Guest post: A vegan lady’s guide to bleeding, or whatever. AKA: Vegan periods, y’all! »
Hello, everybody! Today I’m going to talk about Shark Week. And when I say Shark Week, I’m not talking Discovery Channel. I’m talking the kind that happens to a person’s ovaries once a month.
So, what about having a “leaky basement” isn’t vegan? And why would Vegansaurus be talking about Mother Nature’s gift? Well, surfing the crimson tide is vegan, but the ways that we deal with Aunt Flo’s visit aren’t exactly the most environmentally friendly. Or people-friendly, for that matter. Tampons are bleached to get them white, pads are plasticky and feel like diapers, and it seems like nobody has done anything to asses this situation in a very long time. Furthermore, we spend hundreds of dollars each year on products that we use once and throw out—products that end up in our oceans and lakes and landfills and the end up in the stomachs of animals that don’t know any better.
I propose a solution. There are other ways of going about things! Ways that are better for you and the earth and all the little critters that live here.
Now before everyone goes all “reusable products are nasty and meant for some level of crunchy that I have just not attained yet”, give me a chance to make my point. I should mention that it’s really unfortunate that we are living in a society where the only advertised options for handling your red-flag week are disposable (not to mention the mysterious “blue liquid” used in all the advertisements). We don’t know about alternative options not because they’re bad, but because they don’t have the advertising opportunities that big companies do.
Alternative 1: Reusable Fabric Pads
Fabric pads look just like regular pads (but more colorful and way cooler**) and snap around your underwear.
If you’re like me, this proposal at first might seem ridiculous. Fabric would leak, washing that with the rest of my clothes would be awful, and I could imagine the pad shifting all the time and driving me insane. Well, fabric pads come in tons of different shapes, sizes, and patterns (Lunapads are great, and Etsy has a ton of options) so you can choose the best pads for you. Most are made with organic cotton and lined with nylon to prevent leaking. Along with many different sizes, many pads have options for you to add extra liners, making a thicker and more absorbent pad. Mind you, if there’s a lot of blood, things are going to leak. But they would with regular pads too.
And have I mentioned comfort yet!? Oh man, there is no comparison between organic cotton and scratchy plastic. None. I swear you’ll try one on and think "Wow, thank you, Vegansaurus; why didn’t I do this years ago!?" Plus the pad doesn’t move or shift around at all, which is lovely.
Now all that’s fine and dandy, until we get into cleanup. But this is the best part! The only difference between washing a pad and doing the rest of your laundry is that you rinse the pad before you put it in the laundry. I’ve been doing this for about a year so far and I have noticed no difference in my laundry at all! So easy!
Alternative 2: Menstrual Cups
Even though fabric pads are awesome, they just aren’t practical for some people, and this is where the cup comes in. Originally invented in the 1920s, the menstrual cup sort of works like a tampon but it’s, you know, a cup.
There are four really awesome things about the cup that makes it way better than tampons: 1) They absorb twice the amount that a tampon does, more than the super-plus kind, which means there’s no more constant fear of “Is my tampon about to leak? Does it need to be replaced?”; 2) They are reusable—you just need to disinfect it between periods; 3) You can leave them in for 12 hours, which is awesome, especially if you’re worried about Toxic Shock Syndrome and how if you sleep for more than eight hours with a tampon your uterus will explode or something; 4) Medical-grade silicone or rubber instead of scratchy bleached cotton.
Although it’s something that takes a little while to get the hang of, investing in a cup is a really great idea if you use tampons anyways. If the cup still sounds like a scary endeavor, there’s an entire Livejournal community dedicated to them, which has a lot of useful information, especially for troubleshooting. Note: Be careful, as at least one cup I know of, the Keeper, isn’t vegan.
So there you have it! Two awesome options that are better for people, animals, and the environment. So maybe the next time shark week comes around you’ll be feeling less like a shark and more like a guppy.
**Just from a quick look on Etsy, I found pads with a pizza print, Hello Kitty, and I know my friend bought my other friend an Edward Cullen-themed one so she could bleed on him once a week, which I found hilarious.
Sara Howie is a student, currently attending school for a double major in fine arts and business in Windsor, Canada. She has been vegan for a year (and hasn’t looked back!). She keeps herself busy by doing art, biking, cooking, playing the ukulele, and caring for her fat pet rabbit. You can check her out at her blog, Sara Takes Over the World.