Veganism: It’s Not All About The Food

I am loving the enthusiasm surrounding vegan week! Even if you love your animal protein (and believe me, I do too), an excuse to add more plants to our diets is never a bad thing.

But as a past (yet brief) vegan, I find myself noticing a huge part of veganism has thus far been neglected.

The point of veganism is to stay away from all animal products. But that doesn’t end with what we put in our bodies. It also includes what we put on our bodies.

I’m talking leather.






To me, veganism doesn’t end at the food. 99% of people make the choice to be vegan because they take issue with animals being hurt and used for our benefit.

I guess it’s all about finding where you want to draw that personal line. There are some vegans out there who believe wearing wool is cruel to the animal and won’t have anything to do with it. Then there are vegans who just don’t want to digest anything that came from an animal.

I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to do it. It’s all about making choices that suit you. However, it is definitely food for thought. If I were to ever do veganism again, I would probably try to stay away from all animal-derived products because it’s what makes sense in my brain and in my gut. But I would never poo-poo on someone who thinks that’s silly.

For example, there is one vegan “rule” that I just can’t get down with.


Bees run on instincts. They don’t have a central nervous system. I’m not sure what the environmental impact of farming them is. But in my own “Hypothetical Vegan Creed” honey is is a-okay.


I grew up eating peanut butter and honey sandwiches every day that my dad packed us for lunch. Of all the things in the world to pair with peanut butter, honey is probably my favourite.

Why then, why, has it never occurred to me to put this dynamic duo on top of oats?


I will take my honey-topped oats eaten in bed, whilst wearing my fake synthetic wool socks, thankyouverymuch ;)


Question of the Day: What are your thoughts on this? Is veganism just about what you eat, or about all products that you buy?

Posted on February 8, 2011, in Challenges and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. Honey on oats. YUM! I agree with you, it’s about the clothes, too. My vegan friends who were in my wedding line don’t wear leather or suede, so we had special Pumas made for them from strictly synthetics.


  2. Coming from the one of the biggest Wool producing countries in the world, where temps can hit 30-45 I’d imagine that not sheering a sheep for it’s wool would be a lot more bothersome for the animal.

    I think any time the product from an animal is helping make their life better then thats OK. I’m with you on Honey, they’re only living the way they would in the wild. However I guess the steaming/smoking of them to calm them down would be the clincher.

  3. Ah yes another side of vegan – glad you brought it up.

    As for the honey thing – I didn’t realize how divided the opinions were on that one. There was a good twitter debate yesterday morning about it.

  4. Like most movements, it is a broad spectrum. For some people it is just food, for others it is a way of life. Thanks for bringing it up! The honey thing really got me too, I think the answer depends on where you are on the spectrum :)

  5. I definitely don’t think you need to be a vegan in your dietary path to do this in your “rest of your life” path
    “If I were to ever do veganism again, I would probably try to stay away from all animal-derived products because it’s what makes sense in my brain and in my gut. “–

    I think that reducing the amt of animal products we use, wear, consume, etc is ALL good. It doesnt have to be all or nothing.

    I have posted on the whole honey debate. I am fine with it, other vegans arent. It was quite a bru haha post for me.

    Also re leather…i have 10 yr old leather belts and 15 yr old wool sweaters. To me, it’s fine wear them b/c reusing, recycling, and re-wearing things is JUST as important to REDUCE our consumption than it is to buy something new that’s cotton, for instance. Ani Phyo talks about this in her latest book

    Other thing…your sidebar
    “I’m participating in the world’s largest yoga fundraiser to raise money for the Athritis & Autoimmunity Research Centre Foundation. “–
    Would love to chat w/ you about this. Email me!

  6. i totally think that all animal products for eating and for clothes shouldn’t be used or worn by a vegan and i will not buy clothes from animal products!… its hard soemtimes though because i just dont know what clothing items do come from an animal but this list really helped!

  7. I think I agree with you for the most part, but I think I would be more concerned about where the product came from than just taking the material at face value. As someone who works for a wool company that treats their animals INCREDIBLY ethically (only one haircut a year!), I think it would just be important to me to have a better understanding of what it is I was wearing and how it was produced.

    • And that’s exactly how I go about eating meat too. I do eat it at restaurants, but when I can I will drop the extra cash on organic, ethically raised meat. Same should go with animal-based clothing :)

  8. First off, I LOVE honey! Second, I think it all has to do with your reasons for being vegan. I love animals, don’t get me wrong, but I also really love my down comforter. I eat mostly vegan (not 100% of course) but I do it for health reasons so the food is most important to me. But I respect people who choose to abstain from all animal products, including the wearable kind! I think it’s a personal choice.


  9. I am so with you on the homey thing. Even though I decided to go all the way vegan this week (just this week) I decided that if honey were the only animal product in what I was going to eat then I would go ahead and eat it.
    If I did permanently go vegan for ethical reasons I would still wear wool if I had it. He sheep need to be sheared so that their wool doesn’t become impossibly tangled.

  10. I completely hear you on the honey issue. If I ever decided to quit eating eggs and dairy, I would still definitely eat honey. As for the leather and suede…it’s an internal battle I fight with myself! I do feel guilty about my Uggs…

  11. Part of the reason I could not call myself vegan (aside from my egg obsession) is because I agree that veganism is NOT just about food. It’s a lifestyle.

  12. Dani @ Body By Nature

    I’m a raw honey lover and when I was vegan I ate it.
    I think this is a really great post when I was vegan I never bought products made from an animal. I actually ended up doing a purge of all of my leather/silk/cashmere clothes in an vain attempt to prove my “vegan-ness” and then I was left with no clothes and had to buy new ones…which was completely silly and wasteful. I ended up letting the “vegan” rules run my life.
    Now I try to find balance in this…I love wool and I know there ethical wool manufacturers that make great products. I’ve been using emu oil and raw honey on my skin because it’s helped to clear up cystic acne (and both come from ethical sources). I think you have to do what is right for you with the resources you have and educate yourself so you can make smart choices.
    (oops sorry I didn’t mean for that to turn into a rant :)

    • Nono, I loved the rant! I totally agree. Especially if you’re throwing out and wasting animal products that already exist. It’s all about drawing that imaginary line in your head, and you can let it fall wherever you want :)

  13. I think honey is really good for a lot of health issues and I don’t really see using it as being harmful to bees. Also considering bees are willing to give their life to sting me I can’t feel too bad for them! j/k

    As for other non-food products if I were vegan I wouldn’t buy leather or suede. Wool would depend on the source. I don’t see it as being that bad. I also see the point about not tossing already exsisting wardrobe items. That’s wasteful. I guess you’ll have to explain you’ve had the item for years so you don’t hear snarky whispers from “those” people. ;)

  14. For me right now eating 90% plant based it’s about how I feel physically. You know I don’t poo poo honey while eating vegan.

    I can totally understand why people do avoid anything from animals though, but i, like you, enjoy meat as well. I try my best to purchase local and humanely raised meats. After watching food Inc. My husband and I were both much more aware about the meats we eat.

  15. Yum, honey and peanut butter- I’m with you, sister. I agree with you about the non-vegan materials. I think it’s really hard to be consistent with veganism because there are so many aspects of your life that could require adjustments- food might just be the easiest!

  16. Great thoughtful post! I’ve been thinking a lot about whether I would also stop purchasing animal-derived products if I ever decided to go vegan. I’m one of those all or nothing types of people, so my inclination would probably be Yes. But the jury’s still out! I have looked online though at some vegan shoes and handbags, and there’s some really cute stuff out there :)

    I recently learned about this divide over the honey issue, and right now I agree with you. I also LOVE the PB & honey combo (add sliced banana and I’m in heaven :) ).

  17. I was a vegetarian for 12 years. A bigger part of that was the animal aspect than the food. But I still had leather shoes. Ate honey…I wasn’t a very good vegetarian and I definitely wasn’t healthy.

    I eat meat now because that’s what my body needs and it doesn’t want faux meat. But I still wish I wasn’t eating animals.

  18. ahhh veganism!

    i go back and forth on this one all the time. while i am against animal cruelty, the one reason that would make me go vegan is actually the fact that veganism helps the environment SO MUCH. half of emissions are due to cattle/animal raising on farms, and if we cut that down, we could immediately have an environmental impact. gah. it’s so tough.

    end of story: do what is right for you.

  19. Glad you posted about this. I’ve been saving it in my reader so I could come back and comment! I’m a semi-vegitarian (flextitarian, I guess). And I often forget that leather and suede are animal products! This is definitely something to think about as one of the main reasons I don’t eat a lot of meat is because I love animals and do not want to take any part in their deaths. This post was a great reminder to me that I probably should not be buying these products. However, products such as honey and wool are much less of a concern to me because the animal is simply doing its thing and we are taking advantage of its natural gifts. Although if I did more research and found that the animals are not being treated well while we are extracting these products, I might change my mind about this.

    But anyway, I think my main point was that even as a vegetarian, I am not particularly comfortable with the idea of wearing a dead animal. But generally when I’m clothes shopping I’m not nearly as aware of the products going into my clothes as I am the products going into my food.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: