping at Dufferin Mall (900 Dufferin Street, Toronto) and at MEC, all funds go back to the Toronto Green Community. Using expired cycling maps and gift bags designed by EcoArtworx.
At the same time, you could probably get pretty creative with your own home collection of paper you haven’t yet recycled yet or old fabric/clothes. I found a really cute guide on Making Groovy Things.
For extra Wrapping advice please see this video (but don’t give cats/dogs as gifts!):