portland vegan

Compassionate Gift Ideas for Anxious Gifters

I have gift anxiety.

I’m not a natural gifter, unlike my best friend or my dear mom. More often than not I cringe when someone opens my gift to them, expecting obvious disappointment to show up on their faces once they open up whatever I’ve hastily assembled for them. (Don’t worry, it doesn’t usually turn out to be that depressing.)

That is why I absolutely love gift guides! I stumbled across the Leaping Bunny‘s interactive cornucopia of compassionate gifting ideas and had to share it with all of you. If you’re struggling to find that last person on your list’s gift, this might be the answer for you. Every ornament on the trees will display a special deal or discount the company is offering. Take a look!

Featured companies include:

  • Andalou Naturals (I’ve recently sampled their products and really enjoy the fruit peels)
  • CommonGood
  • Dr. Bronner’s
  • Mineral Fusion
  • Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day (I live by their counter spray!)
  • South of France

…and many more!

I also have to rep VeganCuts. It’s true what they say: ’tis the season for cruelty-free gifting! VeganCuts offers beauty boxes and snack boxes that can be gifted one-time, or set up for monthly doorstep deliveries. Who doesn’t love getting a box of new goodies every month?

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Feed them — with food or words. Treats and cookbooks are always a good option. But how about both of those combined into one fantastic book? That’s right: Vegan Food Gifts (Joni Marie Newman) will inspire your crafty friend to make treats all year long.

Donate in someone’s name. Most people have a favorite cause, whether it’s animal rights, community development, green initiatives, or supporting the local economy. You know your friends and family better than I do! For that person who has everything, a credited donation can be a fantastic and thoughtful gift.

Know a self-professed gourmand? Peruse foranima‘s Food & Kitchen section. From baked goods to biodegradable plateware, there’s bound to be something for a classy someone in your life.

Support a local business and set up a couple months’ worth of produce delivery for someone important to you. Believe me, they’ll appreciate the time you saved them shopping for fruits and veggies! In Portland I like to rep Organics to You, a company I’ve been using for a year. They always surprise me with something new to cook with, and it couldn’t be easier to eat my fruits and vegetables.

Spend time. When all else fails and your gifts just aren’t working out, fall back to the real point of the holidays: spending time with the people in your life.

What kinds of gifts are you giving this holiday season?

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Portland’s the (vegan) caterer, and how YOU can give back this holiday season

The holidays are here, and I couldn’t be happier. Bring on the overambitious Pinterest recipes, the non-denominational greeting cards, the friends-givings and family gatherings!

The holidays give us an excuse to throw parties, give back to our community, and make memories with our neighbors…sometimes, all at once! Last Friday, I had the privilege of helping out the (vegan) caterer, a Portland-based catering company, throw a benefit banquet for the Pigs Peace Sanctuary.

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“Volunteering fills my heart when it gets empty.” That’s what one of my college mentors told me, and it’s stuck with me to this day. Volunteering gives you a chance to forget yourself, and start focusing on others. Even if it’s for a day, a morning, or an hour, I’ve always this sentiment to be true. And as a vegan dietitian, I don’t think it gets much better than serving and enjoying some delicious, cruelty-free food with my own community.

As happy as the holidays can be for humans, the same does not go for animals. Thanksgiving in particular permits us to stuff ourselves all day long, with a menu traditionally centered on meat and dairy. But if you’ve tasted the magic of Field Roast or some dairy-free ‘nog, you know that compassionate alternatives can more than satisfy a crowd. Verbatim quote from my omnivore friend who tagged along: “This is the best roast I have ever eaten. Period.”

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The good folks over at the (vegan) caterer make it possible for the community to enjoy holiday banquetsĀ with a healthy side of compassion. Here’s some shots from the banquet!

(The following pictures were taken by Mark Rainha and edited by myself.)

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From left to right, we have marinated green beans and carrots; field roast slices with a mushroom and sage gravy; and cranberry-glazed tofu. Not pictured is the mashed sweet potato with torched dandies (vegan marshmallows). That night, I learned that it is incredibly difficult to remain calm and collected when the aroma of freshly torched dandies is wafting around!

Here’s Josh, the owner of the (vegan) caterer, torching those dandies.

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Dinner was served to over 100 guests at the Village Ballroom, a cozy venue in Northeast Portland.

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Look at those happy volunteers šŸ™‚

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Here’s Judy Woods of the Pigs Peace Sanctuary, located just north of Seattle. She does amazing, selfless work rescuing pigs from all walks of life and has been doing so since 1994. The Sanctuary now houses over fifty pigs, who live in peace on 39 acres of woodland. They are free to foster natural relationships with their rescued friends, forage for food, and explore the land. I could go on and on about Pigs Peace, but I encourage you to click that link and read Judy’s own words.

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The banquet featured a raffle with prizes donated from companies all over town. In fact, $4082.90 was raised to benefit Judy’s nonprofit.

If you’re located in the Portland area and need some help with a holiday party, give the (vegan) caterer a try! They offer a wide array of services, from private event catering to individual meal preparation delivered to your doorstep. Wedding catering services are listed on their site and are very affordable. Josh has an extensive menu, ranging from Tex-Mex to the Far East. And don’t worry, there are plenty of desserts to go around.

:: What You Can Do To Make a Difference This Holiday Season ::

Serve Compassionate Food: The holidays are a perfect opportunity to incorporate cruelty-free food and drink into your traditional festivities! The Kitchn has some winter-specific recipes that I can’t wait to serve to my favorite people. Post Punk Kitchen is always a great resource for holiday recipes, as well. By serving cruelty-free food, you’ll be making a statement for how all beings can enjoy the holidays.

Reach Out to Causes That Need Your Help: Many local organizations are looking for a helping hand this holiday season.

  • Try VolunteerMatch.org to find a cause you might enjoy serving.
  • Search around your neck of the woods for smaller nonprofits who need help, or local companies trying to make their mark in the community.
  • Many local veggie organizations throw community dinners and serve to the homeless. Put Google to work and find some upcoming events near you.
  • If you own aĀ  business, organize a canned (or other) food drive and offer promotions to customers. For example, three canned items might give someone $5 off a haircut.
  • If you live in the Portland area, one of my favorite organizations to promote is Northwest VEG. They always have something up their sleeve and are eager for volunteers.

That’s all, folks! I’ll be updating with some of my favorite things as the holidays start. While you’re waiting, how about you comment and tell me: how do you celebrate for the holidays? and do you have any favorite organizations you like to help during the winter season?

Spotlight on: Canteen PDX

I had the pleasure of joining some of my dietitian friends for lunch yesterday at one of Portland’s best (in my humble opinion) neighborhood spots, Canteen. Serving all vegan and some raw foods, you can get your breakfast, lunch, and late afternoon smoothie fix all in one spot.

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Apart from being adorable, it was easy to find a spot to sit outside and the staff were friendly and helpful.
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I settled on the Walnut Taco Salad, which was a mouth-watering mashup of quinoa, greens, green onions, purple cabbage, and walnut taco crumbs, drizzled with a hefty dose of cashew nacho spread. I mean.
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I had originally been happy with the cucumber-infused water Canteen had on the counter, but once I tried my friend Ashley‘s Tropical Greens smoothie I had to have one of my own. It tasted like a pina colada, but had all the nutritional benefits of the kale, spinach, and coconut oil thrown in. I’ll have to try this one out at home!
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If you have the pleasure of living in this fabulous foodie city, get right over to Canteen. You won’t be disappointed!