Last night, I went to an event by vegan shoe company Olsen Haus. Elizabeth Olsen held a shoe design contest for Pratt students to design a convertible vegan shoe that could be worn in warm and cold weather. They’re going to produce the winning shoe and generously give the student 10% royalties, as well as 10% to the Farm Sanctuary. There were some really great designs and I’m sure it must have been a tough decision.
As the night went on, we chatted with different people and I started to realize how dedicated and political vegans typically are. I met a vegan burlesque performer (sounds like an oxymoron, but this is NYC after all) and it was fascinating to hear about the trouble she has finding non-animal materials for her costumes.
I got to thinking about where my own ethics lie. There are so many levels and trajectories of ethical behavior and I’ve always considered my choices to be very personal. I don’t go around advertising that I don’t eat meat or making others feel guilty if they do. Even with my business, I am fine with using used leather because I know that I am diverting it from landfill, yet I don’t feel comfortable using brand new leather. I learned that most vegans would not even use used leather because it is still promoting the use of animal skin, yet I wonder how aware many of them are aware of the environmental effects of the chemicals that go into certain pleather accessories (not all companies are as environmentally sensitive as Olsen Haus) …not to mention the fact that leather goods usually outlast their synthetic imposters.
Educating ourselves about the issues pertaining to our health and the treatment of animals is very important. After that, we ought to work out our own boundaries and do what feels ethically right for us. Most importantly, I believe we need to respect our fellow human and try to be open minded. (I have no plans of breaking up with my fiancÃ© for being a cheatatarian.)