19 September, 2007

Becoming Vegan: Throw away everything not vegan?

I can distinctly remember the very day I realized I wanted to be Vegan; I got up from my computer chair, stomped to my kitchen, and threw away my milk, creams, cheeses, eggs, mayo, ice cream, canned broth, cereals, marshmallows, beef bullion - everything I knew was an animal product. Within half an hour my refrigerator and cabinets went from "well stocked" to "sad".
(This scene was very familiar, because I did the same thing when I decided to become Vegetarian the week before.)

After dragging the trash outside, I felt relieved. I won, I am vegan!

Unfortunatly, for the first few weeks of being "vegan", I didn't realize that I owned a leather wallet, belts, sandals, a suede purse, that my makeup was not animal friendly (or animal free! Dead stuff in my lipstick? Ew...), that I owned a pearl necklace and that nearly all my moisturizers, lip-balms, and even my soap was tarnished with products or pieces of someone!
It wasn't even until a few days ago that I noticed a few pair of pants had REAL leather logos on them, my toothpaste has what in it? And don't even mention the glue used in my all-time favorite brand of sneakers.
I stood back and said "Holy shit, I can't throw out all my stuff!"

So, should you throw away everything not vegan?

If you truly feel uncomfortable (or disgusted!) with items you own that are not vegan, like I felt with my food, then by all means don't keep it!

(But be intelligent about this, don't put emotions over your wellbeing: if it's your only wool sweater and that damned sweater is the difference between hypothermia and keeping adequately warm, I'd say calm the heck down and save up a little money before you dispose of it! A dead vegan isn't helpful, you know. )

If you're totally not in a position to do so, then don't worry, as long as your intent is to replace the item.

If you feel like a hypocrite, that's one thing, but it's different if you're worried someone else will think you're a hypocrite.

There are going to be people who "call you out" on this if they notice you wearing not-vegan items. Be calm dude, just tell them you understand you're wearing this-n-that and you're looking/saving up for a compassionate alternative before you get rid of it. If they still wont let you down, say you'll be glad to get rid of the item up their ass if they wanted to be helpful. (Would work best if the items were heavy boots.)

It's been about 5 months since the day I rampaged my kitchen, and during that time I've veganized almost all of my make-up and bathroom-type products (there are still a couple of elusive- and expensive- items that I need to replace). I saved up to purchased new pillows, belts and a decent pair of sandals, and I donated my leather, silk, wool and suede clothing.

It's a slow process, and well worth the wait for the day when you know you're truly making a difference.


  1. As a vegan, I have kept all my non-vegan clothes and items.

    My reasoning: the animal has died. I already own the piece of clothing...for me, it would be a waste of the animal's suffering (if I threw it out) or permission for somebody else to share in the animal's suffering (giving it away or selling it). For now, it holds up my pants, it keeps me warm, it covers my feet; and when it wears out, I will buy a vegan version, and that's that.

    I flat out refuse to buy any new animal products, and this is my way. I have been a vegan for three years, and at some point, my down comforter *will* wear out...no worries. It was put to its full use.

    In terms of others' scrutiny: wow, I love it when someone asks me, "If you're a vegan, how come you have a leather belt?" This opens a discussion of ethics with a meat-eater. I can't think of a better forum to really communicate with this person! Because I feel quite comfortable with my decision to keep all my non-vegan clothes and items, I don't feel defensive at all...and that's pretty disarming :-)


    1. im doing the same, I've been vegan for a year now and I realized I bought a non-vegan lip-balm, sadly I didn't look in the ingredients when I bought it... but I'm still using it anyway, it's just as you said.

  2. I will buy a vegan version, and that's that.In terms of others' scrutiny: wow, I love it when someone asks me, "If you're a vegan, how come you have a leather belt?" This opens a discussion of ethics with a meat-eater.
    Thank you so much

  3. Thank you for these answers.