For the past few months, I’ve been trying to live “cruelty free.” To me this means not killing or torturing animals to fulfill trivial needs.
Food of course was the first challenge. At first it was difficult to figure out how to get both balanced and tasty meals, but I’ve since cracked it. Getting into vegan cooking and fare is actually quite fun. Not only am I enjoying what I eat, I also just got my blood work back from the lab, and my iron, red blood count, vitamin B12 and all other important blood characteristics were perfect.
The next challenge was people. Even close friends hold passionate views about how people should and shouldn’t use animal products. By deciding that you don’t want to torture and kill animals to satisfy trivial needs—like having bacon on a sandwich—it creates social friction. It comes up, and people inherently feel judged. After the initial shock went through my personal network, it only took a few conversations to work most of this out.
My next challenge was clothing. I’ve got a leather jacket, a leather belt, a leather wallet, and leather shoes. For the most part, finding alternatives hasn’t been too hard. Just the other day I bought my first “vegan shoes” and honestly, they are perhaps the best sneakers I’ve ever owned. They are comfortable, water-proof, stylish, durable. Vegan or not vegan, they are great shoes.
But a friend made a good comment. Sure, you’ve been able to find casual shoes, but at work, I need dress shoes. And dress shoes have to be leather.
And while there are some cruelty-free “leather looking” shoes, they typically cater to woman (see Neuaura for a great example).
So the truth is, I kind of agreed with him. Good dress shoes are important and quality cruelty-free shoes men’s dress shoes are hard to find.
But then I started thinking about it more. Why is it that dress shoes so damn important? It’s just a bizarre social decision that we have made, that men wear these types of shoes to work. It’s not a universal truth. In the grand scheme of life and humanity, in fact, it is totally silly.
Yes, I appreciate a nice pair of leather dress shoes. But if they are not available without torturing and killing animals, then F#@K dress shoes. I don’t need them.
My contribution and worth as a man cannot be boiled down to my shoes. So until great cruelty-free dress shoes are widely available, I’m just not going to buy any. I refuse to kill innocent life forms to simply adhere and conform.