Last week, if you had looked closely, you would have thought I was being a huge hypocrite.
I was at my desk, eating lunch. Slung over my chair was a new, black, ladylike, vegan coat by Vaute Couture. On my feet were black, microsuede, platform booties by Crie de Coeur. And I was eating a chicken salad.
What could account for this odd sartorial/culinary dissonance? Am I a poser, buying vegan just to say I buy vegan while I contribute to the murder of poor little caged chickens with my choice of lunch?
Actually, there is a method to this madness. The chicken salad in question was from the Whole Foods prepared food bar–organic, hormone-free and humanely raised. And the outerwear and shoes in question are more than just vegan.
You see, I have no problem with eating meat as long as I know where it comes from. This is for the usual liberal guilt reasons (I happen to like my Chesapeake bay free of mounds of nitrate-rich chicken poop, thanks) but also out of concern for my own health. More than 3,000 people die each year from food poisoning, and I myself came down with a mild bout after succumbing to the siren call of Perdue chicken fingers at a Yankees game last year. Still, as long as I get my meat–pork, chicken, duck and the occasional hamburger–from a local farm, I feel OK about it. And I’m especially OK with eggs and yogurt from the Greenmarket.
So why go to the trouble and expense of buying vegan products? They’re not even going in my mouth!
Well, when it comes to beauty products, many are vegan as a sort of checkmark in a long line of conscious requirements of the modern consumer: No testing on animals–check. Organic–check. Paraben-free–check. Container made from post-consumer recycled content–check. Vegan/free of animal products–check. So I really just end up with vegan face lotion and deodorant.
But when it comes to clothing, something I’ve found to be almost universally true is that if someone takes the time to ensure their clothing and/or accessories are vegan, they’ve also taken the time to ensure their products are also sustainably and ethically made. Take, for example, these brands:
- EcoCloset shoes are vegan, plus eco-friendly, non-toxic and made in an ethical, sweatshop-free factory in China.
- Beyond Skin shoes are vegan, plus handmade in Spain.
- Olsen Haus shoes are vegan, plus fair trade and sustainably made.
- Elizabeth Detroit shoes are vegan, plus made from recycled plastic in the United States.
- Neuaura shoes are vegan, plus are made in a sustainable factory in Brazil.
- Pansy Maiden bags and accessories are vegan, plus made the U.S. of sustainable materials.
- Matt and Nat bags and accessories are vegan, plus use sustainable and upcycled materials.
- Reveal bags and accessories are vegan, plus made with sustainable materials.
- Vaute Couture outerwear is vegan, plus made in New York.
- Crie de Coeur shoes and accessories are vegan, plus made with sustainable materials.
See what I mean? Yes, I still have plenty of leather in my closet, especially the vegetable-tanned kind. But no, I don’t think it’s weird to pull money out of a vegan wallet to pay for Long Island duck breast. Do you?