You’ve read a lot on our site over the past months about veganism, but we know that all of our readers aren’t necessarily vegan or even vegetarian. Nonetheless, it’s something that many of us practice, largely because animals raised for food and clothing live nightmarish lives and suffer atrociously painful deaths, and we don’t want to contribute to that. We also know that too many of our natural resources are wasted raising animals to be slaughtered, while thousands of people die of hunger every day. As media mogul, entrepreneur, and vegan Russell Simmons says, “The abuse and slaughter of 15 billion farm animals per year in America alone is the worst karmic disaster in human history.” A funny thing about becoming vegan – most people feel better, lose weight, and discover that they don’t need meat and dairy in their diet. As former NBA basketball player and vegan John Salley says, “If I had a vegan lifestyle when I was playing, I would still be playing. I’m just rebuilding my body now from all the wear and tear.”
Whether you want to recommit to veganism in the new year, take the next step from vegetarianism to veganism, or try to help persuade someone you care about to make the change, we’ve accumulated a list of books, magazines, websites, and retailers to help make the transition. The fact is that whether you are a man or woman, black or white, and regardless of your taste in cuisine, there are delicious vegan dishes that you will enjoy. And whether your style is high fashion or sweater and jeans, there are great cruelty-free and stylish options. Below are some references that should appeal to just about every taste. There’s a whole support system of people out there living a cruelty-free life and helping others do it as well!
Most people have heard of Skinny Bitch, The Kind Diet, and Crazy Sexy Diet. These are all great resources for people embracing a diet free of animal products. Here are some that you may not have heard of, and their authors show that, contrary to what a lot of people believe, not all vegans are skinny white girls.
- By Any Greens Necessary, like Skinny Bitch, is an excellent starter guide for veganism. Although the book is billed as “the first vegan food guide for African American women,” it is a great resource for anyone of any race or gender. Author Tracye Lynn McQuirter, who has a Masters in Public Health, provides a wide variety of recipes, complete with mouth-watering photos. She also takes readers through the lifecycle of the animals and fish who end up on our food system, including those used for dairy products.
- Chef and food justice activist Bryant Terry’s book Vegan Soul Kitchen is great for those who want to create animal-free traditional dishes from African, Caribbean, African-American and Southern cultures. His latest book, The Inspired Vegan presents “a collage of food, storytelling, music, and art.” Terry also co-authored the book Grub, which is aimed at helping people in urban areas learn how to create meals with organic ingredients. Although Terry’s recipes contain no animal products, and “vegan” is included in the titles, it’s not a label that he’s comfortable with for himself. He has said that “the word can alienate people. Many people have had negative experiences with people who identify as vegan— there’s often finger-wagging, self-righteousness, or they act like the diet police. And a lot of people of color do not embrace this type of diet because they often imagine that vegans are these emaciated white people who live in Berkeley.”
Being vegan doesn’t mean that you have to be an expert cook – or any kind of cook, really. Stores like Whole Foods, Sprouts, and Trader Joe’s carry a lot of pre-packaged vegan foods, along with a good selection of fresh organic produce.
- VegNews is a great go-to source for all things vegan, including food, fashion, travel, shopping, health, celebrities, and books. It’s available bi-monthly in print or online. Their website and monthly newsletters are also entertaining and informative.
- Laika, which was just launched in December, bills itself as “The New Vegan Lifestyle Quarterly.” Available in print and online, it covers style (for men and women), food, travel, animals, art, and books. The magazine is named for Laika, a dog launched into orbit aboard Sputnik 2 in 1957. According to Smithsonian Magazine, “scientists didn’t even consider returning Laika to Earth; she died from excess heat and radiation within hours of achieving orbit.” Laika’s website is beautiful, and worth a visit.
There are tons of vegan websites and blogs out there. We’re listing just a few that you may not have heard of. They are entertaining, informative, great to look at, and represent a broad range of food, fashion, and activism. Vegans tend to be a mutually-supportive bunch, and through these sites, you will also discover many more.
- I Eat Grass is the site of vegan chef Ayinde Howell. It is filled with tons of “food porn,” as well as fashion and music.
- GirlieGirl Army describes itself as “’Sex in the City,’ with brains and a pitbull.” It’s a sharp-edged site for eco-friendly style, food, health, mothering, and news.
- The Discerning Brute is a source for “fashion, food & etiquette for the ethically handsome man.” The primary focus is on fashion and accessories. It’s a stylish site with no shortage of handsome men who show that vegan men are definitely not 98-pound weaklings!
- The Kind Life is Alicia Silverstone’s blog. It is an outgrowth of her The Kind Diet book, with a focus on food, parenting, and style. It also features her line of cruelty-free beauty products. You can subscribe to regular e-mail updates on what’s happening on the site.
Of course, you can get bags, shoes, wallets, etc. made of man-made materials at many stores. You just need to look at the labels. If you can’t determine the material from the outside label, look inside. It will say somewhere what the product is made from. However, we like to support companies who have made it their mission to carry cruelty-free products. Again, there are many vegan retailers. Here are just a few, with something to appeal to just about everyone, no matter your taste or budget.
- Alternative Outfittersis an online vegan boutique that carries men’s and women’s shoes, accessories, handbags, and apparel, as well as make-up, skincare, and haircare products. Their prices are quite reasonable. They have a showroom in Pasadena, CA where their products can also be purchased.
- Herbivore Clothing carries a wide variety of items at reasonable prices, including clothing for adults and children, books, wallets, bags, jewelry, body care products, and all kinds of fun items. They also sell the wonderful A Scent of Scandal vegan candles. They are primarily an online retailer, but have one store, located in “the world’s only vegan mini-mall” in Portland, OR.
- MooShoes specializes in footwear, as the name implies, including brands like Matt and Nat, Olsen Haus, Birkenstock, and Saucony athletic shoes. However, they also sell bags, wallets, books, and accessories. They are primarily an online retailer, with one “brick and mortar” location, on New York City’s lower east side.
- Brave GentleManis an online shop founded by Joshua Katcher, the man behind The Discerning Brute site. They offer a selection of men’s clothing (both casual and formal), accessories, grooming products, and candles – all 100% vegan. They are even going to be starting a member-based concierge service “that grants access to a dedicated network of specialists from all areas of interest and need, while adhering to your personal values.” This will include personal shoppers, chefs, restaurant reservations, and even dog sitters. Brave GentleMan products can be a bit pricey, but if you have the money, or just want to splurge for a special gift, give it a look.
- Argyleculture is the cruelty-free line of clothing started by Russell Simmons and designer Joseph Abboud. It was created for a “consumer born and bred in the hip hop culture, now mature and successful in his or her own right.” Although argyle sweaters and vests (made of cotton rather than wool) are their signature look, they have shirts, outerwear, and even eyewear. ArgyleCulture is available online, as well as retailers such as Macy’s and Belk.
- OK, this is not a clothing site, but we had to include it because Liz Lovely cookies and other goodies are 100% dairy free, egg free, certified vegan, and DELICIOUS. They also have a number of gluten-free options. The company was founded by high school sweethearts Liz and Dan Holtz, who built Liz Lovely from the ground up in Vermont. Cookies can be ordered from their website, but are also increasing available in retail stores, including Whole Foods, Lassen’s, and Fresh & Easy.
For those to like to watch recipes being prepared, celebrity raw vegan chef Jason Wrobel is premiering his new show on The Cooking Channel on Jan. 6, 2013 in the U.S. According to Wrobel, How to Live to 100 will be “the first TV program on a major cable network highlighting the longevity and anti-aging benefits of plant-based raw and vegan foods.” Wrobel also has a DVD titled Simple Vegan Classics, as well as a cooking show on the YouTube Channel.
An important thing to remember when becoming vegan is that no one is perfect. No matter how hard we try to refrain from eating or wearing animal products, occasionally one may find its way into our lives. Don’t let anyone judge you. A good mantra to have ready, both for yourself and in response to others (vegan and non-vegan) who stand ready to judge you, is “I’m doing the best I can.” That’s all that any of us can do. If you can’t resist a slice of pizza at a party, and give in to temptation, don’t beat yourself up. Just move on and recommit. Plus, depending on what you’ve eaten, you’ll probably feel yucky since your body will say, “What the heck was that? You were feeding me healthy food and now you send down this hunk of stuff that just sits there undigested!”
Once you’ve educated yourself about just what happened to that animal before he ended up neatly packaged on the grocery store shelf, or beautifully displayed on a plate at a fancy restaurant, and once you see how much better you feel, both spiritually and physically, the choice becomes easier and easier.
Courtesy Image: cinecitynewyearseve.com and lasvegassun.com