Two hundred and forty-one

Vegan clothing

I have a confession to make: I’m wearing wool socks.  And I almost wore my leather and wool winter boots, except I thought I’d get kicked out of the vegan store when I went shopping there today.  It’s just so cold today, and my wool socks are my warmest.  You can ask anyone who knows me – I am ALWAYS cold.  It can be the middle of summer and I’ll be cold.  Yesterday night my hands were so cold they started to lose circulation and my finger tips went white.  I’ve had this my whole life, no matter what diet I have, whether I do exercise, what vitamins I take.  I just have to accept I will always be cold.  And once I get cold, it’s really hard to warm up.

I’ve tried every kind of material and the only thing that really keeps me warm is wool.  I know it is completely against vegan rules that I wear the fur of an animal.  I know that I’m cheating.  But when I’m cold everything else in my body gets sore, especially my muscle from tensing up in order to try to keep the heat in, and I’m easily susceptible to sickness.  So I’m going to wear my wool socks.

Where wool comes from…

I have another confession: I don’t really know anything about the wool industry.  My adamant wool-sock wearing comes from ignorance.  I picture sheep living happily, grazing in the fields, then being sheared in the springtime by hand by a farmer and his wife.  With the constant desire for more wool, though, I realize this idealized image in my head is probably wrong.  Here is an excerpt from an interview with Elisa Camahort, blogger for Hip & Zen, on treehugger.com, explaining why vegans feel so strongly about not wearing any wool:

 Lambs born for wool production are castrated, have their ears punched through and their tails cut off, all without anaesthesia.

One might think that wool production is benign…like getting a haircut, and perhaps it was that way before sheep were bred for constant wool production, rather than seasonal production linked to their natural molting schedule. Now, sheep are sheared before they naturally would shed their winter coats, then the wool grows back during the summer months. Many sheep die of exposure (heat and cold) every year.

Worst of all is a technique called mulesing. Merino sheep produce the most wool because they are bred to have the most folds of skin. Unfortunately all those folds of skin become breeding grounds for fly infestations around their tail area. The factory farm solution for this problem is to carve off folds of skin, yes, their skin…hoping to create a smooth, scarred surface where the flies can’t lay eggs. And no, they don’t use anaesthesia for that either.

There is more detailed information about the wool industry on PETA.org.

What kind of clothing can you wear as a vegan?

Some alternatives to wool, suggested by PETA: “cotton, cotton flannel, polyester fleece, synthetic shearling, and other cruelty-free fibers”.  They also suggest the relatively new wool substitute, Tencel, or “Polartec Wind Pro, which is made primarily from recycled plastic soda bottles, is a high-density fleece with four times the wind resistance of wool, and it also wicks away moisture.”  There are also natural fabrics like organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, and soy.

I will try to find Tencel or Polartec Wind Pro socks (if they make socks) and try them out, but I’m not guaranteeing anything…  Maybe there are ways to make sure the wool socks I buy aren’t from factory farm sheep and those farms who use mulesing?

Two hundred and thirty-eight

Where our meat comes from, on film

“I don’t need to see that” or “I don’t want to know” – the usual responses when I start to tell people about the animal rights/factory farming videos I have watched during this month.  A proper discussion of veganism would not be complete without mention of these images – many vegans have chosen their lifestyle after watching one or more of these horrific films.

And yes, they are hard to watch.  Baby piglets castrated with no pain killers, screaming. Cows with sores all over their faces being slaughtered and used for meat.  Chicks having their beaks burnt off and stuffed in tiny cages to live their lives without ever being able to spread their wings.  Chickens being pumped so full of growth hormones to fatten them quickly, their legs won’t hold their own weight and they can’t walk.  Dolphins lured into bays and killed by the thousands.  Factory farming atrocities.  Scientific experimentation where monkeys have their heads slammed repeatedly into metal plates then experimented on to simulate head injuries in humans.  Foxes skinned alive for fur, their eyes still blinking long after their skin has been removed.

Yes, it is horrible.  But everyone should see where their meat is coming from.  I’m not preaching that everyone should be vegan.  I’m still not sure what choices I will be making once this month is up.  I am saying, however, that everyone should think about and know where the food they are putting in their bodies, or the clothes they are wearing, come from, and make their own personal choice accordingly.

There are quite a few videos available online you can watch.  The full-length film that goes into the most detail (and is probably the most graphic) is Earthlings, narrated by Joaquin Phoenix.  Earthlings can be found on Google videos or on their website at Earthlings.com.  Change.org has a list of ten recommended animal rights videos that are worth a look at, including more on scientific research using animal experimentation. The documentary film Food, Inc. is supposed to be fantastic and a little less graphic.  I haven’t seen it yet and it’s not available online, but you can watch the trailer on their website here Meat.org has a few videos as well – Glass Walls, narrated by Paul McCartney and the following video, Meet Your Meat (warning – very graphic):

Two hundred and thirty-two

While I’m on the topic of makeup and skin care, I decided to look through all the beauty products I use and see what ingredients are in them.  I started by using the PETA lists on companies the Do and Don’t Test on Animals and the company websites.  I divided my makeup and body care in to two piles – the don’t test on animals pile including my Revlon eyeliner, Almay eye shadow, Tarte tinted mosturizer, Marcelle lotion and St. Ives face scrub; the do test on animals with my L’Oreal mascara and Degree antiperspirant (I hear the aluminum in antiperspirant isn’t good for you anyways).  Mascara and deodorant are out.  I can’t find any information on my Quo blush and My Fruits & Passion perfume website says “none of our finished products are tested on animal” (does that mean the ingredients before the “finished” product were?).

From there I took the Don’t Test on Animals list and tried to determine if there are any animal products in them.  Do you know how hard it is to find out ingredients of products?  As told by Kait in my post yesterday, there are no regulations in the cosmetics industry that requires the companies to publish their ingredients.  The products I could find the ingredients lists for, I then had to cross-check with PETA Animal Ingredient List.  What a pain in the butt!  Tarte stood out as they have both vegan-certified products and are mostly natural.  St. Ives has lanolin – a product of the oil glands of sheep, extracted from their wool.

Once I started looking at the ingredients, though, I realized most of the stuff I use is comprised of a bunch of scary looking chemicals that I can’t imagine are good for me.  I’m not sure it matters whether they’re vegan or not, if they have cancer-causing ingredients in them…

Two hundred and twenty-six

Yesterday I stopped at Hero Burger to have a veggie burger on my way to work.  It’s funny how most “vegan” burgers tend to be served on egg buns.  They’re not really vegan, then are they… In any case, I had a big discussion with the guy at the counter (yep, I’ve now become that person who asks a billion questions before ordering) and we figured I could have their whole wheat flatbread instead.  When I got my burger, it was on the egg bun, so I had to go back up to the front and ask if I could have it on the whole wheat version instead like we talked about.  It was sort of embarrassing and annoying.  I hate being ‘that person’, but I guess if we all asked a lot of questions about what we are consuming, we’d be healthier and more knowledgeable about the substances (chemicals, animal by-products) we put in our body and where they came from.  On that note, these are the reasons why people choose veganism:

The reasons to become vegan

There are three reasons why people generally become vegan: their health, the environment and to prevent animal cruelty.  Some people do it for one of the reasons, some for all.  Today I’m going to touch on these three topics and give a brief outline of what is the information behind them, then later in the month go into more detail.

Health

Consuming animal products – proteins and fats in particular – are linked to many diseases and health problems in humans: heart disease, diabetes, colon and lung cancer, osteoporosis, obesity, kidney disease, and hypertension, to name a few.  Eggs are high in cholesterol, being a factor in cardiovascular disease.

You can get all you need of protein, calcium, fiber, and nutrients from plant-based sources.  They are also low in fat, with no cholesterol.

Environment

Animal agriculture has taken a toll on the planet.  The need for higher yield crops to feed the animals has led to topsoil erosion and less productive crops.  Animal waste from factory farms is the top cause of pollution in our groundwater and rivers.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has linked animal agriculture to a number of other environmental problems, including: contamination of aquatic ecosystems, soil, and drinking water by manure, pesticides, and fertilizers; acid rain from ammonia emissions; greenhouse gas production; and depletion of aquifers for irrigation. (vegan.org)

The United Nations also reported that a vegan diet can feed more people than a animal-based diet, helping with our world’s increasing population and poverty.

Animals

This is probably the number one reason people become vegan.  It’s a huge topic that I will touch on briefly now, but go into more details later in the month.  I plan on watching all those animal cruelty videos and sharing what I learn.  (Aren’t you excited?)

Commercially-raised animals live their short lives in small cages, drugged, and mutilated.  Even chickens who produce “free range” eggs or cows who produce milk are slaughtered when their production of eggs or milk declines, cutting short their life (a chicken is usually killed after two years, despite being able to live up to 15 years and dairy cows are killed after five years, despite a lifespan of 25).  Males chicks are killed because hatcheries have no use for them and male cows are sent to veal farms to be deprived of food and exercise and killed young.

There are so many horror stories about what happens to these animals and even if you say you don’t care about the animals, just think about the sick, drugged meat you are putting in your body.  Gross.

Information from:

Vegan Action – vegan.org. (see the different sections of the website for their sources – studies, reports, etc)