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.
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.
We’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.
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.”
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!