A few days ago, I was sitting, having lunch, with a girl from my art history class. She is a bit of a fundamentalist vegan. She knew I was a vegan too. She complemented me on my boots, saying how hard it is to find nice fake leather shoes. I was like “ooh thankyou. I know, it’s impossible. These are actually leather, I bought them in an op-shop.” She looked aghast. “Oh I thought you were a vegan,” she said. “Well I eat a vegan diet, but I do wear wool and leather if I buy them second hand.” She clearly didn’t agree.
I’ve always been a bit hesitant to call myself a vegan. I tend to say things such as “I’m on a vegan diet,” or “oh I don’t eat eggs or dairy.” But recently, I’ve just started saying “vegan” because it’s so much easier. I’ve been a vegetarian all my life, but for the last year or so, I very, very rarely ate eggs or dairy. I think I was just too scared to label myself.
My thirteen-year-old sister doesn’t eat meat, dairy or honey. She will, however, eat the eggs that some from our chooks. Our chickens are ex-battery hens. My mum got them from a battery farm that will let people take their hens when they are considered too old. If someone doesn’t adopt them, they are killed. So my mum go these yucky, featherless chickens with their beaks chopped and their feathers clipped a few years ago. While they were considered too old to lay eggs then, three years later, they are the happiest, healthiest chickens I ever saw and each lay an egg every day. Siena knows that they have a good life, and if it wasn’t for us they would have been killed, so she doesn’t have a problem with eating their eggs.
I think that it is more important that we tailor our diets and lifestyles around our individual beliefs, rather than adhering to a strict vegan lifestyle. I don’t want to support the leather or wool industry, so I would never buy new wool or leather. But If my money is going to charity, and I am making use of something that someone else is throwing away, I think that it is better to buy second hand leather than new plastic boots.