In my previous posts, I focused mostly on household and personal-care products that are earth and animal friendly. One of the challenges of vegan living is finding clothing, shoes, and handbags that are animal friendly and of good quality. Any type of animal skin is clearly off limits. I don’t wear silk, since most silk products are produced by killing silkworms. I avoid wool whenever possible. Although wool-bearing animals are not killed for their wool, the practice of mulesing bothers me enormously. You can buy wool that is not the product of mulesing, of course, but I prefer to not consume or wear products that are the result of the commercialization of animals.
I don’t go to places where animals are held captive or made to perform tricks. I must admit to a moral dilemma when it comes to zoos. It is often argued that zoos help maintain endangered species that might otherwise die if left in the wild, and that zoos may help raise people’s awareness of the plight of some of these animals. Fair enough, but I struggle with the thought of preserving a species at the expense of the dignity of animals. Should we condemn animals to live their lives in captivity for the sake of preserving the species? My instinct is to allow animals to live as long as they can in a dignified state in their natural environment; if they are to die off, at least they do so on their own terms. On the other hand, do we not have an obligation to help preserve these species? All I know is that I cannot stand the look in the eyes of animals in cages, no matter how large those cages might be. As for circuses, marine parks, and the like, I cannot abide the thought of beautiful, sentient, and dignified creatures performing inane and degrading tricks for the amusement of humans.
I try to buy clothing made from sustainable products whenever possible; unfortunately, I must often resort to online shopping for these items, since there are not many local retailers that carry them. Online shopping is always a last resort because of the large carbon footprint it causes. Many sustainable clothing options are a little too casual for most of my daily needs, as they often consist of yoga-type apparel, which I refuse to wear outside the house unless I’m going to the gym. Green Cricket, based in Etobicoke, Ontario, sells casual apparel made of bamboo and organic cotton. Hornet Mountain, based in Hornet Mountain, BC, sells clothing made from soy and organic cotton. Rawganique, based in Denman Island BC, has a lovely collection of hemp-based clothing and linens. Bamboo Clothes does not indicate its geographic location, but appears to be Canadian. Viva Vegan, which is likely based in Quebec, given the French-language copyright notice, sells eco-friendly clothing from the U.S.-based Herbivore Clothing. Karmavore, based in New Westminster, BC, sells clothing that is too casual for my taste (mostly message shirts), but it is a good overall vegan store. There are US options for online shopping, of course, but my focus is always on Canadian products.
Buying vegan shoes can be an adventure. I avoid buying shoes online, since fit can be challenging. Some local retailers do sell non-leather shoes, but the quality is often cheap, so I do need to a lot of window shopping; it’s a good thing I love retail therapy. For online options, Karmavore offers a limited selection of vegan shoes. Nice Shoes, based in Vancouver, BC, has a very good selection of shoes for all occasions. The famous Canadian John Fluevog has a limited selection of vegan shoes; fortunately, this selection is growing, albeit too slowly for my taste, but it’s still a positive sign.
I have a love (OK, a passion) of handbags. It’s easier to find non-leather options from local retailers, many of which carry the Canadian Espe and Lug brands. My favourite line of vegan bags is made by the Montreal-based Matt & Nat, whose bags are stylish and beautiful.