- a person who does not eat or use animal products.
What does it mean to be vegan? Before taking CTW with Professor Leither, I hardly even knew the difference between a vegetarian and vegan, much less the reason why some people choose these lifestyles. After being introduced to David Foster Wallace’s This is Water, where Wallace explains the importance of stepping out of mundane routines and being aware of our surroundings, I was enlightened to a new way of thinking. But it wasn’t until I watched the PETA videos assigned for homework, showing the secret behind factory farms, that I was moved.
The raw footages of diseased pigs getting beat to death, baby chicks getting their beaks cut off, weak cows being tortured… all I saw was the immense suffering of innocent animals in these dirty factory farms. After reading Eating Animals where I followed Foer’s journey of vegetarianism backed up by several primary research on the business of factory farms, I realized that it was wrong to continue eating meat especially after what I have learned and have become aware to. Now knowing the cruel system behind factory farms and how the animals are treated so that we could have our juicy hamburgers and steak, I could never look at meat the same way as I did before. Every time that I purchase a meal with either beef, chicken or pork, I am contributing to an inhumane system.
But what’s life without a double scoop of vanilla fudge ice-cream topped with sprinkles every once in a while? Or a delicious In-N-Out cheeseburger during an outing with friends? Or a piece of red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting on your birthday? Or a slice (or two) of cheese pizza just because?
If you’re a vegan, you can’t really enjoy any of those mouthwatering treats. However, veganism isn’t just a strict diet. It’s a whole lifestyle. To be a vegan, you must not own anything that supports animal cruelty.
So that means no leather jackets. Forget those suede shoes. Throw away that cashmere sweater. Good-bye to that Brandy Melville flannel. Double check all of your shampoos, conditioners and lotions. And girls, it may be time to clean out your entire makeup vanity.
If you ever participated in the Ugg trend, it may be time to toss those away too. If you weren’t aware, sheep are skinned and castrated during the production of these warm boots. Pretty Ugg-ly, isn’t it?
And not only are you missing out on the indulgences of the world, but you are also somewhat punished for your humane lifestyle when it comes to purchasing cruelty-free items.
Whole Foods is a supermarket known for its natural and organic products and it is also known for its humanely raised meat and how it is completely accessible to consumers (“Which Companies Use Humanely-Raised Meat”). However, the price difference between Whole Foods and regular supermarkets is the drawback to choosing a humane lifestyle.
Relating to how difficult a vegan lifestyle can be, I came across something very interesting the other month. I was at school when my mom texted me that she had bought me a Blue Falabella Stella McCartney handbag dupe after shopping in San Francisco. For those who do not know, a Stella McCartney handbag is one of the latest designer must-haves that is completely vegan and made with artificial leather. However, it’s price isn’t so appealing: $1,195. Yet, my mother was able to get her hands on a real leather dupe for $200. It really baffled me that a leather, yet faux Stella McCartney handbag would cost significantly less than the vegan design. While this is rare example of vegan items being immensely more pricey than non-vegan options, I’ve also observed that makeup brands have a similar situation.
(The authentic Stella McCartney bag on the left, my dupe on the right)
Popular drugstore makeup brands such as L’Oreal, Covergirl, Neutrogena, Maybelline, and Rimmel all carry extremely affordable yet non-vegan items, while the cruelty-free brands such as Makeup Forever, NARS, Smashbox and Urban Decay are much pricier.
With all of this being said, it seems as if a person trying to lead a humane lifestyle tends to be punished for their good choices. However difficult vegetarianism or veganism may be, I feel as if it is my duty to attempt this lifestyle now that I have been well educated on the truth of factory farms during the two quarters of CTW. Many may argue that changing their lifestyle to exclude themselves from the cruel system will not make a difference, especially with majority of the nation relying heavily on meat and poultry from factory farms. However, it isn’t the direct effect on the system that you may have, but rather the message that you will send to others when you choose this lifestyle. Because you are aware, you have the ability to make others aware.
“We can’t plead ignorance, only indifference. Those alive today are the generations that came to know better. We have the burden and the opportunity of living in the moment when the critique of factory farming broke into the popular consciousness. We are the ones of whom it will be fairly asked, What did you do when you learned the truth about eating animals?”
Foer, Jonathan Safran. Eating Animals. New York: Little, Brown, 2009. Print.
“Online Fashion Design Shopping – YOOX.” Stella McCartney. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 June 2015.
“Search for Cruelty-Free Cosmetics.” PETA. N.p., 09 June 2010. Web. 08 June 2015. <http://features.peta.org/cruelty-free-company-search/index.aspx>
“The Uggly Truth.” Snopes.com: Ugg Boots Are Made from Sheepskin? N.p., 18 Nov. 2013. Web. 09 June 2015.
Wallace, David Foster. This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion about Living a Compassionate Life. New York: Little, Brown, 2009. Print.
“Which Companies Use Humanely-Raised Meat?” Stop Factory Farms. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2015.