Valentine’s day is right around the corner, and many people feel a lot of pressure to get things right. But in a world so saturated with animal products, preparing the perfect vegan Valentine’s day for our partner can be a tricky endeavor. But rejoice, as this handy guide will take you step by step through the perfect Vegantine’s day your partner will never forget.
Choosing Your Kind of Day
The first thing to consider is ‘what kind of Valentine’s day are you looking for? Are you interested in the hugs-and-chocolates evening in, or something a little more adventurous? For couples looking for a day with a difference, consider making a difference. Long walks on the beach are a romantic staple, so why not use your time there wisely?
Imagine it: your partner’s eyes meet yours as you both move to pick up the same waste plastic bottle, depositing it in your recycling bag. The ocean spray reflects off the cool steel of your litter picker as the two of you chat, laugh, and beautify the oceanside. Does this sound good? It could definitely be an enjoyable date idea, with love in the fresh sea air.
And what day of love would be complete without man’s best friend? There are so many poor, stray dogs holed up in the pound, so perhaps volunteering to take some for a nice walk in the park, together with your partner, could make for a sweet date. Nothing helps two people bond quite like the love of a dog, and their energetic, loving nature might make everyone’s lives a little brighter on a cool February afternoon.
But let’s say you’ve got your heart set on the traditional Valentine’s day; fair enough. The following guide will help take you through the ideal Vegan Valentine’s day, without having to worry about your choices having a negative impact.
You can’t start thinking about what present to buy until you have vegan wrapping paper and a greetings card. Valentine’s day is built around the colour red, and those printing inks won’t always be vegan unless you shop carefully. Once you’re prepared to start wrapping gifts, you need to consider what your loved one would appreciate actually receiving.
Jewelry is an age old Valentine’s day tradition, from humble earrings to that big, important diamond ring. But It’s important to remember that not all jewelry will be vegan, as many animal products, such as beeswax or silk, are used during production. The more obviously non-vegan products one might need to stay mindful of are pearls, ivory, and other precious ‘stones’ that are actually made from animals. When buying jewelry, be careful to select a fully vegan option for your partner. If you’re thinking of popping the question, a diamond ring may be in order. While naturally mined diamonds are horrible for the environment, as well as people and animals caught in the crossfire, there are alternatives.
Lab grown diamonds are created by artificially crushing carbon into a diamond above ground in lab conditions. While much less harmful, this is often still not necessarily sustainable due to using fossil fuels as a carbon source. There are, however, lab grown diamonds made from carbon air pollution, which are pure, beautiful, sustainable, and fully vegan. You don’t have to compromise on the engagement ring of your dreams, as long as you shop consciously.
If you’ve only been together for a short relationship, perhaps jewelry is a bit much. You want something cutesy, lovable, but still in-keeping with Valentine’s day tradition. A popular VD gift is a soft, cuddly toy. Often referred to as a “plushie”, the teddy bear is the most recognisable of soft toys, but are they vegan? Many toys may have some amount of animal product involved, such as small patches of leather, or animal fur. The VD plushie is also a sustainability nightmare, as cheap polyester toys are churned out every year as a one-off gift, and often not kept around for very long.
A good alternative is to find a sustainable, vegan plushie for your loved one. While most available products are aimed at an audience of babies, there are vegan, PETA-approved plushies for sale in the market. If you want to treat your animal loving sweetheart to an adorable rabbit, or, more whimsically, a soft, squishy vegetable, then this might be the option for you.
If your partner isn’t a fan of soft toys, you might want to give them a gift they’ll get more long-term use out of. A pair of vegan shoes will be a great gift that can last for years. If they already have their shoe needs covered, perhaps treat them to an apple skin vegan leather bag to keep their other presents inside? Truly sustainable fashion is a gift that’ll last for more than just one fleeting day, unlike some other VD gifts.
Perfumes and aftershaves are a popular luxury gift to give on Valentine’s day. Many of these are unfortunately produced using exotic meat products, and other non-vegan ingredients. Plus, the industry is notorious for testing on animals. Look for a scent that is both cruelty-free and vegan; the ‘Leaping Bunny Logo’ on the packaging certifies that it’s a safe gift option for the animal loving romantics among us. Whether you’re trying to smell good for your partner on VD, or give them a scent they’ll love for themselves, there are guilt-free options available to make it a reality.
With Valentine’s being such a romantic day, many people like to give lingerie to their partners; and there’s no shame in that. However, for a garment pretty much exclusively designed to be taken off soon after being put on, this can be a fast fashion nightmare. There are brands out there working to make sure that these garments are free of fabrics like leather and silk, and can be sustainably produced and sold. Keep those in mind if you’re looking for some ‘special’ sustainable fashion this Valentine’s.
So, you have the perfect gift; now to decorate the house to create that special love den your sweetheart expects. Tea Light candles are a staple, so make sure they’re free from beeswax and made of a natural, plant based alternative; Soybean wax is a great choice. It’s also a good idea to completely avoid balloons. Most latex balloons aren’t vegan, as they use milk in the production of the material. Even the ones that are entirely synthetic are made of non-biodegradable material, and create terrible litter that won’t break down. They are an extremely temporary gift that will deflate in a few days, and waste precious helium. Stick to reusable, recyclable decorations, such as paper shapes for the big “I love you” sign you’re making.
The most important and iconic decoration will be the flowers. If you think of VD, you’re probably imagining red roses, or at least their petals strewn around. Many commercial bunch flowers are grown overseas, use a lot of harmful chemicals to produce, and are shipped internationally by air, burning huge quantities of fossil fuels. If you want to give a bunch of flowers, look into sustainably farmed locally grown blooms, or better yet, give a living house plant! What’s better than an oxygenator alive in its own soil? An aesthetically pleasing, more permanent and less wasteful floral choice for the big day.
So, the house looks amazing, but what about the main course? Many might assume vegan food is the most simple part, but there are a few important things to watch out for on VD.
Wine. A nutty, oaky, fruity red. A crystal clear white. Maybe a bottle of sparkling wine? This has come to be seen as all but mandatory for the classic romantic evening. But, if you want to enjoy your strawberry floating in Champagne, make sure your wine is actually vegan. It’s more than fermented grape juice, and many wine producers will use meat or dairy products as a ‘fining agent’ which flushes the naturally cloudy appearance out of wine. Seek out a bubbly that uses a vegan fining agent, to keep your classy evening free of animal exploitation.
A box of chocolates, maybe in the shape of a heart, are another beloved cliché to have on your list, but milk is too often used in mass market chocolate. Finding delicious and luxury vegan chocolate is probably one of your easier missions for today, but no less important. Look for chocolate made from sustainably grown cacao beans, for the perfect, indulgent lover’s snack.
Once drinks and nibbles are done, it’s time for a romantic meal. A home cooked dinner could be a cherished gesture, but if you don’t feel like cooking, you can set your sights on a local vegan restaurant. Most large eateries will offer some kind of vegan option, but it’s best to support exclusively vegan businesses, spending your money with a company that never harms animals. This helps fund small local business, and the vegan product economy. Once you sit down at your table, the rest of the night should be plain sailing.
After great conversation shared over a romantic evening meal for two, it’s time to head home. All that's left to do is spend the remainder of your night with your partner, who is now suitably impressed by the wonderful day you planned for them. What an amazing Vegantine’s day that was!