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On Vegan Accessories and the Today Show

I don’t watch much television, but I was alerted to a segment on the Today Show about vegan accessories. And pardon my surprise, but I guess I just didn’t realize exactly how far out of the mainstream I am. Though I’m thrilled that the popular show featured animal-friendly accessories, I was amazed that hostest Campbell Brown was so unhinged that such things as "vegan accessories" actually exist. "We’re not kidding," she says.

Brown is joined by Allyson Waterman of Lucky Magazine, who is far better at responding to Brown’s ignorance than I’d ever be.

Let’s deconstruct:

  • Naturally, Brown is taken aback that the accessories are "cute" and "not crunchy granola" (yawn). "You don’t have to forfeit fashion to be environmentally conscious." Okay, I hate to break it to you, but many vegan accessories are just as harmful to the environment to produce as leather-based ones. This isn’t about the environment, it’s about the reality that no one needs to use the skin of another animal as a handbag or a shoe. This is one of the clearest types of killing without necessity that exists. Why not talk about that? Why not put leather-wearers on the defensive instead, and make them pitch us on why we should kill someone and make a belt out of their skin?
  • Brown, clearly an inside-the-box kind of person, asks: "Do you think that there’s a real market for this, or is it really a marketing ploy by companies to get us to use this?" Waterman of course does think there is a market, and emphasizes how easy the products are to find and how cute and competitively priced they are. At this point, I’m a huge fan of Waterman. I would’ve jumped down Brown’s throat for likening my beliefs to a ploy.
  • But then she says, "Look, it’s not gonna change the world by buying a vegan accessory . . ." WHAT? Each action we take that affirms life and nonviolence and puts money toward vegan values, does indeed change the world. Supply and demand. We just need to keep up the demand.
  • "It’s kind of hard to believe," says Waterman, that you can have a sexy, strappy sandal that looks great (or something like that). Here’s where I have a fake fur issue. If you don’t want to kill anyone for their skin, why buy something that is made to look like skin so people think you’ve killed someone for their skin?

My favorite handbag was a gift from friends for my 40th birthday in December: an evening bag made from recycled soda tabs. It was purchased at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, and hand made by a woman in Brazil. I also have a great jelly bag from Matt and Nat (and a wallet by them, but it looks like leather so I’m constantly having to tell everyone it’s not). Prada, believe it or not, has several shoes that are completely synthetic, although I don’t know if they qualify as vegan (I have a pair). And Steve Madden has oodles of nonleather shoes (I recenlty wore a stylin’ pair of sequin platform shoes to the Turtle Nest Village Bell Bottom Ball). I do own one belt, and it’s made of a recycled inner tube (and looks like it).

I prefer to wear interesting items that are conversation starters, than things that look like what everyone else has, even if they’re made from something else.

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