Vegan yarn

Do you knit or crotchet?

Making cozy sweaters, scarves, and luxurious throws is a talent I don’t possess, but one I admire. My grandmother used to make me intricate sweaters. She tried to teach me to knit, but as a lefty, I proved to be a challenging student.

I’ve noticed that a lot of knitters use wool to make their handiwork. I’ve written about why wool isn’t cruelty-free.

So what’s a vegan knitter to do? Cotton is one option. Acrylic is another. But I recently discovered bamboo and soy yarn.

soy yarn

Bellatrista is a local company that creates luxurious yarns. The silky soft yarns come in difference weights and colors and would be a terrific alternative to wool or acrylic.

Soy yarn is stronger than wool or cotton. It breathes well, and wicks moisture away from the body, making it great for summer-weight knits. It’s a byproduct of soybean processing!

Not all the yarns on the site are vegan, so head to the Soy Yarn and Undyed Yarn pages for ones that meet the vegan knitter bar.

Undyed yarn is a great option for those who do their own dying.

Do you knit or crotchet? Have you found other cruelty-free yarns?

Is Seattle ready for a vegan boutique?

Let’s hope so! Because I’m opening one.

That’s right. I haven’t posted very often lately because I’ve been busy planning a big new project.

After watching The True Cost and reading Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion I decided to change my buying habits. I love to thrift and swap, but I’m also guilty of getting sucked into fast fashion trends. And while an $8 skirt is hard to resist, as soon as I realized why some apparel is so cheap—and that someone somewhere is paying in blood, sweat, and tears—the urge to buy, buy, buy went away.

I started looking for places to buy clothing that are gentle on the environment, are sweatshop-free, and aren’t made from animals, and I realized there’s no place like that in Seattle. Was I supposed to provide this store? I couldn’t get the thought out of my head. For the past year, I’ve been researching and planning.

Last week, I signed the lease on a space in Capitol Hill and I quit my corporate job!

I have a lot of work ahead of me. I’ll be getting the store space ready for a grand opening in May 2016. If you’d like to follow along with my new adventure, check out www.drizzleandshine.com or @drizzleandshine on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

DrizzleAndShine-Logo-Vertical-RGB-Small

I’ll still be writing about vegan and animal rights issues on this blog and I hope to pick up the pace of my posts again soon.

Katzentempel: Germany’s first cat café

During my trip to Germany this past summer, I got to visit Café Katzentempel, Germany’s first cat café. What made this place extra special was the 100% vegan menu.

menus

Katzentempel (Cat Temple) is a wonderful café and restaurant in Munich. Students from the nearby university sipped on cappuccinos worked on laptops, while at other tables, groups dined on delicious vegan fare.

The food was ganz lecker (totally delicious) but the cats stole the show. Six rescued resident cats made themselves at home in the café.

Balou

Gizmo

Even the artwork was cat-themed.

cat art

I liked that the cats’ wellbeing was paramount. No flash photography and no manhandling of the cats allowed. Of course, we were lucky and some of the cats visited us. On their terms, of course—as cats prefer.

Jack naps

Ayla rests after a drink

Robin on his perch

Sleepy Saphira

I was lucky that one of the café owners was there so I learned firsthand about how the café was created. Thomas Leidner came from the world of finance but wanted to do something completely different. An ethical vegan, he knew the cats would be a huge draw, and would help him reach more people with delicious vegan food. He’s helping people improve their relationships with animals in more than one way!

Thomas and friends

Balou sees an opening on the calendar. Next time you’re in Munich, stop by—the cats will be waiting for you!

Balou and calendar

Helping elephants in Thailand

For her birthday, all my friend Loreen wants is an elephant.

Last year, while visiting Thailand, Loreen discovered Elephant Nature Park, a sanctuary for abused elephants. She donated generously, a gift that her company matched, and she enabled ENP to build a shelter for their elephants.

This year, she’s aiming high. Instead of gifts, she’s asking all her friends to help her rescue another elephant at Elephant Nature Park by donating directly to ENP, or by donating to The Abraham Foundation, a U.S non-profit that supports ENP.

elephant c/o Elephant Nature Park

Elephant Nature Park and its founder Lek, are featured in the documentary film, How I became an Elephant. I was horrified to learn of the conditions of so many captive elephants in Thailand, and comforted to see Lek care for and give a refuge to survivors. In the film, she said she doesn’t buy elephants from people who will use the money to abuse more elephants. A position that I completely endorse. It does, however, take money to negotiate an elephant’s freedom and transport.

Lek offers elephants over 100 acres to roam, form natural groups, and for the first time ever, live without chains and set their own agendas. Amazingly, some of the rescued elephants have been reintroduced to the wild. Many others are too injured and worn out for life in the wild so Lek and her team offer medical care and the best quality of life possible.

In Thailand, elephants are forcibly impregnated and have their babies stolen from them. Babies are beaten “broken,” and forced to beg in busy cities at all hour of the day and night. They are malnourished and suffer greatly. Other elephants are used as beasts of burden in the illegal logging trade, even after injuries and blindness. Still others are used to give rides to tourists or perform tricks such as playing instruments, sports, or painting.

How to help

  • If you’re in the Seattle area, RSVP to Loreen’s fundraising birthday bash on October 24th, 2015.
  • Look at the Elephant Nature Park’s list of ways to help.
  • Donate to Elephant Nature Park at their site or, if you’re in the US and work for a company that matches donations, go through The Abraham Foundation, a 501(c)(3).
  • Never ride an elephant or pay to see captive elephants perform (dance, paint, or anything else). Even if the act itself looks harmless, the ways elephants are physically and emotionally abused to get them to learn tricks is abhorrent).
  • Volunteer at the Elephant Nature Park next time you’re in Thailand!

Lions and cows and dogs, oh my!

Cecil the Lion, as he was known, was a lion who lived in Zimbabwe. You’ve probably seen the media storm and public outrage this week about his murder. A wealthy American paid to hunt down Cecil—at night, by luring him out of a preserve—and shoot him with a crossbow.

a lion similar to Cecil

It was nothing but a cowardly act by a small-minded trophy hunter, hell-bent on proving his sense of worth by killing others. The man—a dentist from Minnesota—as a complete sociopath and waste of space. But I digress.

What I learned from the frenzy this week is that it pays to have a name. Cecil was a lion who’d been photographed by tourists for years (he was 12 or 13). He was GPS-collared and was part of an Oxford University study. But he was no different from many other lions that wealthy westerners (usually Americans) pay to kill. Six hundred lions are killed in trophy hunts every year, according to National Geographic.

Cecil sparked public outcry because he was well-known. In the same way we mourn for a celebrity’s death, but not the random people who also die.

For most people, the lion is a majestic creature. King of the jungle. We don’t associate them with food or clothing. That’s another thing Cecil had going for him. People around the world have issued hate mail and death threats to Cecil’s killer, and vigils and protests have sprung up at the man’s business.

Most of the people disgusted with Cecil’s death likely also eat and wear other animals. It’s a disconnect. Melanie Joy addresses this topic in-depth in her book, Why we Love Dogs, Eat pigs, and Wear Cows. This phenomenon (of loving some animals and eating others) she calls carnism. I encourage you to read the book and see how people compartmentalize and justify this discrepancy.

It’s okay to mourn for Cecil. His death was a tragedy. His pride is in jeopardy, and his cubs will likely be killed by competing lions. But we need to also mourn for the millions of dogs and cats who are euthanized each year because they have no homes. And for the billions of farmed animals whose lives are brutal and short. They are all as precious as Cecil and as deserving of life.

We can’t stop evil people from hunting (although signing the petition to ask Zimbabwe to stop issuing hunting permits or the petition to include lions on the endangered species list would help). But we can adopt dogs and cats and never buy from breeders. And we can choose to not eat animals.

If you’re not already, please choose veg. For the countless animals just like Cecil, who are worthy of our admiration and who want to live.

Wool-free carpets

When extending veganism beyond your diet, you might think about alternatives to leather shoes and bags. An often overlooked home décor product is carpeting.

Rugs are often made of wool (here’s why wool isn’t an ethical product). Sometimes, you’ll even see leather or leather-trimmed rugs. And sheepskin and cowhide rugs are not byproducts! Fortunately, it’s easy to find alternatives. Let’s look at some options for area rugs and broadloom:

Wall-to-wall

Wall-to-wall wool carpet is more cost-prohibitive that synthetic broadloom so isn’t as common. When shopping for carpet rolls, you’ll notice that most carpeting is synthetic.

Looking for natural alternatives? Wall-to-wall sisal is available at places like sisalcarpet.com, Sustainable Lifestyles, and Fibreworks. It’s available is a range of prices, but seems to be more expensive than synthetic wall-to-wall.

Area rugs

Wool is a common ingredient in area rugs. A simple swap would be to buy a synthetic version. If you see ingredients like nylon, latex, polyester and polypropylene, you’ll know the rug is synthetic.

If petrochemicals are a concern, there’s a host of animal-free natural fibers to choose from too. Cotton, hemp, jute, seagrass, sisal, bamboo, and linen rugs are great options. Some will look more rustic and, well, natural, but you can find a style and color to suit your décor.

Flor carpets

I’m a fan of Flor, a system of carpet squares that you can use to create rugs in any size or shape you’d like. Most are nylon (some are wool, so check the specs). They’re made with recycled backing and meet or exceed VOC (volatile organic compound) emissions standards. If pets, kids, or sloppy guests make a mess, you can replace a tile, not the entire rug. They come in a myriad of styles and colors—from solid, to stripes, and even animal prints. If you crave sophistication, their Better than Wool collection will impress.

Overstock.com has a huge selection of area rugs that you can sort by size, color and material (including synthetic versions of Persian/Oriental styles). Home Decorators has sections for natural and synthetic rugs too. You can even check out Target and Ikea’s sites for ideas.

Wall-to-wall

Wall-to-wall wool is more cost-prohibitive, and isn’t as common, but it’s considered the gold standard. Most wall-to-wall carpeting is synthetic.

Looking for natural alternatives? Wall-to-wall sisal is available at places like sisalcarpet.com, Sustainable Lifestyles, and Fibreworks. It’s available is a range of prices, but seems to be more expensive than synthetic wall-to-wall.

Premarin: A cruel way to fight menopause

Many women, upon reaching menopause, reach for prescriptions to treat their change-of-life symptoms.

Premarin is one of the drugs women are often prescribed as a hormone replacement therapy. It stands for PREgnant MARe unINe and it’s a cruel industry. Estrogen-rich pregnant horses’ urine is harvested from horses who are forcibly impregnated, confined to tiny stalls, and forced to wear painful urine collection bags. Horses’ water consumption is restricted so their urine is more concentrate.

horsesWhen foals are born, they’re often slaughtered, but sometimes replace their poor mothers on the urine collection line.

And did I mention it’s horse piss?

Most urine is collected at farms in Canada and North Dakota, but the industry is growing overseas too. Premarin is one of the most popular drugs prescribed today. Pfizer makes billions from it.

Premarin isn’t the only name to look out for. Avoid Prempro, Premphase, and Duavee as well. They’re also made with horses’ urine. If your menopausal prescription includes “conjugated equine estrogen” or PMU (Pregnant Mare Urine) just say no.

Controlling the symptoms of menopause

I get it. No one wants hot flashes, trouble sleeping, low energy, and all the other issues that goes along with a change of life. Lifestyle changes can help control symptoms: Go vegan and get exercise. Simple, yet effective. No urine ingestion needed.

If you really need medication, ask your doctor for a plant-based (phytoestrogens) or a synthetic alternative. Alternatives carry fewer risks too (Premarin increases the risk of breast cancer, heart attacks and strokes in women).

Resources

Humane Society article

Last Chance for Animals campaign

Havehest blog

Peta factsheet