I started toying with a vegan diet about 10 years ago when I decided to stop eating red meat and pork. Soon after I began to replace milk with soy milk and cut back on cheese and yogurt. After that I stopped eating chicken and only ate fish and eggs on occasion, then I stopped eating eggs all together as well…..so as you can see it’s been a slow and steady process. Initially, these decisions were based solely on my desire to be healthy and lose a little weight. Lately however, I have noticed an influx of disturbing videos and images on social media of factory farm animals, fur farm animals and circus animals in deplorable conditions, often being tortured by the disgruntled people who work at these horrific places. In the past, I couldn’t watch, I simply didn’t have the stomach to see it. Lately however, I started watching. These images make me really sad and angry at the same time. They make cry, they give me nightmares, but I still watch. I don’t watch every day, or every week, but every now and then, I stop and watch because it reminds me how important it is for me to continue on my vegan path. It reminds me of how much I care for all animals and can no longer contribute to this horror. It also reminds me that being vegan is not a diet choice, it is a lifestyle choice, and it’s the way I am choosing to live. For me, compassion towards animals takes precedence towards my desire to eat, wear, or be entertained by them. And I say this with pea’s and love……
Lately, I’ve started to really think about every purchase I make. I’m taking extra time reading labels of ingredients in beauty and cleaning products; looking to make sure that they are vegan and have not been tested on animals. I am carefully looking at the clothing and accessories I buy and making the conscious choice to not purchase leather, wool, fur or any other animal product ever again. I do not support sporting events that exploit animals. I don’t go to the circus or zoo’s or aquariums. You get the idea. The truth of the matter is, it’s not very easy. Meat is a big deal in The States, and particularly in Chicago where I live. Here, they have entire weekend festivals highlighting ribs, burgers, sausage, etc. Shopping for things like winter shoes and coats is also a challenge, since most warm weather clothes are made from wool, feathers and leathers. Even when you think you are buying something that doesn’t have leather in it, you have to really look closely, at the trim, or the weave of the fabric. It can be challenging.
I think it’s important that anyone transitioning towards a vegan lifestyle knows that it takes some work. I will admit, every now and then, my husband and I go out for sushi. I have cut out all other meat and dairy completely, however, if I am out at an Italian restaurant, I may order pasta (most pasta is made with eggs). If a family member buys me a Christmas or birthday gift, like a leather handbag or shoes, I am not going to turn it away. I admire my friends who are truly hard core vegan; who will literally eat a protein bar or simply not eat at all when there are no vegan choices, who own no leather or suede. Sadly, I am not there yet, but I’m working towards getting there. This is one of the reasons I write…..to share my truth. If it is as important to you as it is to me then it will be worth the effort. The vegan movement is growing, and more and more restaurants, designers and manufacturers are taking note. Animals don’t have rights, they don’t have a voice. We are their voice, and it is up to us to help them.
As I continue on my vegan journey, I am finding some really great vegan options for food, clothing, accessories, furniture, beauty and cleaning products. I am currently working on a new website titled responiblychic.net. Here, I will share experiences and give advice on how to simplify and add some chic style to vegan living. But until then, here are some recent vegan finds; a taste of what’s to come……….
Vegan Tip: If you own a smart phone, download an app called “Buycott”. Use this app to see for yourself if the product you are purchasing is vegan and cruelty free…….
Home Hair Color: I have pretty low maintenance dark hair so I usually color my hair at home. I have used practically every over the counter boxed hair color under the sun. One day, I decided to research some of the products I’ve been using and sadly, I discovered that all the standard hair care products test on animals (L’oreal, Clairol, Garnier, etc) . So, I went over to Whole Foods and bought “tints of nature“. The price is comparable to what you would find at most drug stores (maybe a few bucks more), but the product itself is vegan and cruelty free (plus, it has no ammonia or parabens). I am happy to say that “tins of nature” left my hair soft, shiny, and so far the rich color has lasted a lot longer than my previous drug store finds. I’m officially a fan!
Skin Care: I do my best to take care of my skin. However, years of sun exposure without protection, lot’s of laughing and the fact that I am not getting any younger has giving me some of what I like to call “lifelines”. Many high end skin care lines use milk and sadly, test on animals as well. I am also somewhat sensitive to certain moisturizers with perfumes or too many heavy oils. I am happy to say that I have discovered what might be my favorite skin care line ever. “Derma e” has a wide variety of options for different skin types and different needs. And not only are these products vegan and cruelty free, but their packaging is bio-degradable too! Here are the ones that have won me over…….
Bacon: Like I said, meat is a big deal out here in the mid west, as well as many other parts of the country and world. Lately, I’m seeing bacon in everything, even chocolate and ice cream. I must say, back when I ate meat I did really like the taste of bacon, and I had yet to discover anything that truly resembled the flavor…..until now. This recipe was actually given to me by my dear friend and food blogger Carolina (check out her stuff here: thebellevie.com). Here is the recipe, I promise you wont be disappointed:
- 3.5 oz shitake mushroom
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 1 tbsp tamari
- 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and discard. Slice the caps into 1/8 inch strips. Put the mushrooms in a medium bowl and add the olive oil, tamari, liquid smoke, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat completely then spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned. The “bacon” will crisp as it cools.
Handbags: I was once somewhat obsessed with purses and shoes, particularly Kate Spade. Although I do love her design esthetic, most of her products are made with some form of leather or fur, plus Kate Spade products are now manufactured in China. One of my goals in addition to being vegan is to stop purchasing stuff made in China (which means I”ll most likely be saving tons of dough since almost everything sold in the states is made in China). That being said, I have been on the hunt for a vegan alternative with similar style. Well, I recently discovered a handbag and accessories line called “Matt & Nat” and was pleasantly surprised at not just their designs but their prices too. Ultra chic and classic, 100% vegan and ethically made in Montreal. One day, I plan on donating all my leather and replacing them with vegan alternatives, and I’m thinking this may be a good place to start that process. Here are a few of my favorite designs…….
Stay tuned for more on www.responsiblychic.net
The website is still being developed, however in the mean time, please like Responsibly Chic Facebook Page by clicking HERE