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I’m A Casual Vegan (And So Can You!) Part Two: Toiletries, Cosmetics, And Fragrance


So, you’ve begun to veganize your wardrobe, quietly weeding out the leather and the wool and the alligator and all the other animal-derived stuff hanging from hangers and boxed in shoeboxes. That was pretty painless, and no one really noticed the transformation, so no one has tried raking you over the coals for your new-found code of ethics. (I still don’t know why people do that, but they do. It’s annoying.)

Phase 1: The Bedroom is complete, now you’re ready for Phase 2: The Bathroom.

Chances are, several products sitting in your shower and by your sink contain animal-based ingredients and/or were animal-tested in labs. If you’re only following the letter of vegan law (whatever that is), you’ll just need to ditch the former, but the spirit of that law is all about minimizing cruelty, so it seems like a good idea to toss the latter, too.

A quick heads-up before we begin: this round of changeouts may be more difficult than the first, but don’t worry, it’s totally doable. And as with the clothing switcheroo, you’ll probably be the only one to notice.

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I’m A Casual Vegan (And So Can You!) Part One: Clothing & Accessories

Keep Calm and Go VeganI am a patient man. My husband would say that I am too patient. It’s something I picked up from my mother, who preached the “This is Water” philosophy long before David Foster Wallace gave his now-famous speech.

I am also a pragmatist. This goes hand-in-hand with being patient.  I don’t need a perfect life, I don’t need laws, technology, jobs, clients, partners, or pets to be exactly as I want them, when I want them. I am willing to accept incremental progress and evolution rather than lickety-split revolution — in fact, I think slow-and-steady-wins-the-race is a healthier approach. In short: I am willing to live with the ambiguities and messiness of the world. My boyfriend can vouch for that.

So it’s no surprise that my version of veganism is fairly casual, laid-back. Don’t get me wrong: when I was younger and merely a vegetarian, I was very confrontational. I went through That Phase. I was a complete and utter dick to carnivores. I can smile about it now, but at the time, it was terrible.

When I returned to the meat-free fold a few years ago, determined to go full-on vegan, I decided to approach it in a different way. So far, I think it’s worked: I feel better about myself, I think I’m inflicting less harm on the animals of the world, I didn’t have to change my life too dramatically to make the switch, and just as importantly, I don’t believe I’ve alienated any friends or family members in the process. (Though like many non-meat-eaters, I still have a dad who says things like, “I know you’re a vegetarian, but you still eat chicken, right?”)

Along the way, I’ve persuaded a few folks to join me. Most worried that being vegan would be too much of a “lifestyle” and upend their daily routines, but soon they realized that’s not the case — not at all. Here are some of the tips I offered them, starting with the ones that are easiest to implement.

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Quick Notes On Texas & Marriage Equality

Ted Cruz“[U]nelected judges should not be substituting their own policy views for the reasoned judgments of the citizens of Texas” — Senator Ted Cruz, complaining about a federal judge who found Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage to be in conflict with the U.S. Constitution

And that, in a nutshell, is the only remaining defense that Texans — or anyone else in America — has for supporting statewide bans on same-sex marriage.

The procreation argument has failed at every level.

The biblical argument? Even more disastrous. Put aside for a moment the question of church/state separation and just look at the wackadoo marriage laws found in the bible. Any of the Old Testamenteers would be completely confused by our one man-one woman system. “What no concubines? No slaves? No incest? What’s wrong with you people?” (N.B. They might’ve said “What the hell is wrong with you people?”, only hell hadn’t been invented yet.)

The traditionalist argument — that is, saying that “this is the way it’s always been done”? Equally abysmal failure. In fact, it’s always an abysmal failure.

And so now, people like the Senator from the Great State of Texas by way of Canada are doing the only thing they can:

1) Attacking unelected judges (you know, the ones that are generally censured at a lower rate than their elected colleagues)

2) Attacking “activist” judges (though of course, they’re only activists if they rule against the conservative cause).

3) Defending state’s rights (which seems sound, except the Full Faith and Credit clause of the Constitution opens the door to mandating that states, at the very least, recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states)

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Andrew Sullivan Is Wrong About Arizona

Andrew Sullivan

I like Andrew Sullivan.

Well, I mostly like Andrew Sullivan.

I don’t like his conservatism on many issues. I fail to understand how such a smart man could’ve supported the Iraq War or George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan or any of the other right-wing figures he’s professed to like. I’m also wary of his Zionist tendencies.

But Sullivan is smart and thoughtful, and what’s most interesting about him is that he’s willing to discuss touchy subjects that most on the left or right want to avoid, mostly due to knee-jerk political ideology. I was taught in graduate school that even the dumbest, weirdest, most offensive ideas are worth exploring, because sometimes those ideas have a kernel of truth — truth that helps explain why the other side of the argument is so right, or how it might be a little wrong.

Also, Sullivan is adorable and sexy. I’d be lying if I said that doesn’t make him incrementally more likable in my book.  Looks and charisma can have that kind of effect — hell, why else would huge swathes of America still be listening to Sarah Palin? At least the woman can pull off an up-do.

But my point is this: Sullivan’s thoughts on the just-vetoed anti-LGBT law in Arizona are off-base. True, he doesn’t want to see LGBT people subjected to discrimination, but he doesn’t want to legislate our equality, either. Case in point:

I would never want to coerce any fundamentalist to provide services for my wedding – or anything else for that matter – if it made them in any way uncomfortable. The idea of suing these businesses to force them to provide services they are clearly uncomfortable providing is anathema to me. I think it should be repellent to the gay rights movement as well.

So, two things:

a) This isn’t about wedding cakes or floral arrangements or any of the frippery associated with same-sex marriage ceremonies. Those incidents simply inspired the lawsuits that, in turn, inspired the failed Arizona law. Ultimately, this is about public accommodation, and the lawsuits over cakes and flowers are leading judges to the same conclusions that their peers are reaching in same-sex marriage cases — namely, that LGBT individuals constitute a suspect class, and that, in turn, is another huge step toward legally securing our rights.

b) It’s not surprising that Sullivan would oppose the uproar around the bill. It’s no shock that he wants to allow the bigots have their way, to let things run their course, to have LGBT citizens patronize other florists and bakeries while the right-wingers dig their own graves. After all, Sullivan generally hates hate-crime laws. But the slow and steady approach to civil rights doesn’t work for everyone — certainly not everyone who’s not white and wealthy. Some people would like to acquire their rights today, from the bench, instead of from a process of accretion. As someone from Mississippi, where time moves more slowly than in most of the U.S., I speak from experience.

Given Sullivan’s pragmatism — an admirable trait, in my view — you’d think he might get all that.

Buffalo Gals

Malcolm McLaren, Buffalo Gals

I like Pharrell and everything, but just as a reminder to everyone who finds his bigass hat so cutting edge: it’s all been done before.

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