I’m just as disgusted as you are, trust me.
Yes, as fall and winter soon approach, I know I will become a walking hypocrite. I actually own two pairs of Uggs. But even know what (or technically who) they’re made of, but I can’t get myself to part from them any time soon.
Admittedly this is my first fall season as a vegan, so this will be a new experience for me, especially with holiday-themed cuisine. My transition to a plant-based diet was not difficult for me, but transitioning other aspects of my life toward the vegan lifestyle have been a much slower process.
When initially becoming vegan, my thoughts, just like so many others, were focused on the food. When people talk about the health, ethical and environmental reasons for becoming vegan, the non-dietary animal industries seem to get pushed toward the background. But when we do this, we are allowing them to continue happening.
For some people, they really only care about eating plant-based, and that’s perfectly fine. But for those interested in going all-out, the change becomes much more dramatic. It’s mind-blowing how much of our lives involve exploiting animals. You can find the nitty-gritty details yourself.
As a vegan, what should you be aware of functioning in society? Obvious items to avoid are leather, wool and fur. Shoot for makeup and beauty brands that are cruelty-free (As an avid Sephora shopper, my favorites are Tarte, Too Faced, Urban Decay, Hourglass, Becca, and NARS). Even research household brands about their practices. And avoid supporting events that exploit animals, like circuses and Sea World (Black Fish, anybody?)
With all of these different areas to potentially think about, it can get overwhelming. It’s important to realize that no matter how long you’ve been vegan or are just interested in the lifestyle, it is okay to make mistakes. That’s inevitable. I’m not asking you to be perfect because I’m obviously not in the slightest. I just want you to be more conscious about the world. Every single item we buy, every form of entertainment we partake in, involved a process to manufacture that end-product. We don’t necessarily ponder over how the shoes on our feet were made or what’s happening behind the scenes at a zoo. But it’s all about becoming an informed consumer and making the best choices not only for yourself, but other living things.
Going back to my pairs of Ugg boots, knowing how expensive they were and convenient they are in South Dakota winters, they have really been lifesavers. When I purchased them, I honestly wasn’t thinking about any cruelty. Sure, I’ve always loved animals (usually more so than people), but we become so detached from the reality of these products that you don’t question the morality of it. You don’t think of a leather handbag as the dried skin off another body. It’s so weird to say because when see things from that different perspective, it’s quite eye-opening.
I know it isn’t non-food related, but for other people in your life not thinking from that vegan mindset, even just offering them little glimpses can make them think. For example, when I was back home over the Fourth of July, I was actually very surprised to see how curious my non-vegan family was about veganism; inside, I was jumping over the moon. They were asking about what items were considered vegan or not, and I pointed out that an egg is technically a chicken’s menstruation. Yes, that got a few people thinking I was nuts, but a few others actually found it interesting. That’s one part of veganism I love so much: you’re breaking out from that conventional mindset into one that understands life from a much more critical but compassionate stance.
With all of this said, I’m not about to force you to dump every animal product you own and start from scratch. It’s much more gradual than that, as I have been learning. Take it one area at a time. I personally started with my diet, and now I’d like to use up makeup products so my stash is entirely cruelty-free. From there, who knows? It will take a lot from me to ever think of dumping my Uggs. It brings about a question of “what’s the point when the damage is already done?” Totally reasonable, but when clothing is just a visible projection of ourselves, it again feels hypocritical to wear Ugg boots but never touching meat or dairy. At least I choose to be aware of their origins, and when I feel the urge, I can find replacements.
Veganism is much more than my individual desire to not slip on the ice. It’s about standing up for what is morally right, what is healthiest for the world and every single living creature. How you choose to live a vegan lifestyle is completely up to you (really any effort in that direction is admirable), but I think just educating yourself, whether you choose to partake or not, is a step every one of us should take.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie