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A Vegucated Valentine’s

Valentine’s Day is often a dreaded thing…

Why? Because the holiday is usually rife with pressure. Pressure to find a date, pressure to choose the gift or card that expresses just the right sentiment, pressure to find a perfect night-on-the-town outfit. Maybe you’ve eschewed the holiday all together. Either way, we see Valentine’s Day as just another opportunity to spread more of the good stuff ’round the world, and our suggestions will have you feeling all warm inside, even if you’re not the Hallmark type.

Make a Vegan Feast

Choose Compassionate (and Chic) Gifts

If you’re in a position where you’re struggling to find the right gifts for that special someone, these earth- and animal-friendly suggestions will help you to select a truly thoughtful present.

  • Dine Out to Give Back: Valentine’s Day eve is one of the biggest nights for dining out, and many charities know this. Take your date, friends, or yourself out for a great meal that benefits an organization you believe in. Just a cursory glance at Chicago’s charity dining options showed prix fixe (with vegan options) meals that benefit a local animal shelter, a children’s hospital, and a youth violence intervention network. With a little searching, you’re bound to find a meal that fits your dietary needs and passion.
  • A Luxurious Spa Experience: Massages are nice, but hand-assembled bath baskets are super thoughtful. Give your valentine (be it your honey, best gal pals, or your mom) bath products that will help them unwind from a crazy day. A to make things extra-special, opt for eco- and animal-friendly vegan products. I adore the wildcrafted goodies from Aster + Bay (4) (body oil heaven), Ellovi Butter, fun vegan bath bombs from LUSH, Gressa’s natural masquecleanser, and lip boost (8) (so good), and Kiss My Face Bubble Baths.
  • Gifts for the Old School Gentleman: Vintage is back in a big way, and the old school barber shop-style shave and polished accessories make great gifts for the refined dude in your life. Kelley Quan Vegan Shave BrushEthically Engineered Shave Soap, Herbivore Botanicals Beard tonic (10), Truth Belts’ McGuinty Suspenders (9), vegan wallet (5), and even fun eco-friendly socks all make fantastic gifts.
  • Chocolate Is Forever: We needn’t elaborate on this truth. Give your valentine vegan, fair-trade chocolates that will make everyone happy from Allison’s Gourmet or Lagusta’s Lucious (7).
  • Give an Eco-Chic Bouquet: Flowers are the hallmark of the holiday, but be sure to buy organic and fair-trade. Conventional flowers are often grown in pesticide-laden fields (bad for the environment and the critters hanging out in there), exploit the local communities and workers who harvest them, and use a crazy amount of water, fuel, and resources. Blooms bearing the Fair Trade Certified logo adhere to fair trade standards of paying a premium to support community development, fair wages, and safe harvesting conditions, and many organic flower companies have local farm-grown options and comprehensive recycling and water conservation policies. Your best option is to pick up blossoms from your local farmer’s market (local, organic, fair = win), but if you’re opting for delivery, these services are awesome: Organic BouquetOne World FlowersCalifornia Organic Flowers (1), Rainforest Alliance Certified Flowers at Sam’s Club.
  • Treat Yo’Self: Who says that after you’re done spreading the love, you can’t give yourself a little something special? I’m loving the entire Aromi vegan makeup collection (6) (with reds and pinks that are perfect for the holiday or anyway), the eco-friendly Wilby Clutch (3) from the UK, and perfumes from Lurk (2) and Pour Le Monde (11) (which gives back to charity). All vegan, all completely luxe.

Feel the Love By Giving Back

Whether you’re paired off, flying solo, or hanging with good friends, these ideas will have you feeling the love by giving back to those who need it most.

  • Make Valentines: You heard me right. Get all 2nd grade and make some valentines. Except this time, make them for people who will be truly thrilled to receive them. Gather your loved ones around paper scraps (wrapping paper works beautifully) and craft supplies, pop a bottle of wine (or Kombucha), and get ready to brighten someone’s day. Pair Valentines with a piece of candy or homemade cookies and pass out to the local homeless, people in hospitals, or seniors (and their caregivers). I did this once when I was a few years in a row and I was always so touched to see how many residents of the senior community held on to those tokens from years passed and displayed them on their dressers with such pride.
  • Hang with Homeless Animals: Valentine’s Day is often a big puppy-at-the-pet-store-buying day. Show the wonderful companion animals at the shelters that you’re rooting for them by working an adoption event or just spending much-needed time with them. Working an adopt-a-pet and helping animals find their forever homes is not only life-affirming, but is an excellent way to meet fellow compassionistas.
  • Write A Love Note. Or Three: Are there people who’ve done you a solid? Teachers who’ve inspired you? The maintenance guy who joyfully fixed your heat when it was -13? The bus driver who makes sure you get to and from work safely every day? The neighbor who made you laugh when you were having a terrible day? TELL THEM. Better yet, write them a note of appreciation. It doesn’t have to be a kittens and kisses-type note, just a heartfelt thank you for their contributions. Valentine’s Day so often is reserved as a holiday for lovers, but really, it’s an opportunity to practice gratitude and appreciation, and those feelings keep the love going.
  • Keep the Love Going: Did you know that February 10 – 16 is Random Acts of Kindness Week? It’s a real thing and wonderful impetus to embrace thoughtful, day-brightening gestures before and beyond V-Day. Buy coffee for the person behind you in line. Bring flowers to someone just because. Smile at and compliment a stranger. Get your kids involved and ask their ideas for how to brighten someone’s day (they always have the most interesting suggestions) so they learn that you don’t need a special occasion to spread joy.

From all of us at Vegucated, we hope you have a day, year, and life full of love!

Join the conversation in the Vegucated Schoolhouse today and tell us how you’re celebrating!