Just to be clear before you read this post and perhaps get upset with me at the moment I currently have not gone vegan for January. However, I have been reflecting a lot of veganism this month and wanted to share some of my thoughts and reflections.
First of all, I have been thinking about making more of my diet vegan. One, because it makes me think about what I’m eating more and two because it encourages me to eat more vegetables (though to be honest I’m not struggling too much in that regard). I also have been thinking about this because of the ethical aspect and while I admire people who do have a fully vegan diet; at the moment this is not something I am ready to fully commit to. I do maybe want to try doing things like having one vegan week a month and generally having more fully vegan meals however.
Another thing I have been considering is the other parts of living a vegan lifestyle, i.e. whether your makeup is cruelty free (and uses animal products) and the role of fashion within veganism. I have touched on this subject before on my blog and generally adhere to a lot of these in my everyday life. I don’t buy products that I know are made of leather (I check what things are made of but I’m sure that I have missed some things). I know veganism often considers other animal by-products like wool and silk and while I do wear wool I do not wear silk. While I am not as studious on this as I sometimes would like to be I try my hardest to keep to what I personally feel happy with.
However, I will admit there is a bit of paranoia that lies within that. I often imagine people are policing me and I sometimes even unconsciously police other people on whether I think they are wearing leather, etc. This especially increases if I visit a vegan place to eat, which usually happens everytime I go to London. While I do believe in thinking about these things; I do think I have a tendency to over think and be critical, especially when I start to consider what people think of me.
I have recently started watching the videos of the Youtuber Qcknd and came across this video in which she discusses her transition into veganism. She particularly discusses how she regrets throwing away some of her leather items that had memories because when she first turned vegan that is what she felt like she had to do. I too have had such thoughts as a vegetarian when thinking about some of the few leather products I own. I’ve not thrown my items away as I thought that was more of a waste but I felt like I needed to sell the items, despite the fact that they do hold memories.
After, watching the above video though I realised that I was too focused on what people thought of me. My white Dr Martens have special memories to me, as does my Cambridge Satchel bag. And keeping or wearing them is my business and no one else’s. She also discussed buying items containing animal products from vintage shops stating how she has no problem with that. In the blog post I mentioned I also said that I had no problem with it but felt weird about it myself. I think this to a certain extent stemmed a little from being scared to wear these items because of what people thought.
Now, I’m not going to consciously look for leather items in vintage shops but if I like something and know I am going to care and look after it I need to stop feeling guilty about wanting to buy it. I wouldn’t buy something leather new but honestly I would prefer people use vintage items, as these are items already made (and not only that they have a history about them that I love)- throwing or not reusing these items would be a waste.
I also want to touch on the other topic Qcknd discusses, which is what to do about receiving non-vegan gifts as a vegan. I personally would only feel weird about leather items or cruelty free makeup as a gift, which luckily I did not receive for Christmas. My response would be depending who it was to be open or honest. If it was from a close relative and came from a place of love who did not realise I would accept the gift and maybe mention at another point that I tend not to buy leather goods or makeup that isn’t cruelty free.
I have talked a lot in this post about being less hard on myself but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop working towards being more ethically conscious (and this feeds into other things too- I haven’t forgotten for example about posting more information about where my clothes come from in regards to ‘fast fashion’ and sweatshops). I have switched to cruelty free perfumes, which I am very excited about but am yet to switch to things like deodorant. I have used cruelty free shampoo and conditioner but sometimes when I couldn’t afford to I didn’t. Also, to be honest I haven’t found one that works as nice for my hair. I think what everyone needs to remember you don’t have to do everything at once just working towards it is more than enough.
So essentially this Veganuary I want to reflect on how I can still bring more elements of veganism into my life but how I need to not worry about anyone’s judgement but my own. I also want to say a big shout out to all the vegans out there- thank you for bringing way more vegan and vegetarian food options into my life last year and I’m sure in the years to come!