When people hear or talk about veganism they usually first and sometimes only think about what people eat. This is a very big part of veganism but not all of it. Being vegan influences many of your choices that affect your life.
People also usually remember that vegans avoid leather, but we don’t use any animal products in our clothing so this includes wool and silk. Many argue that sheep need to be shorn, but this is due to them being selectively bred to carry more wool for our own ends. They risk infection from cuts they receive during the process and if you’ve ever seen film of them being shorn they don’t look like they’re enjoying it! Some people don’t have much sympathy for insects but boiling silk worms alive so you can use their thread used to make their cocoons without it being damaged does seem a bit extreme when there are so many cruelty free alternatives.
Another big thing that vegans avoid is animal testing. I don’t think many people are in favour of animal testing for cosmetics. Some may be surprised that it still goes at all as it seems so outdated. In the EU are law was passed in the last couple of years stating companies couldn’t test products on animals, however if your favourite brand also sells in China their government insist on animal testing in the name of consumer safety.
Many brands are anti animal testing and fund research into alternatives. My favourite is Lush. They aren’t just cruelty free but try to reduce packaging and use as few chemicals as possible. They recycle bottle lids that aren’t usually able to be recycled by councils and they reuse pots you return and you even get a free face mask when you return 5. (Then you only need 4 more to get another one as the mask comes in a pot!) I also really like the enthusiasm of their staff. Some people (like my Mum!) hate shopping and find their approach a bit too much and has told a startled sales assistant on more than one occasion! But I find it refreshing when you have so many disinterested sales assistants in shops nowadays. Cruelty free cosmetics and toiletries don’t have to be expensive either, Tesco, Sainsburys, Marks and Spencer and Superdrug own brand items are cruelty free. You’ll have to check the label to make sure they don’t contain animal ingredients but Superdrug clearly mark if products are vegan.
Another issue vegans face is parent companies. It’s up to your own morality what you do but some cruelty free brands are owned by parent companies who are known to test. For example The Body Shop is owned by L’Oréal. A few years ago there was outrage in the vegan community when cruelty free brand Urban Decay announced they were going to enter the Chinese market. Due to the backlash they reversed this decision and vegans applauded. However for some this was short lived as soon after the debacle they too were bought out by L’Oréal. They are two arguments, firstly that you don’t want to support animal cruelty in any form so you won’t buy from a company owned by a shady parent one. Alternatively you may think if the parent company see the success of cruelty free products and brands they will expand their offering and reduce their non-cruelty free items. When we look at food, Alpro who have a massive share of the dairy free market is owned by an American dairy company and fave ice cream brand Swedish Glace is owned by Unilever. None of us shop in exclusively vegan shops no matter how much we would like to, so perhaps boycotting certain brands is not the answer. I do try my best to buy from ethical companies but sometimes there isn’t alwats an easy or convenient alternative.
I’d like to hear your thoughts in the comment section. I also plan on doing a post regarding cleaning products but I’ll save that one for later.
This post has been a bit word heavy so here’s me feeling a bit pampered after the hectic week!