Like my Virtually Vegan Sisters, I entered the wonderful world of vegetarianism/veganism just over a year ago. In fact, I recently celebrated my one year anniversary:)
But one tenet that I repeatedly come back to is that being vegan isn't just about what you put into your mouth. Animals are exploited in SO many other ways including in: the products we put on our face/body, the clothes/shoes/etc we put on our body, the pets we buy at pet stores, the animals used for medical testing, etc. Now don't get me wrong, what you put on your plate is VERY important if you are entering the world of veganism. In fact, a lot of people think that being vegan simply means that you don't ingest any animal products. When in fact, most vegans would say that it is SO much more and they try to minimize (to the best of their ability) the exploitation of animals on this planet.
In addition to striving to be a vegan in the kitchen, I am slowly starting to "veganize" the rest of my life. I seek out vegan and all-natural beauty products, I make my own homemade cleaning products (instead of buying the chemical concoctions that most Americans use that harm their health as well as the health of many marine animals who are affected by contaminated runoff), and I avoid any prescription drugs if at all possible, as most of them are cruelly tested on animals.
HOWEVER, I am not perfect and made a "boo boo" yesterday. I was at Ross exchanging something for my boyfriend, when I strolled into the shoe section and came across an adorable pair of sandals that were on clearance for $9.99. I took them home, took the tags off, and wore them today before I even realized that I had bought leather. It never even crossed my mind. It's times like that when I realize how "hard" being vegan means to an average American. I mean, I write a vegan blog for Christ's sake and here I am contributing the very industry I argue against!! Then I calmed down and realized that it is a process. Not much in life is absolute, and this is an example. I am simply doing what I think is best for me and the rest of the world.
What I advocate in regards to other aspects of veganism is to make it be a process. Not many people are going to go through their closets and throw away everything that is leather, suede, cotton, etc. And not every person is going to go through their medicine cabinet and get rid of any makeup, soap, shampoo, etc that doesn't have any animal products in it or that didn't use animal testing. I think a good, reasonable action point is to "finish up" these things in their lives and then make more compassionate choices when replacing them. I.e. finish your lipstick tube that is made of whale blubber, and when you shop for new lipstick, be sure to seek out a vegan company. And when your leather gym shoes get worn out, go online and look for company's that make vegan, all-natural tennis shoes. And when your designer Pomeranian, Fido, goes to doggy heaven, consider going to your local pet shelter to find a new best friend! This way there is no blatant waste (i.e. tossing everything non-vegan into a trash bag, just for everything to end up in a landfill) and you are also making a difference in your compassionate buying power.
Have a great weekend everyone! Foodie Vegan