Vegan nail polish

I have always taken very good care of my hands since I was a child.  This care might have been a reaction to my older sister’s habit of biting her nails, and my father encouraging me to care for my nails.  I take pride in having well-manicured hands, courtesy of home treatments, as the one or two occasions I have had a professional manicure, I was surprised by how roughly they treated my nails, e.g., pushing back cuticles (something you should never do), and using surfactant-heavy nail soaks.

I used to polish my nails regularly, but I rarely do so any more.  I’m concerned by the high levels of nasty chemicals that most nail polishes contain, as well as animal-derived ingredients.  Nail polish removers are equally nasty.  Even though I am careful to not wear polish for more than five days, in order to minimize nail damage, my nails and cuticles suffer after they have been subjected to polish; and this from a person who massages olive oil into her cuticles every day and uses high-quality hand creams at least twice a day.

Vegan nail polishes are on the rise, at least, and most of them minimize the bad chemicals, but I still find them too drying, and will stick to my natural nails.  I’m genetically blessed when it comes to nails, as I inherited my mother’s (and her father’s) strong nails that grow like weeds, so they look just fine unpolished.

Many commercial nail polishes use animal products, such as carmine, a red pigment produced from crushed female beetles, and guanine, or pearl essence, a by-product obtained from fish scales. This slideshow provides a sample of some vegan alternatives


Cosmic Tree Essentials


Finding good quality vegan make-up and skin care that is made locally, and which won’t irritate my very sensitive skin, can be a tall order, but I am fortunate to have discovered Cosmic Tree Essentials, a company based in the beautiful Town of Wolfville, in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. Cosmic Tree is recognized by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics as a Safe Cosmetics Champion Company. All products are cruelty free and vegan.  The picture above shows owner and creator Beth Thompson and her display in the Wolfville Farmers’ Market.  Some of Beth’s products can be found at Pete’s Frootique in Halifax, but I can’t get anywhere near the range of products here, so I also buy her products from her online store, and whenever I have the good fortune to travel to Wolfville. On a daily basis, I use her loose mineral face powder, eye shadows, blush, and lipstick.  I use also her Neroli Facial Cleanser and Meadowfoam Moisturizer.


Smoked tofu salad


This salad contains all organic products purchased mostly from the Historic Farmers’ Market and Organic Earth Market. I made this for my dinner, so it’s a large serving for one.

  1. I tossed brussels sprouts and sliced carrots in Pendolino olive oil (from Liquid Gold) and roasted at 400F.
  2. For greens, I used a combination of arugula, watercress, and micro greens.
  3. I added home-sprouted marrowfat peas and red lentils.
  4. Pitted kalamata olives (use only those marinating in olive oil)
  5. Diced smoked tofu from Sunrise Soya
  6. For the dressing, I used a simply rosemary-infused olive oil (again from Liquid Gold), Braggs apple cider vinegar, and organic mustard.
  7. I added some sprinkled Hemp Hearts from Manitoba Harvest.
Animal welfare

Rising awareness of animal welfare amongst travellers.

According to this post, a sea change in public opinion and growing awareness of animal rights and the ethical treatment of animals is beginning to reshape the ways in which travel companies and travelers are interacting with the animal kingdom.  The article says that travellers are increasingly staying away from animal-based entertainment events, such as swimming with dolphins, riding elephants, circuses, and so forth.  I’m very pleased to hear about this of course; it’s somewhat ironic, however, that when I mentioned to someone that I would be visiting Atlanta (Georgia) in May, the first recommendation was that I visit the aquarium.  A venue that features trapped wild sea life is hardly on my “must visit” list. To give this person credit, she is not aware of my ethical vegan stance when it comes to animal entertainment, but it’s still sad to think that these types of venues continue to be promoted as highlights for tourists. We still have a long way to go.

Animal welfare

Horses feel pain when whipped. You think?

In the realm of “you couldn’t make this up,” is a study that shows that horses feel pain when they are whipped. Because the horse racing industry clearly doesn’t understand (or chooses not to) that whipping causes a horse pain, a scientific study has been conducted by forensic veterinary pathologist Dr Lydia Tong, which concludes that whipping is “likely to be painful’’, which contradicts the view of most jockeys who claim padded whips do not hurt, merely encourage. As in most scientific reports, the claim is softened by “likely,” but it boggles the mind that any sane person could imagine that a whip would not, in fact, inflict pain, to any creature with a central nervous system.  On what scientific method do the jockeys base their assessment, I wonder?

Animal welfare, Veganism

Does being vegan really help animals?

Barbara J. King, an anthropology professor at the College of William and Mary, discusses this question with  three animal activists and vegans: Paul Shapiro of the Humane Society of the United States, Bruce Friedrich of Farm Sanctuary, and Alka Chandna of PETA. King notes [the] convergence in Paul, Bruce and Alka’s answers underscores the view that animal rescue is not as much about filling up sanctuaries with animals saved from slaughter, as it is approaching our entire food system with fresh eyes. As these activists point out, it’s not necessarily about the number of animal lives that veganism saves, but the impact that veganism has on the reduction of the suffering that animals undergo in order to support the food – and, I would add, the clothing, makeup, entertainment, and other – industry.

I am often asked this question:  What impact can one person make on the lives of animals, when you consider the millions of animals that are slaughtered each year for the food industry?  I don’t see this as a game of numbers, but one of living true to one’s conscience and beliefs, and taking responsibility for one’s choices. For me, it really comes down to one very simple question:  If I love animals, how can I consume them?  I simply cannot reconcile these two perspectives.  How can I rail against the killing of animals for their fur, yet wear the skins of dead animals in the form of shoes, handbags, and so forth? How can I be outraged at the thought of dogs and cats being eaten, but think nothing of eating lambs, cows, bulls, pigs, and so forth?  How can I look into the eyes of my two beautiful cats and know that I condone the abuse and slaughter of other animals for the purpose of consumption? Mine is the only impact I have any control over:  its size is immaterial.