Happy Tuesday, readers!
I decided it would be fun to do a series on living animal-free that isn’t just about, well, food! Although I’ll be the first to admit that I have room to grow and flourish, I am so passionate about living vegan in all aspects of my life. This means that I have to think about things like where my clothes and makeup come from, how to travel “green,” and how to generally leave a positive trail behind me as I live my life. I know, it’s a lot!
This series will cover some of these topics in more detail and will be a springboard for you if you’re interested in living ethically. Let’s get started! Our first installment? Fashion!
What makes clothing not vegan? I’ll be honest — I didn’t even start thinking about this until I read Main Street Vegan, a tremendous book for those of us new to veganism. Written by Victoria Moran, I highly recommend reading this if you think it might float your joyful vegan boat!
Obviously, leather, suede and fur are not vegan. Many people think that leather is a byproduct of the slaughterhouse that we use for our clothes, bags, car seats, cell phone cases, wallets…you get it. But the leather industry is booming and very much in demand by consumers all around the world. Same goes for the fur industry, for which China is a major producer. Watch our for products made of cashmere, pashmina, angora, shearling, camel hair, and mohair: every single one comes from an animal.
Bones, tusks, teeth (really?), hooves…don’t even bother. It’s fairly common knowledge that the poaching remains a serious threat to endangered species who provide these “exotic” accessories.
Wool is made available to consumers by shearing sheep, which is a brutal process. I won’t go into the details but that’s definitely something you can look up if you are interested. Reading about it made me remember the days when Uggs were the thing to have. I’ll admit that I’ve kept a couple pairs from a few years ago. I just wish I had known back then what went in to making those fuzzy, yet hideous, boots.
Down feathers are used as insulation for comforters, sleeping bags, jackets, gloves, etc. Again, the manner of collecting the hundreds of thousands of feathers that are needed for just one comforter is horrendous. Let’s be honest: down feathers are for the birds.
So what are your alternatives? Well, there are a whole lot of them! The “compassionate clothing” industry is taking off right now and you can get all up in that! I guarantee you, anything animal-derived that catches your eye, you can have vegan. Seriously.
Here’s a quick breakdown of a few alternative fashion houses with my stamp of approval:
Ecolissa — I recommend the sales page.
Michael Antonio — the shoes!!! Drool! And I’m pretty sure you can find them at DSW.
Fabric Horse — this one’s a delight for cyclists, as they have U-Lock holders and stunning bike bags.
Strange Vixens — the space odyssey leggings? I die.
Toms — I’m loving the push for vegan shoes from Toms. These prints are fantastic!
Looking for something more specific? Whether it’s guitar straps, weight-lifting gloves, laptop bags, or dog collars — cause what’s more gross than putting leather on your pet — there is an alternative. Check out this list for a complete breakdown of what is available to consumers.
I won’t lie to you and say that you’re safe if you just avoid the clothing “ingredients” I listed above. Cotton production, in addition to dyeing clothing, can translate to harsh pesticide and colorant usage, which takes a toll on the earth and on the people who work to produce these textiles. It’s almost impossible to know how your item was made, but I can offer these tips: buy as local as possible, and if it says eco-friendly, go for it! Don’t be afraid to poke your head around town. Apart from being able to try things on in person, local shop owners want to hear what’s in demand! Just the other day I stumbled across a shoe store that dedicated half of its inventory to vegan shoes.
As for household wares and outdoor activities, here’s what I recommend: look for synthetic down, such as PrimaLoft, Thinsulate, or Polarguard. While this synthetic down does break down over time, I have it on good authority from REI that it will take at least ten years until you’ll need a new sleeping bag or comforter. With today’s advancements in warmth technology, you can stay toasty in the outdoors (or simply on a cold winter’s day in the house!) with synthetic down, Gore-Tex, and the like. One of the major benefits is that synthetic down it costs just a fraction of the real stuff, so you and your dollars can stay warm together!
You can freshen up your home by checking to see if pillows are filled with feathers, if any paintbrushes are made of boar/horse hair, and if your rugs contain wool. In researching this information, I also found that some house paints have egg in them, and some toothpastes are made with milk derivatives. Another bummer? Unless it states that it’s vegan, shoes are typically made with glues that are made from animals.
If you’re inspecting your home and find some of these items, please don’t feel bad. I’m very much a work in progress and still have non-vegan items that I purchased over a year ago. It’s my thought that it is better to wear them out than instantly toss or donate them. Bottom line? Every future decision we have is an opportunity to make a positive impact.
If I’ve missed something you simply must have, please post it in the comment section.
You can make a difference. The dollar speaks, and the more people who refuse to spend their money on industries and companies that promote cruelty, the more of a voice we will have. Live joyfully and compassionately! And if someone compliments your vegan fall riding boots, be sure to tell them how they can be a part of this compassionate clothing movement 🙂
If you have any questions or thoughts, please comment on this post and I will happily get back to you!