"The noble character of a fashion item or a pair of shoes is not due to its rarity, but to the ethics according to which it was produced. This is the definition of luxury that we want to share through COG ."
Let us perceive it as a nebulous fancy emerge, like the militant cause of one's life or as a simple style of consumption that we explore out of curiosity on an ad hoc basis, it is clear that the vegan lifestyle has become more and more talked about in recent years. It's so true that even major mainstream food brands now have their range of vegan products on store shelves.
The cause of this? Probably the fact that a growing part of the population is found - at least partially - in the values supported by the vegan philosophy , since nowadays, consumption beyond being a matter of taste, is also the expression of our convictions. The vegan phenomenon is such that a world day honors this lifestyle on November 1st every year for almost 30 years.
We don't teach you anything, at COG, our shoes are 100% vegan , and this characteristic is no coincidence since beyond being the driving idea behind the creation of our brand, animal welfare is one of our flagship sensitivities .
As November 1st and World Veganism Day approach, we wanted to talk to you about the vegan concept, since the creation of the term, about the reasons that can motivate people to adopt a vegan lifestyle, or even, like your servant, produce shoes without material of animal origin.
We're on board!
But what exactly is veganism?
“ Sorry Madam, where is veganism on the map? I'm lost." Ok, for those who are not yet very familiar with the concept, perhaps a brief definition of the term is in order; then we can fold the world map, and we will instead bring out the old dictionary.
First of all, it may be relevant to clarify that veganism is no more a religion, than a state in America, nor a Hungarian dish .
Contraction of the Anglo-Saxon term “vegetarian”, the term was coined in 1944 by the co-founder of the Vegan Society, Donald Watson. It designates a way of living which excludes all exploitation and cruelty towards animals, which, in the strict sense, consists of not consuming any product of animal origin, or that has been tested on animals. In practice, this means that we no longer eat the meat of the cow, for example, than we drink its milk, or dress in its “leather”.
Veganism can thus be seen as the extension of thought founder of plant-based diets , applied to all consumption. It is therefore more akin to a philosophy of life, combined with a style of consumption, than to a diet, since it guides the choices of the vegan person beyond their diet: from their wardrobe, including its cosmetic products, or possibly also, towards the choice of a leather-free sofa.
But then, what does a vegan “have the right” to eat or wear?
If the term “ vegan ” is based on the strict definition cited above, as a school of thought, nothing is imposed; and the vegan person remains free to consume or not what they wish . In this, it is up to each person to define the limits of their diet and their lifestyle according to their affinities, their rhythm, their ideas and dispositions, but also according to their age or their state of health. So there are as many ways to be vegan as there are vegan people. and ways to flourish in this choice.
For example, some vegans no longer buy animal leather, but still wear their old leather shoes or accessories out of ecological conviction. Some associate this lifestyle with an activist cause, others with a way to perform better in sport. Some vegans like to claim and express their thoughts, others live their convictions in silence. Finally, some people conform to a restricted range of vegan practices in their daily lives, while other people are more exclusive.
In summary, veganism is a philosophy, which in application, like any choice, responds to each person's way of making it their own.
November 1st, a day to celebrate animal rights.
Over the decades and as veganism becomes established, new alternatives to animal products are emerging, and with them, more and more events are coming to enrich the way of life.
This is how since 1994, 50 years after the appearance of the term in our vocabulary, we have started celebrating World Veganism Day on November 1st of each year. The initiative came from Louise Wallis, then president of the Vegan Society, who chose this date to coincide with All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day. Its way of paying homage to individuals and animal species that are now extinct.
Spontaneously and given the content of the subject, one would tend to imagine a rather sad and austere celebration. However, the event is rather experienced as a cheerful hymn to this way of life, and a festive opportunity to come together around common beliefs, against a backdrop of sharing initiatives and homemade recipes.
Launch pad for a whole list of events which will punctuate the month of November as part of World Vegan Month (festivals, congresses, meetings, Veggie Pride , etc. ) the day is also an opportunity to take the time to put our habits into perspective citizens, and to learn about the consequences that our activities have on animal life and the biosphere. It is also an opportunity to discover new, more responsible alternatives.
Ok, but what reasons lead people to become vegan?
It's true, why? After all, and although there are fantastic vegan pastries - if you are in Lyon, we recommend that you go and treat yourself at Le Petit Colibri - we must admit that it is practical, nice and in any case, pleasant to the palate to make a butter croissant at the artisanal bakery on the corner. The question makes sense, but so does the answer.
If support for the animal cause remains the beating heart that attracts the majority of people towards vegan consumption, make no mistake, it is not the only motivation. Let's take the time to dissect the why of this new craze, all in all, initially restrictive.
Concern for the environment.
We often highlight it at COG, if the vegan criterion should not be the only one observed, a shoe made in Europe that does not use animal materials is generally much more ecological than the same pair of leather shoes produced in Asia. (3 to 6 times less CO2 emitted).
The reason for this? According to a study carried out by the University of Oxford, livestock farming alone generates 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions . And our consumption of animal products has only increased over the last century, so much so that a French person would eat on average 4 times more meat in 2021 than their ancestors 100 years earlier.
We also consider that today around 70% of global deforestation and the depletion of water resources are directly or indirectly linked to the agri-food industry , in which livestock farming is not left out since it requires a lot of space to store livestock and produce feed for the herds (e.g. soya produced in Brazil and deforestation of the Amazon forest).
We can also add to the environmental note soil pollution due to animal excrement, the transport of livestock , and all the processing and conservation sectors for products of animal origin which are also major sources of pollution. The example with leather - from the transformation of animal skin into rot-proof material by a tanning process - which frequently requires the use of materials that are very harmful to nature and people living in areas polluted by tanneries.
Taken from this angle, a vegan lifestyle represents in itself an ecological posture, and a favorable resolution to reduce the impact of its consumption on the planet.
Take care of your health.
We narrow the focus a little more to focus on the benefits of a vegan diet - and in this case, a vegan diet - on our health.
Well, let's be honest, here there is a debate between supporters of all plant-based diets, convinced of the benefits of this diet for the body, and people preferring flexi or omnivorous diets, defending the point of view that the body has need all types of contributions.
At COG, if we consider ourselves not bad at producing good and beautiful vegan shoes (it seems that a little advertising and a dose of self-congratulation from time to time don't hurt), we are also particularly gifted at devouring vegan pancakes and cheesecakes. But our field of expertise is clearly not dietetics, not even that linked to the vegan diet. As a result, we will refrain from approaching the nutritional field in too much detail due to lack of expertise, but we can still share a few thoughts with you:
To begin with, those in our small team who have adopted a vegan diet, despite years of application, are doing very well, sometimes perhaps too much - notably one, whose name we will not mention, but the it's hard to channel, he will recognize himself! All joking aside, it is clear that we are in good shape, and that many other people, sometimes very sporty, are enjoying the experience just as well as us, and are in excellent health.
Also, as far as we know, the majority of nutrients and vitamins that are attributed to a diet including animal proteins find their equivalent in a vegan diet. The little added benefit: a greener diet has fewer calories and helps to reduce cholesterol levels and risk factors linked to cardiovascular diseases.
A diet of plant origin is also less rich in saturated fats, salt and sugar, it helps to facilitate weight loss and stabilize your body, provided that you maintain a varied diet, and that you are reasonable on processed preparations such as desserts and biscuits, very rich in oils and sugar, whether they are vegan or not.
Moreover, nowadays and with the industrialization of livestock farming, Animals growing up on giant farms in conditions of intense stress receive drug treatments allowing them to stabilize and more easily tolerate these conditions of confinement, concentration and deprivation of light. Necessarily, the drugs they absorb remain partly in their bodies and are found in animal meats , then consequently in the bellies of the consumers of these meats. The same goes for dairy products and other materials produced by these animals for the purpose of consumption. The quality of these products is in fact closely linked to the conditions in which the animal was able to grow and flourish.
In this, a vegan diet , added to a consumption of organic fruits, vegetables, and legumes, avoids the absorption of molecules that can be the cause of numerous pathologies. However, beware of pesticides and agricultural chemicals which can make the consumption of products of plant origin just as harmful to your health.
Finally, one of the qualities of the vegan diet and the vegan lifestyle certainly comes from the first criticism that could be leveled against them: that of still being relatively marginal, and therefore, of requiring patience in their application, curiosity, and taking the time to educate yourself, sometimes even getting your hands dirty to produce your own alternatives. The relative accessibility of vegan products means that you often have to cook yourself what you usually find ready-made in stores. Of course, it costs time, but at least a priori, there is no reason to consume products of unknown origin or composition. It's also often better for the planet: more bulk, less plastic.
Seen from this angle, veganism is a way of regaining control over what we consume, of discovering new horizons, and sometimes even of learning more about ourselves through these new fields of exploration.
Protect animals and limit their mistreatment.
At stake is the question of the right of the living, and ours, to dominate and benefit from other species. Another issue highlighted by vegan thinking, the question of preservation of biodiversity as a whole, that of the interdependence of animal and plant species among themselves, and of the necessary need to maintain this symbiosis to preserve life . It is considered that a quarter of animal species in the world are threatened with extinction due to human activities , which, in order to establish themselves, dislodge animal groups from their environment, and jeopardize the potential of species to perpetuate their reign .
We all know the sad and almost vulgarly famous example of the orangutan forced to move further into its primary forest, which little by little disappears to make way for palm plantations. Unfortunately, this one is only one icon among the many endangered species, under the yoke of too much hunting, fishing, poaching, or human industrial activities which destroy animal and plant life. In addition, the number of animal victims due to global warming , of which humans are unfortunately at the origin.
Example with the forests ravaged by mega fires in recent years, and the millions of animals injured, or found charred by the flames.
Vegan thinking and the lifestyle associated with it thus underline the need to question and reconsider both the impact of our production and that of our consumption in a global manner. They highlight the fundamental need to reconnect with the consideration of animals , to rethink the perception we have of them, in the same way as we do with the environment and plant species. Each species, whether plant or animal, being only one of the founding links - but no less fundamental - forming this great whole that is nature. Under this conception, humans are one of them, and must find their place alongside other species, and not above them.
After this, will you eat some vegetables with your vegetables again?
In short, quite a few reasons to think about the merits of not consuming products of animal origin. But if this philosophy has its ethical attractions, for those who wish to approach it, it is still necessary to do so in such a way that it remains appreciable and digestible, without experiencing it as suffering. It's true, if only for food, a vegan or even vegetarian diet can prove to be restrictive in certain aspects (yes we have a sense of euphemism, or we don't); and neglecting our gluttony and our attachment to our gastronomic conveniences would be a mistake.
Fortunately, that's good news, in recent years, plates have been becoming more plant-based, fashion is becoming more animal-free, and a lot of innovative alternatives are emerging - here, we could still talk about COG, but we said to ourselves that it would be a bit push the plug ;)
Our team shares with you 5 tips for an easier approach to cruelty-free consumption
1/ Go slowly, listen to yourself, move forward at your own pace, in stages and in a positive way. Rome was not built in a day, and each effort is in itself a great victory. “Know yourself,” said Socrates.
2/ Keep in mind the reason for your choices and your actions. It's all about meaning, and we achieve our goals much more easily when we are led towards them with clear ideas, keeping in mind why, and where we are heading.
3/ Learn about the motivations that pushed us to hit the road, and continue to nourish this curiosity. Knowledge proves to be a motivator and a valuable aid.
4/ Alternatives exist, why deprive yourself of taking advantage of them? In moderation of course, but a little occasional pleasure does a lot of good and boosts your spirits! Plant-based diets are an ocean of delights and pleasures to discover. Here again, you have to be curious.
5/ “Alone we go faster, together we go further”, says the adage. Sharing your experiences and learning about new things around you is more fun. Good advice and new ideas are a wealth.
Expert diploma in veganism, with honors!
You are now knowledgeable about the foundations of vegan thinking.
In creating COG, our objective was to offer products in line with a responsible lifestyle, designed with respect for the people making our shoes, but more broadly, with respect for the entire living sphere.
This article is also an opportunity to better share with you what the vegan composition of our shoes means to us, because well beyond certificates and labels , it is a fundamental ethical component. The vegan criterion guarantees the preservation of the integrity of animal life, as OEKO-TEX 100 label guarantees a manufacturing process that protects ecosystems and human health.
Unquestionably, we love fashion, and like everyone else, we appreciate putting a nice pair of sneakers on our feet, matched with a nice outfit. But what we love above all is to tell ourselves that what we wear, and what we sell, has not harmed or harmed anyone. This is by far our greatest pride!
What we aspire to alongside the distribution of our shoes is to share with you a new perspective on living species, and the place we give them. In fact, even more than on species, a new look at the animal as an individual and unique entity, feeling, reflecting and experiencing its life like us.
We tend to want to highlight animal intelligence by comparing it to that of humans, whereas there is no need to know the cerebral potential of a being to question its right to freely benefit from its life. Do we have to be able to solve the theory of general relativity to claim the right to live free? Fortunately not. What's more, each species has its own physical and psychological dispositions. After all, do we consider sparrows superior to us because they only need to spread their wings to take flight, while we cannot do so?
Animals have incredible qualities of survival, hearing, sagacity, love and even appreciation, which amaze each of us, from childhood to adulthood.
At COG, we believe that the best way to give animal species the consideration they deserve is to let them live freely, without classifying, submitting or using them, and to remember the tremendous opportunity to simply be there, to be able to contemplate them living.
As always, we were “pipelette”! Thank you for reading, happy World Veganism Day to those interested, and see you in a future article on our blog .
WALK CLEAN, the COG team