Although, thanks to clear labelling, non-food items that haven’t been tested on animals are quite easy to identify in today’s society, buying these items is just one part of living a vegan lifestyle. The second part of the story is connected to ingredients or materials used to produce many items we wear, use, or generally find in our home, some of which come from animal sources. Identifying what these ingredients or materials are, and what products you might find them in, can be something of a challenge. Here’s a rundown of some ingredients to avoid, and some viable vegan alternatives:
Products to Avoid:
Materials used in clothes and home furnishing are perhaps some of the most obvious animal based items to avoid, with fur, leather, silk, cashmere, wool, suede, and feathers top of the list. You’ll also need to avoid lanolin, a grease sourced from wool that’s found in lipstick, and tallow, which is hard animal fat, often included in soaps. Other ingredients to look out for include musk (from musk deer), castoreum (the anal sex gland of a beaver), ambergris (whale excretion) used in perfume, and gelatine (animal bones, skin, and hide) used in toiletries and cosmetics.
Alternative (Vegan) Products:
Clothing: Technology has improved man-made and plant based fabrics, so they are more comfortable to wear, and last longer. Choices include cotton, linen, denim, rayon, hemp, and nylon. You may also find some things made from rubber, pvc, faux fur, or fleece.
Shoes: Finding vegan friendly shoes can be a challenge, especially as some non-leather shoes are not always of great quality. If plastic is not an option, then consider canvas, microfibre, imitation nubuck or faux leather shoes/boots. Other options include vegetan, and vegetan micro, both plant based fabrics used to make shoes and boots. This fabric is popular because it’s breathable, easy to clean, and waterproof. Mail order firms may offer shoes made from these materials, if you can’t find them in the shops.
Cosmetic and Beauty Products: Keep your eyes open for natural, organic, or mineral based makeup and beauty brands. Some of these companies may produce product ranges suitable for strict vegans that are also certified by the Vegan Society. Look out for natural oils, plant extracts, and other naturally derived ingredients. These products are not only free from animal testing, and suitable for vegans, but are much kinder to the skin, as they contain non-toxic/non irritating ingredients.
If in doubt about any products, check out the Vegan Society’s shopping guide, or read-up on the ethical policy of the company you hope to buy from.