Toys that bypass the by-products

It’s time to leave the vegetables in the kitchen.

Camilla Taylor, a 26-year-old vegan artist living in Phoenix, calls making vegan sex toys her day job.

“[Saying I make vegan bondage gear] is a pretty great party opener. I have a great lead up, and then I’m a real disappointment to everyone because there are no crazy sex toy parties.,” Taylor said.

Taylor, a seamstress, is the sole employee of, an online vegan sex store that specializes in selling high-quality faux leather or “pleather” products and other vegan-friendly bondage gear for those who like to mix pleasure and pain into their sex lives.

“To most people, if you talk about a dildo harness it makes them giggle and it makes them uncomfortable and they make a joke about it. I’m comfortable; I make [them] every day,” Taylor said.

More and more vegan sex products are becoming available online and in sex shops.

The majority of people who buy these products are vegans who abstain from using animal products and do not eat meat, dairy or any animal by-products. Some concerns are making sure there arent any animal products in their food by reading ingredient labels and staying away from clothes made out of any animal-derived materials. But when it comes to one-on-one or self-on-self fun, the worry extends.

“The instant image of a vegan sex toy is a cucumber or something, but I think most people get it after the joke subsides,” said Furry Girl in an e-mail interview. Furry Girl, who did not give her real name, is the owner of and three other vegan adult Web sites.

Just like some products aren’t marked specifically vegan, vegan sex products might not be either.

“When I first became vegan, I didn’t even think about things like toothpaste, different toiletries or even condoms,” said Daniel Peyser, author of Dispatches from Hell: A Vegan’s Guide to Love, Sex, Relationships and Other Social Tendencies. “You might not know most condoms aren’t vegan, and in some cases, sex toys [aren’t] as well.”

Peyser said vegans don’t lead completely different love and sex lives than non-vegans. Vegans who decide to use vegan sex toys use them as an “extension of their basic level of compassion.” Even though vegans abstain from using and consuming animal products, it doesn’t mean they can’t be into using bondage gear, he said.

“It’s the same reason I want [vegan] toothpaste to be similar to toothpaste. I need toothpaste,” Peyser said. “For some people, they need bondage gear.”

In Peyser’s book, he tackles some of the issues regarding vegans, relationships and sex. Peyser, a vegan, wrote the book after getting out of two long-term relationships with other vegans. He wasn’t sure how to handle getting back into the dating scene.

“The vegan thing makes it like hell,” he said. “There are so many questions, having to worry about restaurants and meeting people. In some instances, telling them you’re vegan [is] like the kiss of death.”

For vegans though, at least for Taylor, it’s not about the way it tastes or feels, it’s about the way it’s made.

“You can’t really make bondage gear out of hemp and make it look sexy because the aesthetic is so well-engineered,” Taylor said. “It is so hard to disengage in that.”

Taylor’s faux leather products are made from high-quality pleather called Lorica, imported from Italy. It’s smooth like leather on one side and has the feel of suede on the other.

Most people wouldn’t realize it’s not leather, she said. She said she has received a few e-mails from customers who thought they were duped into buying real leather. Her products don’t smell like leather, but they’re easy to clean, she said. Her products are even dishwasher safe.

The availability of vegan sex products is increasing.

Furry Girl said she has seen a steady rise in her sales since opening her shop online in November 2004, which she said tells her “she’s onto something.”

Furry Girl said she thinks more quality sex shops are starting to label their products like lubes, lotions and oils as vegans. OMy is a vegan lube that is most widely available, she said, but if it was at “a run-of-the-mill” novelty shop online, the ingredients probably wouldn’t be listed to see.

Early to Bed, 5323 N. Sheridan Road, said they sell more Condomi condoms, vegan-friendly condoms, than any other vegan product.

Although products online are marked as vegan, Lee Jacobs, a sex educator, said if shopping at the store be sure to ask for the list of vegan products available.

“The thing is, the vast majority of sex toys are low-end junk sold for novelty use only. There’s no way to even find out what’s in them since their “jelly” material is a hodge-podge of plastics and other ingredients that are anyone’s guess,” Furry Girl said.

Her favorite vegan product is Tantus Silicone, which is made out of “high-quality medical-grade silicone.”

The Columbia Chronicle, April 23, 2007