melbourne vegan

Jaclyn McCosker

Gift shopping for vegans

Gift shopping for vegans

For those not in the loop, shopping for a vegan gift may seem like a daunting task. Maybe you have a vegan teacher or co-worker you need to buy something for but you don’t totally understand what they can and can’t have.

Animal products lurk in everything, so you have to be savvy to avoid giving an awkward, unwanted gift. As a vegan there’s nothing worse than being gifted with something you know somebody else has died for. Of course we always appreciate the kind gesture, but we may just regift it or throw it away after you leave. To avoid this awkward social interaction, below I’ll discuss some of the key products and ingredients to avoid.

Dairy, eggs & honey
All come from animals, so all involve cruelty. Therefore, vegans do not use or consume any products involving these three ingredients. Eggs are easily labelled, honey is often hidden under the title “natural flavours” and dairy ingredients can be described as whey, lactose or casein. So label reading is definitely needed for food or beauty products.

Read why we avoid dairy here:

Read why we avoid eggs here:

Read why we avoid honey here:

Always. Read. Labels. In any store there can be an array of vegan and non-vegan materials that look pretty similar, so it’s important to read labels and find out what you’re purchasing. What you’re predominantly looking for is wool, silk and leather.

Wool from a sheep, lama, alpaca, goat or rabbit could be listed by its type such as merino, cashmere or some flannels. It should always be labelled for allergies. Read why we avoid wool here:

Silk is self-explanatory but may not be labelled, so it’s best to just ask. Read why we avoid silk here:

Leather, of course, is extremely violent but an untrained eye generally can’t tell the different between PVC and the real thing. Leather in Australia can be from a cow, pig, goat, sheep, camel, alligator, kangaroo, dog or cat. Look for a label that confirms it is manmade or synthetic, and don’t forget to check the sole is also synthetic. Read why we avoid leather here:

This in hidden in beauty products, candles and all sorts of other products. If you’re buying a gift candle you are looking for soy-based with beeswax free wicks. This also goes for many makeup and skincare products (especially lip products), just read the label!

Animal testing
Just because there isn’t an animal in the product itself doesn’t mean an animal wasn’t tortured and killed in its making. Animal testing applies to makeup, beauty products, cleaning products and really anything that involves manmade chemicals. There are hundreds if not thousands of ethical cruelty-free brands you can purchase from instead in Australia. Not all with bother with certification, but you can look for the V for vegan label (no animal products or animal testing) or the cruelty free bunny (no animal testing) to guarantee the ethical rating of the product.

Use this list on brands to avoid in Australia to get you started:

Vegan labels:

Cruelty free bunny label:

Palm oil
Palm oil by definition is a plant product and doesn’t require animal testing, so it is vegan. But while we’re here educating you on shopping for an ethical consumer, we might as well cover this topic. Palm oil is in approximately 50% of all consumer goods but it is almost exclusively farmed illegally and destructively. Palm oil deforestation is destroying the Indonesian rainforest, displacing native people and leading the rapid extinction of the orangutan. Companies are not required to classify that they use palm oil in their products and it is often labelled as vegetable oil. So you can check a label for “palm oil” or “vegetable oil.” If it states “vegetable oil” but contains saturated fat it is statistically likely to be palm oil, and is safest to avoid. Instead, seek brands that are proud to be environmentally sustainable! There are plenty out there, so there’s no reason to compromise.

Get the free palm oil barcode scanner app here:


Shopping for vegan products may be confusing at first but in reality it’s very easy. Everything you can buy non-vegan you can buy vegan too, it just involves reading labels and a little Googling from time to time. But the most important thing when shopping for a vegan is to remember that if you’re unsure, just don’t buy it. If you’ve got enough question to doubt whether a vegan can use it, then it’s probably not vegan. If you’re not confident why not just seek something with a vegan label?

Some classic stocking stuffers are:
– Oh She Glows cookbook:
– Thug Kitchen cookbook:
– Sea Shepherd merch:
– Lush gift packs:
– Pana chocolate: (other chocolate brands include Sweet William, Leda, Loving Earth and most dark chocolates)
– Non-leather bags from Matt & Nat, Sportsgirl, Mimco and more
– Animal refuge souvenirs:
– Oh Deer Sugar bath treats:
– Vegan candles:

Veganism is not a diet

Veganism is not a diet

Resources from my vegan journey

Resources from my vegan journey