You’ve seen enough factory farming cruelty videos, heard endless accounts of the suffering of animals raised for fur, and you’re appalled by the heartlessness involved in animal testing and experimentation. You no longer want to contribute to the horror and you’ve made the decision to eschew animal products in your diet and your life. Good for you!
A life of compassion is fulfilling, sustainable and healthy. But what about that leather couch, down-filled coat, or those wool socks you purchased before you made the leap? For some, it may be feasible to purge all of these items and have a fresh vegan start. As a student on a budget, this was not an option for me as I began my endeavor into veganism. A new warm coat just isn’t in the cards, and braving a cold New England winter without adequate protection is less than appealing.
Chances are that you fall into the same category as me. Does this make you any less of a vegan? I answer that question with a resounding no. Being vegan isn’t about perfection; it’s about a heightened awareness of the plight of suffering animals and doing everything in your power to ensure that you don’t contribute to that suffering. And while you may be ashamed or even disgusted by your leather boots, if they’re the only ones you have and they’re perfectly functional it might be in your best interest to hold onto them until they’re worn out. Once you can justify getting rid of them, be sure to do your research and replace them with a cruelty-free alternative. The same goes for your couches, socks, coats, and beauty products.
Do you need to throw out your half-full bottle of shampoo because the company tests on animals? No, just make sure you don’t contribute to the suffering when it comes time to buy new shampoo. No matter how hard we try, none of us can be “perfect” vegans. Many of us will accidentally eat rice cooked in chicken broth, bite into a veggie burger before realizing it was made with egg, or discover an animal product in our favorite box of cereal upon a close ingredient examination. When this happens we can’t undo the damage, we can only know better for the next time, and the same goes for those items we bought before we became fully conscious of our role in animal welfare. The fantastic thing about leading a vegan lifestyle is that every little bit that we do to end animal suffering is a step in the right direction. We can’t expect to end the horrors in one fell swoop, so if a new couch isn’t feasible it’s okay. Simply by raising awareness, yours and otherwise, you are doing a service and you are most certainly no less a vegan.
Photo credit: cc: flickr.com/photos/psychobabble