Before I get into the substance, I’ll start by saying there is a spectrum, like there is for so many circumstances we all deal with, for how vegans deal with and feel about use of animals in things other than food. Most won’t support zoos or circuses, many don’t support horseback riding, and a minority do not support service animals. But I would say a vast majority of vegans don’t wear clothing (including shoes) made of animal products like leather, wool, silk, or down, and they won’t wear jewelry made of pearls or feathers. But, ultimately, everyone's different.
Keeping this in mind…
My friend's great question inspired this post. She read my post about how we handle non-vegan guests (here) and asked me whether we would allow wool or leather in our home, since it doesn’t involve ingesting animal products. Is there a difference? The answer is, yes, there is a difference and, yes, we would allow them in our home, though we would not allow fur. Personally, I still have leather boots, for example, from well over 10 years ago, that I still wear on occasion. They're on their way out, but I still have them. I realize it's not how everyone operates, but I decided to get rid of some things immediately, like my leather purses, and phase others out, like my shoes and belts. I haven't purchased any leather or wool or anything like that since then. It's just not feasible for me get rid of everything at once. First, I don't have that kind of money to replace those items and, second, I HATE shopping more than almost anything, so I avoid it as much as possible. :) By the way, if you are looking for really cute vegan leather shoes, purses, or clutches, there's a great online store (lulus.com) that sells lots of vegan leather goods and it's cute and inexpensive!
Anyhow, I thought it was a reasonable (and great) question because we don't allow non-vegan food in the house, but what about articles of clothing or shoes or any other tangible item? As I mentioned in my first post, I try to be somewhat reasonable and accommodating. So, I won't ask guests to sweat over an outfit if they plan on visiting, just like I wouldn't ask them to toss the coffee they got on the way over even if it happens to have dairy in it. So wool, leather, silk, and such are fine. Plus, they're less obvious than fur, y'know? I can't imagine a fur coat in my house. I draw the line there. Blech.
Just like I'm sure it is for a lot of vegans out there, it's difficult for me to decide where I want (and am able) to fit on the spectrum. I am not perfect, nor do I claim to be, but I do my absolute best. And, currently, that includes allowing leather and wool to cross the threshold into my vegan home. I don’t exactly know how to put into words how I decide what to allow or not allow, or what I personally get rid of or keep. I mentioned that fur is very obvious, while leather, wool, and silk really aren’t. I’m OK with that. Just like the coffee you bring into my home doesn’t obviously have dairy in it. If I go by feeling and reasonableness, these feel reasonable to me. As for what I keep or donate/get rid of, I mentioned the financial aspect already but, I also take other things into consideration. For example, I inherited a freshwater pearl necklace from my grandmother, and I’m keeping it. It’s the only thing I got from her and I’ve decided to hold on to it. If I had inherited a fur, however, I would not have held on to it. I guess I really do draw a hard line at fur. 😊
So, this was just one spectrum and I am comfortable with where I currently sit on it, though I do acknowledge that it is fluid and how I feel might change. Also, I know there are so many other spectra I’ll have to place myself somewhere on, like where I fit as a mom and where I fit raising a girl who won’t be eating how most (if not all) of her friends will be eating and won’t be doing some of the things most (if not all) of her friends will be doing (and making sure she doesn’t feel like she’s missing out). In one of my next few posts, I’ll be writing about how I’ve already had to deal with this, albeit mildly, at my daughter’s daycare.
If this is an issue you've faced, what do you guys do? Where do you fit on the spectrum? For example, so many people change where they fit on the spectrum as they learn more and more about what's healthy and what isn't, like which fruits and vegetables are better to buy organic because of the pesticides, or trying to stay away from high fructose corn syrup... I'd love to hear your thoughts!
NOW my next post will be about my "geriatric," vegan pregnancy. :)