by Rebecca Gatto
I embrace any opportunity to celebrate love—that’s why I’m a wedding photographer and a contributor here at The Kind Bride, after all! But to me, Valentine’s Day’s pressure to buy, consume, and publicly display affection can feel less than romantic. If you’re one half of a couple and want to celebrate Cupid’s excellent aim together, here are some ideas to help make it special while avoiding the dreaded neon pink aisle at the grocery store.
Skip the gifts altogether
Valentine’s Day has evolved through the millennia from a racy pagan ritual, to a Catholic saint’s feast day, to a bacchanal of reckless spending on sugar hearts and polyester lingerie. What a whirlwind! The relentless consumerism of this pink-and-red holiday takes a toll on the environment by tempting us to purchase items that come at a cruel cost, including mass-produced chocolates and candies, cosmetics tested on animals, and extravagant meals. Why not slow things down a bit by staying in? Try making a new vegan dish together, then eat by candlelight and hit the couch for some nature documentaries. Bonus: your vegan leather wallet will love you, because staring deeply into each other’s eyes is free.
Order the vegan option, vocally
No need to stick to the only vegan restaurant in town; take your partner somewhere fancy! Those of us with dietary restrictions are pretty good at doing our restaurant research to find that one special, veg-only dish. But after you’ve cleared your plate, take it one step further: ask your server to thank the chef for preparing a vegan option! Many traditional restaurants are just venturing into plant-based fare and view it as a trendy niche. They may be piloting an animal-free option as a special or just introducing it to the menu—but if they never find out how much you enjoyed it, that dish could be gone tomorrow. Plus, your friendly comment will put a smile on the kitchen staff’s faces during a busy night!
Love V-day traditions? Shop consciously
Sometimes, you just want to enjoy a red-blooded American holiday the way we always have: by splurging on some fun, new stuff. I get it! You can still make an impact by consuming consciously. Skip the heart-shaped truffle box in favor of some eco-certified chocolate—these days, most well-stocked grocery stores carry multiple varieties. Picking up a card printed on recycled paper is a nice gesture, or go wild and make your own plantable recycled card. Then slather on some cruelty-free lipstick (Pacifica is my go-to, but PETA has a full list) and strike out for a fabulous date night. Feeling cheeky? Gift some vegan lube and see what happens!
Go big or go home
Surprising your partner with a proposal on Valentine’s Day is not for the faint of heart. If you’re bold enough to pull off this total power move, be sure to buy an ethically sourced ring. Consider a man-made diamond, which sparkles brilliantly without, you know, starting any wars. (Although it may start a stampede as anyone nearby rushes over to compliment your other half on their dazzling new accessory.)
What are your Valentine’s Day plans? Tell us in the comments!