Something vegans struggle with is what to do with things we own that now contradict our more compassionate way of living. It’s easy to finish up a carton or package of something in your fridge. Bigger ticket items like shoes, purses and jackets can be trickier and take longer to replace. If something is in decent condition, does it make sense to purge it? 

As a proud thrifter who loves to repurpose and avoid waste, swapping out my animal containing pieces presented some unexpected challenges.

Infrequently worn or used items were donated immediately. Easy peasy. Belts, down jackets and a new wallet went onto my mental “To Replace” list. As soon as these things wore out or I found appropriate alternatives, they would go. Then, there was the stuff in my closet that held sentimental value. I was reluctant to get rid of those pieces. Most of them I no longer wear, but haven’t given away either. This felt like a nice compromise. 

UGG, what to do with my boots? 

The one thing that has been especially difficult to part with has been my UGGs (shearling boots). I’ve been living in Wisconsin for a long time. And I’m always freezing. And I hate winter. My birthday is in the fall and on more than one occasion, I requested Uggs to keep my feet warm. 

When I went vegan, I didn’t know what to do with my old boots. I tried to get by without them as often as I could, but didn’t have a good substitute. The pandemic made the cold of 2020 and 2021 more bearable because I was inside more than usual. But what would I do the following year, I wondered.

Pulling the wool over my eyes?

My well-worn UGGs were like old friends who helped me get through every winter. Conflicting arguments swirled in my head. “The damage was done many years ago so it’s ok to continue wearing them,” said the practical voice in one ear. “Wearing my boots publicly sends the message that walking around in dead animals is acceptable,” said the voice in my other ear. How, in good conscience, could I go out sporting animal rights messaging on my top half and UGGs on my feet? Did this make me a hypocrite?

Over the summer, I finally came up with the answer. You’ll never guess what I did! I painted my boots and now they’re UGG-LY (see photos below). Like my Dirty Snouts merch, my revamped, eye-catching boots invite questions and comments. They present a perfect opportunity to share truths regarding their production that I (embarrassingly) hadn’t cared enough about before.

In case you’re wondering, I still feel remorse that I aquired these boots, even though they’re over 15 years old. Wearing them reminds me of where they came from, which I don’t like to think about. One day I will say goodbye to my Uggs (probably after I leave Wisconsin). In the meantime, I am indebted more than ever to the sheep who suffered and unwillingly gave their lives for the sake of fashion and my warmth. While I can’t change the past, I can use my mistakes to educate others. Together, my boots and I are increasing awareness and trying to prevent future injustices.


For info on wool, leather, and the use of animals for clothing, see the links below. Head to my Links page for additional articles. 

Why isn’t wool vegan? Inside the hidden cruelty of sheep farming

Justice For Animals Wiki: Wool

The truth about leather.

Allbirds Is All Wrong—Urge It to Ditch Wool NOW!

What’s So Bad About Down?

Patagonia’s ‘Sustainable Wool’ Supplier Exposed: Lambs Skinned Alive, Throats Slit, Tails Cut Off

Silk, Cashmere, Shearling, and Other Animal-Derived Clothing