Is it okay to wear my old sheepskin?

Is it okay to wear an old sheepskin jacket?


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MadScientist

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Been vegan for over a month now and am happy with my decision. The problem I have is with certain items of clothing I own.

I have a sheepskin coat that quite frankly I can't afford to throw away and to be honest I love it.

I'm really hard up on cash and this was a gift from before I was vegan. I can't afford to throw warm coats away.

Do you think it's okay to keep old animal products so long as you don't buy new ones? That's what I have in my head as what I'm gonna do.

Should I feel like a hypocrite?
 

Damo

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Hello!

I think this is something everyone would have their own opinion on, I have a few things made from leather that I bought when I became vegan awhile ago and I haven't replaced them yet because they don't need replacing.

As you bought your coat before you became vegan I would keep it till it needs replacing, I mean now that you're vegan you wouldn't buy another right?

I understand that you'll feel a little hypocritical for owning your coat but you already have it and there's no going back, at least for when the time comes to replace the coat you'll know it's wrong to wear animal skin ;)

Welcome to the forums by the way.
 
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winter.frost

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I feel similarly to Damo (and welcome too!).

I don't think you should feel like a hypocrite, no. I've done the same - most of my non-vegan clothes I have kept until they are worn out. I think this is more sustainable than buying new clothes and you can always explain to ignorant, defensive people who try to call you (if they do) a hypocrite. Similarly I think that buying second-hand clothes that are not vegan is a grey area - you won't be supporting the industry, you'll be supporting the charity shop (for instance) but it does come down to what you are ethically comfortable with. I think all forms of recycling what we have is good, so long as we do not create any further demand for non-vegan items. Many vegan activists feel similarly, including Gary Yourofsky I believe, because sustainability is just as important.

There are, of course, plenty of vegans who take issue with carrying any animal product on their body in whatever albeit old form and that is up to them as it is up to you. For instance whilst I did replace all my cow-skin leather products (I gave them to a charity shop) I have kept my wool items until they are worn down - this was simply my preference as I could not stand the idea of wearing the cow skin any more.
 
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VeganStickers

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I have mixed feelings about this, still not sure what to think about wearing cloths made from animals that were bought before being vegan. I was thinking its ok to use them until they fall apart because damage is already done and throwing them out would be more disrespectful etc (that animals died for "nothing"), but some time ago i started to wonder - by wearing clothes made from animals we are promoting that its ok to see them as cloths :/ BUT in other hand, when you wearing fake leather/fur u dont do any damage to animals, but passing by ppl cant tell if your cloths are real or fake fur/leather so for them it may also look that you promoting to see animals as clothes anyway, the only difference is that by wearing fake stuff you won't get into awkward situation when someone ask you if you wear real thing and how that dont make you feel bad if you are suppose to be against using animals as clothes and shouldn't wearing dead skin on you make you feel "sick". So im kinda confused what to think about that subject. Maybe if person can afford clothes made from fake stuff then ok, and donate old clothes to charity or something,but if person cant afford stuff then should wear old stuff till he can buy new,fake one?
lol sorry for long answer...
 

Blueberry

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Hi,
This was something that I was pondering recently- after becoming a vegan January 1st. I have been a strict vegetarian since I was 12, so turning vegan wasn't too difficult diet wise.
As others have mentioned, I own a few leather items and have a few face creams that are not endorsed by PETA or BUEVA. Should I use them up- as they are already bought and therefore I would not be contributing to the 'trade' if I buy vegan products afterwards?
My watch strap is leather and bought for me as a gift a few years ago. I have leather boots, which are also old.

I do agree with VeganStickers- I have an overwhelming sense of uncomfortable disgust when I put my boots on now. So maybe this will be enough for me to finally say farewell to any remaining animal products.

First post- thanks for reading!
Blue
 

Sally

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Most of us cannot afford to go out and buy a new wardrobe. Hopefully, in a few years I'll have no leather shoes and boots, but for now I can only wear what I have. Okay, I also have the twinge of guilt when I zip them up, but that is a good thing. I don't buy clothes that often but what I do buy from now on will be vegan. Sourcing vegan make up remover was a problem but I have found a lovely rose one in Holland and Barrett.
 

sharla86

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It's hard to give up on things you love but it will be necessary. I would give it away and go to a charity shop to find a new vegan-friendly coat. You may have a strong emotional attachment to the coat but that doesn't mean you should keep it.

I'm poor too but when I went vegan I went through my wardrobe and took everything out of it that wasn't vegan. I then gave them to the charity shop. The items of clothing are in existence so you can't do anything to bring that animals back, but that doesn't mean it has to go to waste or that you have to wear it yourself.

Continue wearing your vegan-friendly clothes and when you go shopping for clothes again check the labels to make sure its vegan-friendly.
 

Sally

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It's hard to give up on things you love but it will be necessary. I would give it away and go to a charity shop to find a new vegan-friendly coat. You may have a strong emotional attachment to the coat but that doesn't mean you should keep it.

I don't agree. I think going vegan is hard enough for people without having to remove from their home all old non-vegan items. Under that system my husband and cat will need to be replaced. I could probably find my cat a new home, but ....;)

Really warm coats are expensive and usually wool. Most other coats in charity shops are pretty worn and non-vegan coats rely on stuffing, usually this has lost it's warming capacity by the time it goes to the charity shop.

I think you should keep your sheepskin MadScientist until it feels right for you to pass it on, or give it a nice burial.
 
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sharla86

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Sally I'm just going by what I did and I live in Scotland which frequently suffers from sub -4F/-20C temperatures in winter, yet I gave up all my non-vegan clothing. Again I wouldn't go so far as to give up my own cat or non-vegan friends, family etc - we're not a cult - but clothing is a different thing. And I do most of my shopping in either charity shops or low cost shops and have not had an issue yet. It is hard, but then veganism is kind of hard to get used to, that doesn't mean you only do what is 'convenient', otherwise what's the point?
 

Sally

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I'm sorry I did not mean to offend you, I simply disagree with your statement. I do agree that we need to make sacrifices, but that those sacrifices need to be in the individual's future actions. I do not think that vegans should buy new non-vegan items, but I disagree that it is helpful to throw out all non-vegan items from before you made the change. It may have helped you make the transition, but of itself, I do not think it is necessary in order to be considered a vegan. I don't find veganism hard to get used to, I love it, it makes me happier than I've ever been. I wear my old leather shoes, I will replace them with vegan shoes in the future. It is not because it is convenient, it is because I cannot afford to replace them, when I can I will.

It seems it is okay for people to transition slowly in their diet, but not in their possessions.
 

sharla86

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Oh I agree with you that not everyone needs to do it ALL straight away to be considered a transitioning vegan.

I think that it is part of the transitioning period, and that when you have come to the point when you are willing to not use animal-based clothing and don't wear any animal-based clothing that one of the milestones achieved to be considered to be "fully" vegan.

So long as you are moving toward being animal-product-free, however long it takes, then you are moving in the right direction.

I wouldn't be critical of anyone who is transitioning, I just think that you can't be "fully" vegan until you have given them up. Btw I don't even consider myself fully vegan yet, but I'm working towards it.

If people start relaxing the idea of what is vegan then we will end up where vegetarianism is at with the whole 'fish/chicken/no-red-meat eating' types being allowed to claim it.

I'm a compassionate person and I won't harshly criticize anyone who is trying to be vegan. I just believe that there are firm boundaries between what is vegan and what is not vegan, and that it extends to the clothes we wear.

Buying stuff is one of the ways of advancing the vegan cause. I believe we vote for industry and economic standards with our money as much as our words. If people are willing to pay for new pro-vegan stuff then people are willing to invest in it. So I won't be buying non-vegan clothes in future and I've stopped wearing any already.

It's up to the person to take their own pace at moving toward a vegan lifestyle.
 
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winter.frost

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I just think that you can't be "fully" vegan until you have given them up. [...] If people start relaxing the idea of what is vegan then we will end up where vegetarianism is at with the whole 'fish/chicken/no-red-meat eating' types being allowed to claim it.

I'm a compassionate person and I won't harshly criticize anyone who is trying to be vegan. I just believe that there are firm boundaries between what is vegan and what is not vegan, and that it extends to the clothes we wear.

Buying stuff is one of the ways of advancing the vegan cause. I believe we vote for industry and economic standards with our money as much as our words. If people are willing to pay for new pro-vegan stuff then people are willing to invest in it. So I won't be buying non-vegan clothes in future and I've stopped wearing any already.

I totally disagree with the statement that not giving up previously bought items (which, by happenstance, aren't vegan) means you're not vegan.

Firstly, the official definition of veganism is not on your side.

...a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

As many have pointed out, replacing your wardrobe right away is not possible or practicable for many people. Secondly the fact that they continue to wear or use a product which causes no extra harm than the damage incurred on first purchase does not make a person any less vegan. In fact, I think the way you have spoken about such vegans who continue to wear-out their old clothes as not being 'fully vegan' is quite arrogant (the fact that you live in Scotland or not has no bearing on the matter, we have vegans from all over the world talking about their unique climate situations here). You're also forgetting the locavore argument, which is that it is just as sustainable to use items that are local to us - locavorism and veganism are very closely related.

The fact of the matter is that it is still more environmentally sustainable to wear-out old clothes than it is to buy new ones. It is even more sustainable than trading them for other (vegan) used clothes, because you are putting animal-based products back into a trading economy whereas before - in your ownership - they were outside of the trading economy. You are therefore continuing to monetise an animal's skin/fur whereas, by keeping it and wearing it through, the monetisation of that animal product is over and done.

The material replacements for vegan clothing are usually synthetic or imported from great distances (cotton, bamboo, even hemp) so keeping hold of your old clothes saves air miles and helps protect the environment far better. A really considerate vegan is not beholden unto perceptions of dogma, but thinks about what is right on the whole. Frankly I'd say, if anything, that those that continually make use of products that are well-made, long-standing, non-vegan (but bought beforehand) are doing more for sustainability than those who decided these items were no longer good enough for them. We are not encouraging others to go vegan by saying 'I don't want this any more, you can have it instead' - what does that say about our attitude towards our fellow man? Veganism means respect for our fellow man as well. Humans do not respond well to being prejudiced against in any manner, which includes vegans trying a laud a sense of superiority ('I don't want this any more, you can have it instead').

You say it yourself, the real crux of the issue is the voting machine of monetised transaction. Keeping old animal products out of the economy is the best thing we can do, therefore. Reusing and recycling are some of the more sustainable things we can do. I, for one, AM A VEGAN - I moderate the UK's largest vegan forum - and I do so whilst wearing out old woollen clothes. I even do so whilst taking non-vegan medicines (which, again, the definition of veganism does not exclude and Vegan Society UK supports the use of non-vegan medicines where they are needed). I took a course of the HPV vaccine to dramatically reduce my chances of contracting cervical cancer (yes, being vegan helps anyway) - but the HPV vaccine isn't vegan, and try telling the young vegan woman of the UK (probably the biggest demographic of UK vegans) that they can't be 'fully vegan' if they accept the HPV course! That kind of dogma could do a lot of damage. Vegan Smythe went and got himself a tear tattoo when he transitioned, probably not realising that almost all tattoo inks aren't vegan. What matters most of all? That we know what we have done wrong, and we continue to make future decisions in the light of what we now know.

Cheagans will be cheagans, vegans will be vegans. You shouldn't be worried about the use of a word, but about the lives of others and the health of the environment. I will say that, in the transitioning period, we all find our own way. To call another person - who you don't know at all - 'not fully vegan' for reasons above is a kind of short-sightedness we should all try to avoid.

You admit that you are newer to veganism, so it might all seem like a new kind of religiosity for you (I don't know, I don't claim to know better than your own thoughts and feelings) but you will come to realise that it's not sustainable to be puritanical either. Save the energy for the real fight outside the doors of the abattoirs, but if you are bringing it to your fellow vegans then that should tell you something. We are here to support one another, not to tell you - for instance - to throw out your sentimental belongings because they happen to be made of animals and that, until you do so, you're not 'fully vegan'. For me, that would include throwing out my old leather-bound books I inherited from my great grandparents and they from theirs. And I am NO LESS VEGAN for keeping them.
 
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gab

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How about motorcycle gear ?

I wear leather on the bike because most accidents would be fatal otherwise. Leather has the highest abrasion resistance still (there are textile motorcycle gear but not for track days at high speed...textiles are simply not allowed at track days).
 
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sharla86

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Practicable is not the same as convenient and there has to be a line between not doing something because they don't want to and what they do because there really is no other way to do things.

We're not talking about replacing a whole wardrobe, just one coat, and it is practicable and possible to give that one item up without greatly effecting one's ability to clothe oneself. Also she says nothing about it being inherited, or even how 'old' it is, so to compare it with your heirloom is not the same thing.

By mentioning my geographical location, I did not mean to be arrogant or give myself some air of superiority, I was responding to a suggestion that I didn't know what I was talking about. Literally all I meant was that living in Scotland means I know what its like to live in extremely cold conditions. And it is possible to keep warm without wearing wool, sheepskin etc. I agree with your points on the power of trade.

I never mentioned the HPV vaccine or other vaccines. I know that this is within the bounds of the 'practicable versus convenient'. And I don't see how this relates to the OP.

"What matters most of all? That we know what we have done wrong, and we continue to make future decisions in the light of what we now know."

Fully agree with you on this point. I do not want to insult anyone or say that anyone is of less value than anyone else. I don't take that view.

At the end of the day my views are my own. You should not try to be shutting me down for trying to give my opinion. Surely my opinion is as worthwhile as yours, even if you are a super-moderator and I am a newbie. If differences of opinion are not welcome than maybe I should go elsewhere. If all differences of opinion were shut down than maybe veganism in its modern form wouldn't even exist, as it sprung from vegetarians who were trying to gain an even greater consistency in how they lived. And that is all I am trying to do, to be as consistent as possible with my new philosophy and stretch the 'as far as is practicable' to its greatest limit within the means of what is possible. Giving away a coat seems pretty practicable to me. And I see no shame in giving away a coat 'because I don't need it anymore'. I grew up wearing hand-me-downs and charity-shop-bought clothes and saw no shame in it.
 

sharla86

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How about motorcycle gear ? I wear leather on the bike because most accidents would be fatal otherwise. Leather has the highest abrasion resistance still (there are textile motorcycle gear but not for track days at high speed...textiles are simply not allowed at track days).

If there is literally nothing else you can wear on the track then it is the only practicable thing to wear in the circumstances. But wouldn't it be even better to find a material that had the desirable qualities of leather without its animal sacrifice element. I wonder how we could make that possible. And to make it so that track day organisers would allow it to be worn. Or create a vegan track event which encourages the use of alternative clothing. It would be best if we are active in encouraging a move toward vegan lifestyle in all we do.
 
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Sally

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Okay sharla86, I'm not a vegan then. I'm just trying to be one. Maybe there is a trying to be vegan forum I can join where we can help each other to become vegan, like this one was. We would all like the world to be vegan. To stop eating animals, testing on animals, hunting animals, breeding animals for money, killing the wildlife, stop zoos. This would be the perfect world, but having a go at people who are already aware of this and are doing their best as far as they are able, is unhelpful and unfair. It would be more helpful if you went onto a meat eating forum and berated them, not us.
 
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winter.frost

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We're not talking about replacing a whole wardrobe, just one coat, and it is practicable and possible to give that one item up without greatly effecting one's ability to clothe oneself. Also she says nothing about it being inherited, or even how 'old' it is, so to compare it with your heirloom is not the same thing.
One coat that we know of; I have tried not to make any assumptions. If the age or sentimentality of an item, used and being worn-out, isn't specified then my gut reaction isn't to think it was a cheap knock-off with no real value to the wearer. My instinct, as a vegan trying to live in a positive way with others, is to consider her thought process, choice, and good sense. Sally has been here long enough to display all these qualities (she is established here). I think we can afford ourselves the luxury of thinking the best of other vegans, and not the worst, else we could all go mad.

I never mentioned the HPV vaccine or other vaccines. I know that this is within the bounds of the 'practicable versus convenient'. And I don't see how this relates to the OP.

Perhaps it does not relate to the original post, no, but I did feel it was appropriate to provide an example where your thought about not being fully vegan could cause harm. I am glad that you make a distinction for health purposes.

@sharla86, I have not tried to shut you down however I do feel that your comment was unduly antagonistic. As a moderator here I have to think about what people see when they visit the forum. For instance I have the power to delete or edit any post, or to ban any user. Aside from spambots, I am proud to say that censorship almost never happens here and I have not exercised any of these privileges in this case because that would be inappropriate. I have, however, responded in order to try to balance your tone. My intention for doing so is so that if a person should read your comment, and be put out by it, they can then scroll down and see a more inclusive leniency. I have to think not only about what our users need here, but also about what the forum provides and - therefore - how it contributes to veganism as a whole. I have to think about inquisitive visitors who would possibly be completely overwhelmed by veganism before they had even begun. So, yes, your view is entirely valid as your own and I hope you will also see that I must also do what I can to moderate which, literally, means presenting a moderate view as well. (And that fits me just fine, I'm not fake at all about the views I represent which I believe is why Damo - the founder and administrator - chose me.)

And you're not the first to ask hard questions and put across hard views. There's more where that came from here on the forum. I do think Sally is right, however, we vegans should be a strong community together and fight our battles elsewhere whilst using this as a supportive base where we can regroup together. You're a vegan, I'm a vegan, that is what matters here - I am very pleased that you have chosen to make the transition. I am supportive of your cleansing through your belongings as I acknowledge that the act can be a positive psychological affirmation of your new decision to do less harm.

Veganism, as a diet, is centuries upon centuries old. It's only 'veganism', as a word, which is a post-war invention. There are many suggestions about the true origin of the vegan diet - some suggest religious practice (anthropologists speak about prehistoric animism); it's only the Western resurgence of veganism which comes from more self-aware vegetarians.

And that is all I am trying to do, to be as consistent as possible with my new philosophy and stretch the 'as far as is practicable' to its greatest limit within the means of what is possible. Giving away a coat seems pretty practicable to me. And I see no shame in giving away a coat 'because I don't need it anymore'. I grew up wearing hand-me-downs and charity-shop-bought clothes and saw no shame in it.

Right, the key here is that you admit to your individual circumstance. You speak about what is 'as consistent as possible' for you, in the subjective. For others - even if it isn't a question of money and time/resources - consistency is about keeping hold of the item and wearing it down. Both acts are within the vegan sphere, both a bit subjective, so I don't feel antagonism belongs there. There are so many pragmatic vegan arguments which seek to put the wellbeing of the world at its core - excellent, well debated arguments - and these too are a challenge to vegans even though the end result is best (because the answer would definitely not be what you would call 'fully vegan'). I would encourage you to check them out and look at the global quandaries that could face us, not the fate of another vegan's coat. My message is usually that fundamentalism, of any kind, leads to angsts we don't need. There are a few posts I could recommend you take a look at, if you have the time. This one (the more relevant points are at the end, including the video) and maybe this one.

The point I was making about 'I don't want this any more, you can have it instead' had nothing, nothing to do with the financial situation of any individual or how you might or might not have been brought up. It's about vegans saying 'this used to belong to me, but I'm better than that now - you can have it' and the message that might send to non-vegans.

@Sally - This is both a vegan forum and a 'trying to be vegan' forum ;)
 
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sharla86

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OK winter-frost. Consider me educated. I never meant to be antagonistic. Only to point out how I would go about it. We all want to be in a world which is free of animal exploitation. I will try to express my views as being subjective in future if it will easy any perceived tensions that might arise in future.
 
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