Veganism Beyond the Plate

Our guest blogger on veganism, JL Fields, is wrote a review of MM on her blog! Go check it out!

A blog about veganism
JL Goes Vegan: Foot & Fitness with a Side of Kale

I was recently invited to sample and review Morrocco Method shampoo and conditioner. I couldn’t wait!

As a relatively new vegan – three years and counting – I am continuously learning about how animals are used in our culture and I want to eliminate as much suffering as possible. For me, this means that I choose not to eat animals – and I don’t want to contribute to their suffering by using products that have been tested on them or use them. Morrocco Method ingredients are plant-based and natural and fit into my vegan lifestyle. I’ve been using the Morrocco Method for over two months and am thrilled with the results, which I write about today on JL goes Vegan.

I recently co-authored Vegan for Her: The Woman’s Guide to Being Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet with Ginny Messina. Ginny, a registered dietician and nutritionist, is great at reminding us that veganism is about progress, not perfection. That’s how I have approached my own vegan evolution, moving it from food to lifestyle and beyond. I want to know that my household items, clothing, and even health and beauty products are kind to animals and the environment. That’s why I wrote the chapter “Veganism Beyond the Plate” for Vegan for Her.

Veganism Beyond the Plate

Are you scratching your head? Veganism beyond the plate? Veganism is more than just food, right? Well, yes.

You may have picked up this book because you’re curious about the health benefits of a plant-based diet or are concerned about the environment. Perhaps you are already on the path to a totally animal- free diet or you have just started out with one vegan meal a day. Whatever your path, there is a key part of veganism that I want to talk about here: the animals. As Ginny reminded us in the introduction to this book, veganism—as defined by Donald Watson in 1944—is “a way of living that seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing and any other purpose.” My veganism, which began after I turned forty, grew from a connection with a goat in Africa (more on that in the recipe section), and once I started on this journey, there was no turning back. While some people may call this a fad diet, it is not so for me. Once I learned more about animal food production, animal testing, and animals in entertainment, my veganism shifted from dietary to ethical. That was a seismic shift for me, personally, and frankly it has made it easier for me to adhere to a plant-based diet. It’s not about me; it’s about the animals. That is my personal experience; whatever your reasons for picking up this book, I hope the information in this chapter, which stems from my own journey as a relatively new vegan, will help you take your own veganism beyond the plate.

As a vegan lifestyle coach and educator, I work with clients on eating a plant-based diet, naturally, but I also work with them on taking veganism beyond the plate. We usually start with the closet, which is exactly where I started, because, let’s face it, we have some serious products of cruelty stored on our shelves and hangers.

I am a shoe and handbag junkie. When I went vegan almost every- thing in my closet was leather. How could I possibly get rid of all of my shoes and bags? What would I wear? I would go broke replacing everything! But a funny thing happened. I started to feel uncomfortable when I espoused my veganism while wearing my favorite pair of pointy toe patent-leather boots. I got some really great advice from fellow vegans: do what you can, learn to do better, and consider this a process. I started slow, with one pair of vegan boots, which I ended up wearing every single day. The next season, spring, I picked up a new pair of shoes. Over time, my shoe and boot collection—as well as handbags—grew enough so that I was ready to get rid of the animal products in my closet. I didn’t want to waste the items, however, so I gave some items to friends and donated the rest. I actually considered it a bit of vegan activism because I always told the recipient why I was giving them away.

It’s not just about leather, though. It’s about silk, wool, down, and fur. Fortunately, fur was never a part of my fashion sense, but I was once again surprised by the amount of down and silk I had in my closet. Wool was a real heartbreaker, as a knitter, but once I thought about the sheep holistically, not just as a being that was sheared but about what would happen to that sheep once she was spent, well, I couldn’t do it. I started knitting with plant fibers, like bamboo, soy, and cotton. I had several coats with down—as well as a comforter and a few pillows—that I also thought couldn’t be that bad. I mean ducks and geese weren’t killed for their feathers right? Well, there’s death and there’s cruelty and when I learned that feathers are plucked in bunches, with bare hands, leaving the birds bloodied, I had to move on.

vegan-bottle
Morrocco Method Shampoos are proud to be vegan!

There are so many cruelty-free alternatives to wearing animal skin, including natural options such as cotton, linen, and hemp and manmade materials such as polyester, acrylic, and nylon. Synthetic leather, known as “pleather,” is everywhere these days (and so much more affordable than leather!), as well as breathable microfiber. While going through vegan lifestyle coaching certification with the Main Street Vegan Academy I toured Vaute Couture, a company that was launched specifically to offer a fashionable, vegan coat that was ultra-warm. Frankly, I started making it a challenge—how to find the most stylish, compassionate clothing. I will never forget walking into my hair salon, carrying a GUNAS tote bag, and two different women walked up to me to ask me about my bag. “It’s made by GUNAS, a vegan company, no animals were harmed in the making of this bag!” I loved that little moment of activism (they both wrote down the GUNAS website address).

Morrocco Method products all have the Leaping Bunny symbol!
Morrocco Method products have the Leaping Bunny!

While I jumped on the closet pretty quickly, it took me a while to connect my veganism to the products I used on my body. I actually got a wake-up call from my own blog readers. A friend gave me samples of a new shampoo by L’Oreal, which were labeled as, and being marketed as, vegan. I was excited and shared it with my blog readers. Someone immediately asked how I could consider it vegan, since L’Oreal still tests its products on animals. “How vegan am I?” I wondered. I actually took that question back to my readers and while responses reflected two extremes, most of us landed in the middle. We do the best we can. For me, that means that once I learn something, it’s hard to ignore it. I therefore became obsessed with finding products that were “bunny-friendly.” I wanted plant-based ingredients that did not harm animals in the process. I started using the smartphone apps Be Nice to Bunnies and Cruelty-Free while shopping. I also started sampling products from Vegan Cuts, an online deal site and market that features only vegan products. Once you know where to look it’s actually quite easy to find compassionate skin and body care. Here’s a tip: look for logos on packaging that indicates “vegan,” a leaping bunny image or the PETA bunny ears.

From “Veganism Beyond the Plate” Vegan for Her: The Woman’s Guide to Being Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet” by Virginia Messina and JL Fields (Da Capo Press).

Want a copy of the book? Share this blog and comment below! We’ll pick a winner August 20th to receive a copy of Vegan for Her: The Woman’s Guide to Being Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet.

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