Nov
22

Faux fur, Faux Leather, Faux Meat: Vegan Thumbs Up Or Thumbs Down?

Image 11-22-13 at 10.01 AMWhile searching VAP for some Thanksgiving recipes, I stumbled upon a post I wrote last year entitled Faux Meat, Faux Fur, Faux Vegan? At the time I wrote it, I was analyzing my feelings about having just served the faux meat roast which was at the center of my family’s Thanksgiving table a couple of days before. Naturally, I began asking myself other questions pertaining to the use of faux animal products.

Does wearing faux furs, animal skins, or leather clothing and accessories promote the idea that wearing real fur coats, animal skins or leather products is ethical?

Should eating faux meat be desirable in the world of a vegan, or does it send a message that it’s okay to kill animals for their meat?

Are faux fur and faux animal products really that appealing, and why do so many vegans use or wear faux fur, skins or leather?

How do I really feel about the whole matter? 

Since I believe that these are interesting questions, I decided to re-post my article. I would truly love to hear your thoughts and opinions on the subject, so feel free to leave comments below.

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FAUX MEAT, FAUX FUR, FAUX VEGAN? 

It is now two days post-Thanksgiving and the leftover Field Roast Hazelnut Cranberry Roast En Croute with vegan mushroom gravy still sits in my refrigerator. Although I really enjoyed this Field Roast loaf and highly recommend it to anyone interested in trying a faux meat product, the truth is that I would have preferred my Thanksgiving feast to be one with no faux meats. However, my husband loves the Field Roast loaf because it “satisfies his craving for turkey.”

UnknownPersonally speaking, having been vegan for over three years, I no longer have any cravings for turkey and feel absolutely no need for a dead bird replacement at the holiday table. On the contrary, the concept of eating a faux animal is now repulsive to me. For the record, I really liked the Field Roast loaf and did not have images of a dead animal floating around my head while eating it. I pictured some hearty grains shaped into a log inside a puffed pastry which was quite appealing to me. A fake meat product shaped into the form of a turkey would have been another story!

In any event, I have been thinking a lot about the following question: do I believe that faux meats, faux furs and faux leather products are helpful, ethical and desirable in the world of a vegan?

I can only ponder this question from my own perspective. Let me start with handbags and shoes. Finding quality replacements for my leather accessories has been a mission for me since I adopted my vegan lifestyle. Don’t forget that I’m a princess and my wardrobe has always reflected this fact. I have no problems with buying vegan handbags that mimic leather since I do not find the majority of vegan handbags offensive in any way. I absolutely love Stella McCartney’s “Falabella” bags, although I would not opt to buy the bags which look like pythons, other snake skins, or pony hair. For me, they cross a personal line. Accessories made of real snake skins and pony hair bothered me long before I was vegan and they don’t suit my tastes in their fake form now. However, I would love some of the simpler faux leather Stella bags, especially the ones which are glittery (hint, Jeff!).

71811793Similarly, I really love some of the faux leather shoes and boots out there. Many ethical companies such as Cri de Coeur make some hot looking faux leather shoes and boots. I actually own a pair of faux UGG boots by the brand Neuaura which I really enjoy. They do not offend me since they are not overly furry, nor do they make me think of dead animals. Once again, I would opt out of buying shoes and boots which mimic crocodiles, snakes or pony hair because it personally becomes distasteful to me.

My feelings about jackets and coats are consistent with my feelings about handbags and shoes. I have a faux leather jacket from the brand Free People which I really like. However, I know that I would not enjoy wearing a vest, coat or jacket which succesfully mimics fur. My entire life I have found fur coats and jackets to be distasteful and I would not choose to wear a faux fur coat now.

As I previously stated, I could really live without faux meats and faux vegan food products since my goal is to always try and eat whole foods in their natural state. However, there are times when faux meat and dairy products (Field Roast, Daiya and Tofutti are my “go-to” brands) are convenient and tasty and I will sometimes have them. But if a faux meat product looks too much like a real animal (for example, if  faux chicken meat looks like it has bumpy skin) forget about it! That is where I draw the line.

images-5In conclusion, it is my opinion that you are still a “real” vegan if you consume faux meats and wear faux animal products. The reality of the situation is that you are not eating or wearing real animals and that no animals were killed or harmed for these products (on a side note: some faux furs are made with dog hairs and other animal hairs so be careful). I believe that your decision as a vegan to consume or wear faux animal products is a personal one. I applaud anyone and everyone who made the choice to stop eating or wearing real animals and this includes those who eat faux meats and wear faux fur or leather apparel!

images-6The argument could be made that wearing authentic-looking faux fur, animal skin or leather apparel, or eating faux meat products promotes the idea that wearing real fur coats, crocodile boots and eating animals is ethical. This is a very strong argument and this line of reasoning is why I don’t wear faux fur coats. However, the fact remains that real animals are not hurt or killed to make faux animal products and the use of them remains a matter of personal choice. Clearly, companies which make quality faux fur coats, faux animal skin and leather products, and tasty fake meats are taking a huge step in the right direction, and so are the people who choose to wear faux furs, faux snakeskin shoes and eat fake meats. I believe that there has to be an understanding that it has been drummed into our heads for a very long time that eating meat, consuming dairy products and wearing animal products is the “American” way of life. How many times have we seen the famous milk mustache commercials? If wearing faux furs and eating faux meat products helps people overcome these deep-rooted beliefs and stay vegan, then I say “yes” to all of it.

Unknown-2Now, I would like to revisit the question presented at the beginning of this article: do I believe that faux meats, faux furs and faux leather products are helpful, ethical and desirable in the world of a vegan? The answer to this question is an emphatic “yes”! However, it is my deepest wish that as veganism becomes mainstream with the passing of time, the desires of most vegans to wear faux furs, faux animal skin accessories and eat faux meats will be gone. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if people became “vegan” in their hearts and faux fur coats or crocodile shoes no longer looked beautiful to anyone? Wouldn’t it be cool if people just craved plant-foods absolving the demand for fake meat products? A girl could could only dream, couldn’t she? In the meantime, all I can say is “yes” to Tofurky, Tofutti, and faux python Stella McCartney handbags!

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Peace and love,

Debby

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Comments

  1. I agree on all counts.

    I think the fake meats are important “gateway” foods for some people. When I gave up meat over 20 yrs ago, I had no idea what to eat because I was not brought up eating any vegetables other than potatoes. My vegetarian then vegan diet mimicked what I already ate. Over time, it evolved and now I rarely eat them. But I think it is good that they are there for others.

  2. I don’t think of those foods as “fake meats” but think of them exactly what they are ~ grains, proteins, veggies in a loaf form easy to cook and eat. Since becoming vegan my husband and I agree that the seasonings, not the meat gave meat/chicken/fish their flavor. We refer to the Gardein scallops as ‘Gardein’ and not fake chicken. We like it sautéed in olive oil, lemon, white wine and capers ~ yum! It’s better than chicken ever was. Field Roast “sausages” are delicious in our tofu scrambles on Sunday mornings ~ it’s the spices that we love. We refer to them as “sausages” for lack of a better word, I guess.
    As far as faux fur or animal printed anything, the way I think of it is that animals do have beautiful coats. Some of the patterns {leopards!} are gorgeous. If we, as humans, can copy those prints because we think they’re beautiful, why not? as long as the animal is not harmed. I, too, LOVE, Stella McCartney’s Falabella and even the printed ones are beautiful. Pythons have gorgeous patterned skins and imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, right? 🙂
    Love your website, Debby and all of your information. I too am a VAP living on the North Shore of LI. Right now I’m on a mission to get {at least} ONE delicious vegan option on my favorite restaurant’s menus. I was out to eat twice this week, called ahead, but was still very disappointed. My dishes came without the meat, fish or cheese and without any flavor! Did you ever taste dried up, pasty polenta? Not good!
    One of my friends recommended Tula’s Kitchen in Bayshore, have you been? I really want to try it. I’ll report back when I do.
    Keep all the great info coming!!!

    • Hi Debbie! I agree with you about the Gardein products, and I do love those Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Sausages. I love your outlook on the beauty of animals’ coats and skins, and I have never heard it expressed that way before. Love it! Thank you for visiting our website, and for your lovely comments. Let me know how you do on your mission to get a vegan option on your favorite restaurant’s menu. Yes, I’ve heard of Tula Kitchen and I go there all the time. They have delicious vegan options, and the ambiance is really cool. I did a restaurant review of Tula Kitchen a while back. If you plug the name in the search box on VAP’s home page you will find the post with photos of the food.

  3. Christine Shields says:

    As more and more non-leather bags, jackets, belts and boots are being sold you can wear them and when you get a compliment say, yes its faux! I think it starts the conversation and shows people that you can purchase quality attractive products that did not stem from the death of an animal.

    As far as food I would just like to I highly recommend High Hopes Vegan Bakery. Its owned by a woman who makes everything out of her kitchen. She delivers! The presentation is impeccable and the cakes and cookies are so delicious. I do not usually eats sweet anything but these are delicious. Also The Purple Elephant in Northport has great Vegan food. I have found that more and more restaurants will tailor your dishes and make then without the dairy that seems to be in everything. Kitchen A Bistro is accommodating, and Orto in Miller Place is used to fashioning dishes for every diet.

    The “meat looking” food helps the transition. If you don’t tell people its vegan and they like it, they learned something. I also agree its the seasonings and condiments not the meat that taste so good.

    Great blog!

    • Thank you Christine for your comments. I totally agree with you that if you are wearing great faux clothes and accessories, you are like a walking advertisement. Same thing with great vegan food. I’m thrilled with your recommendations for The High Hopes Vegan Bakery, The Purple Elephant and Kitchen A Bistro. I have never heard of them and I’m thrilled to know about other vegan options on Long Island. Also, thanks for visiting!

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