Choosy vegans choose Urban Decay

Urban Decay packaging rocks, but what's inside rocks harder!

As a vegan, I know I’m beautiful on the inside. My colon is as clear as my conscience. And I think I’m doing pretty well on the outside too. The acne that plagued me all my life has gone completely. Good riddance dairy products and the acne-causing inflammation that you bring!

Nevertheless, I don’t mind admitting I could use a little help getting gorgeous. I won’t sacrifice my pledge to animals for beauty’s sake. Thank goodness I don’t have to.

Urban Decay creates products that are as close to perfection as makeup gets.  Now I know that other lines are cruelty free – Smashbox and Clinique to name just two of the biggest – but there’s a little something extra to Urban Decay.

Not only are all their products cruelty-free, in other words not tested on animals, but nearly two thirds of Urban Decay products are completely vegan. That means that when you chew your lips and eat your Urban Decay lipstick in Voodoo, you won’t be chowing down on any animal residue.

Voodoo, a dark pink that’s almost red, is my absolutest favouritest lipstick colour in the world. Though as a makeup hoarder, I have all Urban Decay’s other vegan colours as well. Not to mention the vegan eyeshadows. I like the sparkly ones best. Vogue magazine says sparkle is best left to teenagers, but Vogue is terribly wrong on this point.

Urban Decay vegan eyeshadow in Urb

Try Urb and see what I mean. You can’t fail with a colour this fabulous. It’s a luminescent light green that lights up your face. It goes perfectly with a black eyeliner.

The company publishes a list of its vegan products that you can take to the store. But if you’re shopping at Sephora, the Urban Decay counter prominently displays a pawprint beside the names of all products that are vegan, so you can save a tree and not print the list.

To make things super-easy, Urban Decay publishes a list of vegan looks. So you can just pick the look you like and buy all the products that make that look happen, knowing they’re all vegan and there’s no need to check for pawprints. Each look is about $100. The thing is, these products sell out quickly.  It’s clear that Urban Decay can’t keep up with demand. And we vegans are demanding!

Makeup fanatics have a name for their most prized items, the ones they can’t live without. We call them our Holy Grails, or HG for short, and these are mine:

The mattifying powder looks white but goes on sheer and lights up your complexion.

Urban Decay De-Slick Mattifying Powder and De-Slick in a Tube.  I can wear these and forego foundation. I’m telling you, these products are divine!

Most drugstore makeup is cheaper to buy, but is tested on animals.

The entire family of L’Oreal products, including Maybelline, are cruel cosmetics. Animals died so that chemists could make a blush or foundation.

And that’s just not beautiful.

Posted in Being Vegan, Vegan cosmetics, Vegan Lifestyle, Vegan Products | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Animal hoarder sentenced to jail and psychiatric evaluation

**I first published this post on**

Larry Kruger, a man who once loved cats so much he spent $28,000 in one year on vet bills, is going to jail on charges of animal cruelty.

A Pensacola, Florida resident, Kruger, 62, started collecting cats when he participated in cat rescues and ran what he called a “cat shelter.” At one point he had 161 cats living in his home. Neighbours were alarmed by the stench and alerted local Animal Control. On March 22, Kruger was arrested on eight felony charges of causing pain and suffering to animals and 161 misdemeanour charges of animal cruelty.

The cats in his care were were sick with intestinal diseases and parasites. The home was overrun with feces. Dead cats awaiting cremation were stockpiled in the freezer. Kruger pleaded guilty on October 26 to felony and misdemeanour animal cruelty charges. On November 22 he was sentenced to 30 days in county jail and a further six years on probation.

During his probation he is not allowed to have cats or any other pets, and he must undergo psychiatric evaluation.

Kruger’s attorney said Kruger may be a hoarder, an obsessive-compusive disorder popularized by the A&E television series Hoarders. In Episode 28 of Hoarders, Series 3, an elderly Indiana woman named Vula has so many sickly cats in her home she’s lost count and track of them all. In a very graphic and disturbing clip, a rescuer shows her a tiny orange kitten, its body frozen in rigor mortis. “God, I’m sorry, I don’t remember”, she says. Other cats found in the home have been mummified under piles of garbage. Kittens are found dead, their umbilical cords still attached.

Animal hoarding was studied by a group of researchers who collaborated from 1997-2006 to define and better understand the problem. The Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC), provides a list of scholarly articles about the subject on their website.

One very noteworthy case of animal hoarding was the subject of a 2009 book co-written by HARC scholar Dr. Arnold Arluke: Inside Animal Hoarding : The Case of Barbara Erickson and her 552 Dogs. Barbara Erickson claimed to love dogs and referred to the more than 500 dogs in her home as her “babies”. Yet they lived in unthinkable conditions: crowded, filthy, underfed, unsocialized, ungroomed, rarely taken to a vet.

When rescuers finally arrived, half-eaten puppies were found. Nearly 100 of the dogs rescued from Barbara Erickson had to be euthanized, some because they had been driven insane by their living conditions. She was tried and convicted of several counts of animal cruelty (all misdemeanors). She spent a few weeks in jail and, like Larry Kruger, was sentenced to probation.

According to the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), nearly 250,000 animals are victims of animal hoarding each year. The HSUS favors jail time both as a punitive measure and recommends that convicted animal hoarders be sentenced to mandatory psychological evaluation and treatment.

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Matt and Nat, vegan design company, feels the heat for banning meat in the lunchroom


** I first published this on **

Can a private company dictate what not to have for lunch in the company lunchroom?

Absolutely, especially when that company is one of the world’s most noteworthy creators of on-trend and completely vegan bags and accessories. Matt and Nat, based in Montreal, Canada, makes its purses and belts without leather or suede, using everything from plastic bottles to rubber tires in its designs

The highly successful company, which sells its bags worldwide, recently struck a deal with Apple to create a line of vegan laptop bags.

At its Montreal headquarters, the 18 Matt and Nat employees are barred from bringing meat or fish for lunch, and if they dine with a client at a restaurant, they are required to order vegetarian dishes.

Creative director and company founder Inder Bedi told the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC), “The fact that we don’t use any animal products, it would be kinda weird or strange to be eating animal products on the premises.”

Employees are also not permitted to wear leather, suede or fur to work. While this policy should come as no surprise to employees, as the strict veg guidelines are outlined to candidates at the very first interview, it was all too veg for one former employee.

The woman, who did not specify why she is no longer with the company, complained anonymously to the CBC about the regulations, saying that she often resorted to eating lunch in her car.

“It’s a free country … I think we should eat what we want,” she said.

Not so, says Montreal lawyer Jordan Charness. “If this is a vegan company, they can say that everyone has to adhere to their vegan policies — at least at work,” said Charness.

Adds Inder Bedi, “I’ve never really looked at it that way — whether we are infringing on somebody’s rights. It’s who we are as a company. You know, our brand.” 

The CBC website allows comments, and not surprisingly, the bulk of the comments condemn Matt and Nat for its veg stance and even for creating vegan products in the first place! 

So for me, there are actually two stories here: that Matt and Nat is living its values (which cannot be said of actress Alicia Silverstone, who recently admitted that she cheats on her vegan diet by having cheese); but also that animal rights and vegan lifestyles are quick to be condemned by people who are significantly uninformed about all things veg.

Where are the veg commenters? Where are the animal defenders? This is part of a wider problem facing us, that we who love animals and don’t eat them are too silent in the face of those who mock us. Or just maybe, silence is the best response to comments such as the following, which I have reprinted verbatim, without correcting any of the spelling or grammatical errors:

Would it be fair if I forced all of my employees to only eat meat everyday. No veggies, no bread, no pasta, no fruit, no cookies. How about no juice boxes, cola or water. Only milk. meat and milk at my company only. Sounds fair? No it’s not because my policy discriminates. I’ve insured that the only people that I can hire are meat eating people. This company discriminates against people who eat meet. The hidden message is Vegetarians only are allowed a job here. That steps on culture, because many cultures foods are highly meat , fish and poultry based. This policy discriminates based on culture (race), which is a protected freedom. 


Love them little mousies 
Them mousies I love to eat, 
Bite their little heads off, 
Nibble on their feet.

HUH? Yes, these comments are a good representation of the rest, including the one we could have all expected, that Hitler was a vegetarian.  (Even though it’s long been proven he wasn’t).

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Tiger nations unite to save the animal from its most deadly predator: poachers

A rare Amur (Siberian) tiger was killed this week by poachers near Vladivostok, in the Russian Far East. The tiger was discovered by an IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare) anti-poaching patrol in the Khasan district of Primorye Province.

This area, bordering China, is home to the last 300 to 400 wild Amur tigers.

There are 13 countries in which tigers range, and those governments will convene at an International Tiger Conservation Forum to be held November 21-24 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The aim is to agree on a coordinated, global plan to save tigers from extinction and to mobilize global public opinion in favour of protection of tigers.

It’s clear to tiger-watchers that this is the tiger’s last chance to survive the illicit wildlife trade.

In 1994, Time Magazine ran a cover story on why the tiger is on the brink of extinction. The writers collaborating on the article asked this poignant question: “The forces driving the black market are so strong that nothing — not public opinion, not political pressure, not the power of police — has halted the tiger’s slide toward extinction. Can international trade sanctions against Asian nations succeed where all else has failed?”

There is an increasing and seemingly insatiable demand across Asia for tiger parts — including skins, bones, skulls and penises — destined for use in traditional Chinese medicines, decorations and even good luck charms.

An update on tiger poaching was published last week in a Time Magazine blog. There are now just 3,200 tigers left in the wild; down from over 100,000 a century ago.

What can you do to help save the tiger from extinction? Begin by getting up to speed on the crisis. I strongly recommend reading the best-selling book The Tiger by John Vaillant. It will give you a good overview of the tiger situation in Russia, where this latest poaching took place. Moreover, it’s a page-turner and has a section at the end listing all the organizations and people involved in the work to save the tiger.

I also suggest following the Forum’s progress online, as I will be doing, and writing a letter to the editor about this Forum. Blog about the outcome of the four-day meeting. Tweet the world asking for support. Do whatever you can to mobilize public concern and raise the rallying cry. There are 3,200 lives, and one magnificent species at stake.

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Compassion for animals earns Illinois woman national award


California-based national animal protection organization In Defense of Animals (IDA) has honored Doris Muller of West Peoria for her work rescuing animals and nursing them back to health.

Peoria Area Voices for Animals stage a protest of factory farming. Photo from their website.

 Muller has turned her home into a shelter and foster home for abandoned dogs, cats, and  rabbits, but her compassion does not stop at the cute and furry. She rescues injured or orphaned pigeons, robins and any other animal in need.

It all began when Muller, now retired, found a young kitten wandering the streets with a serious leg injury. She took him to a veterinarian and paid for the surgery to heal his leg. That was the defining moment, the moment when she discovered her mission.

From that moment to today she gives her resources, time and money to provide medical care, shelter, and love to animals in need.

And as far as feeding goes, commercially prepared pet food is out of the question, given the cruelty by which it is produced. Muller cooks all the food for her animal charges herself.

In accepting the award, Muller quoted Mother Theresa. “We can’t do great things, we can only do small things with great love.”

The co-founder of Peoria Voices for Animals, Ms. Muller is also a strong supporter of a vegan lifestyle. On her website she states, “99% of all animals killed in the US are killed for food production. If you care about animals and don’t want to support needless cruelty and violence, the most important thing you can do is stop eating animals and animal products.”

If you’re in the Peoria area you can join Doris Muller in a peaceful leafleting demonstration to promote veganism and educate the public about the horrific treatment of animals on farms and in slaughterhouses. Demonstrations are usually held the first Saturday of each month from 2:30-3:30 p.m. at the corner of Main and University. Check her site’s upcoming events page for further information.

Do you know someone like Doris who demonstrates extraordinary care and compassion towards animals? Why not nominate them for the IDA Guardian Award? It’s only fitting that animal lovers celebrate each other’s hard work and dedication.

Congratulations Doris, and keep up the fantastic work!

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Should Amazon sell how-to guides for animal abuse? PETA says no


Dogfighting. A contest in which two dogs are placed in a pit to fight each other for the spectators’ entertainment and gambling.  The injuries inflicted and sustained by dogs participating in dogfights are frequently severe, even fatal. Dogfighting is illegal in all 50 states and a felony offense in almost every state.

Cockfighting. A blood sport in which two or more specially bred birds are placed in an enclosure to fight, for the primary purposes of gambling and entertainment. A cockfight usually results in the death of one or both birds. Cockfighting is illegal in every state, but is a felony offense in only 39 states., the largest online retailer in the United States, sells books such as  The Art of Cockfighting and  The Dog Pit: Or How to Select, Breed, Train and Manage Fighting Dogs. (For the record, Amazon also sells Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf as well as books on how to smuggle cocaine.)

The animal rights organization PETA, buoyed by the recent public outrage that lead Amazon to pull from its shelves a self-published book on pedophilia, sent a letter to president Jeffrey P. Bezos, asking him to pull products from the site that promote animal cruelty.

In the letter to Bezos, PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman states, “Animals, like children, depend on us to protect them and put their best interests above profits. Please, don’t be complicit in cruelty to animals. Do the right thing and stop selling products that promote criminal violence against living beings.”

In 2007, following a civil lawsuit filed by the Humane Society of the United States, refused to discontinue selling magazines about cockfighting, arguing that “the customer is the best judge of what’s appropriate”.

In the wake of the pedophile incident and now PETA’s letter, a debate is raging about the right to freedom of expression, and the responsibility of corporations with regard to that freedom. Does freedom of speech stop at the point where the speech condones cruelty? Should retailers of speech and expression uphold responsible citizenship and make what some might deem socially responsible choices, which others would call censorship? Is the choice best left to the individual consumer?

It’s clear that there is no simple answer to a debate which has only just begun, especially with the proliferation of self-publishing and e-retailing. Someone posting a comment on a PC World article perhaps put it best when he writes, referring to the uproar over the pedophile book, “Intellectually, something tells me we’re at the beginning of a high-stakes fight that’s going to last for quite some time.”

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Kitty-loving Katy Perry launches cat-themed fragrance called ‘Purr’

Katy Perry

Photo of Katy Perry at her perfume launch from

Singer Katy Perry loves cats so much that her new fragrance, which debuted at Selfridge’s in London last week, is housed in a bottle shaped like a kitten—a shapely purple kitten with twinkling bejewelled eyes.

For the occasion, Perry fittingly wore a purr-ple dress by Miu Miu (but of course) to the launch, which drew thousands of eager fans to the beauty hall at the Oxford Street department store.

The ode to all things feline does not extend to the fragrance itself, which doesn’t smell anything like a cat, please note. Rather, it’s described as a feminine blend of floral and fruity notes.

“It’s the purr-fect purr-fume that I know will leave you meowing with delight,” she told the gathered media, adding that she put her heart and soul into its creation.

The 26-year-old singer dressed up as Catwoman in the ad campaign, donning a skin-tight purple and pink latex catsuit with a long slinky tail.

Perry’s fans know she has a cat named Kitty Purry. But she definitely does not have a tiger. Rumours flew following her marriage to English comedian Russell Brand in October 2010 that he bought her a big cat as a wedding present.

Brand was quick to shoot those rumours down, citing that as a vegetarian, he would never do something abusive towards animals.

Katy Perry is on top of the charts with her second album, Teenage Dream, which debuted at number one when it was released in August 2010. To date she has sold more than 30 million records.

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Help animals: Let your mouse roar!

Vegan mac and cheese

The vegan recipe referred to in this post. Picture from the National Post.

Love animals? Online a lot? Perfect. There’s so much good you can do for animals with a few clicks of your mouse.

You may have heard of ClicktoGive, a company that contributes funds to charitable organizations. Enter “click to give” into a search engine. A list of organizations with a click-to-give button on their site will come up.

I chose The Animal Rescue Site’s Click to Give page, and there at the very top is a big purple button. Click it and get this message:

Thank you for clicking! Your click gave the value of .6 bowls of food for rescued animals. Want to do more? Visit our sponsors below.

There are so many other ways in which a mouse click can help animals. When I read a newspaper article or blog post that deals with animal issues: I tweet it, I post it to my Facebook page, and on Facebook I share that link with my friends.

Every click counts. Editors of online and mainstream media keep track of  items flying around the world via mouse clicks. It’s part of their market research.

I am quick to retweet articles on animal issues. I’ll also follow with my own quick tweet commentary on what I’ve just retweeted. It takes so little time, but the global impact of 140 characters can be enormous.

I’m also quick to comment on anything animal-related. Comments, like mouse clicks, are guideposts for editors. Whether it’s an article about animal cruelty or a vegan recipe printed in a mainstream newspaper like Canada’s National Post, I make my voice heard by retweeting and commenting.

I can’t stress enough the importance of  commenting. Animal articles typically bring out the abusers, who post jokey comments about animals in distress. It’s up to animal lovers to provide a compassionate response to the story.

We don’t have to take on the abusers in a battle of the comment boxes. We just have to take the time to show that we care about animals. A few words, one click, and you’ve done a lot more than you think for animals.

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The epiphanies that lead us to become vegan


White Duck

I became vegan after befriending a little white duck in the park.

Many of us who become vegan do so after a lifetime of meat-eating.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, we have an “a-ha!” moment, a personal epiphany that changes our destiny in a split second.

This is exactly what happened to Portia de Rossi, the beautiful actress and wife of comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres.

Early one morning, her life changed and she could never eat meat again.

In an interview with O, The Oprah Magazine, an excerpt of which can be found here, Portia talks about how veganism took her by surprise.

She had just moved with Ellen DeGeneres to a California farm where the couple, who at the time were not yet married, raised four cows and two calves and subsequently bought a horse.

Early one morning, Portia went to check on the new member of the family out in the pasture, and lo and behold there saw scene she describes as “extraordinary”. Portia says she saw the cows and their calves walking single file past the horse, each one touching noses with their new friend. Then they all played together as one happy family, like little children.

Portia broke down in tears and made the decision there and then that she couldn’t possibly keep eating animals.

Does this scene sound familiar to you?

For me, Portia’s moment of discovery resonates so strongly with my own. I became vegetarian after witnessing pigs in a transport truck being hauled off to slaughter. I saw their little pink noses sticking out of the tractor trailer and I felt as if Moses had just come down the mountain a second time, just for me, to tell me never to harm another animal again by eating its meat.

I went vegan shortely thereafter, when I met a little white duck living in a big city park. His great spirit, playfulness and love of life taught me to value all animals even more than I had been doing. I was vegan thereafter.

Animals teach us so much. All we have to do is open our eyes. Our hearts will follow.

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Meet a great person and a vegan leader

Colleen Patrick Goudreau

Have you ever met a person who you felt was a cut above the rest? Someone living their life to the fullest, doing exactly what they felt they were born to do, making a good living at it, influencing the world with their opinions, their work, their personality?

Someone who loves their work so much that they treat every day as an opportunity to give more of themselves to others and to the world?

Through my volunteer work, I am proud to say that I have met people who I consider truly great. People who are changing the world, people who are making the most of every day. People who connect with other people on a profound level.

In this election season both in Ontario’s municipalities and the United States, when some not-so-great people are begging for votes, I wanted to reflect on what makes a person so great that they don’t have to beg for people’s support. It flows naturally to them.

A great and inspirational vegan leader, Colleen Patrick Goudreau is someone I consider to be a great person.

Colleen is an animal lover, award-winning cookbook author, educator, columnist, essayist, internationally invited speaker, and creator of one of the best podcasts you’ll ever hear on iTunes. She’s also a vegan chef and runs an internet business.

When I first met Colleen several years ago, I was intrigued by her high energy level and gusto. She is lively, and also exceptionally gracious. When she speaks to you, you have her full attention, though the room may be full of other high-flyers and VIPs. She holds on to your every word and takes the time to respond to you, and thank you for your time. Even though she’s the one hundreds of people are waiting impatiently to meet!

Colleen is brilliant, and not just in a book smart way, but in the ways of people. I had the opportunity to introduce her at a speaking engagement in Toronto. For 45 minutes she held the audience in her hand. She didn’t use notes or PowerPoint. She spoke from her heart, as she does on her podcasts. There’s no way I can express to you how gorgeously she speaks. I urge you to listen for yourself.

Her presentation skills are due in part to her innate ability and to her fluency in all things related to living a vegan lifestyle. What separates Colleen from the pack of other experts on other subjects is that she never snubs anyone who is new to the subject and asks a beginner’s question (one that makes the audience impatient, for example).

Nor does she respond angrily to anyone who refutes her point of view. She’s gentle, yet fearless. Her confidence is palpable. She has no need to defend herself against critics, she lets the facts do the talking and waits for the critic to respond to the facts. And never once does she lose her temper, raise her voice or resort to belligerence or name-calling. Her weapon of choice, when she chooses to go that route, is humour. She never makes fun of people, rather, she skillfully uses humour to bring people together, in spite of or because of their differences.

Oh, and did I mention she is brilliant? Like many brilliant people, all things fascinate her: art, literature, science, film, history, travel and photography to name just a few.

Colleen doesn’t have much down time. But her day is so filled doing the things she loves to do, that she doesn’t crave down time. She’s living her life to the fullest, and in so doing, she shows everyone who aspires to greatness exactly how it’s done.
Colleen’s latest book, Color Me Vegan, will be published later this year.

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