Ethical Halloween costume ideas

Around this time last year, after laying around in my pajamas all day struggling to conceptualize a creative Halloween costume, the idea suddenly came to me. Inspired by the grunge scene of veganism, I decided to take an ethical stand for the environment and animals by dressing up as a goth vegan.

The construction of the costume was fortuitously easy. As a colorful person who fittingly wears colorful clothing, I was surprised at the amount of black in my closet. I threw on a black long sleeve crop top, a black skater skirt, black tights, black knee-high socks and black wedges.

I then made a quick run to Rite-Aid (in my pajamas) and purchased the fairest foundation I could find and a thick jet black eyeliner crayon, both animal product-free and cruelty-free. (An article to come on shopping for cruelty-free beauty products).

After caking my face in foundation six shades too light for my skin tone, I accentuated my dark, bushy eyebrows with layers of black eyeliner and covered my lips with the jet black eyeliner crayon, since Rite-Aid was sold out of black lipstick.

Now for the vegan touches. To strike a plant-based theme, I incorporated green into my makeup. I added glittery-green eyeshadow on top of my black lips, shaded my eyes with green eyeshadow and wore green contacts that I unexpectedly found in the back of my cabinet that my sister had snagged from her job at an eyecare store months prior. I headed to my kitchen for the final and essential piece to completing my character: a fresh leaf of kale.

Sometimes vegans get unfavorable reputations for being too adamant about their beliefs, constantly pushing their veganism onto people and protesting that “meat is murder.” As someone who once never imagined becoming a vegetarian, let alone a vegan, I understand that negative perception.

However, belittling someone for professing their beliefs about a cause they care about and that you may not agree with is unfair. Vegans have reason to be passionate for the incessant raise and slaughter of animals and destruction of the environment as a result thereof.

Additionally, the multitude of benefits of veganism — environmental, ethical, health, wellness — that can entirely alter one’s life and perception of the world, make the lifestyle even harder not to share with others. When you deeply care about something, whether that be climate change, sweatshops fitness or music, it’s really difficult not to share and advocate your passion with others and consider solutions to solving the problem at hand (if applicable).

When I arrived at the party scene, people would immediately recognize that I was goth, but would shortly after scrunch their faces at the indistinguishable piece of wilted kale in my hand. “What is that?” they would ask. Then I would begin my schpiel.

Well, I’m not only goth, I’m a goth vegan. As a vegan myself, I’m spreading the message that vegans have reason to be doomy and gloomy about our eco-crisis. My explanation would usually strike the inquisitor’s curiosity and segue into an intriguing discussion about veganism. Other times, the other person would gawk and walk away, as is understandable when conversing with intoxicated party-goers. Then again, it was easier to reach out to others about veganism when they were more easygoing than usual.

So Trojans, I encourage you to dress up for a cause you care about this Halloween. In the realm of veganism, maybe you’ll consider dressing as a piece of meat, with dashed lines across sections of your body labeled with “breast,” “leg” and “thigh,” an extra firm piece of tofu, an evil Ronald McDonald with blood-drenched hands or an angry chicken who has been targeted by the “eat mor chikin” Chick-fil-A campaign. Whatever your passion is, your authentic self is sure to shine through and inspire hope in others.

Tessa Nesis is a a sophomore majoring in NGOs and Social Change.  Her column, “The Sentient Bean,” runs on Thursdays.