A Vegans Guide to Feeding a Handbag Addiction

These days, finding vegan food is easy. You can walk into just about any cafe or restaurant and they will more than likely have a vegan option, often even a few. What about fashion? How do I feed my handbag addiction as a vegan? 

I've been vegan for just over three years now (after having been vegetarian for 10 years) and as an avid fashion and handbag lover, these were the questions I asked myself. Admittedly, one of the last things I transitioned to vegan was my handbag collection. 

I remember the day I decided to buy a luxury, designer leather bag from a well-known brand. I’m embarrassed to admit that at the time, I was a vegetarian who claimed to be an animal lover and advocate, and thought I was doing enough for animals. I used two bank cards and cash to purchase the bag, and I was ecstatic to finally own a “luxury” item.

Fast forward a few months, I started to become more aware of all the animal abuse that went far beyond simply not eating meat. I cut out eggs and dairy and started to transition my makeup, hair products and cleaning products to vegan alternatives. But I still had my handbag collection. 

One night, I was aimlessly scrolling through Facebook and I came across a video about leather production. After watching the skin removed from a living animal, a part of me broke. I turned and looked at my luxury handbag, now a symbol of needless torture and death. I realised my dollar was paying for this cruelty; their blood was on my hands. 

The handbag I once carried around with such pride now made me feel sick. I had a knot in my stomach and felt so ashamed and disgusted with myself, and it hit me. Deep down I knew being vegetarian was not enough, I couldn’t claim to love animals and carry my stuff around in a bag made from the skin of an innocent animal who did not want to die. I collapsed to the ground in tears, and in that moment, I fully committed to veganism and have not once gone back on the decision I made three years ago. 

I got rid of every last handbag and started buying cheap alternatives. These handbags were made of cheap, plastic materials, didn’t last long, and more importantly, were wasteful and cruel to the environment.

Thankfully today, a lot of companies and brands make amazing vegan alternatives with quality and equality. 

One of my favourite brands is SANS BEAST. Sans = without. Beast = animal. I was instantly hooked. They source Eco PU’s in which “Eco” refers to the material supplier not using toxic levels of chemicals when manufacturing the fabric. Whilst the fabric used is not quickly biodegradable (it is a lot more environmentally friendly than animal leather), they are transparent about this and hope to make quality timeless pieces that will not quickly be thrown to landfill. I know I will be using mine for years to come!  

I have spent hours scrolling through all the products on the online store THE-V-SPOT. A store that promotes fashion with heart; and wants us to make conscious purchases that are considerate and beneficial for all involved, while being able to look and feel our best! THE-V-SPOT not only carries a variety of different brands and products (clothes, shoes, accessories, beauty, makeup and skincare), their handbag collection is to die for - minus the guilt because no one had to die! I’ve already decided that my next purchase will be an ’Alexandra K’ tote handbag – I’m just trying to decide on the size and colour as THE-V-SPOT carries so many options! One thing I love about Alexandra K is that each handbag is unique with its own serial number engraved on a plaque that reads “This bag is animal cruelty free and vegan”- it also comes with a 2 year warranty.  

An online store that is a new favourite of mine is Humankind, who showcase an array of vegan shoes, handbags and accessories - made more accessible for those of us in Australia. Humankind is on a mission to prove that you don’t need to sacrifice style or quality because you choose not to wear animal products. I have recently purchased a pair of heeled boots from Humankind by the brand ‘Wills Vegan Shoes’. I was convinced to purchase a pair after my partner purchased himself a pair (yes they have men’s products too) and has raved about them! Wills Vegan Shoes are ethically and sustainably made in Portugal and have also been seen on Liam Hemsworth - so you know they are quality! 

A few other brands I recommend checking out are:
- Well Made Clothes– the name says it all! Their values include handcrafted; sustainable; local; fair; minimal waste; vegan; gender equality; and transparent. 
- Matt & Nat- they have committed to using linings only made from 100% recycled plastic bottles for their bags and they carry a number of other accessories as well. 
- Urban Originals– bags that are always eco-friendly and animal friendly. 
- Holster Australia– sustainable footwear where 65% of the materials can be recycled. 

We are lucky to be living in a time where vegan alternatives are so accessible. It is so easy to make a conscious decision and choose kindness when making your next handbag purchase. As a consumer you vote with your dollar and the businesses you choose to support should reflect the values and beliefs you hold. It is unlikely someone would consciously pay for animal abuse, yet so many unconsciously do with their purchases. Please make sure your next purchase is a conscious and kind one. 

By Elysha Kounnas (@crueltyfreelysha)
Website: http://crueltyfreelysha.com




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