Not Just About The Food

Being a vegan is about how I want to show up in the world.  It’s about pulling my money and participation from the unnecessary torture of animals and raping of the planet.  It’s about taking responsibility for my physical, emotional and spiritual health.  An obvious first step in this transition has been to adopt a vegan diet which I’ve shared for the past few months in this blog.  What I may not have shared is that as I have changed my diet I have begun to experience a feeling a peace that I believe is about making life choices that are more in line with my values.

But there is still more work to do and more to think about.  What about animal testing in personal care products and cosmetics?  The torture of rabbits in  the cosmetics industry is well-documented.  How about leather products?  Is eating the meat of cows different from wearing their hides? (NO). That pile of wool yarn I bought to knit a sweater is weighing me down.  The sheep in Australia (where most wool comes from) are wholly unprotected and routinely abused and maimed.  Goose down in my comforter and jacket makes me uncomfortable. The feathers of the poor animals that are fattened up for their liver are mercilessly plucked. Of course, the fur industry is so atrocious that I won’t even go there, but I don’t have any fur, thank god.

My commitment is to phase all of these products out of my life, and I am currently researching ways to do that.  What I am learning is that it is absolutely possible to find vegan cosmetics and personal care products.  There are manufacturers of vegan shoes.  I can knit with cotton, linen, bamboo and acrylic.  As I learn I will share, and that brings me to this:


LUSH cosmetics is a retail and online manufacturer of  personal care products.  If you live in an urban or suburban environment there is probably a retail store near you.  I happened on our local LUSH store when we were waiting for the Apple store to open the other day.  I have probably walked by this store a dozen times but never went inside.  The store’s exterior signage let me know what they were about as they are involved in active campaigns to eliminate animal testing.  You can read about their extraordinary efforts here.

I bought some moisturizers and brought home some shampoo and conditioner to sample.  Because these products are minimally processed and are plant-based they look a bit different from the products I’m used to. Here’s what I got:


The Skin Drink is a daily facial moisturizer made from sesame oil (I was tempted to take a taste!).  The bar is actually an overnight moisturizer.  You warm it up in your hands, and as it “melts”  it becomes more oily and easier to apply to the face.  Many LUSH products exist in bar form in order to reduce  packaging.  I think it’s brilliant.  The shampoo sample I brought home (aptly named “curly wurly”) is a coconut based moisture-rich concoction;  the conditioner has a strong smell of orange blossom and is very creamy.

OK, so do these products work?  Well, I’ve only just started so the honest answer is “I don’t know yet”.  My first impression of the moisturizers is that they feel wonderful on my skin but I’m not sure they can fully combat the dryness of my fifty-something Arizona sun-drenched skin.  I am trying to be more cognizant of drinking more water because I know how important that is for hydrating the skin.  I will continue with this regimen for a while before I make a final assessment.  I may need to try a more intense LUSH formulation or look into different animal friendly manufacturers.

I can say though that my hair is already loving the shampoo and conditioner although the orange blossoms may be a bit too intense.  I’m trying to get used to it.  If I can’t I will definitely see what else LUSH has to offer.  I also plan to try out some of their cosmetics.

If you are interested in knowing whether the cosmetics and/or personal products you use are made by companies that engage in animal testing (and that’s most of them folks!) you can visit the PETA website here.  I have already jettisoned many of my favorites–Great Lash Mascara, Bobbi Brown everything and Natura Bisse skin care products. Little by little I will replace them with products that I can feel good about using.  On a happy note, my signature scent, Liz Claiborne Realities is animal-friendly.  So you never know until you check it out.

Years ago my dear friend, Fernando  said about fur-wearers, “you have to wonder about someone who wants to drape themselves in dead animal”.   The turn of phrase made me laugh at the time and I fully agreed with his sentiment.  But back then I didn’t feel compelled to wonder about myself. I felt somehow superior to those fur-wearers even as I was eating my burgers, using products tested on animals and shopping around for new boots.  Yuck.  The truth is this is no laughing matter.  I can and will do better.



18 thoughts on “Not Just About The Food

  1. With us, it’s so much more than just what we eat. It’s a consideration of others to the very core of our existence, thinking of others (non-people included) in all we do. It always keeps us thinking before we act (or buy, or do, etc). So many things we can just live without entirely…and probably should.

    Enjoyed this article! Keep up what you do!


  2. Hi, Lisa. I was completely unaware of the issues with Australian merino and went hunting for more information on Ravelry. The good news is that re: wool, it does seem to be confined to some (not all) producers in Australia, and only to the merino breed. I couldn’t find a way to send you a private message, but if you’d like to email me or contact me on Ravelry I can provide more details. Some folks have proposed setting up a resource where members can post the results of querying specific yarn companies about the source of their raw fibre.

    Barb West (; mamamiau on Ravelry)


  3. Hi Barb. Thank you so much for posting this (and I’m fine letting anyone see it). It sounds like there is much more to know about this industry and I confess to being a newbie. I am interested in knowing more and will get back in touch with you via e-mail. I confess to being pretty cynical around “good producers” of most anything that has become a commodity but I am always willing to learn. Take care.


    • Thanks, Lisa! I left you a reply on Ravelry, linking to the forum that was my starting point.

      I’ve decided to use my merino-heavy sock yarn stash to make afghans for relief organizations and blankets for animal shelters. Using it in this way seems like the best option for me personally.


  4. Barb, such a great idea! I’ve been slogging through a wool sweater knowing I can’t wear it. I think I’ll either donate it or frog it and make a blanket. I will revisit the ravelry forum. Thanks so much for being a part of this and for educating me in the knitting world. Best…


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 )

Twitter picture

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

Facebook photo

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

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s