No more shivering this winter!

I’ve been a bit quiet online lately, because a hideous dose of gastro stopped me from even wanting to think about food for a while! I’ll spare you the details, but my days curled up in bed started me thinking about staying warm and comfortable without animal products.

Last year I mentioned that when I went vegan, I was surprised that the thing I missed most wasn’t Mars Bars or musk sticks or even cheese – it was wool!…and also down and leather.

You might know the feeling. You have your lightbulb moment about how animals are used and abused by people, you stop eating animal products and want to throw out all the animal products in your home. Then you realise how many there are. Things you hadn’t even though about!

I couldn’t afford the time or money to replace all of them immediately – although I certainly haven’t spent any money on them since then – but I try not to avoid using them when I can.

This winter (my 2nd as a vegan) I decided I would take up the challenge of finding nice, warm substitutes for all those animal products so I wouldn’t spend another winter shivering.

The doona

I started with my down doona. It made me feel sick sleeping under it last year after I watched the Alicia Silverstone video about how down is collected.   As soon as the winter chill started to thaw that doona was OFF the bed, but I didn’t really have an alternative that was warm enough. I had resorted to using my fluffy polyester dressing gown as a blanket for a while, but it wasn’t really big enough for two.

I didn’t want one of those heavy, staticky, shiny blankets that they have in a lot of hotels. They make me feel hot and claustrophobic and I don’t like the feel of them. A couple of months ago I found a soft, light, warm, polyester blanket in Bed, Bath and Table.

Cotton/bamboo blanket and polyester blanketWe’ve layered it with a cotton and bamboo blanket, and it’s pretty warm and feels soft and cosy. On the colder nights I sometimes need my dressing gown and winter pyjamas as well…but then I’ll wake up in a sweat. Although, perhaps that’s just my age!

We’re really happy with our new blanket. It’s not as beautiful as a woollen blanket, but it doesn’t give me visions of mulesing or worn-out sheep being jammed onto ships, so it helps me sleep at night.

The Ugg boots

Next on the list was a replacement for my sheepskin slippers. I try not to have the heater on too high, so my feet sometimes get cold. I had been looking around for the synthetic ugg boot slippers, but I couldn’t find any anywhere (it was probably just too early in the season, because they’re EVERYWHERE now).

I was looking around the Bed, Bath and Table factory outlet in Ivanhoe one day and happened to see some reasonable-looking-for-home slippers that looked nice and warm and fluffy, and animal free. They had some silly-looking bows and pompoms on the side that I quickly snipped off.

Faux sheepskin slippers

Slippers minus the silly bows and pompoms

They’re warm and comfortable, and now I don’t have to feel like I’m stomping on the bodies of slaughtered sheep whenever I walk around the house! (Sounds dramatic, I know, but once that thought crossed my mind, I couldn’t get it out of my head.)

The woollen jumpers and coat

Last winter I was pretty cold most of the time. Trying to avoid wearing my woollen jumpers and coats meant that I didn’t really have enough warm stuff to wear.

This winter I got wise and started layering. I’ve picked up cotton and linen jumpers during the year, along with some polar fleece tops, thermals and a couple of jackets. Each morning I pile on the required number of layers and add a cotton or acrylic scarf, and the result is nice and cosy.

My friend Karen visited Japan a few months ago and told me about some fantastic thermals she’d bought. Yesterday I went shopping with H (my daughter) and we decided to brave the new Myer Emporium…and let me tell you, it was traumatic for two people who hate shopping! H summed it up: “Wow, this place is like a party! By which I mean it’s crowded and noisy and I just want to go home.”

Anyway, we managed to resist the urge to run, because we really wanted to visit Uniqlo. They sell a range of clothes in HEATTECH fabric, which I think was what Karen had told me about.

I got myself 3 thermal, long-sleeved t-shirts and a polar fleece jacket. Unfortunately, they also sell merino and cashmere clothes, but their range of HEATTECH thermals was huge, and is worth a look if you’re feeling the cold. They’re reasonably priced too – just under $20 for the tops and under $40 for the polar fleece.

3 HEATTECH thermal t-shirts in mauve, pink and grey

The thermal t-shirts (actually one is a skivvy, but I didn’t realise that until I got home).

As an added bonus, the thermals come in these cool, space-age packets, so you can pretend you’re an astronaut when you rip them open.

Silver HEATTECH packaging

It must be scientific – it comes in a silver packet!

OK, so my darling daughter shook her head and rolled her eyes when I picked up the polar fleece – but it’s winter and I’m middle aged…I don’t care if I don’t look cool!

Black spotted polar fleece jacket

The sensible polar fleece jacket

I tried them out on our morning walk today and they were pretty warm. About as warm as a woollen jumper…in other words, I probably could have added my thin, rain jacket as a top layer! But I certainly didn’t need the ultimate layer of my big, thick, Esprit, polyester padded parka-type coat. (I’ve also noticed that this year Esprit has a pretty good polyester coat that looks like a ‘good’ woollen coat. It’d be great for work or anywhere a parka or japara-style coat would look too casual.)

The leather gloves

I’ve managed to get through the cold mornings at the tram stop without gloves so far this winter, but I know I’m going to need them soon. Luckily, Uniqlo had some HEATTECH gloves WITH those special finger tips so you can use a touch screen while you’re wearing them! I bought a pair and I’m looking forward to trying them out this week.

Acrylic scarf and HEATTECH glovesHandknits

My lovely, woollen, handknitted scarves have been left at home this winter because I found a big, thick, black cotton scarf at a gift/homewares shop in Clifton Hill, and a pretty blue acrylic scarf (above) in Myer.

But the most exciting news of this week is that there is a new vegan yarn store in the UK, called… the Vegan Yarn Store! This is going to be great because I used to love to knit, but I’ve really lost interest since I’ve had trouble finding lovely vegan yarns.

I know there are vegan yarns around, but I’ve been looking for some of those lovely hand-dyed or, at least interesting, yarns that are everywhere (in animal fibres) these days. Every time I think I’ve found something suitable, I find it has 5% mohair or 2% cashmere or 7% silk, or something equally cruel. I’ve spent hours and hours trawling through websites and wandering through yarn shops and it all got too hard.

The Vegan Yarn Store has a small but lovely range, with no hidden animal fibres, and they ship internationally. Can’t wait to get some and start knitting again!

An ongoing process…

I realised that there was no point pretending that acrylic feels as warm as wool, vinyl as soft as leather or Dacron as breathable as down. It doesn’t matter. The real point is that I don’t want to support those industries, and will replace all those products as I can.

I just have to remember, it’s not about perfection, it’s about doing as little harm as possible. It’s going to take me a while, but I’ll just keep plugging along. Not sure what to do about the car tyres though!

But I don’t feel hopeless, because I have a funny dog video

I’m sure you have enough of your own, but I just have to share this cute animal video. It’s a really cool dog showing a baby how to crawl. I love the way he nudges her leg with his nose to make sure she takes note of his demonstration. Of course, most of all, I love his stylish crawling technique!

12 thoughts on “No more shivering this winter!

  1. What a great (and timely!) post. I’ve been thinking the same, I never replaced my pre-vegan stuff because the expense is crazy. When I bought a mattress years ago, the seller actually made them himself here locally and he said never ever sleep with a doona because it makes you sweat in to the mattress. And that when he and his wife switched to cotton sheets with the waffle weave style blankets, their mattresses were never stained. Who knows? I don’t have down doonas though so I don’t know if one kind of doona is better/worse than others in terms of trapping heat. My slippers are falling apart, they’re ugg style I bought from Peter Alexander years ago and I’ve been looking for a super warm vegan alternative because I get terribly cold feet even with two pairs of socks and slippers! You’re brave to go to Myer, I have vouchers to use and thought I should go during the stock take sale but can’t work up the will! Maybe first thing on a weekday it will be quiet!

    • My sheepskin slippers are the Peter Alexander ones too – in blue. I was worried that the synthetic ones wouldn’t be as warm, but they are…although if you can use two pairs of socks as well, you probably need some spaceage HEATTECH socks! Good luck with the stocktake sale…

  2. Sorry to hear you have been unwell but happy to hear you are finding ways of keeping warm in a happy way. When I was a child I had feather allergies so I was never allowed to have doonas but when I was older I was pleased to find doonas that were synthetic – the idea of feathers in pillows and doonas always feel a bit yukky to me. While I do have animal products, your post has made me look about the house to see what is and isn’t from animals. And I smiled at H’s comment on the Emporium – I thought the place had no soul but it didn’t seem that busy at the times I have been there since the opening day when I happened to be in the city.

    • Thanks. I’m feeling much better now. You were quicker than me if you figured out feathers and down were yukky! I always thought they were lovely and light and soft and warm. It never even occurred to me that they were yukky until the last couple of years. The rest of the Emporium didn’t seem to be as noisy and busy as Uniqlo – it was crazy, but maybe there were sales, or we’re just not tough enough. 🙂

      • I wonder if I dislike the down doonas because I wasn’t allowed to have them as kids.

        BTW just wondered if you wanted to come and meet Veganopoulous and me at coburg farmers market tomorrow morn – if you you happen to be free – my email is on my about page if you are – sorry late notice – meant to let you know earlier

      • Damn! That would have been fun, but I couldn’t have come this morning anyway, as it turns out. We had a bit of drama because my son got an infected cyst from the gum where one of his wisdom teeth was removed back in February. I spent the morning tracking down the surgeon and sorting out prescriptions and antibiotics and pain relief, because he has a big exam tomorrow – on a Sunday! And he’s sleeping now. :-/

        Hope you guys had a good time. Let me know if you meet up again, and I’ll definitely come (family dramas permitting).

      • hi linda – sounds like our timing was out – at least you missed the cold weather at the market – perfect day to stay in bed with a sore tooth (though bad luck about the exam today!) I have talked to Veganopoulous about maybe catching up another time – if you can send me your email I can let you know next time (I can’t find it on the site).

  3. Glad to hear you are feeling better! And what a great post! I have a couple of pre-vegan items that I still use, mostly woolen or wool-blend jumpers. I agree, it’s about doing the best that you can – I haven’t bought any new non-vegan items, but I do continue to use some of the ones already had. Also…congratulations on making it out of the emporium alive. I went in once with my mum (on a weekend!!!!) and it was hectic. I don’t like shopping in that kind of environment at all…I’m much more a market browser! My mum sent me outside Uniqlo to wait for her after seeing the stress on my face at trying to navigate the aisles! AHhhhh!

    • Haha, I think I saw that same expression on my daughter’s face! We usually avoid shopping centres – they’re so hot and noisy – but I particularly want to check out this HEATTECH stuff, and we were looking for something in particular for my son’s birthday.

      I still wear some of my old, non-vegan clothes too. It seems like all my ‘good’ vegan shoes (ones I could wear to work) are pretty uncomfortable, and I have a problem with one of my feet at the moment that means it’s either runners (which I can’t wear to work) or my old leather boots. But someone ALWAYS comments, “Aren’t you vegan? Aren’t those boots leather?” :-/

  4. I have a faux down comforter from Costco that is terrific b/c it somehow manages to retain heat and cool as appropriate; I keep it in the duvet all year! I’m wary of that Heattech because, although it’s super soft & warm, one package from 2 years ago said it had whey protein in it- in clothes!? Your package doesn’t say the same, so I’m hoping they changed the contents because I do wear my old ones all winter long… Hooray for cruelty-free shopping!

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