Sunday, September 25, 2005

condoms and casein - vegans do it casein free (that way nothing melts)

Yes, friends, I really am that lewd. But my tactlessness aside, this is an important issue that often goes overlooked. 'Mainstream' American latex condoms, as it turns out, contain casein, a milk protein*. I'm not sure why this is, perhaps there is an industry superstition regarding caseine and disease/pregnancy prevention. Being an industry outsider, I really have no idea. Maybe the casein makes the latex more pliable.

What I do know, however, is that as a vegan, you can wrap it up and stay true to your ethics. You just have to do a little legwork (hee hee). There is a company in the U.K. called Condomi (I think maybe it rhymes with condoning) that makes vegan condoms. They can be ordered at BritishCondoms.Com, who will then ship them across the pond to the Kyoto-protocol hating, war-mongering, vegan-sex-obstructing U.S. of A.

But maybe you think it makes you a certain kind of person, ordering sex products through the mail, on the internet no less. And maybe it does, but I promise that your prophylactics will not arrive in a package marked "PERV."

If you're still not convinced, there is still hope for you, provided you live in the Midwest and that your squeamishness is limited to receiving condoms in the mail and in no way prevents you from setting foot inside of a sex shop.

Here in Minneapolis, just two doors down from the dorkiest bar in town, is the Smitten Kitten. It's a great feminist, woman-owned shop with the friendliest staff in the world. They do a great job of normalizing the sex shop experience for nervous gigglers like me and mine. If their website and my memory are accurate, however, the only vegan condoms they sell are Durex polyurethane jobbers, which are also European, and cost $6.00 for a 3-pack, so please be sure you're having good (and infrequent?) sex before you graduate to these. What they do have, however, are 18 products that show up when searching "vegan" on their site, from organic lubes to the more adventurous harnesses and floggers and the like.

Early To Bed is a sex shop in Chicago that is owned and operated by Searah (from Sex Lady Searah fame a la Punk Planet magazine). Early to Bed has vegan friendly options on their website here, here, and here. I think that Early to Bed came first, and like Smitten Kitten is a very comfortable place to shop for all of your bedroom needs (duvet covers notwithstanding).

Certainly these aren't the only two sleaze-free sex shops in all the world, but they are the only two with which I have any experience, so I wouldn't feel comfortable recommending any others. If recommending these two, however, means that you no longer need to abstain from sexual activity for fear that the vegan police might come after you, well, it's been worth it. Have fun, be safe, and for God's sake, stay away from the casein.

*casein is commonly found in certain non-vegan varieties of soy cheese, easily identified by their meltiness. when dining out, if soy cheese is an option, it's always a good idea to ask whether their soy cheese contains casein.

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