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My Favorite Things: Holiday Gift Suggestions & a Giveaway!!!

There are only a couple of weeks left to get your Christmas gift shopping done and if you celebrate Hanukkah, well…it’s already half over. So it’s time for The “V” Word’s Holiday Gift Suggestions and a special Holiday Giveaway!

This year I have compiled a list of my favorite things (like Oprah but sorry, no cars). I can be pretty hard to please so the things that made this list are pretty special. And many of them are gifts that keep giving and give back because those are the very best gifts of all.

1. Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary
I have to start with Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary because it’s my very favorite place in the world. There is nowhere else that I feel so happy, so at peace and so surrounded by safety and love. Even though I’m lucky enough to live so close to the sanctuary, I don’t get there often enough.

Whether you live near or far, you can give a gift from the WFAS store. They have t-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, tote bags, caps, calendars, art work and books.

You can also buy a year-long individual or family membership, gift certificates or sponsor one of the lucky rescued animals. And if you get a chance to visit Woodstock, be sure to give yourself the gift or someone you love a stay in the sanctuary’s beautiful Guesthouse where the animals are right outside your door. You can get gift certificates for Guesthouse stays here.

2. Noms
Nothing makes a holiday sweeter than delicious goodies. Amaze someone with the beautiful artisan chocolate and pastries from Lagusta’s Luscious. All vegan, organic and local ingredients. You will never see or taste anything as incredible as Lagusta’s hand-made creations. You can read my review of Lagusta’s Luscious for even more information and pictures.

Lagusta’s Luscious

If you live in Portland, Oregon you can go to the mall and there is a kiosk for Chocolate Decadence. Yes, you can buy vegan chocolate in the mall! But for those of us who don’t live in Portland, Chocolate Decadence ships. They have a large variety of items and one of the things I love is that you can order small packages of many of their goodies so you can try lots of them.

And for those of us who don’t live in California, we can still enjoy the delicious vegan cinnamon buns from Cinnaholic. They ship and they sell gift certificates. You can enjoy their amazing cinnamon buns (which come frozen) and your choice of over a dozen icing flavors. Read my review of Cinnaholic here.

Cinnaholic Cinnamon Buns

3. Booze

Wine always makes a nice gift but sometimes it can be challenging to find vegan wines. is a handy helper but not all companies are on the web site.

Here are 3 you can be sure are cruelty-free:

The Vegan Vine is Certified Sustainable and Certified Vegan. They have Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon and a red wine blend.

Frey Vineyards make organic wine with no added sulfites and no animal by-products.

And for those far-away loved ones, you can ship the great vegan wines from Vegan Sommelier right to their door.

4. Gadgets
I’m not a big gadgets person. I mean, I just made about 200 latkes and I grated all the potatoes and onions by hand. For me, it’s just quicker and easier to do things myself than to wrestle with some contraption with parts and instructions. But there is one gadget I not only can’t live without, I have 2 of them and I wouldn’t mind having a 3rd. What is this incredible invention? It’s my TofuXpress.

I use my TofuXpress all the time. It easily presses the water out of tofu in no time at all and without the whole “paper towel-dishes-heavy cans” thing. You put the tofu in the TofuXpress, go about your business for even just half an hour, and you come back to a solid block of tofu that will not fall apart when you cook it. I also use mine to press spinach. No more wringing it out with strainers or dishtowels. Seriously, if I could only keep one kitchen gadget (other than my knife), this would be it. I’ve given the TofuXpress as a gift before and it’s always appreciated and life-changing.

5. Subscriptions
When I first became vegan and I didn’t know any other vegans or vegetarians, I felt pretty isolated and out of the loop. One of the things that really helped me learn about veganism – food, animals, politics, the environment, health, and who’s who- was reading VegNews Magazine.

There is so much information in just one issue of VegNews and it really taught me what was going on and who to watch in the vegan world. Now it’s fun to go through an issue and say “I know her. I’m Facebook friends with him. I just had dinner with her. I’ve been there.” Having a magazine that brings us all together really makes it feel like having a vegan family. Subscriptions can be in print or tree-free electronic formats.

6. Art and Music
I recently did a couple of posts about art and music. One artist who is using her art as a form of animal rights advocacy is Sarah Kiser. Sarah creates stunning pieces of art, many of which spread the message about compassion for animals. While Sarah generously makes some of her art freely available to people, she donates portions of any proceeds to charity.

One of Sarah’s pieces graces my living room wall and I love it so much. Click here to read my interview with Sarah and to find out where you can buy her amazing art.

Holidays are a time for angels and there is no voice as angelic as that of Little Green Blackbird. “The Summer I Stopped Whining” is the album which is filled with uplifting, fun, thoughtful songs. Many of the lyrics are inspired by animal issues, all of the lyrics are inspired by deep emotions – what Kirsti Gholson, the singer and songwriter of Little Green Blackbird, calls “happysad.”

I listen to this album all the time. Not only do I get the benefit of listening to the ethereal voice of Kirsti Gholson but I learned about a lot of issues such as The Great Ape Protection Act. Kirsti is a vegan animal rights advocate and she donates portions of her proceeds to charities. “The Summer I Stopped Whining” is a magical album and would make a wonderful gift. Click here to read my interview with Kirsti Gholson, hear a sample of one of her songs and to find out where you can buy her CD.

7. Baskets and Gift Certificates
Gift baskets are fun. It’s one gift filled with a bunch of gifts. When I want to send someone a gift basket, I head to Pangea Vegan Store. Pangea, the original one-stop vegan shop, has several gift baskets for different occasions. They even have the “Vegan Basket for Non-Vegans” which contains cool products like cookies and candles that just happen to be vegan. I love this basket because it lets me send a great gift to non-vegan friends without going against my ethics. And if you’re not thrilled with what comes in any of the baskets, Pangea lets you fill your own with any of the hundreds of products available on their site. And they ship super-fast!!

Pangea also sells gift certificates and even better, gift certificates by email. In today’s world of social media, we sometimes want to send a gift to someone whose email address is more familiar to us than their home address.

Gift certificates are great gifts. Sanctuaries such as Farm Sanctuary and Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary offer gift certificates to shop with in their stores. Most restaurants offer gift certificates and who doesn’t love a free meal? You can get gift certificates at your local vegan restaurant, like the popular Garden Cafe on the Green in Woodstock (local for me). Or you can find out which vegan restaurants are near the person you are gifting, call them up and they will probably be willing to mail a gift certificate for you. After all, who wouldn’t want the business? I have done this and it makes a great surprise for someone you love.

8. The “V” Word Stuff
Hey, it’s my blog. I get to promote my stuff. The “V” Word Gift Shop offers tons of merchandise with the official logo of The “V” Word that was designed by the talented John Beske. You can get shirts, sweats, hats, bibs, dog shirts, totes, grocery bags, glasses, flasks, mouse pads, buttons, stickers, even underwear!!

Whatever you can think of, you can have…with The “V” Word on it. Maybe I should change the slogan to “Say it. Eat it. Live it. Wear it.”

9. Donations
One of the traditions that Tom and I have is that at least one of our gifts to the other has to be a donation to an organization we care about. Donations are a wonderful way to honor someone or their memory. Some of our favorite organizations are:

Animal Lovers’ League – the shelter that saved our Benny from the kill pound and Petfinder – the site where we found our Benny; – a 24 hour web site with a chat room that help people struggling with a sick or lost pet. The site is run by one man who has devoted his life to it and it needs help to keep running. PetLoss runs the Monday Night Candle Lighting, a beautiful ceremony where people from all over the world get together online to pray together and light candles for their animal babies.

Compassion Over Killing and Mercy for Animals along with other organizations that conduct undercover investigations into animal cruelty and help promote animal rights are always deserving.

Sanctuaries need money to keep rescuing animals. There are the big 3: Farm Sanctuary, Catskills Animal Sanctuary, and Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. There are also smaller sanctuaries that don’t get as much press and therefore, less donations. You can search to find what animal sanctuaries are near you or the person you are giving the gift to.

Some other sanctuaries I love are: The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, Peace Pigs Sanctuary, and Paint Creek Animal Rescue (see my blog post about Paint Creek here). Also check out last year’s post, “My 5 Favorite Gifts that Help Animal Sanctuaries and Organizations.”

10. Books
Books are my favorite things in the world. Between Tom (a librarian) and myself (a college professor), we have books everywhere! Last year I posted “My 10 Favorite Books for Holiday Gift Giving.” That list included writers such as Neal Barnard, Tina Volpe, Jeffrey Masson, Peter Singer, John Robbins, Melanie Joy, Will Tuttle, Will Potter and Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. I still stand by this list but there are some books that have come out since last year that I must add to my favorites list.

The Adventures of Vivian Sharpe: Vegan Superhero by Marla Rose – a wonderfully written book by the very talented Marla Rose. A normal teenage girl is visited by the spirit of a pig one night and her life is never the same again. Written in an authentic adolescent voice, this book explores topics such as empathy, compassion, fitting in, standing out, standing up for what you believe is right, and figuring out who you are. Vivian Sharpe goes from being an ordinary 15-year old to a hero and who doesn’t need a vegan hero? Get this for the kids and the adults on your gift list.

That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals and Vegan is Love by Ruby Roth – these are 2 children’s books that are beautifully written and illustrated. They both explain, in language appropriate for little kids, why eating animals is not a nice thing to do and why loving animals means not eating them, hurting them or exploiting them. There is nothing graphic in these books. These are stunning books for parents to read with their children, to make them think and to open their hearts to animals and compassionate living.

I don’t buy a lot of cookbooks (and yes, I’m working on mine. I know, I KNOW!) but there are a few I would recommend:

Great Gluten-Free Eats by Allyson Kramer – if you are vegan AND gluten-free, you want this book. Delicious recipes from the creator of the popular blog, Manifest Vegan. Check out the blog just for the beautiful photography too!

The Sexy Vegan Cookbook by Brian L. Patton – Not only does this book have delicious and easy recipes but it’s hysterical to read. You may know Brian from his cooking videos (also hysterical) and this book is an extension of that. I love a book where you don’t just get a recipe but you get the author’s personality. You’ll laugh so hard, you’ll burn more calories to eat more of Brian’s food.

Any cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (Appetite for Reduction is my favorite). It’s Isa, need I say anything else?

Viva Vegan and Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero – first she thrilled us with vegan Latin food and now Terry is taking us all over the world for more vegan deliciousness. This book is on my wishlist.

The Gentle Chef Cookbook: Vegan Cuisine for the Ethical Gourmet by Skye Michael Conroy – this is available as a black and white paper book or as a PDF book on CD with full-color illustrations. Either way the book is filled with Skye’s delicious vegan recipes. Skye is the master of all things seitan and artisanal vegan cheese. I got mine; be sure to get yours.

The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals by Jenny Brown with Gretchen Primack – the amazing journey of Jenny Brown, from cancer survivor and McDonald’s employee to television production to undercover investigator for animal cruelty to co-founder of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. A passionate book that tells Jenny’s story along with the stories of some of the residents of the sanctuary, the lucky ones. This book illustrates what compassion, veganism and advocacy are all about. Proceeds from the book, which you can buy autographed, all go to the sanctuary. Read my review of The Lucky Ones here.

And that leads to The “V” Word’s Holiday Giveaway!

Five (5) random “lucky ones” will win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Jenny Brown’s “The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals.”

To be eligible to win:

1. Be a registered follower of The “V” Word blog.

2. Leave a comment telling us what you feel lucky about this holiday season.

3. Provide an e-mail address so I can reach you to get your full name and address for shipping!

The winners will be chosen at random. The deadline to enter the giveaway is 11:59 pm Tuesday, December 18th and the winners will be notified on Thursday, December 20th.
Good luck and Happy Holidays!


I’ll be emailing the winners to get your mailing addresses for your prize!!

The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.

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28 Responses to My Favorite Things: Holiday Gift Suggestions & a Giveaway!!!

  1. Lisa is Raw on $10 a Day (or less!) December 19, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    Nearly every day, I’m consciously aware of that I’m lucky and grateful to be vegan. I also feel lucky to have a wonderful and close family … my kids and my grandkids are amazing people. I’m lucky that my parents are still alive, and that my sister and I are close. I have mostly good health, a place to live, and food to eat. It’s all good 🙂

  2. Gluten Free Vegan Journey December 19, 2012 at 3:23 am #

    I feel lucky this Christmas to have my health back, so I can be with my amazing husband, children, grandchildren, and friends! Being gluten free and vegan has saved my life, literally! After years of being sick and tired of being sick and tired, changing my diet changed my life, and nullified my need for 11 daily prescriptions, regular visits to cardiologists, rheumatologists, and internal medicine specialists. Best of all eliminated a need for surgery and chemo after my stage 4 breast cancer was discovered; I am now free of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, GERD, IBS, migraines, Lupus, Type 2 Diabetes, obesity, and breast cancer!

  3. helenahimm December 18, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    andddd with that being said I forgot my email haha:

  4. helenahimm December 18, 2012 at 11:14 am #

    I feel lucky to have become a vegan with my husband at the same time and how we support each other through this journey.

    I’m lucky to have a family that though don’t share my same views on animal rights, respect my decision and have never for even a second disrespected my lifestyle.

    So many things I feel lucky for, family, health, and lots of hope for the world, we have to remain positive and spread information and love, one can’t go without the other.


  5. Debbie December 17, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    I feel lucky to be able to adopt special needs dogs. I am lucky to have a home and income to care for a dog in need. No one should be forced to live out his/her final years alone.

  6. Veganosaurus December 15, 2012 at 9:41 pm #

    That’s a fantastic gift guide! Everything that a vegan would want, for themselves and the people they love and want to share veganism with. 🙂

  7. Sarah McCalden December 15, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    I feel lucky because this is my first vegan, cruelty free Christmas and because my two beautiful, small children are vegan and will grow up with compassion in their lives. Sarah (

  8. CupcakeCatie December 14, 2012 at 3:54 pm #

    I feel lucky this holiday season because I have a loving family that supports me in whatever I do in my life, a warm home, a wonderful kitty to curl up with, and ending the year healthy and happy! I hope you have a great Holiday Season! : )

  9. Ashley December 13, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    I feel lucky to have a partner I love, an amazing family, and the ability to live a compassionate lifestyle. Thanks for the giveaway!

  10. Nicole December 13, 2012 at 6:43 am #

    Even though I lost my job recently, I am grateful for all the friends who stepped up to help me. I am a lucky person. I never expected such generosity. I am blessed to still have a roof over my head and still be able to eat wonderful vegan foods.

  11. Angela Proper December 13, 2012 at 6:26 am #

    I feel lucky to have a home, two jobs, friends and family, and the heart and energy to continue to fight for animals every day. My email address is
    Happy Holidays, God Bless and thanks for loving animals!

  12. Karen from Collins December 13, 2012 at 6:19 am #

    I’m also sorry – my email is, yikes! 🙂

  13. kittylover December 13, 2012 at 6:05 am #

    Sorry,my email is! Karen

  14. kittylover December 13, 2012 at 6:03 am #

    I’m lucky to have 5 wonderful kitties. And especially lucky that one who was diagnosed with lymphoma 6 months ago is doing great!

  15. Janna December 13, 2012 at 5:03 am #

    I am blessed to have family and friends who love me, a place to live, a job and a car. I am especially grateful to have my grandpa still in my life <3

  16. ez December 13, 2012 at 12:11 am #

    I also feel lucky because people like you do nice give-aways.

  17. ez December 13, 2012 at 12:09 am #

    I feel lucky because I am vegan and have people that take care of me

  18. Aimee Douglass December 13, 2012 at 12:05 am #

    I feel lucky to have a husband who is my best friend; a job that despite some setbacks, I still love doing and can say allows me to learn new things; a roof over my head; (relatively) good health (still a work in progress); and two funny black dogs that constantly remind me of what unconditional love really is.

  19. Lori M-C December 12, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    I feel lucky to be able to be able to be with my kids all the time and to have so many things to make me feel close to those who are no longer with us.

  20. Mommy Taylor December 12, 2012 at 8:38 am #

    ooops… email (

  21. Mommy Taylor December 12, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    I feel lucky to have such an amazing, awesome, funny little kiddo and a (surprise) baby on the way… oh, yeah… and a great husband who’s been trying to hold the house together while I’ve spent many afternoons and evenings sick in bed or flopped on the couch!

    I don’t know if “lucky” is the right word… but I’m extremely grateful that the internet came along when it did to wake me up from being an “excusitarian” (sp?) vegetarian and allowed me to follow my heart into the world of veganism. I’m so in love with all of the blogs and support; I don’t know if I would have gotten where I am in life without them!

  22. Suburban Snow White December 12, 2012 at 7:37 am #

    This is a toughie. I have a lot to be thankful for. So much. My newly opened eyes has to be the biggest, though. This is my second December as a vegan and I feel grateful that so many people put the information out there I needed to learn, even though I kind of didn’t want to know. And I’m grateful that on April 6, 2011 I was brave enough to press “play” and watch a video about where my food was really coming from. I am grateful in a redeemed-Ebenezer-Scrooge kind of way to live kinder and do some good with the time I have left on this planet! I’m grateful to all the people like Jenny Brown who do such fantastic work. So much to be grateful for. So much to do! 🙂 Have a very happy holiday!

  23. Melissa Dion December 12, 2012 at 5:56 am #

    I feel lucky about my family, especially my adorable nephews!

  24. Paulina December 12, 2012 at 5:40 am #

    Great Post Rhea, I’ll share this on my Catskills Wellness Guide wall too since it’s so in line with the local gift ideas I just suggested on my site too ( Good to get some vegan ideas out there.

  25. anne December 12, 2012 at 4:14 am #

    Karen beat me to it. I feel lucky to know you Rhea!

  26. Karen from Collins December 12, 2012 at 4:09 am #

    OY…my goodness dear Sis, what I feel lucky about is a LOOOOOT – starting with you right at the top. I haven’t been all that “outward” lately and feel sheepish and selfish about that – breaking my foot, fairly small as it may sound/be, has thrown me into an OVERWHELMINGLY GRATEFUL period…lucky to have my parents, my family, dear friends who KNOW I adore them even if I’m quiet. I’m otherwise healthy, happy, employed, housed…my GOSH, what else can I ask for, right?? Love you sweetie, <3 TWO HUNDRED LATKES??? Oy meine got... 😀

  27. Kacey Dea December 12, 2012 at 4:09 am #

    I feel truly blessed to have an exceptional husband! I am also blessed with three handsome boys and one newborn girl; all of them showing immense compassion for life. I have a nice home and supportive extended family! I am also blessed enough with the intelligence to research alternatives to mainstream ideas to achieve better health for my family.

  28. Laura Runs a Latte December 12, 2012 at 3:57 am #

    I feel lucky to have a roof over my head, a steady job, a loving husband, wonderful pets, and peace of mind for living cruelty-free 🙂 Happy holidays to you and yours!
    Laura (

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