Friday, March 8, 2019, marks the 108th International Women’s Day. This year the theme is #BalanceforBetter, aiming to create a gender balanced world. Nobody would argue that is long overdue, but here at The Vegan Company, we’d like to see that balance extend to all living creatures, embracing the animals that we share our planet with.

With that in mind, we are celebrating some truly inspiration vegan women who work within the animal activist space, asking them to share with us their go-to, vegan fashion and beauty brands and a little on their philosophy on life.

This will kick off a regular series for us, where we profile such women and highlight the amazing goodness they bring to our world.

We hope they inspire you as much as they have us.

Ondine Sherman – Co-Founder and Managing Director, Voiceless
As co-founder and managing Director of Voiceless, Ondine has been at the forefront of the animal protection and law movements since 2004. She lives in Tel Aviv, with her husband, three children, an array of mischievous street cats, loyal dogs and ex-battery chickens.

SW: What is your beauty routine like?
OS: I keep things quite simple and minimal. I wear only a smidge of make-up and my hair has always been wash-and-go. I always look for cruelty-free symbols and avoid the brands I know haven’t committed to stopping experimentation or ending their use of ingredients tested on animals. If there’s a brand I’m unsure about, I promptly Google and hope to be pleasantly surprised.

“My favourite face powder for many years has been Nude by Nature and I’m a fan of a Black Chicken Remedies Nocturnalist Night Serum that feels so silky and luxuriant.”

SW: You are quite passionate about vegan fashion?
OS: I love wearing cool vegan fashion and it’s been so exciting to see new brands grow and flourish in the last few years. I stopped wearing leather thirty years ago when I was a teenager. I couldn’t bear the thought of wearing someone else’s skin and gave away every piece of leather I owned.

What I hadn’t expected was how difficult it would be to find cool shoes and bags. For example, I was a little goth at age sixteen, my friends had Doc Martin* and I was really disappointed I couldn’t have them too.

In the Nineties, when I would ask a sales assistant if a product was leather, they would inevitably answer ‘yes’ because they thought that was the answer I wanted. So, I soon became expert at inspecting shoes and bags, checking the lining, straps, and often give a product a good sniff to check if there’s leather.

Today, I always tell shopkeepers that I’m vegan, partly to normalise the term, but leather, skins and even fur are still so common I’m often still left empty-handed. That’s why I now follow vegan brands on social media and buy most of my products online.

SW: What are your favourite vegan fashion labels?
OS: I recently bought some vegan boots by a Portuguese brand called NAE (No Animal Exploitation) that make me very happy!

Otherwise, my shoes are mostly by Canadian brand Matt and Nat – their linings are made from recycled bottles, Palladium and Melissa, which is non-toxic, cruelty-free and vegan.

I have a number of Bilum bags from my sister-in-law, Caroline Sherman’s social enterprise, Among Equals. Not only are they beautiful, unique and animal-friendly, but they help support women in Papua New Guinea. Being vegan also means being kind and compassionate to human beings and it’s important to try and be intersectional as much as possible.

When I was in Europe last year, I found one of those warm puffy water-resistant jackets everyone is sporting. Usually, they are made with a lining of feathers, but this brand is called Save the Duck, it’s vegan and environmentally friendly and I wear it constantly.

Vegan fashion for me is no longer a hassle, it’s a source of pride and pleasure.

*Doc Martin now produces a vegan line of shoes and boots.

Lea McBride, Director and festival Organiser Vegan Festival Adelaide
Passionate vegan and a loud, resounding voice for the animals, Lea has been vegan for over seven years and was vegetarian for over 20 years prior to that.

So committed is she to this way of life, she is even raising her dogs as vegan and puts in hours of painstaking research and preparation to ensure both golden retrievers thrive on their plant-based diet. Indeed, with each vet visit, they are given a cleaner bill or health than most dogs.

But Leah’s compassion doesn’t end there – it extends to every facet of her life, including and especially fashion and beauty.

SW: OK … can you please spill the beans on your best vegan beauty buys!
LM: There are so many vegan beauty products I love but I don’t leave home without my Hurraw lip balm. My current favourite flavour is Moon – it has a warm calming scent and is the perfect moisturising gloss.

SW: What about hair care?
LM: I tend to alternate shampoo and conditioner, but I regularly come back to Davroe. It is gentle on my hair and the planet and smells divine! The leave in conditioner is great on my fine hair and the styling products hold well. I particularly love the pump hairspray instead of using an aerosol.

Davroe is made here in South Australia and is doing amazing things around the world with New York Fashion week, and really focuses on being kind to our planet, using natural plant extracts and obviously not testing on animals. We are extremely grateful for their kindness and generosity each year to the Vegan Festival Adelaide as they donate fabulous gift items to our show bags each year.

SW: And skin care?
LM: Sukin has to be one of my favourites. The body cream, wash and night moisturiser are regulars in my bathroom.

Natio has a really large range of vegan products (the website states a few that contain beeswax) and I love their sunscreen, which they amazingly donate to the Vegan Festival Adelaide each year. It is an incredible blessing at our two-day outdoor event.

SW: Do you have a fave fragrance?
LM: Willowfern vegan solid perfumes are made locally in Adelaide and smell delicious! I’m currently using the lemon meringue pie fragrance, which seems to change between zesty lemon and sweet warm biscuit depending on the temperature.

I am also a fan of local company, Alcome. The spritzer face spray is refreshing and the flamingo packaging is classy cool!

SW: What about vegan fashion finds? Can you share your secrets?
LM: My vegan ‘fashion’ tends to be vegan message T-shirts. The Vegan Alliance is doing great things raising awareness and money for animals both here and abroad and have some pretty cool, ethically sourced tops.

In the Soulshine has great tees. They are organic, feel great and sport really cute uplifting messages. Recently I have found some amazing tops and shoes from Vegan Style in Melbourne that were made from recycled PET bottles. They’re stylish and environmentally conscious and a great view as to how we can change fashion and reuse waste.

Matt & Nat bags are definitely on my list of favourite vegan fashion bags. I get so many comments when I am out with them and love telling people they are not leather, again made from recycled materials.

SW: What did you do with the leather goods you owned in your pre-vegan days? I know this is a huge ethical issue for many vegans.
LM: I really had minimal items containing animal products when I went vegan as I had been vegetarian for over 20 years at that stage. The one pair of boots I had, I wore until the soles wore through. It is really a fine line for me between the ethics of not wearing old items once they are already purchased and contributing to land waste. It is not something I have truly reconciled in my head as to what is right, but I have to remember that am NEVER going to be a consumer of animal products again and will recycle where I can.

SW: Do you think a vegan lifestyle is becoming increasingly easier to adopt?
LM: There are so many more vegan friendly products on the market than ever before. Demand for cruelty free products is now reaching government levels where animal testing is banned in more and more countries around the world.

The vegan movement is growing so strong and this can be seen in the amount of companies recognising that they need to produce vegan options to keep up with growing trends and further research is exposing the awful aspects of the animal testing industry. It is really exciting to be able to shop everywhere now from supermarkets, to chemists and find wide ranges of vegan items available on shelves.

Gemma Davis, Vegan Naturopath, Author and Spokesperson for Voiceless
Gemma, author of The Compassionate Kitchen and a vegan of over 15 years, combines her deep understanding of holistic health with her calling to help alleviate the plight of animals, with the hope of inspiring conscious compassionate choices.

She says, “The daily choices we make may seem small and insignificant but when multiplied by billions of others who also choose to live compassionately, this can have a profound effect.”

While Gemma has many vegan notches in her non-leather belt, her most recent – and inspiring – is ambassador to Voiceless.

SW: Tell us about your involvement with Voiceless – you’re in good company, right?
GD: I have been involved with Voiceless, The Animal Protection Institute, in some way or another for many years, from volunteering in their offices or sponsoring their effective Awards Program.

Voiceless has a board of ambassadors from actors Hugo Weaving and Abbie Cornish, acclaimed brain surgeon, Dr Charlie Teo and a range of other respected artists, sports players, scientists, authors and lawyers. I am honoured to be included in this diverse group of talented people.

It shows we can be compassionate to animals no matter who we are. It is not a hippy left field idea – rather a social justice that actually as thinkers, we have the responsibility to bring non-human animals into our realm of consideration.

SW: What does being a part of Voiceless mean to you?
GD: I want to continue to raise awareness that it is possible to be healthy and cruelty-free. The more we understand this is a very real possibility, the more we are likely to make the transition towards eating and living vegan, or at the least move away from supporting factory farming and perhaps reduce our intake of animal products.

It is about demonstrating to the animal rights movement, health is important – as we are more likely to stay plant-based if we feel good, and to also educate the wellness industry that if we are looking at health through a holistic lens, which is what the wellness industry is about, then we cannot ignore the impact that eating and using animals is having on the health of our bodies and our planet. Both sides are equally important.

SW: Tell me about the Compassion in Fashion event you’re involved with?
GD: Dr Meg Good from Voiceless and I will be talking at Compassion In Fashion on the 8th of April, 2019, as part of the Fashion Hub run by Sherman Centre for Culture and Ideas, where leaders in the fashion industry from around the world will be speaking on a range of interesting topics.

The Compassion in Fashion night will be covering numerous aspects in the industry such as the environmental costs of fast fashion, the ramifications of the leather and fur industry and some of the growing trends for designers and consumers that are changing the way things are done to make positive impacts and anyone is welcome to register to attend.

SW: It sounds amazing. What advice do you have for those starting their vegan fashion and beauty journey?
GD: Start at knowing why you are making the choices you are making. The more resolve you have, the happier you will be spending that little extra time researching if that brand tests on animals or contains animal products.

The more aware you become, the more you realise there are still so many beauty companies that test on animals that you would not expect to.

Don’t forget that any beauty brand who sells is China is required by Chinese law to test on animals, so just on this basis you want to make sure the brand doesn’t sell in China. This is why the why is especially important when transitioning and changing old habits and previously liked products, because at the beginning it can feel a little daunting.

Luckily, there are plenty of companies that don’t test on animals so enjoy the process of discovery. Be curious – you will likely find that as you learn more about cruelty-free beauty products, that you also learn more about why we want to move to more natural based beauty products too.

Our skin is our biggest organ, and so we should treat it accordingly. Also being aware that eventually everything we put on our skin is washed off into our water ways, our rivers and oceans – home to whole ecosystems of marine life. Chemicals and plastics have very real detrimental effects for them as well as us.

Therefore, when we chose cruelty-free beauty, it encompasses the whole picture; from production methods to sustainability.

SW: What is your go-to Vegan Fashion Store?
GD: My favourite website for vegan fashion and beauty is Neena. The fact that vegan materials have come so far is a little dangerous for me because it means now the quality and design of the bags is incredible, and I want them all! Of course, less is more – mindful consuming is the new black…

SW: What are your favourite Vegan beauty Buys?
GD: My favourite three vegan beauty products would have to be:

Sans (Ceuticals) Activator 7 Body + Hair + Face Oil for the most luscious oil ever. I use it for everything.

RMS Beauty “Un-Cover up” is my saving Grace. This little tub of concealer works wonders. Ere Perez and Inika are also wonderful brands for other makeup.

Ayu Scented Oils are beautiful perfumes without the nasty stuff!