The short answer: Very.
Yet, I do not blame the cause but instead the lack of companies that even consider making a change. Often I will see food products where the last ingredient is milk, where everything up until that was perfectly fine and I had begun to get excited about a new product I can have. Ah but no, I cannot because it has 0.1% milk in. Many will say that it's hardly anything, and I should eat it anyway. This is when I argue why I should have to manipulate my morals and beliefs for a company including, as you implied, a pretty irrelevant and practically non-existent ingredient. Should it not be in the companies best interest to replace that ingredient or remove it from the product if fails to make an significant difference to the product and therefore allow more people to enjoy it? If they cannot make the change, that is fine. I will and spend my money elsewhere on a product that suits both majority and minority.
In this post, I want to show you just a handful of the changes I had to make in my life, in addition to how I am still not perfect and never will be. I have been transitioning my life for over two years now, but I still have lessons to learn and maybe even compromises to make until a suitable alternative becomes readily available.
This magazine subscription sums it up perfectly: VeganLife - not just a diet but a lifestyle - as cliche as that may sound. This is actually one of my Christmas gifts I got from my mum or dad this year that I requested. My mum is very much an impulse buyer and may not always double check if something is suitable for my lifestyle or not so asking for something that was a nice gift but also helped my in my lifestyle change journey was very thoughtful. Gifts can be so difficult because receiving a gift that is animal derived or just not suitable for vegans makes me feel awful because I am debated around addressing the mistake, as it were, or politely accepting and praying they never do it again.
I'm a huge foodie so going vegan was just another culinary adventure to explore, however this means all the current cooking material you own will need to change or be altered. Thankfully I was vegetarian before so not all the books were totally redundant, however I did need to get some more material that was less about altering to fit my old eating habits but be more adventurous and experimental with my new ones.
Cosmetics can be a huge pain, especially the ones you use everyday such as toothpaste or deodorant. My make up collection I scaled down to almost nothing and built up with suitable products once the previous ones had run out but I would often forget about the basics.
Some products are what we call 'accidentally vegan' meaning mainly people use them already because they like the product rather that buy it for the ethical factor.
Original Source shower gel is a fine example. We have used this my whole life and it was a product I enjoyed using. I only found out it was vegan when I became vegan myself.
However, shampoos, toothpaste, deodorants etc. you have to do a little big of digging to find suitable alternatives. I have even gone to the extent of email companies to ask if their products are suitable just for some reassurance if I am unsure.
Clothing I have already mentioned, but I chose to take this in more of a minimalist route. I kept a small number of pieces I liked and wore regularly, then will swap as I go along, to keep the wardrobe small, with alternatives using materials such as cotton, linen or synthetic alternatives. I also like to buy fair trade and good quality, timeless pieces that will become sustainable through longevity.
The final one is cleaning products. I just so happened to be near the kitchen when writing this so I went under my sink to include these. This company Astonish, are both vegan and therefore cruelty-free options I can buy from Poundland for, yes you've guessed it, a pound. Although they may not be the most environmentally friendly, right now it is not feasibly economically or time-wise to purchase an ecological alternative. I learnt sometimes you just have to chose the best option with what you have. They clean, which is all I need them to do.
I would like to finish with a reminder of 'why I put myself through all of this'. So long as I am aware that I can purchase a feasible and practical alternative to a product that does not reflect my beliefs, morals and personal taste: I will always choose that option. This could mean a slight increase in price, effort to obtain or even 'do-it-myself' but so long as it fits feasibility in my budget and capabilities, I will implement is as part of my vegan and eco-conscious lifestyle. Currently, I feel my aim for this project will be to provide more alternatives that replicate traditional products that have an emotional attachment to the user. I believe this is the biggest constraint for people considering implementing veganism into their lifestyle.
Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum, says that 'design is understood as a primary visual' (Sudjic, 2009) but it 'makes use of all the senses' (Sudjic, 2009) implying these must not only look the part, but feel, smell, sound and maybe even taste the part. By evoking nostalgia in alternatively produced product, the user will remember the aesthetics or receive a sensory overload of memory on closer inspection and therefore may be more inclined to buy that knowing it is a product they have and will love is also is ecological, environmental and ethical. I have yet to decide whether to chose the more challenging route of implementing all sensory factors or individual ones through my suitable alternatives. I will need to investigate the resources and capabilities currently out there to establish what is feasible.
Sudjic, D. (2009). The language of things. 1st ed. London: Penguin, pp.87-89.
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