According to a report from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, animal agriculture (raising animals for production) is the number one cause of global warming. It's the largest contributor of greenhouse gases—more than all transportation combined. By opting for vegan fashions, Leanne says, you're doing your part to make a difference for the world beyond your wardrobe. Here, she shares her tips for how you can do this practically, simply and on a budget.

Start Small

"Practically, just the little things make a huge difference," Leanne says. Rather than throwing out all your clothes and restarting your style from scratch, simply make more vegan choices moving forward, like avoiding anything with fur (even trim). In addition, next time you're out shopping at the department store or mall, keep an eye out for vegan bag and shoe options—they're everywhere.

It's also a good idea to surround yourself with other women who are living conscientiously and get tips from your favorites. Leanne's favorite tip-sharing online newsletters include:
  • (for men)
  •, from Alicia Silverstone

Read Labels

Even though it's not hard to find vegan clothing, you'll still want to look at the labels to make sure what you're buying is truly animal-free.
  • Materials to look for: waxed cotton (leather alternative), organic canvas, bamboo, hemp, tussah (silk alternative), acrylic, even plastic-based materials like recycled soda bottles!
  • Materials to avoid: angora (rabbit fur), cashmere (sheep), shearling (sheepskin), fur, leather, down
"Don't forget to look for 'all man-made materials' on the inside of shoes and bags," Leanne says. "Many shoes have leather soles and were made overseas, so you also want to educate yourself on words that mean 'leather' in other countries." This includes "cuero" (Spanish), "cuoio" (Italian) and "cuir" (French).

Shop Smart

To keep your budget well balanced with all of these fashion temptations, Leanne suggests investing in quality pieces that you know you'll wear often. "You can get dozens of wears out of a gorgeous, quality investment piece over multiple seasons, or you can get two wears out of a throwaway piece. Which is really more expensive?" she says. The goal is to create an edited closet rather than a pile of clothes, so think about the true price of clothing in terms of how often you can wear it.

Discover Great Fashion Finds

Looking for a little fashion eye candy? Check out this slideshow of stunning vegan apparel, from coats to tees: vegan fashion from Vaute Couture.

Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart is the founder of Vaute Couture, a line of vegan coats and apparel that have been purchased by Alicia Silverstone, Emily Deschanel, Ally Sheedy and Ginnifer Goodwin. The fall-winter 2010 line debuted at New York City Fashion Week, featuring down alternative coats, the first vegan and eco-conscious insulated coat line. More at


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