Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ask Kaylin: My Story

My first year as a vegetarian
You asked for it; it's here! Why do I happily devote hours to writing a blog about eco-friendly beauty products? How does a normal suburban kid grow up to be a vegan makeup artist?  Find out by reading my story below.

It all started with a family trip to Costa Rica. As we drove past barren patches of land, our tour guide guide explained how the rainforest was being clear cut. Local farmers could make a greater profit producing meat for export to the U.S. -- even if it meant soil devastation within 2-3 years. After seeing the effects first-hand, my parents were compelled to find a way to help.

First, they replaced beef with soy crumbles in our chilli. Then, I found veggie sausage on my plate during Sunday brunch. I was surprised that these meat substitues were quite tasty and left me feeling better both inside and out.

Then my sister met a vegan at school. Her new friend was the rebellious type: dyed black hair, DIY vintage clothing, piles of eyeliner, and a real passion for veganism. I knew that wasn't the path for me, but her commitment to veganism began to influence me. I was already mostly vegetarian already, so why not just make the leap?

There was only one problem: I was a picky eater. I hated salad, ordered all my burgers and sandwiches plain (just the meat and bread), and I didn't want to become an inconvenience to others. Although I imagined that I would someday diversify and develop a more mature palate, I had no real motivation, until now.

Never one to rush into lifestyle changes, I wanted to do some research. I checked out books from the library and searched the internet. I found out that eating fewer animal products could have an enormous impact on global warming and world hunger. While I'd been focusing on driving less, I could make a bigger difference by simply cutting out meat. So I made the commitment to a vegetarian lifestyle, even if it meant eating a salad once in awhile.

My vegetarianism was met with great enthusiasm by my sister's vegan friend, who gladly supplied me with behind-the-scenes videos from the meat industry. While I had turned a blind eye before, this new information only added to my reasons to stop eating meat. It also opened up my awareness to animal testing, so I decided to make the switch to cruelty-free products.

My mother wasn't too thrilled with my campaign against most of our makeup, beauty, and personal care products, but she humored me and allowed me to explore options at a health food store. Due to my limited income ($10 of allowance each month), I began the slow process of replacing my animal-tested products with cruelty-free alternatives.

Not everyone was as accepting of my choice. Sometimes I was openly mocked at restaurants by my family and friends. Other times, I had to decline lunch invitations due to a lack of options at the chosen restaurants. My choice sometimes made those around me feel threatened, so I learned to choose my battles.
I remained a dedicated vegetarian for over seven years. Slowly but surely, I found a group of like-minded people and really expanded my palate with a fantastic array of new, healthier foods. I felt much lighter and happier than I was when I ate meat.

After several years of replacing meat with cheese and soy, I began to develop a dairy allergy. I suspect it was either lactose intolerance that didn't manifest until adulthood or increased dairy consuption. Regardless, I needed some new recipes. I went to the bookstore to look for a dairy-free vegetarian cookbook and discovered "The Kind Diet" by Alicia Silverstone. Although not advertised as a vegan cookbook, she offered many delicious plant-based recipes and encouraged the curious to "flirt" with veganism. I took her suggestion and challenged myself to see how hard it would be to make the shift from vegetarian to vegan.

I put myself on a trial vegan diet using Alicia's recipes. Within a month, I had lost eight pounds and I felt fantastic. I was eating a very balanced diet filled with greens and other great vegetables. What seemed like a fringe, "alternative" lifestyle in fact turned out to be something more meaningful for me. Not only was it kind to the animals, but it also was one of the best choices for the earth. I'll never forget when I first heard that going vegan would reduce my carbon footprint more than giving up my car.

Happy, healthy, and vegan today
I started swapping out my old choices for vegan foods, both at restaurants and at home. I asked for no cheese on my burritos, replacing it with extra veggies and beans. If I ran out of sour cream, I'd grab one that was non-dairy. I'd make my favorite pancakes and swap out eggs with egg replacer. Within a few months, I had gradually shifted to a fully vegan diet.

Once I became comfortable with my new eating habits, I started to evaluate other areas of my life that could use a little makeover. I was now a representative of the vegan lifestyle and I hoped to present it in a positive light. I wanted to switch over my makeup kit to vegan makeup, as it was my business and a large part of who I am. Unfortunately, a makeup kit is very expensive to stock - my first kit cost over $3000.

I began to search for resources on professional-level vegan makeup. Unfortunately, I could find no books or websites that had all the information that I needed. While there were some scattered resources, I wanted one place I could go for reliable reviews and honest opinions from a professional standpoint. I knew I'd be doing a lot of research and testing to get this information for my kit, so I decided to create the website that I wanted to read. Thus, Kaylin's Kit was born.

Kaylin's Kit has been live for nearly a year now. I have been overwhelmed by the number of companies who have risen to support me in this endeavor, and I am incredibly grateful for their support. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to review products and share my discoveries online. I try to give praise for what each product gets right and also provide valuable feedback. After all, if I can encourage just one person to switch to safer, cruelty-free, and eco-friendly products, everyone wins.

I hope you have enjoyed my story! What inspired you to visit and look at eco-friendly and vegan products?


  1. I'm so glad I found your blog and look forward to checking out all of your reveiws!!!


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