Not Sweating The Small Stuff
Updated: Apr 8, 2019
This post was inspired by a text conversation I was having with one of my baby's daycare teachers, and I think it's a good follow-up to my last post, which was about not being a helicopter parent (read it here). I wrote to her and asked her if they make any art for Easter using real eggs. They make really cute art for most holidays, and I was sure they'd be making something for Easter. I figured it wouldn't involve real eggs at this point, but I wanted to confirm so I could be prepared if necessary. She told me they did not use eggs and she didn't think any of the classrooms ever used real eggs in their Easter art. What a relief! Before I continue, I'll explain that vegans are against dyeing real eggs because the egg industry is incredibly cruel. Without going too deeply into it, I'll just say that male chicks, because they are useless to the egg industry, are killed minutes after they are born. It is far less expensive to kill a male chick than it is to raise one until he is old enough to sell to a different industry. That happens regardless in the egg industry, but it increases exponentially for Easter, because people buy them for dyeing in addition to buying those they eat. If they did use real eggs, however, I already had my backup ready to rock. These Egg Nots are the perfect replacement if you want something that resembles an egg for dyeing. You could always paint oval rocks, and those will last forever!
The conversation got me thinking about my previous post and how much I would be willing to let go of regarding items that might contain animal ingredients. As I wrote in my last post, I realize I cannot control everything, and I am OK not sweating the small stuff. I thought about what I would do if they ever did dye eggs at her school. Sure, I have Egg Nots I can send for her. But what about the food coloring? And then I thought, what am I going to do about glue? Or crayons? Red food coloring, for example, is often made of ground-up insects. Glue usually contains collagen from horse or cattle hooves, but there are brands, such as Elmer's, that are made of synthetic materials and do not contain animal ingredients. Crayola crayons contain stearic acid, which, in Crayola's case, is made of beef fat. Here is an article about it. Keeping all this in mind, what am I going to do about projects my child does at her daycare or at any point during her school years? Vegans have so many things to think about and anticipate that non-vegans wouldn't even give a second thought to. There are so many everyday items that contain animal ingredients, and those ingredients have names that sound like they were created in a lab. So it is incredibly difficult to know the names of all the things derived from animals. Because there are so many everyday items that contain some sort of animal ingredient, it's worth it to pick things that really matter to you and things that might have more of a mass effect. The egg industry and dyeing something other than regular eggs would have more of an effect than, say, using red food coloring. There's obviously no possible way I will be able to make sure every single thing my child touches will be vegan, so I'm not going to sweat this small stuff. Sweating the small stuff will surely drive me absolutely crazy, and I'd rather worry about the big things that will drive me crazy. The bigger stuff for me is the stuff she eats and drinks and the rest I'll do my best with. It would be a bit insane for me to freak out about every little thing, honestly. That's not to say I won't try where I can; I'm just saying I'm OK with the vegan police coming after me for being complicit in my child's use of regular food coloring.
I have a few years before I have to think about this but what if she decides she wants to play a string instrument and the bow is made of horse hair? If alternatives exist, I will find them. When my husband and I took dance classes for long enough to warrant my getting dance shoes, I searched EVERYWHERE to find shoes that were not made of leather and suede. And, sure enough, I found them. They were pretty ugly, but they did the job and they were far cheaper than regular dance shoes. If I had found used shoes made of leather and suede, maybe I would have been fine with those because I wasn't putting a new item into the stream of commerce. I will do the same thing if my child decides she wants to dance. Where there is an alternative within reason, I will find it. But that's where it will end for me, for now. I'm fairly certain that there will be more options available as the years go on, so I'm not too worried about it.
What about you? How far are you willing to go? Even if you aren't vegan/cruelty-free, what are your limits as far as things your kid handles?