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5 Zero-Waste Gifts of Affection (Romantic or Platonic)


Having days marked out on our calendars — whether it’s Valentine’s Day or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday — to celebrate the people we love in our lives is a good thing, so make it whatever you want. 

Here are a few ideas for romantic / platonic gift ideas that are waste-free, vegan, and meaningful. 

#1 FLOWERS AND PLANTS 

Growing flowers and shipping them around the world has a huge carbon footprint. If you can find locally grown flowers where you are, then that’s your best option. If not, consider buying a plant or tree from a local nursery that can be kept and loved as a house plant or planted in the ground in the spring. If you’d still like to buy flowers, consider a sustainable online retailer like Bouqs.com that wraps flowers in paper (not plastic) and features the farmers they source their flowers from. 

#2 CONSUMABLE GIFTS 

With chocolate — as with many things grown commercially and intensively — there are many considerations — such as how it’s produced in terms of environmental impacts, human rights, animal exploitation, so make sure you’re purchasing something that reflects your values. My favorite chocolate brands are

  • Endangered Species (best hazelnut chocolate spread / vegan nutella ever!)
  • Tcho (which is a local chocolate maker and works with farmers directly)
  • AlterEco and
  • Theo

They’re all packaged in foil and paper, which means I can recycle the foil and compost the paper (and tell my gift recipient to to do the same).

Alternatively, check to see if you can get chocolate in bulk. It might be little chocolate candies or even chocolate chips you can add to a nice glass jar you have on hand, or look for a tin of chocolate pieces, cocoa powder, or vegan / plant-based hot chocolate mixes (or make your own with cocoa powder and sugar!). 

–>glass and aluminum are the two materials I still purchase (in a limited way). They’re both still considered valuable in the marketplace, and so they’re properly recycled and then used again to make more glass and more aluminum (whereas plastic is not). 

So, in that vein, what about gifting someone a beautiful bottle (or tin) of…

  • olive oil
  • tea
  • wine or
  • scotch

#3 HOMEMADE MEALS

Now, obviously I’m going to recommend homemade meals because…there is NOTHING more personal than making a beautiful meal for someone that you shopped for, prepped for, and made yourself (and because I have over 500 recipes in my cookbooks to guide you! It’s just so much more meaningful to cook a meal for someone over going to a restaurant. (In The Vegan Table, I have recipes and menus specific to romantic meals, and of course The Joy of Vegan Baking is chock full of sweet desserts.)

And if you want to think in terms of aphrodisiac foods, consider the sensory characteristics of the foods you choose: how they look, sound, smell, taste, or feel. 

 –> VISUAL: Red, for instance, has always been associated with passion, so choose beets, cherries, cranberries, and pomegranates. Asparagus has been enjoyed as an aphrodisiac because of its (ahem!) shape. 

 –> TEXTURE: Agave nectar, derived from a cactus-like plant, oozes a thick sweet syrup. The romantic effect of champagne has more to do with the bubbles than with the alcohol. Think mouthfeel (something creamy, something succulent, something scintillating.) I’ll let you use your imagination to come up with ideas.

 –> HEAT: Spicy foods do heat up the body, so consider something like my Spicy Red Bell Pepper Soup (which is both red and spicy) and a slice of my Mexican Chocolate Cake – both of which are in my book The 30-Day Vegan Challenge

–>BLOOD FLOW: Someone has to say this: a healthy body has everything to do with blood flowing unhindered to all of the organs in our body! Plant foods — vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, mushrooms, herbs, and spices — are all aphro-di-si-a-cal foods, because they increase blood flow. Meat and animal products, on the other hand, constrict the blood vessels, decreasing blood flow, and thus potentially decreasing the libido. Know what I mean, jelly bean?

#4 HANDMADE CARDS / NOTES

What would a commercial greeting card say that you couldn’t write yourself? Grab some paper or a blank greeting card you have at home, a marker, and get writing. Or send an email. Just take the time to tell your loved one(s) you appreciate them!

#5 EXPERIENCES NOT THINGS

Go to the theatre, a sports game, a bowling alley, the movies. Go on a picnic, a hike, a walk. Go create some memories. 

Just don’t hurt anyone (including animals and our earth), keep it simple, keep in meaningful, make it special. 

I’D LOVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU DO TO MAKE YOUR LOVED ONES FEEL SPECIAL, ZERO-WASTE, AND COMPASSIONATE FOR ALL!

FAQ

I am working diligently to create next year's schedule. It should be up very soon!
Each cooking class is fully interactive. While I am demonstrating, you can chime in with comments, questions, and ooohs and ahhhs the entire time. Not only does this increase connection among the students, both my assistant and I see your questions and make sure we answer all of them.
You can participate in the class using Zoom on your computer, tablet or mobile device.
Upon completing your registration, you receive your confirmation email, which includes the link to our Zoom class, along with information and recipes. Each class is officially a go once a minimum number of slots are filled — at which time the recipes appear on the document. My goal is to have the recipes available to you at least 5 days before the class to give you enough time to order / shop for ingredients, should you choose to cook along.
While I love to see the faces of my students, the use of video during the live class is optional. NOTE: Even if you opt to show your video, for the class recordings, which go out to the general public as on-demand classes, NO ONE'S video is shown except for mine.
We do our best to prepare you in advance so you are ready for when the class begins. If you have issues during the class, my assistant is there to help you. Sometimes it's an issue on the user side, and when there's an issue on my side, we do our best to mitigate it right away. One of the benefits of live classes is that they're in real time, which means it's a live feed. Sometimes technical issues are out of our control, but so far, we've never had any real issues that took away from the purpose of the class.
Absolutely! Unless something goes horribly wrong (and it rarely does), each class is recorded, and students receive the class recording within 2 days of the live class.
While I do send a reminder email out a couple days before our class, I encourage you to add the class to your calendar as soon as you register.
Some students love being able to cook along; some students love to just watch. It is entirely up to you how you want to enjoy the class.
You can decide in advance which dishes you want to cook along with. You might choose to cook along for just one of the dishes or all of them. Whatever you decide, I suggest you have your mise en place all ready. That is to say, have all the ingredients measured and prepped as much as possible. (Mise en place is a French culinary phrase meaning "everything in its place.”)
Ultimately, what we take away is based on what we give, so I encourage you to be present and engaged in the class. But, for my part, if you know me, you know I'm pretty passionate about many things, and I can’t help bringing my love of food, history, language, animals, film, literature, and food lore to each class. My aim is that you walk away with a richer understanding of food, cooking, and eating than before you arrived. More than that, you will get helpful step-by-step instructions about each dish I'm demonstrating and a clear up-close view of all the ingredients and procedures. The best part is that I, too, make mistakes, and you see me make them live in real time. That's how we learn the most.
I'm thrilled to say that many students are regulars and repeats, and you will no doubt get to know some fabulous people when you attend these classes. I encourage engagement and follow-up, including posting photos, questions, and comments on our private Facebook page. Many friends and family members join from different cities, then share a virtual meal with each other once the class is over. (That makes my heart sing.) So, yes, despite being online the classes foster connection.
I have found that 60 minutes is the ideal amount of time to spend in a virtual class. Sometimes we stick around a little longer to finish something up or to enjoy a bonus cocktail by our resident mixologist (my adorable husband), but we like to honor your time and keep the classes to 60 minutes. (Some special / holiday classes are scheduled for 90 minutes, but they’re the exception.) If we go over and you need to drop off, you can always view the video later.
Absolutely! Once you are registered and the class is a go, you are officially enrolled. That means the recipes, resources, video recording, and even the chat transcript are yours to enjoy. You will receive a follow-up email whether you are in the live class or not.
Because the value of the classes includes exclusive recipes and resources as well as the live class / video recording, once a class is officially a go and you get access to the recipes, you cannot be refunded. However, if the class does not meet the minimum sign-up threshold and I cancel the class, you have the option of getting a full refund or switching to a different class. (This is one of the reasons I don't share the recipes until I know we've reached the minimum threshold.)
After the live class is over and enjoyed by students in real time, each class gets converted into an on-demand class so that others may enjoy the recipes, resources, and video recording. Most live classes become on-demand classes within 2 days.
No animal products are ever used in my recipes, so yes, all the classes are vegan / plant-based, which means nothing that comes out of or off of an animal. I've written three cookbooks (The Joy of Vegan Baking, The Vegan Table, and Color Me Vegan), and two lifestyle books (Vegan’s Daily Companion and The 30-Day Vegan Challenge), which also include recipes. I'm also always testing and developing new recipes (as well as modifying and perfecting old ones) to make sure students get the best, clearest, easiest-to-follow recipes — qualities that have become trademark in my work.
While living compassionately and consciously is not about being perfect, and while some students may not have access to the same bulk stores and package-free ingredients as me, I make an effort in my classes to use (and promote) as little packaging and plastic as possible, which is why so many of my recipes and menus are for how to cook and bake homemade and from-scratch!
My classes span a huge range, and your suggestions are always welcome: *Different types of cuisines (Italian, Thai, Asian, Mexican, etc.) *Particular ways of cooking and eating (Quick & Easy, Oil-free, By Color/Phytochemicals, ) *Cooking with specific appliances (Air-Fryer, Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker / Crockpot, etc.) *Homemade from scratch (Seitan, Tempeh, Tofu, Miso, Nut Cheeses, Nut Butters, etc.) *Various holidays and seasons (Mother’s Day, Easter, Passover, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Summer, Fall, etc.) *Focused on meals (Packed Lunches, Breakfast, Brunch, Fancy Dinner, Quick Dinner, etc.) *Cooking with specific foods/ ingredients (Aquafaba, Beans, Spices & Herbs, Greens, Lentils, Grains, etc. *Baking from scratch (Pizza Dough, Breads, Pretzels, Bagels, and Biscuits, Cakes, Pies, Cobblers, etc.) *And everything in between.
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