The Vegan Society defines veganism as following: “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
Most people nowadays have some knowledge about veganism but mostly associate it with food choices. However the decisions we make daily go further than just what we put on our plate. Let me give you a few examples at this point to show you why veganism is not only a diet but a lifestyle:
On the contrary to popular opinion that vegans live like hippies, do not shave or use make-up, a majority of vegans are as vain as the rest of the society. However our principals have an influence on the product choices. When I buy a new beauty product, I ask myself two questions to make sure it is vegan:
- Was it tested on animals?
Animal testing is cruel and unnecessary for various reasons. First of all the test animals are held in laboratories far away from their natural environment. They suffer from enormous stress not only because of the unnatural surroundings but also because of the procedures performed on them. (I will not go into details about these procedures but feel free to google “animal testing” and have a look at the pictures.)
Further animals and humans are not biologically identical so tests on them are not as relevant for us as other test methods. We could save lives and money by using non-animal test methods.
Fortunately, there are labels that certify companies that do not test on animals.
Here is also a list of non-animal testing companies.
- Does it contain ingredients derived from animals?
Of course I do not want to have any ingredients derived from animals in my cosmetics. They occur more often than you might imagine right now. I will name only a few here and leave you a list at the end so you can do your own research on the topic.
This is a red pigment used to dye products such as lipstick or nail polish. You can even find it in red foods. Simply explained: it is made from crushed bugs. You need to kill about 70,000 female cochineal insects to produce one pound of this red dye. Items containing carmine are not even considered vegetarian.
This is rendered animal fat. The process involves boiling the carcasses of slaughtered animals until a fatty substance is produced. It is commonly used in eye makeup, lipstick and foundations.
A fibrous protein derived from animal tissue and used in face and body lotions, as well as cosmetic lip plumpers. There is no scientific proof that it has an effect on the skin’s own collagen production.
The list goes on and on. If you are interested you can have a look at this list for more ingredients.
This sounds like a lot of deprivation but luckily there are plenty of companies that produce high quality vegan beauty products.
To give you some inspiration for vegan cosmetics I want to introduce here a few of my favourites. I am not sponsored to show them here, it is my personal preference.
Nail polish by BWC: I discovered this brand at a vegan festival in Manchester and I love this nail polish. It does not smell at all, seems to be kind to my nails and stays on for a good five days. I went with the colour ‘Naked Bathing’ which is the perfect nail polish to wear in the office.
Eye shadow by The Body Shop: Lovely eye shadow palette for a discreet make-up. I went with the ‘Go For Gold Quad’ colour palette.
Foundation by Alverde: This is my absolute favourite brand when it comes to beauty products. They are reasonably priced but still of good quality. Unfortunately it is the brand of a German drug store and not available in the UK.
CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES
When I go shopping for clothes and accessories I try to avoid a range of fabrics to be sure my outfits are vegan too. Some materials as leather are obviously not vegan but there are also fabrics that are not cruel at first sight.
Although wool is clearly an animal product it does not necessarily cause the death of the animal. The main problem is that wool production has become an industry which is driven by profit and does hardly care about the animal welfare in the process. An undomesticated sheep would only produce as much wool as it needs to be protected from its surroundings. Humans have bred sheep to overproduce wool which leaves them with fragile bodies because all their energy goes into wool production instead of strengthening their bodies. Further more the act of shearing itself can be cruel. If you are ready to see some graphic footage, feel free to watch this.
As beautiful as the material might be it needs to be known that it causes the death of millions of animals. To produce the threads from which silk is woven it is necessary to cultivate silkworms. They are fed and grown until they spin their cocoon to evolve to a butterfly. At this stage the cocoons are treated with hot water so the worms die and the silk threads can be taken from the cocoons.
Goose feathers are used in winter coats, pillows, blankets and so on. It is comparable to wool since the geese do not necessarily die in the process but go through huge distress and pain. The feathers are plugged from the living fully conscious geese. Most of these farms are far away from a natural environment of a goose and as soon as they do not produce enough down anymore they are slaughtered. Again if you are ready to see some graphic footage, feel free to watch this.
To finish this post I have one more non vegan product of which I have not been aware myself for a long time….
Most condoms on the market are produced by using casein, the main protein in milk which is used to soften the latex. I was shocked and as soon as I have become aware of that I had a look for vegan condoms. I
discovered a German company called Einhorn (German for unicorn, smart is it not?) I fell in love with their brand because they have playful and beautifully designed range of products. Have a look yourself. (#notsponsored)
Unfortunately the website is only available in German to this day. I hope this will change. They were so kind and have sent me my order to the UK by request.
It is impossible to cover all the ingredients and reasons at once, the lists above are only a small selection to make you aware that there is more to a vegan lifestyle than what we eat. Feel free to comment, ask (firstname.lastname@example.org) and do your own research.
https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/definition-veganism http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/animal-testing-101/ http://www.peta.org/living/beauty/these-companies-dont-test-on-animals/ http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/common-cosmetic-ingredients-derived-from-animal-products/ http://www.peta.org/living/other/animal-ingredients-list/ https://www.beautylish.com/a/vxycr/how-to-tell-if-your-makeup-is-truly-vegan http://gentleworld.org/whats-wrong-with-wool/ https://texeresilk.com/article/silk_making_how_to_make_silk http://gentleworld.org/are-your-condoms-vegan/