About a month into eating a completely vegan diet, I was feeling on top of the world. I committed to something and I was sticking with it….for once. I gave up eating animal products, which includes CHEESE, for a whole MONTH! …If I can give up cheese. . .we can achieve world peace. Once the month had passed, and the victory dancing my way out of bed subsided, I realized that it wasn’t JUST food that made me guilty of supporting the unethical treatment of animals. Suddenly, all of my enthusiasm came to a screeching halt.
Yes, I had given up buying and eating foods with animal products in them, but there were animal skins and other parts of animals scattered throughout my entire closet! I began sorting through my clothes and shoes and as it turned out, the items made with animal products were among my very favorite things: a black, italian leather Michael Kors bag that appeared brand new although I had used it for years; a brown leather “TheSak” backpack that was perfect for hands free strolls and had broken-in to the softest fabric I’ve ever felt; a pair of brown, J Crew men’s herringbone tweed trousers that were almost entirely wool; and handfuls of silk tops and suede shoes. As you may have guessed, I was deeply saddened by this discovery. Food was one thing, but these unique pieces that I had collected over years and years, were a part of me at this point. I did my research, and it turns out, there is no right way to veganize one’s closet. It is simply a personal preference. It has been 3 months since I began veganizing my closet and I am still working on it. Here are some tips I put together to help you on your vegan journey once you reach the closet stage. . .
Take the time you need to think about this. Don’t just grab all the non-vegan clothes and accessories you own, cram them into a trash bag, and march them outside to the garbage can in protest. The damage has been done. Chances are you’ve put the items to good use, whether that be through toting around a leather bag to stay organized or wearing a wool sweater to keep warm. It does not make you a horrible person to keep these things and continue to use them until they are no longer of use.
You may begin to see some or all of your non-vegan items in a different, not so pretty light. If this happens, it is time to categorize.When this happened to me, I decided I had four options for each of the items: toss it, sell it, donate it, or keep and use it until it falls apart.
As for my bags, even though I loved them dearly, I couldn’t help but see them as sacks of dead animal skin. I could see their beautiful design, but I also saw innocent cows who’s dreams were to eat grass with their family in peace, not be slaughtered and worn on a human’s shoulder around town. I also knew how long it would take to wear them to the point of wither….years and years and years. So, I decided to sell them. I used ebay to sell my Michael Kors bag and my TheSak backpack/crossbody shown below.
With the money I made on these bags, I replaced them with vegan versions that I am now in love with. I’ll save the details for a future post 🙂
My shoes were a different story. Personally, I do not feel bothered by wearing the old, black, holey, leather combat boots I’ve had since high school. Maybe it is because they are so worn down or perhaps because they are on my feet and I’m not looking at them or holding them like I would a bag? I don’t really know. Again, It’s a personal preference. Here are the non-vegan shoes I decided to keep…
As you can see, it won’t be long until they are no longer of good use. Another reason I am keeping them is because I can’t afford to replace them before Winter which is just around the corner. This is something I had to talk myself into believing is okay. I do see it as what is best for me and I hope you take what’s best for you into consideration as well. This IS about being selfless, but don’t put yourself in a bad place over it. It’s a process and it takes time.
There were a few pairs of my non-vegan shoes I did decide to sell on ebay along with my bags. The reason I decided to get rid of these in particular had to do with the fact that I could easily wear another pair of shoes I own in place of them, and the amount of time it would take to wear them out considering their like-new shape. Below are some photos of the heels and boots I decided to sell.
The last step is to fully commit to not purchasing any more non-vegan clothing or accessories. This can be difficult. Especially if you consider putting together an outfit an art form or way of expression. A week ago I was shopping in free people for a vegan leather jacket and I fell in love with a gold, backless, long sleeve, button up top…that was SILK. I tried it on forgetting that silk was not a vegan fabric, fell in love with it, remembered how silk is made, and then had to walk it back to the rack pouting like a 4 year old. Luckily, there was no one else in the store. I starred at it. It was the last one….and it was MY size….
I was totally bummed. I hadn’t found a vegan leather jacket and I had to say no to a one-of-a-kind top that was screaming my name. Finally, I left the store, but not before rummaging through the sale rack only to find and purchase a lovely Fall dress made out of 100% rayon, which it totally vegan.
I have to get it altered, but I think it was worth it 🙂
I hope that sharing my tips and some of my own experiences is helpful for you. Good luck on your journey!
With love and compassion,