Christy Robinson Jewelry, MuLondon Face Cream, and Other Finds from the Vegan Cuts Marketplace; What Does it Mean to Do No Harm?
March 22, 2012

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Nice responses to the cauli-millet mash! And to the almond chickpea pate from the day before. I haven’t quite found my kitchen groove again since this latest bout of exams, but I’m getting there, and it feels nice.

Today’s post, however, is not about food. It’s about the Vegan Cuts Marketplace, which is the latest extension of Vegan Cuts, a groupon-esque social buying site that features 100% vegan deals. I met the founders of Vegan Cuts, Jill and John, last summer at Vida Vegan, and again this year at the NYCFF.

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Jill and John began VeganCuts when they both had full time jobs—isn’t that amazing? I’ve led a “double life” for years now–writing CR by night and working or being a student full time by day. At one point, I was doing all three of those things: working 8:30-5:30 at FSG, taking nighttime intro to Organic Chemistry and Nutrition 101 from 6 pm to 10 pm at the Borough of Manhattan community college, coming home to edit for an hour, then writing CR in the wee hours before I crashed. I know all too intimately what it’s like to sacrifice every spare moment for a passion project, and I’m so impressed with how this duo was able to get VeganCuts up and running!

Now, Jill has gone full time with the company, and one of her first projects has been to create the Vegan Cuts marketplace, where deals with vegan brands stay open for several days or weeks at a time (rather than a narrowly limited time offer). They have fantastic partnerships with brands like Chiaralascura and Christy Robinson jewelry. When I heard about the new venture, I wanted to be one of the first customers, so I immediately signed on and purchased a container of MuLondon lavender face cream, and a Christy Robinson necklace. I am so glad I did.

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I’ve told you all about my skincare “regimen” before: basically, I use coconut oil on my face, I wash it with hot water, and that’s it. I don’t see much truth in the claims of most skincare lines, and I enjoy being low maintenance when it comes to my complexion—in addition to the low-key attitude to products, I also wear as little makeup as I can get away with, at least most of the time.

That said, I do love the fragrance and fun of a new, vegan skincare line, and it’s always a treat when I get to test them. The cream above is made primarily of shea butter and jojoba oil; it’s got a minimal ingredient list, it’s 100% vegan, and it smells amazing. I typically use very moisturizing products on my skin, so the oil and shea butter aren’t too heavy for me, but I’m sure you can check out the company website for more oily/combination skin options! This is clearly an excellent line, and I’m so glad I invested in the cream.

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Last year, I received a gold pendant with the letter “V” as a gift from someone dear to me. I loved it because it signified my veganism in a way that was subtle, and because it was just plain beautiful. Then, over the summer, probably in a state of sleep deprivation, I lost the necklace—most likely by taking it off to run on a Georgetown gym treadmill. I was heartbroken to the point of tears, and have vowed to replace the necklace exactly (fortunately, the boutique in NYC where I got it still carries it) for my birthday this year. Until then, I’ve been hoping to find a reasonably priced pendant that can tide me over, and also serve as a statement of my lifestyle in a way that’s tasteful. Though the pendant above is less subtle than my gold “V,” it’s whimsical and adorable, and I am so glad I got it.

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All of Christy Robinson’s designs are adorable and priced really fairly: check some of them out!

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All photos courtesy of Christy Robinson’s website.

I love that Christy champions animals in such a creative and beautiful way. I especially love that she asks us all to extend the same compassion we extend to our domesticated animals (dogs and cats) to the billions of American farm animals who suffer and die every year.

I chose a pig necklace for obvious reasons: I help to sponsor a pig named Hamlet at my nearby farm sanctuary, and I have a major soft spot for pigs!

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But it was no accident that I chose a necklace with the word “ahimsa” on it, either. “Ahimsa” is a Sanskrit term that means to avoid violence, or (as it is more commonly translated) “do no harm.” The word means a lot to me for many reasons: first, it allows me to keep my yoga practice alive and close to me every day (ahimsa is often discussed in yoga classes and studied in yoga schools). Second, though the word is not synonymous with veganism, per se, many yogis who are vegan—such as Sharon Gannen and David Life—believe that the principle of ahimsa is naturally congruous with a vegan lifestyle. My friend Elizabeth has pointed out that there are theories that reconcile ahimsa with non-veganism, and I am sure this is true, but to me, the two concepts are tightly linked.

Practicing non-violence, however, is not only a question of how one treats others. Ahimsa means something deeply personal to me as someone who has lived with an eating disorder, too. Eating disorders, like addictions and many other mental illnesses, are characterized by a tremendous violence toward the body, the physical self. For me, recovery has meant a treating my own body gently and peacefully. Recently—especially the last few weeks—the stress my post-bacc has reminded me that my first impulse when I’m unhappy, under pressure, or experiencing failure is to punish my body. Historically, this has meant going hungry or exercising too much. Fortunately, I’m deep enough into recovery I’m able to resist these urges now, and my love of food keeps me tethered to wellness. But I have no doubt that my undergraduate self would have come close to a relapse by now, if not succumbed entirely.

Practicing ahimsa means that I show compassion to all living beings—animal and human. It also means that I extend compassion to myself, and treat my body with respect and care. One needn’t have a piece of jewelry strung around one’s neck to remember this, but little tokens can certainly be helpful, and inspiring.

Thanks to VeganCuts for leading me to such wonderful gifts! I hope you all check out the site soon.

Question of the day: obvious! What does “ahimsa” mean to you?

xo

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    25 Comments
  1. Ahimsa holds a very special place in my heart. The communal house in Philadelphia I moved in to after experiencing a terrible loss in my life was called the “Ahimsa House.” This house served as a sanctuary for me, and helped me begin to heal from my loss and my eating disorder. Thank you for this post :).

  2. I’m so glad you wrote about your concept of nonviolence including being kind to yourself. I think this is one of the main things being vegan has taught me in recovering from disordered eating, and you put it so eloquently!

  3. Aren’t you in school to be a medical doctor right now? I was waiting to hear the fact that “do no harm” is also part of the Hippocratic Oath! So many applications of the “Ahimsa”!

  4. I adore everything about this post, Gena, but especially appreciate your inclusion of self-destructive tendencies in the definition of ahimsa. And, I admire you more than ever for having stayed tethered to wellness through recent tough times; as you know, your impulses toward those outworn disordered eating/exercise behaviors are entirely normal. I am so glad that you’ve been able to simply observe those feelings from a distance and let them go. In writing this brave autobiographical portion of the post, you’ve comforted so many of us in this community who also periodically suffer from bumps in the recovery road during trying times. Truly, Gena, you embody the concept of ahimsa – day in and day out you demonstrate immense generosity and selflessness and an all-loving spirit. xo

  5. I love your idea of applying the concept of ahimsa to yourself as well as to other creatures. I am guilty of not treating my body right (usually the opposite of what you used to do- overeating/not exercising), especially when I’m stressed/overworked. I am trying to get better about this and about being cruelty-free in general. Sometimes I get frustrated that I’m not doing enough, but when I look back over the last few years I have definitely been improving!

  6. I put a link up to the necklace I wanted on Facebook. They are going fast, I have no doubt thanks to your blog 🙂 I would buy it myself, but my net worth right now is literally one dollar and thirty-three cents. I am secretly hoping my boyfriend will see it and want to buy me it 😛 LOL. Doubtful but a girl can dream!

    • Oh and ahimsa to me absolutely represents a prevention of animal cruelty, protecting the environment, and providing knowledge to people that they deserve about nutrition so they can make a choice about how to heal their body, rather than be, from lack of knowledge, forced to believe medication, which often-times is more destructive than helpful, is their only way out of their problems. I’m incredibly passionate about that because of what I’ve been through on arthritis meds. Absolutely. And I love learning new words from different languages, so thank you for that.

  7. I recently became very upset at myself because I felt old destructive habits trying to sneak back into my life as work has become more and more stressful and expectations surrounding me seem both impossible to attain and impossible to speak up about/against. And then I remembered that recovery is precisely recognising these thoughts and rejecting them, and that being kind to myself also involves not hating myself for the fact that such thoughts do sometimes arise. Anyway, bit of a self-involved ramble there, but mostly just to say that I understand and am so glad you’re wonderful at staying strong against the evil thoughts too.

  8. I’m glad you identify with ahimsa too. I first heard the term in a Buddhist studies class a couple of years ago and immediately felt connected to it. Over the next year and a half, ahimsa kept coming back to me – until one day, I decided to get the sanskrit tattooed on my wrist; that way, I carry ahimsa with me everywhere. In the years to come, whenever I look at my wrist, I hope I will be able to reflect upon how I can better practice ahimsa. I’m certainly not a perfectly compassionate person at the moment, but ahimsa holds me accountable!

  9. Ah! Ahimsa! I practically squealed when I saw this. Our yoga teacher talked about this word and how ahimsa also means not being violent towards yourself: eating disorders and negative self-talk is violent, in a way. The more we practice compassion for ourselves the more we can for others and animals, too.

    Not to be obnoxious, but I did write a post about this word on the blog for the Active Minds (mental health) org that I’m in. I hope people enjoy it! http://smithactiveminds.blogspot.com/2012/02/are-you-practicing-ahimsa.html

  10. I’m really happy that you are far enough into recovery that you aren’t turning towards destructive behaviors. I’m almost 20 weeks symptom free (the longest I’ve ever gone) and right before I read your post, and I mean minutes before I picked up my computer, I said, “I need to be nicer to myself.” I’ve been violent towards myself through ED behaviors and self-harm, hoping that the pain would go away and I’d feel better about myself, but it never worked. I can’t say it’s easy to love myself and not hurt myself now, especially with the stress of my (undergrad) thesis due in less than a month and graduation right around the corner, but it certainly takes devotion, dedication, and compassion. Two weeks ago on my spring break, I got a tattoo of my favorite flower and a word that is symbolic of me reminding myself to be nice to myself. It’s on my foot and every time I look down and see it while I’m doing a yoga pose or waking up in the morning, I’m reminded to treat myself better. When I’m kinder to myself, I have more kindness to give to others.

  11. You may be talking about another Elizabeth, but let me chime in anyway. I think if I responded to a similar conversation in the past it would have been to make the point that veganism and ahimsa are not synonymous, that vegan choices are not ipso factco ahimsic (is there an adjective?). I might also have noted that while it makes perfect sense to me that practioners of ahimsa, like Sharon Gannon and David Life, two outstanding examples, are drawn to veganism, the yogic diet is not a vegan one, and some of the sects most devoted to ahimsa – the Jains for example – consume both milk and honey. Because historically – and even today in much of the undeveloped world – those things could be procured non-violently. In the mythical “land of milk and honey” relationships with animals are not exploitative, but symbiotic. Today’s vegan movement is so influenced by Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation that the distinction is lost. As you know, I find Singer’s arguments – which appeal to human reason, thereby acknowleding human exceptionalism – deeply flawed. I have no problem with the notion of human exceptionalism – to deny is to deny reality of human culture – but in my view it’s imbued with more responsibilities than rights – towards the planet and the creatures with whom we share it. So my own practice of ahimsa, grounded as it is in the latter (Christian) worldview, does not lead me to veganism. Even if most of my food choices are vegan, it is because I live in a world where ethical non-vegan choices are all but non-existent.

    I have marvelled at the way you’ve navigated the transition to life as a post-bac, because the stress-induced starve habit is one of the hardest to break. I still haven’t quite succeeded and I have more years of recovery than you. I love the way you phrased this: “my love of food keeps me tethered to wellness.” I’ve said the same thing thousands of times – probably in some of my earliest comments on your blog! – but never as eloquently. I think my recovery was precarious as long as my hunger went unacknowledged. Once I began eating in a way that acknowledged my hunger, not just for physical nourishment, for pleasure, for justice, and most importantly, maybe, for connection, food became way too important for me to ever relegate it to “just food” (sorry, had to sneak in the reference to that post, which I still remember) ever again. That’s why, even though I’m not vegan and my recovery wasn’t “green” (in your sense of the term), I’m such a fan of your “green recovery” series. Because it’s a transformed relationship with food that marks my recovery, not a number on the scale that I maintain either reluctantly or through extreme hypervigilance. When I compare the way I eat now – with more pleasure and less guilt than most so-called normal eaters – well, there’s no comparison. And that’s why I agree with you that veganism can offer protection against anorexia – because it fills many of the same ego-syntonic needs – all while fostering a healthy relationship with food. It also has the added benefit of community, which provides yet another layer of protection against the isolation of anorexia.

    • It was indeed you that I meant. Thanks for such an intelligent follow up on the thought, which I remembered from comments past.

      It has been hard, with the post-bacc…certainly more temptation to lose weight than I’ve felt in a good long time, and tremendous amounts of self-loathing/self-doubt. But as you once said, and I agree–there’s just too much at stake to go down that road, and also, too much pleasure that keeps me where I am with food. Thanks for your eloquence and compassion, as usual.

  12. i so agree with your post! i’m always surprised when i meet yoga enthusiasts who have no interest in vegetarianism, and in fact, think it has nothing to do with yoga principles… to me, the entire concept of ahimsa is so obviously linked with veganism. Being vegan doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing no harm, but it’s a big step in that direction and helps so many animals, people, the environment, etc along the way.

  13. I love the necklace. I have never heard that term before in my yoga classes, but maybe I was just concentrating too hard on holding my pose to take it in.

    For me, “do no harm” also relates to the environment, in addition to some of the other ways you mentioned. I am diligent about recycling, reusing, and about making choices that are good for the environment. Since I live in NY, I don’t have to worry about the impact a car makes on the environment, I know that if/when I do drive, I will be choosing a vehicle that is very kind to the environment and only using it when a bike or my own legs will not suffice.

  14. I too talk about my vegan lifestyle as “ahimsa” – it links veganism to me avoiding sweatshop-produced clothing, trying to minimise my carbon footprint and avoiding harming beings and planet alike. I do so struggle with my own hypocrisy as I can’t quite apply it to myself and do self-harm in a way that I would never do to anyone or anything else but I hope to keep working towards reaching a completely harm free life

  15. Wow, you are so inspiring!
    I’m looking forward to your birthday and reunion with your V pendant, but the ahimsa pig is delightful also. I loved “Not a nugget” as well. Treehugger is me, but I didn’t like the design of that one as much.
    Thank you for the meditative question, and that’s a brilliant spin to associate ahimsa with self-care and non-relapsing. I’ve been under a lot of stress myself recently too, and am so confused in that whole area right now. Your words have given me something to think about and hold between my fingers like soft cloth.
    love
    Ela

    • Dear friend, I am sending you strength and love! I know how it goes, but do try to resist those voices and urges. Email/chat anytime.

  16. I love that necklace! I will be investing in one of Christy’s designs very soon.

    In my opinion, “ahimsa” is a non-violence that is all-encompassing. As you describe it, the term should be applied to all living beings, whether they be of the animal or human variety. I think that many vegans (especially new ones) are often so captivated by the rhetoric of the movement that they often forget to extend compassion to those who disagree with them. It’s often easier to speak for animals than it is to attempt to understand the points and nuances of a person’s argument’s for carnivorism. But this doesn’t make them any less valid, and it might be of the highest order to suspend (but not compromise) one’s principles in order to practice acceptance. God knows I’ve had my share of flippant remarks to friends and family, but, as in anything, it’s a process that is constantly evolving. Thank you for a great post!

  17. I have the Ahimsa Pig too. I love it!

    I also love this idea of Ahimsa: “The definition of Ahimsa is to live so fully and presently in love that there is no room for anything else to exist” Julia Butterly Hill

  18. About 2 1/2 years ago, I commissioned an Etsy jewelry maker to create a bracelet for me with the word Ahimsa in Sanskrit. Ahimsa is the way I live my life with respect to all creatures, human and non-human alike, as well as with respect to our planet. I first learned the concept during my yoga teachers’ training 6 years ago. However, I don’t always practice Ahimsa toward myself and the bracelet I created is meant to be a reminder to do so. I wear it every single day.

    I met Jill of Vegan Cuts at the Natural Products Expo West a couple weekends ago and she’s lovely! When I got today’s e-mail announcing their new store, my eye first went to the MuLondon rose face creme. I haven’t bought it yet, but knowing you like the lavender version is giving me a bit more motivation to purchase it. I have very sensitive skin, so I tend to shy away from trying new products on it, sticking to what’s tried-and-true for me.

  19. Gena this is such a wonderful post and thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.

    Years ago, I came across Christy’s jewelry and ordered something from her..but 2 or 3 moves later, I have misplaced it and this is a great reminder to maybe browse around a bit. 🙂