Transitioning to a vegan lifestyle is not easy, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. For me as I’ve said before, the food wasn’t the hard part, everything else was. What I want to talk about are things that are gray areas for vegans. And if you’re considering veganism, feel empowered to make the decision that’s best for you.

Something to consider when switching to veganism would be; what to do with your clothes and shoes that contain animal parts. Do you keep them, or throw them out, or give them away? The short answer is; that’s entirely up to you. The long answer is more complicated.

“Natural vegan clothing materials are cotton, bamboo, hemp, jute, khaki, linen, cork, banana fabric, and plant-based leather.”

To keep or discard

Prior to becoming vegan, I was an avid shoe collector. Many of my shoes were made of leather or suede, or both. The same could be said with animal parts of my clothing.

It surprises many people to know that silk comes from silkworms, just as wool comes from sheep. Down comes from birds, cashmere comes from goats and angora comes from rabbits. Needless to say, there’s a lot of animals involved in most of what we wear.

So I found myself at a crossroads. Do I keep all of these products or do I get rid of them? For me I made the decision to keep them. Because for me, a component of veganism is about respecting animal life. Personally, I didn’t feel right getting rid of products that animals had already suffered and died to have manufactured.

There’s another element to this that excludes animals entirely and focuses on the environment and other people. Most of our clothes are manufactured in ways that are incredibly detrimental to the environment.

“Using a product you owned or existed before you went vegan does not diminish your current ethical standpoint and choices moving forward. Gary Yourofsky covers this topic succinctly in his well-known Israeli news interview.”

Do as little harm as possible

Even the items that don’t contain animal parts. And they often are made leveraging slave labour. Another component to veganism is the environmental impact. From animal consumption to the underlying principle of veganism, the focus is respect for all life-including human.

When I became vegan, I had a wardrobe full of clothes. Clothes that had supported enslaved labor and made disastrous environmental impacts in manufacturing. I had to decide whether I would keep them or donate them.

In the end I decided to keep them. There is no right decision here. For me, I felt that in donating them I would be making a stand in my own personal protest. But I would still need clothes to replace the ones I was getting rid of.

Of course, I could buy these from locally sourced manufacturers. However, it didn’t feel like I would be undoing the wrongs I had already committed.Complicated isn’t it? This is just one of many grey areas you’ll discover in veganism.

“Public bathroom vegan dilemma.”

A moral dilemma

Let’s take a look at another grey area. You go out to a restaurant to grab a bite, your meal arrives and there’s animal products on your plate. What do you do?

Whether you should keep your clothes and shoes that have animal products in them is controversial. The same can be said for this scenario. It is a great area for vegans and there is no conclusive right or wrong answer. It’s entirely personal.

All I want to do is make you aware of this situation. That way when it happens to you you feel prepared and confident in your decision, whatever it should be.

On one hand you could ask your server to take the plate away. They would remake your meal free of animal parts. On the other hand you could eat around, or remove the animal parts on your plate.

Personally, I always opt for the latter. My justification is that the animal has already suffered. It has already been executed for it to arrive on my plate in the first place. If I send my plate back to the kitchen the entire dish will be thrown in the garbage. Then a new dish will be prepared as per my dietary requests.

That’s all well and good, but for me it seems wasteful to throw out the parts of the meal that I would’ve gladly eaten had it not come into contact with animal parts.

“The queer vegan dilemma: My family has a harder time understanding that I eat vegetables than I eat pu$$y.”

The Next Step

As I’m sure you’re deducing, this is a very complicated issue within veganism. It’s absolutely and entirely a personal choice. I know more than one vegan who won’t step foot in one of their old leather boots.

It’s entirely personal and whatever you choose is completely up to you. There is no wrong answer. My point is simply for you to consider these things. It will better allow you to make an informed, thoughtful decision one way or the other.

No matter how many blogs and forums you read, and how many vegans you talk to, you will not get a consistent answer to this scenario. It does happen, people make mistakes, that’s life. So putting off any thoughts that needs to be given to this potential scenario occurring is not doing yourself any favors.

At some point in your vegan journey this will happen to you at least once. It’s happened to me numerous times. Give this some degree of consideration and reflect on what you feel is the appropriate course of action for yourself. That way you won’t feel incredibly uncomfortable when the moment arises.

“Yes but effort comes in many forms. People with low income are limited to where they can spend, not everyone has the same access to the same resources. Please remember that veganism is about doing your best, not being perfect.”