“But it’s not even leatha!!!”
I couldn’t help but think of Joan Cusack’s funny, funny line from the movie “Working Girl” when I was out shopping for a “vegan” purse. And I also couldn’t help but internally respond, “No it’s betta than leatha!” I’m referring, of course to the Big Buddha, my new, vegan purse that I found at DSW. I love the tag in the fun patterned (polyester) lining but here’s what the bag actually looks like:
There’s not a ton of great shopping here in Tucson and no retailers advertise vegan shoes or bags, so I figured it was a good idea to check out DSW. I had to laugh as I “sniffed my way” through the handbags. For the first time I was trying to figure out which bags didn’t smell like leather!! I was surprised to find they had a great selection, and some bags actually had “vegan-friendly” tags. My smell test told me that this bag had no leather although it wasn’t specifically marked that way. So I trotted out my phone and looked up “Big Buddha” and discovered that it is a company (acquired by Steve Madden in 2010) that has a line of animal-friendly, affordable bags. You can read more about them here.
Some time after my shopping trip, David and I were talking about how it feels to pay money to a retail establishment that sells rather than produces animal products. Admittedly my visit to DSW was challenging (even with the Big Buddha score) because I couldn’t look at those rows and rows of leather shoes without thinking about the animals. I feel this way pretty much all the time when I’m out shopping. The supermarket, the mall. It can feel very overwhelming and sad. It’s so much easier to avoid purchasing an item than to avoid an entire retail establishment because it hasn’t banned that item. In fact, unless you are fully self-sustaining, it’s pretty much impossible.
So what to do? For me the answer is to keep on writing, cooking, reading, talking and modeling a different way of living in our society. If this post, for example, encourages someone to buy an animal-friendly purse and this leads to yet another person buying an animal-friendly purse….well, you get the idea. Given the enormity of the problem it can be hard to envision meaningful change ever happening, but in the short time I’ve been vegan I’ve had many engaging (and I believe impactful) interactions with others who want to know more about veganism and are considering making more conscious dietary and lifestyle choices.
While I’m not interested in changing closed minds, I am very interested in educating people who want to know more. And to illustrate that “it’s never too late”, my 81 year old father-in-law, after visiting us for a few days and reading a book we recommended (The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell), let us know today that he decided to go vegan. He believes that this change will improve his health and quality of life in the years ahead. I agree and am excited for him.
As much as I’d like to see sweeping change, this is how it happens–one person at a time. I’m glad to be a part of it in any way I can.