It's Not Always All Or Nothing
For quite a few years now I've been making my own face cream. It's nice. It's easy to make, only four ingredients and I've been happy with it until recently. I'm getting older and it's starting to show. So I went on the hunt for a vegan, cruelty free face cream – I wanted something with retinol to help with the getting older thing. It took awhile, but I found one! It's a great product by a Canadian company called Maritime Naturals. Picked it up on Amazon and it was quite inexpensive. Now I can age with grace! It gives me great satisfaction to find a product that is wonderful and is in alignment with my beliefs.
It's a constant battle though – looking for cleaning products, personal hygiene products, even things like vitamins and supplements. It involves scrutinizing labels and then googling the company, googling the ingredients, looking at who the parent company is – it's exhausting. I've gotten a lot better at it as time goes on, but it's still a royal pain in the butt and some days it just makes me tired.
It's similar with food ingredients. If the product isn't actually marked as vegan, then the reading begins. For me, it's a double whammy because I often have to look for gluten free as well. I feel like a science student sometimes. It is beyond me how anybody managed to do this in the days before you could google something in a grocery store before putting it into your cart.
Is it worth it? Absolutely. The way I figure it, taking a bit of extra time, and yes, sometimes getting annoyed and frustrated, is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that comes from doing the research. I spent a good hour the other day learning about how some pu leather is synthetic and some is actual leather that's kind of put together like particle board. If I'm looking at a new pair of shoes and I'm not sure which they are, I don't buy them – even if I really love them. I just don't want to make that mistake and then be second guessing my purchase till the end of time.
Some people would say this is obsessive, some would say that I'm over the top, and some would say that I'm being ridiculous and does it really matter? It does. It absolutely, completely does matter. I've learned many things on this journey in the last couple of years, and the end result of that learning is that I do not want to be a part of anything that uses animals and animal products merely for vanity. There's no need. Period.
I'm conflicted about some things. I take meds that are necessary to my health. I'm pretty sure that somewhere along that pharmaceutical line there's been some animal testing. It's almost a given. I feel guilty as hell, but currently at least there's nothing I can do about that. It comes down to the basic definition of veganism: doing the least amount of harm. I've had a lot of people throw stuff at me – you drive a car, there's animal products in cell phone screens, bugs die when crops are sprayed, plants are alive too, animals used to live where your house is. It's endless. The bottom line is that I do what I can, when I can. I work with what I have control over – my diet and my clothing predominantly.
I have a pair of Timberland leather boots. I love them. They're lace up, a lovely ginger brown colour. I've had them for years. My boyfriend (who is amazing with a needle and thread) put new zippers in them for me last year. I'll wear them until they fall apart. I don't see the point in getting rid of them. I already own them. Damage is done. I bought a beautiful pair of black boots in December, they're vegan boots. I love them too. Guilt free boots. But I'll wear my leather boots, and the leather belt I've had for over a decade as long as I can. Doesn't help the animals if I get rid of them. I know many vegans disagree with this and get rid of all their leather, but in my mind I'm using the things I already have and I think that's OK.
I guess my point today is that it's all balance, doing what I can when I can, while trying to peacefully field the questions and sometimes accusations of those who feel a need to disagree with my choices. Life is all about choices and we all live with them. So I'll continue wearing my old faithful Timberland boots while I stand in the grocery store with my non vegan cell phone and type my “is this vegan” questions into Google. I don't think this is hypocrisy – I do think that every small change makes a difference so I change what I can.....