Vegan shoes – WTF?

Crocs Beach

Looks nice with a pencil skirt? Noooo

I’m sure it’s me, because I haven’t heard anyone else complaining about it recently, but what is the problem with shoe manufacturers that they don’t want to branch out into non-animal materials.  Sure, there are a few companies that do, but they tend to be the granola clunky shoes (like earth shoes) or beach shoes (like crocs and flip flops).  Once you start adding other needs to the shoe shopping, the choices become fewer and fewer.  Currently, I’m trying to find dress shoes with a little bit of a heel for work, vegan, size 8, without a pointy toe.  HAHAHAHA.

Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly stores that specialize in vegan footwear, but the selection is limited and the prices are high.  And, importantly, they are all mail order or online unless you happen to be very lucky and be near one (it seems that being in NYC or on the west coast helps out there).  While I’m willing to buy almost anything online, from tea to pajamas, I have a hard time with dress shoes.  I’ve been bitten one too many times shelling out the cash for a pair of dress shoes that arrives and is uncomfortable or just unwearable (and then I don’t return for a variety of reasons that would require a whole separate post to sort out).

So, off to the stores I go, where the sales clerks in the shoe section will inevitably look at me as if I have sprouted a second head when I ask if they have any vegan dress shoes.  After a few seconds of silence, I’ll explain that I mean non-leather and with no leather trim or other animal derived parts.  There will be more silence and then they will lead me to the one pair of extremely shiny patent leather Mary Janes that they have in the store and say “I think this is the only thing we would have.”  And, I’ll leave despondent.  It’s enough to make me really want to go shopping.   And, enough to make me wonder, what is our obsession with cloaking our feet in the skin of another mammal.  I mean, think about it.  Eeeew.  Whose bright idea was that?  And, maybe it made sense at some point, but so did smoking our meat, not having a refrigerator, and making heat with a fire.  Times change and we evolve.  Maybe it’s time to stop walking in dead cow.

Anyway, if you don’t mind shopping online for shoes, I suggest the following shops for your vegan/vegetarian shoe shopping pleasure!

MooShoes – http://www.mooshoes.com/

Pangea – The Vegan Store – http://www.veganstore.com/

Alternative Outfitters – http://www.alternativeoutfitters.com/

Vegan Chic – http://www.veganchic.com/

Regazzi Vegan – http://ragazzivegan.com/index.php

Yours in bare feet,

LBA

It’s Viral… and I Don’t Mean Media

Last Wednesday evening, I went to bed with a stomach ache.  After tossing and turning for several hours, the fun got started around 2 a.m.  From that point on, I proceeded to be violently ill throughout all of Thursday.  I couldn’t keep any food down, very little liquid, and my head pounded furiously.  It was ugly.  There was even some toddler like crying (and that was just the DH trying to deal with me…).  Friday, I felt somewhat better, but still wasn’t really up to eating and I did a lot of napping throughout the day.  Saturday and today, I’ve added some crackers/toast to the diet and a little fruit.  I finally got up the energy today to manage about 1/2 hour of yoga without getting very ill.   Tomorrow should be better yet, but all of this has me thinking about health and yoga and raw foodism.

According to staunch raw food (natural hygeine) proponents, there is 1 illness and 1 cure.  The illness is toxicity caused by the food and other environmental toxins we encounter in our standard American lives.  They argue that all diseases, of whatever name or characteristic, are simply manifestations of this toxicity, which can be greatly reduced and virtually eliminated by a strict natural hygeine lifestyle, including a raw food diet.  So, if an individual develops an illness while eating raw, the recommended solution is to either water or juice fast, but certainly to continue the raw diet.

While I don’t actually buy into the 1 illness and 1 cure idea, I understand why it might be beneficial to water/juice fast through an illness, but this particular virus made it clear to me that it was not going to work out sometimes.  There are times when the body refuses to digest particular types of food, and many raw items are challenging on the digestion – unless one owns a juicer and utilizes that path.  This suggests that there may be points where raw food is not the best option in recovery.

Drawing from understandings in the path of yoga, the body must be taken care of for the mind to function well.  This means resting when you need to rest, and not pushing the body to exhaustion.  When ill, I assume this to mean that one should wait until the body returns to a state of positive energy before undertaking any vigorous asanas, and that return to practice should be gradual and measured.

The catch here is that when one doesn’t practice, sometimes the muscles and joints become stiff or clinched, making a return to practice more difficult and frustrating and increasing feelings of exhaustion.  Not practicing while I was trying to feel better makes sense from one perspective, but from another, it only makes things worse.

What is the “take away” message from all of this?  I think it may be that even our most “healthy” habits need to be continually reassessed in the face of the realities of the body and mind.  We need to combine concern with long term physical and mental health with attention to the short term.  Sometimes those two points of focus will require different actions, and choices have to be made about what is best.

Be in the body; be in the moment.  What does it require?

A Glimpse of the Possible…

Today started in a typical Wednesday way with a yoga class.  I was a little apprehensive about it, because the usual instructor is on maternity leave and a yogi that I had been in classes with was taking over.  I knew he was very strong and flexible from observing him in class (yep, when I’m supposed to be paying attention only to me), so I wasn’t sure that I would be able to catch up.  I’ve also been a little off lately physically, with a buggered up knee/foot and some extra fatigue.  But, I pushed aside my excuses (barely) and headed for class.

I’m not going to tell you that it was my best class ever; it wasn’t.  I was pretty stiff and not very agile and finding it not always easy to keep up with the rapid pace and still have any sense of form at all.  And yet, right in the middle of class, upside down with my hands on the floor and my feet on the wall (picture a wobbly upside down L), I found myself grinning like some sort of loon, happy as could be about what my body could do – even in the face of what it couldn’t.  I wasn’t completing any pose perfectly, and some were far from the goal, but I was there and breathing and trying and it felt good.

Wouldn’t it be great to always be in that place – to just live in the body and enjoy what it can do and be instead of critiquing what it is not?  It’s a possible that seems truly wonderful to me.  And, having read a recent article that indicated that exercise probably isn’t good for weight loss (and may even cause some gain), perhaps this is part of the true value of finding some sort of physical activity that speaks to you.  When we engage in a physical effort that we enjoy – much like children skipping or playing hopscotch – we appreciate our bodies for what they are and can do, instead of depreciating them for what they are not and can’t.  In a culture where the female (and to larger and larger degrees, the male) body is primarily viewed from an external stance as an object of viewing pleasure, anything that pulls us out of that framework and pushes us to love our bodies, each unique and wonderful and valuable and accomplished, has to be a good thing.

My body-happy moment is yoga.  What is yours?