Let me preface this with: I am not a Earth-mother-crunch-vegan-chakra goddess whatsoever.
However, after becoming a pet owner and growing more informed about the industrial practices that harm animals in both this country and beyond, my conscience has been tapping me on the shoulder.
I don't know how much longer I can--or want to--ignore it.
First, it started with searching for cruelty-free cosmetics. Recently, I have gradually needed to de-gluten my bath and body products due to a very sensitive wheat allergy. Prompted to read ingredient labels a lot more carefully, I began to notice the little rabbit indicating "cruelty free" on a variety of lip balms, body washes, and beyond. Prior, animal testing had only been something that I saw on the news here and there, so I decided to learn more about it, willfully pushing myself through all of the info that is so tough to read.
And so began my quest to buy "cruelty free" cosmetics. It's been going rather well! An avid Sephora shopper, I continue to support brands like Alterna, Jin Soon, butter London, and DryBar.
The new part of my journey? I'm slowly coming to terms with my conscience, which whispers: "Umm..you're a little hypocritical." On any given Friday, you can find me with with cruelty-free nail polish on my fingers, while wearing a leather handbag and suede shoes, heading to meet my husband at a steakhouse. Makes no sense, really.
So much of the way we operate makes no sense. We hug our dogs and demand those who hurt such smart, lovable creatures be shot. But the problem is, we click away at our keyboards, as internet vigilantes, while on our way to brunch. Where we'll eat bacon. Though a quick Google search confirms that pigs are arguably even smarter and more intellectually astute than dogs. However, since we don't feel a collective affection for pigs as pets, dead pigs (bacon) have become an American culinary icon, just as dogs have remained "man's (alive) best friend."
Or what about this: It hits us in the depths of our hearts when we hear about elephants being de-tusked and left to die in the Serengeti, yet we revere snakeskin wallets as a luxury. Although, credible sources, such as the peer-reviewed journal Critical Studies in Fashion & Beauty, say that sometimes those snakes are skinned alive to obtain the skin for these products. Are we cool with that?
It's uncomfortable, isn't it. But try to face it.
Because when we do what's right instead of what is comfortable, we own our integrity and feel harmony inside.
And that's where I'm at. I'm in the staring-it-in-the-face stage. I'm trying to stop myself from tricking my own mind. No longer will I allow delusions like "What a beautiful purse!" Instead, I am beginning to see it for what it is: wearing an animal's hide as a trophy. I probably wouldn't support or like to watch how it was made, so I should not get joy out of the product.
My shower caddy and makeup bag are all clear, but my closet and refrigerator are far from it. Am I going full vegan over here? No, probably not. My goal for myself in the future is to stop buying animal products like leather and suede, and hopefully only eat meat from animals that were killed responsibly.*
When we look at ourselves honestly, we can see that so much of what we do each day is not aligned with who we really are. A big part of the animal products issue is how politicized everything becomes. For instance, as much good as PETA does, the organization can be extreme and cause some Americans to roll their eyes at the intense campaigns. We have to have our own mind in a world that is preoccupied with whether we are Democrat or Republican, liberal, conservative, or moderate. We don't have to fit into a category, but we have to do what is right.
I think it takes years and wisdom to live authentically. But mental backflips have only allowed me you to trick myself for so long. I know what I need to do. And in your soul, you know what you need to do to live a life that is true to your core morals.
*Note: this is what I think will work for me. I'm aware that there is a debate as to whether there is a such thing as "responsible" animal killing. I'm not saying my goals are perfect or that they will work for you; I think there is a lot I still have to figure out, as this type of lifestyle change is new to me. We all have varying degrees of what's "right" on the moral spectrum, so find your comfort zone while still trying to better for our animals.