Monday, January 13, 2014

To Be or Not To Be...a Vegetarian is the Question.

What exactly does being "cruelty free" entail? If I give my money to a company who doesn't test, but is owned by a bigger company who does, am I a fraud? If I give my money to a company who doesn't test & is owned by a bigger company who doesn't test, but buys ingredients that are tested, am I a fraud? And if, IF, I buy nothing but non-tested products with non-tested ingredients from non-testing companies who are owned by bigger non-testing companies, but I eat I a fraud? 

I don't eat cows, as of a couple of months ago. Mainly because they're my favorite animal. Their mile-long eyelashes and shiny black noses are my nothing short of beautiful! One of my clearest childhood memories is my baby sister & I standing at the fence of my great uncle's cow field mooing as loud as we could...attempting to trick the cows, who stood far off and stared at us like we had unicorn horns, into coming over to us. (They didn't of course.) Every so often I'll pull up next to a big truck on the highway and see those sweet eyelashes staring at me out of the gaps in the metal sides...I'll catch myself thinking, "Aw cows! I wonder where they're going." I wonder only for a second or so before I'm struck with the horrifying realization that they are most likely being shipped to some great, big, dank factory where they'll become hamburgers and steaks for the masses. I can't eat cows without seeing those eyes through metal slits on the highway or hearing my sister and I mooing. But, so far, that's where it stopped. I don't deny myself chicken, or pork, or fish...I thrive off of them, actually! But should I? 

I come from a carnivorous world, my friends. The entire Southern-Midwest region of the US is a carnivorous world, if we're being honest! Growing up, my mom grilled the best hamburgers you've ever seen, tasted, or heard about on TV. She also used to make some incredible grilled chicken breast with this killer seasoning that I am consistently reminding myself to ask her about. She can grill up some meat with the best of them; her mommy in the kitchen skills are on par with, I don't know, Martha Stewart or someone. My two all-time faves that she's ever made both include meat. In fact, I don't believe I can think of a meal I've had at home, period, that didn't include some sort of meat. Probably because my mom is the world's greatest cook and my father, who is equally skilled in the kitchen, father is a total steak connoisseur. His argument against vegetarianism is that God gave us animals specifically for food. (I have thus far failed to ask him why we own 2 dogs as pets, then. He's a steak connoisseur with a temper, okay?) I am sure that he would be a little less than gun-ho. Even my mother, who always has the best of intentions, would more than likely unsuccessfully attempt to hide her signature eye roll should I ever tell her I wanted to become a vegetarian. It's always seemed a noble cause to me and my cow-loving heart, but to the rest of my world, it seems to be an unnecessary inconvenience. But just because I've found it a noble cause doesn't mean I'm ready to pursue it...but should I be? (I mean, my 8th grade science teacher told us that vegetarians live longer  than meat eaters so I probably should be, yeah.) 

I've seen Food Inc. I survived the horror! Mostly because a summary of the film needed to be turned in for a grade, but regardless, my eyes have taken it in and my brain has processed it and I will never be able to go back now. I was terrified. Terrified of the dictator-like hand big companies play in lobbying our lawmakers; terrified of the power big companies hold in demolishing home-grown businesses purely and simply because they want to; terrified of what I'd been putting into my body for the 19 years I'd lived when I saw the film. I seriously considered it! Vegetarianism, that is. I bounced the idea around in my dome for about a week and a half until I gave up on it - veggies and organic stuff are a lot harsher on a college student's wallet than Chef Boy R Dee, you feel me? But I will never forget..."the pig scene." If you've seen the film, you will know what I mean. (You will also know that it doesn't have an official name, but my flair for dramatics has driven me to give it one.) As soon as the squeals began I squeezed my eyes shut as tightly as human possibly and wished to no avail that I could throw my hands over my ears like a kid scared of the Boogey Man without the judgmental stares of about 20 other students. Even now, even when I have pushed the film and the pig scene to the very farthest possible corner of my mind for the past 3 years, it still gives me an achey chest and sour stomach just thinking about it. Even now, I've got no shortage of motivation. My willpower, though, I will certainly call into question. 

I suppose, though, that my willpower should coincide with my motivation. Shouldn't it? I've been researching the vegetarian lifestyle and the best way to approach it. Nearly everyone I've read or listened to has said to cut out meats one at a time, don't freak your body out. Aren't I already one step into it with my sweet cow aversion? I'm becoming cruelty free in other areas of my life because I no longer want to give my money to companies who pay men to strap down rabbits in a lab and squirt petroleum into their eyes to ensure my mascara won't blind me. When I buy meat from a big, monopoly man company...aren't I essentially doing the same thing? I didn't like what I saw in Food Inc., I didn't like the kind of business dealings or animal treatment that my money, and my parents' money, and my friends' money is supporting. So shouldn't I stop?

This is the question I pose to you, my likely non-existent readers! Does cruelty free include your food? If you're a vegetarian or vegan, what are the tricks of the trade? How did you do it? And why?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Two Cute!

Hello there again, world! I'm back. Thanks for following along, if you are, by some miracle of internet proportions.

As you may or may not know, I'm new to this world of animal friendly living & am attempting to navigate the rather pricey world of "beauty without bunnies", as they say, without breaking the bank or my spirit. In my endless scouring of the interwebs for recommendations, reviews, and cheap non-tested alternatives to equally cheap tested products, I've run across several absolute gems. I'm clueless, let'e be honest, about what works and what doesn't. I don't know how to find cruelty free hair dye, or dish washing soap, or I don't know, paper plates. And I'm in dire need of assistance other than Google. Enter, the Cruelty Free QTs.

Stills from some QT videos! 

This mother-daughter duo are vegan animal lovers. They offer reviews on vegan products from deodorant to mascara, along with recommendations of their own favorite stuff, which is endlessly helpful to a newbie like me! They're unbiased reviews, too...I admit, I slightly expected them to say anything cruelty free is perfect, but they've given some of the products they reviewed two big thumbs down. And they cover all the bases: just today I watched their video on vegan DOG TREATS! (I didn't know such a thing existed, but I will definitely be looking into my dogs become cruelty free with me. Ha!) They live completely and unabashedly cruelty free and don't seem limited by it at all. They've got videos on how to shop cruelty free at Target & Walmart and, let's be real, this college girl needs those!

They're definitely non-traditional & live slightly outside the box, but they're lifesavers to me and my new animal-friendly plight, and I have no doubt that they're making a big mark on the animals rights movement! If you're transitioning like me, or maybe just thinking about it, definitely give their channel a click. They'll give you something to think about! And you won't regret it.

(Have you gone yet?)

Monday, January 6, 2014

My First Cruelty Free Purchases!

The transition has begun! The very slow, calculated transition, that is. I'm doing my research because I want to get the most animal-friendly products that I can without completely emptying my pockets...I'm a college student, right? I've been spending hours in the various "natural beauty" aisles at my local Target googling each & every product that I picked up! I'm sure the staff and fellow shoppers alike were frightened or at least on the look out for me to steal 10 or 12 things. I mean, the police were probably on standby. But I wanted to be educated! (Maybe I should educate myself before leaving the house in the future...) I want to be sure that I'm putting my money in the correct places and buying things that weren't tested on cute, little, furry noses.

The first thing I picked up was this Yes To Cucumbers Soothing Eye Gel. It's my first purchase from any of the Yes To lines, which include carrots, blueberries, tomatoes, and grapefruit. {*QUESTION, all of the Yes To products I picked up included that beautiful little bunny on the back, indicating that it's cruelty free...except for the grapefruit! Any ideas as to why? Acidic citrus content, maybe?}

I've only used this product a couple of times, so a review here would be inappropriate, but I can tell you one positive thing about it! I've got overly sensitive skin around my eyes...I'm talking everything burns. It's a little annoying if we're being honest! But with the Yes To Cucumbers gel, the burning was as short-lived as I've experienced so far! Initially it was uncomfortable, but it subsided in maybe 30 seconds. And maybe the burning was just because I'm not used to it? At any rate, I was very excited with the short burn time & I've got high hopes for this product! I bought it for around $14.50.

Next, because I wanted to try a variety of brands to see what worked for me & my wallet, I picked up this Boots Botanics Skin Calming Night Cream - Ultra Calm w/Marshmallow Extract. Yes, yes. I'm big into the soothing/calming stuff for sure. My skin stresses out in the wintertime & one thing I'm not big into is flaky roughness. Yuck! And so far, so good. Like the Yes To gel, I've only used this cream a handful of times, but I've got no complaints! It feels calming...the name is fitting. Haha! I've discovered that this $15 moisturizer is actually on the cheap end when it comes to the more organic realm, but it was definitely a shock to this former $6 a jar Olay user!

*PLEASE NOTE that although Boots doesn't test on animals as an entity, they don't take any steps to ensure that the ingredients they use weren't tested on animals. Some people are adverse to product lines like this, but I thought I'd give it a shot. In the future, though, I would love to find an affordable moisturizer that was made with 100% cruelty free products. Any suggestions? 

Next, because I just ran out of toothpaste & it was the perfect time to try it, I picked up Tom's of Maine Whole Care Toothpaste in Peppermint. The rest of these products are relatively new to me, but I'm no stranger to Tom's toothpaste. When my baby sister was young, she developed a dry, rough rash around her mouth. The dermatologist prescribed medicated lotion, but also told my mom to switch her to Tom's. She did & the rash cleared up in no time!

Tom's is a great company, whether you're buying toothpaste or deodorant - they don't engage in animal testing or use any sort of animal or artificial ingredients. They even make toothbrushes! They promote environmental sustainability and my favorite part is that every ingredient they use and it's purpose in the product is listed on their website,! A great product from a great company for a great price - around $3.50.

Because my shampoo was also running low, I grabbed some John Freida Frizz Ease Smooth Start Shampoo & Conditioner. I'm a huge John Freida fan; his quick repair serum & finishing cream are magic, I'm telling you. However as far as cruelty free goes, similarly to Boots, John Frieda does not test on animals but is owned by a parent company that does: Koa. Again, I'm still testing the waters here. I am really interested to try something totally cruelty free/organic though, like LUSH! My best friend, a Lush junkie in every sense of the word, turned me on to the store a couple of months ago. I love their dry shampoo "No Drought" & I've heard awesome things about nearly every other product they create, all without using animal testing or animal ingredients. I'm hoping a Lush shampoo will be next up on the docket. I picked up the JF shampoo & conditioner for $5.49 a piece.

And last, but not least, a completely random find, Tree Hut Olive & Shea Moisturizing Shower Wash in the scent Hawaiian Kukui! I'm not picky when it comes to body soap...truth be told, I'm in it for the smell good. And my nose is fairly easy to please. Coconut, floral, tropical, musky, I'm a fan as long as it smells pretty! And this stuff smells delicious! It's almost reminiscent of a tropical cherry that the weirdest thing you've ever heard? If not, you should definitely give it a try! It was on the cheaper end of the cruelty free body soaps I found...$7.99 for a pretty giant bottle!

Well there you have it, folks! My very first...intentional...cruelty free haul! I'm really excited about the quality and accessibility of these items. I'm far from vegan or completely animal friendly, but I'm excited to have the ball rolling! And I would love to hear suggestions on your favorite cruelty free products!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Hello there, World!

My name is Jessica. I'm 22 & I'm a senior in college with my fingers crossed for my grad school application to be accepted. Not that you're particularly interested.

If you're here, if you've clicked on this blog, you are probably particularly interested in something I'll be blogging about, though. Animals. I'm going to go out on a proverbial limb here and guess that you clicked on this blog to read about animals. I'm also going to assume that if you're interested in reading about animals, you probably love them as much as I do! If so, kudos. And welcome!

Over the course of the past year, I've talked more about animals, thought more about animals, and loved more animals than I've ever done. Last summer, my boyfriend's puppy Luke was lost for 2 weeks...and the outpouring of support from the animal rights/rescue community, whom I had never interacted with before, stunned me. These people didn't know us or little Luke, (a Mastiff mix, who is not actually little by any means), from Adam, yet they were ready and willing to help us from the word go. We were eventually reunited with him through the help of 2 rescuers who lived in his neighborhood! Let me tell you, fellow animal lovers, that if you've never lost a pet then you cannot imagine the overflow of relief and something like unadulterated joy that comes from seeing them again. He had literally disappeared into thin air and after 2 weeks, we were all but sure he was gone forever. And just like that, there he was. Magic.

I've always been an animal girl: we've had dogs my entire childhood, not to mention an endless array of beta fish & parakeets. I've always cooed at the cows and horses who line the roads when we visit my Grandpa who lives in the smallest farm town in existence. I've always clapped and whistled for the stray cats who roam my neighborhood to come to me, (we all know they never do, don't we?). But I've never thought about doing anything with animals other than owning a couple of them. What else was there to do? The purpose of this blog that you've so intentionally clicked on, I'm sure, is to document my meager attempts to answer that question as best as it can be answered! 

Currently, I'm cutting animal tested products out of my life. The convictions of my heart have been changing rapidly and animal rights has become one of those I feel at the forefront. I don't know that I will stop at becoming as cruelty free as I can be, but I know that's where I will start. Feel free to follow along as I begin to navigate the brave new world of animal rights!...and leave comments & suggestions, I'm open to them all!

Welp. Here goes nothin'!