It’s easy to remove foods containing animal products from our home, because we buy groceries every week, but what about all the leather, wool and down amongst my belongings? Am I supposed to throw it all out straight away, or what? What do people do?
When I decided I wanted to be vegan, I really only thought about the changes I’d have to make to my diet. It wasn’t THAT much different to being vegetarian…apart from cheese…but the images of those bobby calves take away that craving every time it hits.
Now I’ve come to realise that there’s a lot more to giving up animal products than dealing with the cheese cravings. I have all this STUFF—a down doona (as I’ve mentioned before), a lovely woollen blanket, several pairs of leather shoes and boots, a pair of ugg-type sheepskin boots, a pair of possum bed socks, a leather watch band, and as a knitter, I have not only a lot of hand-knitted scarves and jumpers, but also a stash of yarn—mostly wool. I’m just soooo thankful we didn’t buy a leather lounge suite in the 90s, like so many of our friends did!
If I had a ton of money, I’d (somehow…responsibly) get rid of all these possessions and buy replacements—but I don’t. Or I could keep using all these things and wait until I can afford replacements…but they’re all looking creepier and creepier the more I allow myself to think about where they came from.
I’m reminded of many years ago, when we made the decision to stop eating meat. We still had some fresh fish fillets in the freezer. We were really poor at the time, and the fish fillets had been a bit of an extravagance, so we reasoned that we’d eat them, but that would be it, we’d never buy any more.
Well, those fillets sat in the freezer for months, until I finally decided I’d better throw them in the bin before somebody cooked them and made themselves sick. You see, once I made the decision to stop eating meat, and let myself think about animals and abattoirs and suffering and pain, those fish didn’t look very appetizing any more. They looked like old dead things in the back of my freezer, and I just couldn’t bring myself to look at them, let alone eat them.
Now, almost 20 years later, I’ve stopped consuming all animal products and I’ve found that a similar thing is happening. We said we’d just finish the mozzarella and parmesan in the fridge and then we wouldn’t buy any more. Well, the cheese just sat there and went mouldy, and finally ended up in the bin, just as those fish fillets did all those years ago.
I figured that with all this non-vegan STUFF I have, that I’d try a similar thing. I’d just keep using it but not buy any more. Then when they wore out, I’d buy non-animal replacements.
I’ve already mentioned my down doona dilemma, but I’m having similar problems with leather and wool. I’m just horrified that they’re here. It’s been easy to avoid leather handbags over the years, but shoes are a different matter because it’s hard to find comfortable, non-sweaty, non-leather shoes…at least I think it is…I suppose I’ve never really looked until now.
When we recently visited Edgar’s Mission, I was really hesitant to wear my leather Blundstone boots. It may have been my imagination (I’m pretty sure it was), but when I walked in, I felt like everyone stopped and gasped and went silent for a moment. OK, maybe I WAS imagining it. Anyway, I quickly mumbled something about having left something in the car and headed back to change into my new, horribly uncomfortable gumboots.
If only I had alternatives for all my footwear. My only non-leather shoes are runners, thongs, canvas espadrilles and a hideous, old pair of purple Crocs (god forbid that I should end up wearing those!). I only have leather shoes and boots for work—at this stage. And I can’t afford to replace my boots, hiking boots or dressy shoes right now. (I’ve spent too much money on vegan books and donations to animal charities lately!).
THE PLAN…for now
So, what do I do? Here’s the plan (for now). If I can get one pair of multi-purpose, good shoes that I can use for work and going out, and then avoid everything else as much as possible until I can replace them, that’s probably the best I can do.
With winter coming on, I might have to live with the doona and/or woollen blanket (and resulting nightmares) for a little while, and I’m going to be on the lookout for some nice warm, vegan knitting yarn very soon. I just hope I don’t end up keeping it all for a few months and then throwing it all into the bin with the fish fillets, mozzarella and parmesan…