🥦Veganism: It's Not Just A Change In Food, But Clothes, Cosmetics & Perfumes!
It was World Vegan Day a few days ago, and a few years ago only about 2% of the population knew what veganism actually was (so that number is entirely made up by me, with a probable colossal exaggeration)! I admire vegans, it takes dedication, knowledge, and a willingness to completely change your life, and wardrobe. I can share first-hand veganism with you, although I now eat meat (organic and locally sourced though!). I am a true believer that humans are like dinosaurs. We are either Herbivores (eat only veg), Carnivores (eat only meat), or Omnivores (eat a bit of everything).
What is shocking to find out while practicing veganism (one cannot only be a vegan, one must practice it), is the unlikely places where animals have made their contribution, largely non-consensual I imagine. I am going to list out the basic must avoid foods and extras, and some perhaps unknown, unusual, slightly disgusting commodities that contain traces of animal.
Dairy, honey, eggs (a vegetarian with a few extras)
So yeah, vegan is not just about not eating meat from animals, it is also about avoiding anything produced from an animal. So, all dairy foods are out of the question – cheese, milk, yogurt; a cow has milk to feed its young, not feed us. Chicken eggs – I do like my egg in the morning. My family used to have chickens growing up and I think that is fine. They ate our leftovers, ran free amongst the homestead, and had names even! Those eggs were happy eggs, but veganism is against it. Honey also as it comes from an animal!
Now for the alternatives:
Dairy – try soy milk, or almond milk, or basically any milk that doesn’t come from cows or goats. It is possible to get soy yogurts also and they have manufactured a very cheese-like substance for conscientious cheese lovers.
Eggs – it depends on what you need the egg for. If you are looking for a fried breakfast egg, then maybe Veganism is not for you! When it comes to baking there is a product called ‘No Egg’ which works wonders, but there is also using flours like xanthan gum which help with the sticking eggy properties.
Honey – honey is an excellent alternative for refined sugar because we are all trying to avoid bleached and refined foods, but now honey is off our list, what do we go for? And something a bit more natural than Splenda? Well, Agave is a fantastic sweetener. From the agave plant, it is dark and sticky like honey, and very sweet. Bonus: it is suitable for people with diabetes!
This one needs a paragraph all to itself. Not all chocolates need to be avoided. Milk chocolate must go, and so must white chocolate, but dark chocolate, now I’m listening. Going into the supermarket nowadays you can purchase all different degrees of dark chocolate, the higher the percent the purer the chocolate. You will certainly be safe with 70% and higher, but, like all good vegans, check the ingredients. Whey and other milk ingredients can always be present, so do avoid them. If you are like me and are a sucker for milk chocolate, there are vegan chocolate companies our there, so give them a go! I tasted one before, and like all foods mimicked particularly for vegans, it doesn’t taste as you want it to. But a clear conscience is better than a satisfied sweet tooth, right?
Leather and other luxurious apparel
Bye-bye clutch and smart (possibly sexy) shoes. It took me a short few minutes to realize “of course, I can’t wear leather!” It’s made from cow-hide. And alligator boots and bags, camel coats, cashmere, fur, wool… although I am hearing two different arguments to wool – the animal is not being harmed, the sheep need to be free of his/her wool during the hotter season. What a lot of vegans do is wear 2nd hand animal products, so they will wear their woolly hats and leather boots, but without contributing directly to the mass farming of animals. I bought a vegan pair of sneakers one summer, and I loved them, and wore them every day, and cried when they literally fell apart at the end of that summer – and they were not cheap. If you are in the mindset to become vegan then you are probably already in the recycling mind frame, so are used to buying clothes from thrift stores or taking hand me downs. My favorite is the clothes swap events. A group of friends meets up in one house, each with a bag or two of unwanted clothes, and you spend the evening trying on other people’s clothes and seriously considering the abandoned vestments of your close ones. What’s left-over gets sent to the salvation army, so it really is a win-win situation, try it out!
So even though a product may not come from an animal, whether it is tested on animals or not is still huge for vegans and animal lovers in general. If you cannot try your makeup out on a human, then why even try it? That’s my opinion anyway. It makes me sick to think of those poor animals (I had given examples but deleted them). Vegan or no, try to be conscious of who your cosmetic provider is – make-up, deodorant, shaving foam, anything to enhance one’s physique. Plastic surgery and Botox treatments. They can be in essence vegan, but due to being tested on animals, are a big no-no.
Perfume – Ocean Spray
This one nearly made me vomit, because, it comes from vomit. Yes. The fresh, liberating ocean spray scent you picked up at the drug store is likely to contain whale vomit. So here is how they do it: Whales vomit, the vomit congeals into huge cube-like, well, cubes, that float in the ocean all unbeknownst to its future role of sitting on the slender neck of some upper-class society lady. The vomit cube is fished out of the ocean or arrives on shore after 30 years, the scent extracted from it, and inserted into your now not-so-favorite perfume. A British couple found a cube of this Ambergris while walking on the beach one day and brought them near £50,000! Em, next flight to England, please! But I guess we can have the same sheep argument here. The animal is not hunted for its digestive excrement, it is naturally “ejected” and “harvested” (I really can’t believe I am seriously speaking about Whale vomit) so… I will leave that one to your vegan moral dilemmas.
But sometimes being a vegan is not a lifestyle choice but rather for medical reasons. If you are intolerant you cannot eat dairy, if you experience food poisoning then you may be discouraged from eating meat, and those with nut allergies usually have to avoid packaged food so they easily choose healthier options. Being a vegan is admirable for the stance against animal cruelty, and today it is easy to eat out with so many vegetarian and vegan options out there. January is known as Veganuary, so why not give it a go!