I want to talk about the other side of being Vegan.
I don’t mean the downside. The only downside I’ve found so far is the constant questions from my co-workers about what I’m eating today, and why, and am I judging them for eating what they’re eating? It’s ok – I think they are genuinely interested. Either that or they discuss my weirdness over mealtime with their families.
No, I’m talking other than the products we put into our mouths. My significant other (henceforth S.O.) is a Pescetarian (vegetarian, except he eats fish), one time Vegan and – well – old, so he’s met a few Vegans in his lifetime. I, on the other hand, haven’t actually met any face to face, that I know of. When we first met, we talked a lot about what it means to be Vegetarian/Vegan, and these discussions led to my giving up meat once and for all last July. At one point, he offered a definition that I hadn’t heard of, or thought about, before.
If the definition of “just plain” Vegetarian is someone who doesn’t eat meat but still consumes eggs and dairy, then why does the phrase “Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian” exist? Don’t get me wrong, I just called myself Vegetarian – if I went around telling everyone who asked that I was a Lacto-Ovo-sometimes-Pesco-Vegetarian, people would just stop listening halfway through. My point though, is this: if there is already a caveat to what we consider Vegetarian, than it stands to reason that “just plain” Vegetarian is actually what we call Vegan. That sentence was kind of a mind bender…
According to my S.O., that is correct. Apparently, a Vegetarian is technically a person who doesn’t consume any animal products or by-products. Obviously there are countless different opinions on this, and who cares really, as long as your being true to your beliefs, but apparently a Vegetarian is technically a person who doesn’t consume any animal products or by-products – what we casually term Vegan. So the difference then, between Vegan and Vegetarian, is the extension of this avoidance into other areas of the lifestyle, outside of the dinner table. Aha – now you see where I was going, on my round about meander through Long Winded Lane?
One consideration is “beauty” products. If you prefer not to ingest animal products orally, you can’t logically overlook that your skin absorbs everything that you put on it. I intend to make my cleansing and beautifying regime as earth-friendly as I can, but it takes some time and some planning.
First of all, I take issue with someone deciding to do things that are better for the planet, and then promptly throwing out their half used bottles of sulfite packed shampoo, conditioner, body wash and face cream, and buying all new, natural ones. We should really be exhausting the contents of these products before moving on to a better option (or at least pawning them off on a friend). Let’s face it: using up the last half of that shampoo is not going to do more damage to your body than the first half (and the countless bottles before it) already did, and if you’re throwing it out, it’s going to end up back in the ground, anyway, same as if it got through through the shower drain. I completely understand the need to make a million immediate changes as soon as you’ve made a decision; I’m one of those people who starts planning the instant something is confirmed – which makes waiting three months to go away to school really painful! But we need to take a deep breath and be logical.
So use up what you have. My next suggestion would be to look into what you can practically make at home. Believe me, it seems like a wonderful idea to make from scratch every single thing you plan to use, right down to your mascara, in the comfort of your own kitchen. Unfortunately, a lot of the necessary ingredients end up being quite expensive (often you only need an ounce or two, but you have to buy twenty), or impossible to find unless you order them online. Many of these products need to be kept in the fridge, or are only good for a short amount of time.
I’m not saying don’t do it. Far from that, if you’re willing to put in the effort I’m sure it’s entirely worth it. You will probably cut back on packaging, and you’ll be able to proudly state that, that great smell? Yeah, you made that.
Alternately, you could check out Crunchy Betty. I haven’t ordered anything from her, but I think her whole approach is absolutely brilliant. She even gives you the recipe for each product you order!
As for me, I’m going to make peppermint shampoo. I have tried the no-poo method (just good ol’ baking soda and water), but I foolishly did so when I had short hair that I needed to straighten every day lest it look like an explosion of awful. As you can probably imagine, with the lack of any chemicals remaining to ward off the heat, I fried my hair but good! I’ve only recently cut the last of it away. Even though I don’t do much with my hair these days, I’m not quite ready to risk that again.
Instead I am going to use castile soap. It is only $12.50 for a 16 oz bottle, and it’s concentrated, so it should last a long time. The avocado and peppermint oils were both reasonably priced and should also go a long way. I already used the peppermint in a foot bath – it was just lovely.
I have to use up my current shampoo before I make this one, but I will be sure to let you know how it goes!
I made an exciting dessert tonight, so definitely check back tomorrow!