living underground in the real world

on being a bad vegan, part two: my nonvegan gloves

(I wrote this before the outpouring of loveliness from smarties in the post below, when I was still feeling super oppositional. I’m so interested to see what you all [or, as my trailer-park family would say: “ya’ll”] think!)

I’m going to illustrate this post with snaps of me in my new boots that I own thanks to eagle-eyed blog reader Christy. They are organic cotton/bamboo/eco-friendly Simples, and so sooooooo comfy. I love them every day. (Except these days, because I’m not really wearing shoes at all for the next month).

I’m just going to say right away what will make everyone most mad, just for sheer kicks. (Sheer kicks, the best kind of kicks!)

I honestly believe (and please note I am saying this as someone who has been vegan for 16 or something years and would rather die than not be vegan) that in the grand scheme of things–if you take into account environmentalist factors, animal rights, human rights, corporatism, capitalism, etc etc—that making cupcakes with eggs made by chickens who live ludicrously happy lives at the farm down the street from your house (my house is literally two blocks from a farm that has some ludicrously happy and free chickens) is a better decision, on balance, than making vegan cupcakes laced with Earth Balance Buttery Spread.

Yeah, I said it. Wanna prove me wrong? Have at it, I’m excited! (Unless the vegan police, those joyless fucks, swing by. I want to chat this over with interesting, complex people ONLY, ok? Don’t be a sourpuss or an idiot, or I’ma moderate the shit out of your comments.)

A few points:

-Yeah, obviously no one uses eggs instead of Earth Balance in a recipe. I’m not talking cooking here, I’m just saying in general.

-While I believe this to be true, I also don’t particularly care. That is: I happen to also vehemently loathe Earth Balance, but a few times a year I will happily eat said EB-laced cupcake, because I simply care more about animal rights than any other of those issues listed above (corporatism, environmentalism, etc.). My beliefs are arranged hierarchically (hierarchies! Bad feminist!), and animal rights is right on top. I care about the lives of animals more than anything else. Done. So I don’t eat local eggs, because I don’t have a right to. Simple. But!

If you want to try to disprove my tantalizing theory, here’s what you’ve got against you:

-Local eggs are a sustainable, renewable resource, while EB is made from the insides of trees (palm oil, yo) that will take years and years to regenerate. It also supposedly impacts the habitats of lots of endangered species. (And by “impacts,” I mean “destroys.”) Now, I don’t think of eggs as a “resource,” of course. I still think of them as abortions even though I know it’s not quite right, and the idea of eating one is nauseating and morally reprehensible. Eggs exist for chickens, not us. Coconuts exist for us. (Thinking the natural world exists for humans! Bad environmentalist!) Again, I’m just saying.

-EB is made by a giant corporation, eggs can be bought from your friendly local anarchist farmer. Or bartered! Like I bartered lots of chocolates (made with his raspberries) to my farmer for B-grade tomatoes for sauce-making all summer!

-Thus, egg money can go back into your local community, you locavore freaker you.

-Obvs, local eggs use less carbon emissions to arrive at your doorstep.

-And I could go on. Can’t chickens eat table scraps?

(Wow, I’m really good at playing Michael Pollan when I want to, aren’t I?)

OK, here’s my point:
SOMETIMES VEGANS FORGET TO USE OUR HEADS. We’re so caught up in being right (which we are) that we forget to look at the whole picture. We have to be mindful of the fact that even my buddies olive and coconut oil present some challenges (capitalist and environmentalist) that eating local eggs don’t, and while this doesn’t mean we should eat eggs, it’s a reminder to keep thinking (like my farmer friend Erin). To know that simply being vegan doesn’t solve all problems. Things are, I’m going to say it again, complex.

Which brings me to my gloves.

What I said about them a few weeks ago, on a nameless website:

The animal fibers [the women of Bloodroot] use in their fiber arts are 100% from living animals who are treated well–no animals are ever killed for their wool sweaters. I adore a pair of rabbit fur gloves that Selma made for me–the rabbit fur was spun from a rabbit while it sat in Selma’s lap, being brushed and living a wonderful, pampered life. Selma dyed the fur with natural dyes made from plants grown in her garden, then knitted a pair of gloves I will always cherish.

Oh my god, I am the WORST VEGAN EVER! I know it. I wish I wasn’t on vacation right now in the tropics (she rides on planes! Such a hypocrite!) so I could snap a picture of these beautiful gloves.

Update: Here’s one that shows both the gloves and the boots!! My vanity finally comes in handy! You can’t see it so well in this picture, but the tops flip over so you can use your fingers, and they are a pink-and-red sort of Fair Isle kind of pattern.

The gloves are pretty deeply not vegan, but I stand by them. If you’re going to have pets (which deep down I don’t believe in, but we all make compromises and that’s one of mine), you shouldn’t be against brushing them and making LUDICROUSLY SOFT gloves from their fur. And guess what? I was talking about the gloves with Selma a few weeks ago, and she corrected me—the gloves are actually lined with dog fur, not rabbit fur. From some super soft dog one of her friends lives with. Selma brushed her, spun the resulting fur, dyed it, and presented me with the most beautiful birthday present ever. The dog was just happy to be free of some LUDICROUSLY SOFT hair.

So: let the games begin! Heap your hot coals upon my head! It won’t be the first time!

13 Responses to “on being a bad vegan, part two: my nonvegan gloves”

  1. Sara

    This is why accusations of hypocrisy (which I used to bring up, because hypocrisy irked me more than anything!) simply bore me now. The world is complex. It’s easy to look hypocritical. The more interesting questions are, what are we doing and what can we do? (From, also a long-term vegan).

    Reply
  2. Joshua May

    when I left Australia, I only had one pair of shoes that weren’t tattered with holes in the soles. as it turns out, they’re leather. I’ve had them for more years than I can even think, it only makes sense to make use of them at this stage.

    I’d also keep worms again in a heartbeat when I get a patch of dirt for some greenery. worms! I am cruel!

    hooray for compromise!

    Reply
    • G Mo

      This comment tells me that somewhere, someplace, one of Those Vegans has actually argued that keeping a bunch of worms in a bucket and feeding them an endless diet of delicious vegan kitchen scraps is oppressive.

      Sigh.

      Reply
  3. Jen

    Again, hooray for nuance! Are your gloves vegan? Nope. Are they a Bad Thing? Nope, not really. If they were dog-hair gloves that you bought at Walmart, they would certainly be a Bad Thing. I think a strong case can be made that they are even a better thing than some technically vegan gloves made from industrially-produced acrylic yarn that you bought at a big store. I think that’s kind of what you were trying to say with the whole EB/egg thing, right? I think determining what is a Good Thing can get quite complicated, depending on how many concerns you take into account (e.g., animals, environment, human rights, etc.)

    One of my prized possessions is a leather purse that my grandfather made for me. He used to do beautiful leather stamping work. He passed away a few years ago, and I treasure that purse because I remember going with him to the store and picking out the materials, and going through his stamps and choosing what I wanted him to stamp on it, and watching him do the work. I don’t actually use it ever, mostly because it really isn’t my style. Regardless, I can’t see myself ever getting rid of it even though it is clearly a deeply non-vegan object. I wrote about it on my site last year, and felt that I had to put in a disclaimer about how I know it wasn’t a vegan thing just in case any dreaded vegan police came along and got all “leather isn’t vegan, idiot” on me. It made me a little sad that I felt I needed to do that, actually.

    Reply
  4. lagusta

    “I think a strong case can be made that they are even a better thing than some technically vegan gloves made from industrially-produced acrylic yarn that you bought at a big store. I think that’s kind of what you were trying to say with the whole EB/egg thing, right?”

    Yeah!! Exactly.

    Reply
  5. Randal Putnam

    Have I told you about my mom spinning the fur from our dog Speed’s undercoat, as well as her dog, Cadie? We just saved the undercoat every time we brushed our dog, in numerous bags. My mother did the same. Eventually, she spun the fur herself and made many different items.
    I have her first dog fur purse, which is a combination of Speed and Cadie (both doggies have since passed away). It is a wonderful memory of two amazing companions.

    Lacey Putnam

    Reply
  6. Randal Putnam

    Oh, you just can’t put up such cute pictures of yourself. My hubbie can’t resist saying “cuuuuute,” whenever he sees them. I get jealous at first, but then I find myself saying “cuuuuute” as well!
    Lacey p

    Reply
    • lagusta

      Ah, but you are two of the cutest people I know!! We have a mutual cute society going on!

      Reply
  7. brittany

    you’ve said everything that needs to be said, beautifully. i dare those freakshows to come over here and talk smack. they will probably spontaneously combust over the ridiculousness of themselves. and, if not, i’ll gladly stab, since i’m less pacifisty/vegany/respecting lifey than probably everyone else here. :)

    Reply
    • Noah

      Um…you do know we can read this, right?

      You seriously called us freakshows?

      Classy. Very classy.

      Reply
  8. Dave Liepmann (@daveliepmann)

    I’m confused. Let’s dispense with my happy-meat policies for the moment–how have your beliefs about local eggs changed since you wrote this article? Because I was nodding all along with your discussion of how eggs can be a humane, sustainable, awesome thing to eat…and then you just assert “this doesn’t mean we should eat eggs”. Huh?

    Reply

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