As a vegan, every aspect of your life should be as compassionate as possible. Unfortunately, some vegans get the reputation for being shrill, obstinate creatures. In their defense, I would say it is pretty tough being vegan in a non-vegan world and easy to get cynical, but really, compassion towards all animals should include humans in my view.
Having said that, humans can be pretty darn exploitative , so in your everyday life, whether you’re washing your clothes, putting your face on or buying a new duvet, it pays to be vigilant. Shopping for domestic, household or personal items doesn’t have to involve cruelty. You may not be aware that it does now, but I’m sorry to say that even in Britain, there are household cleaners on sale that have been smeared into bunnies’ eyes to test that they’re safe for us.
I cannot emphasise enough how incredibly unnecessary, ineffective and downright cruel this is. Human skin behaves quite differently to that of other animals and there are already literally thousands of ingredients that have been tested as being safe on humans, so the fact that big companies continue to torture animals in their quest to dazzle us with new products is pretty sickening.
Thankfully, there is a fantastic organisation called Cruelty Free International, which spearheads campaigns to try and ensure cruelty free practices in countries throughout the world. Thanks to their work, and that of other animal liberation charities, in 2013 the EU finally made it illegal to sell new cosmetic products that have been tested on animals.
This doesn’t mean that all products are now magically cruelty free, but it does mean that anyone who wants to develop and sell new cosmetic products in the EU are banned from testing those products on animals.
Mind you, there are always companies trying to exploit the loopholes, so the only way you can really be sure is to look for the leaping bunny logo. And don’t worry, buying cruelty free cosmetics couldn’t be easier. Even huge names like Marks and Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsburys and Molton Brown all have heaps of choice in shampoos, nail polish and skin cream that carry the logo, so you don’t need to go to specialist shops. A full list of Cruelty Free International approved companies is available from their website. There’s no need to stick to brands you know, just because you know them. Branch out! It really is easy, honestly.
They also help you to find cruelty free household products, like laundry powder, washing up liquid and so on. Thankfully, cruelty free brands like Method, Ecozone, and Astonish are all easily found in supermarkets. Unfortunately there’s nothing to stop other companies testing these types of products on innocent animals, so again, look for the leaping bunny logo and you’re probably good to go. So do laundry with love, dish-wash with decency and clean your toilet with a clear conscience.
I’m thinking of buying a new carpet to replace the hideous old patterned one currently in my lounge, but I will not be buying a wool one. Now, although many carpets are made of wool, they don’t necessarily represent quality. Synthetic carpets are of a far better standard than they used to be and on the plus side they’re normally loads cheaper. Wool is another seemingly innocuous product, but when it is gathered on a commercial scale, I’m afraid the sheep don’t fare too well. PETA recently did an expose on this, but I must warn you, it’s not pretty. Also, if you’re chilly this winter, look for scarves and gloves made from yarn like rayon or other natural or synthetic fibres. Even if you’re a keen knitter (and good on you if you are) there are plenty of cruelty free yarns out there. Here’s a wee selection put on PETA’s blog by the lass who runs a vegan yarn website. Save you having to drag your arse down to the shops in the cold.
One last thing when it comes to the home – down. Duvets and pillows (and outdoor jackets for that matter) that are filled with duck or goose down are a definite no go. Not only are they a common allergen, but the cruelly produced stuffing involves ripping the feathers out of live birds, so that’s not cool. There are absolutely loads of options out there that are synthetic, warm and hypoallergenic, so there’s no reason to support animal cruelty.
A fab website that lists loads of ethical goods is Big Green Smile. Just search for vegan stuff or those with the leaping bunny (but do check these are also vegan, as Ecover seems to test on rabbit blood and sea fleas of all things!) and you have a cornucopia of goodies to keep your teeth, clothes and house clean (amongst other things) and all delivered right to your door. Hurray!