While at a show, someone looked over our products looking for a gift for their daughter. Upon reading our ingredients, she announced with a sigh that there was nothing she could buy from us because her daughter was vegan. This left me a little puzzled because up until than moment we advertised our bath and beauty products as being Gluten free, 100% natural, Dairy free, 100% Biodegradable,…AND VEGAN. The ingredient in question that caused concern was beeswax.
This troubled me greatly for several reasons. Being in our 40’s we’ve had the opportunity to experience several angles of living. We’ve been traditional meat lovin’ omnivores, vegetarians, gluten free, dairy free, borderline vegan, and of late, hold a menu plan that resembles closer to a Paleo diet. I won’t go into detail on why we eat the way we do, other than it is for health, not for environmental reasons. What I will go into though is my view towards the environment. I believe we are all called to be stewards of this earth. My definition of this is very simple “waste not, want not”. We don’t kill animals just for the fun of it. We don’t waste a garden full of vegetables, we share them with our neighbours. We care and tend for all that is around us…it is more important to be connected to what is happening around you than walk oblivious to the world while following an impossible set of rules. We’ve been legalistic and have known many legalistic people…let’s just say, nothing ends well and normal daily life isn’t pretty…for anyone! This is why our family diet resembles a Paleo diet but isn’t a hardcore Paleo diet.
As a kid I grew up hunting and trapping on the farm. My wife and kids grew up in the city and we moved to an acreage about 5 years ago. We’ve raised baby chicks…and watched as kitty cats, foxes, and coyotes ate those baby chicks. We’ve had baby calve’s on our living room floor. We’ve relocated wild bunnies so they didn’t get mowed, and even relocated baby mice. We’ve fed and wintered over 100 mule deer…and watched many of them die due to lack of feed they required. Our son walked up and pet a beautiful Pronghorn Antelope buck…three hours before it died in the cold. Did you know most wild deer families can’t be fed by man…you can leave a bale of feed out for them and they will curl up and die beside it. They would rather die than eat feed left by man.
My understanding of the literal term of being vegan is to eat and use products that do not harm any other existence. Someone should tell the wildlife in our area this as we live in a farming community. All the natural prairie land is gone except for some fringe areas where those animals live. If it wasn’t because of grain farmers, there would be much more land for those animals to graze naturally on. As more land is converted for growing vegetables and grains, less land is available for these creatures, thus inevitably causing their winter hardships and demise. This means, if we choose to eat a vegan diet, we are promoting the conversion of more land to farm use resulting in harming local wildlife. Ultimately and legalistically, most people can’t be vegan and NOT harm another organism’s well being. The food is going to come from somewhere, and if you live in the city, you are relying on the food being grown on someone else’s land…land that was taken away from wildlife and unless you are eating 100% organic, you are promoting the use of pesticides used to kill insects who also rely on your food for their well being. I do however, applaud people who make a conscious effort to do the best they can while being well informed about their choices.
We purchase our beeswax from two of our local neighbours. I can honestly say that they tend and care for their bees far greater than that of what nature does. Why? Those bees are their livelihood. Another issue is without farm raised bees, there would be NO CROPS in the area. Most of the natural wild bumble bees are gone now. The reason for this is debatable but my view is the use of herbicides and pesticides on grain crops. One of our neighbours who farms bees does so because their main business is a cherry orchard, again, they help nature and nature helps them.
We will continue to call our products vegan…even with beeswax in them. I believe it is more important to know how and where those raw products come from than to split hairs. Ultimately, our family cares about nature, we care about the environment, we tred as softly as we can on this earth and we try to see all that is around us in this world without blinders on. It is hard for all of us to make the right decisions but as long as we make those decisions being completely informed the best that we can, that is all we can ask for. I am all about non cruelty towards nature and we have the absolute privilege of being part of nature here on our 7 acres of land…and if I ever have to witness a beautiful Pronghorn suffer from starvation again, I will not allow the animal to be eaten alive by a coyote or die a slow, agonizing death. I will be prepared to put the animal down humanely and with love. We live with nature. You can’t live off-grid in a straw bale house, living off the land, growing vegetables, and animals, and not feel a connection and compassion toward every single living organism.