It is not uncommon for people to not really know what vegan stands for. When out for a meal I have often been offered fish and cheese by people genuinely befuddled by what vegan means.
Understandably it can be equally confusing about ingredients derived from animal products being in skincare and cosmetics. Quite often consumers have made the conscious decision to buy cruelty-free, as animal testing is seen as a barbaric practice. That it is not needed, or morally right in today's world.
But how is the cruelty in testing products on animals, any different from using animal ingredients from animals reared on intensive farms?
I genuinely think consumers have little idea about the ingredients that can be contained in products we use every day.
Many ingredients found in beauty products are sourced directly or indirectly from live or slaughtered animals.
Ingredients that may come from living animals are Honey, Beeswax, Shellac and some sources of Lanolin. Many brands state that the process of harvesting the ingredients does not harm the animals, but with the industrialisation of farming on a massive scale, how can that be true?
PETA do some interesting articles on the factory farming of bees and the abuse in shearing of sheep. These articles can be upsetting and I like to think that these methods are not employed in my local farming area. See www.peta.org
Other ingredients are by-products from animals slaughtered for the meat industry, this could also include Lanolin, Tallow, Guanine, Animal Hair, Stearic Acid, and Keratin.
Ethical Elephant is run by Vicky Ly, she is a lifestyle, vegan, cruelty-free blogger, who put together the chart below, to explain the most common animal ingredients you may find in your cosmetics. Have a look at her site, she has some great guides and discussions.
Some of these ingredients can be obtained from vegetable sources, but it is not always clear on the ingredients list, therefore you would have to contact the brand for confirmation. This would include Stearic Acid and Squalene.
PETA have published a longer list of animal ingredients. It is a very long list!!
One way of being sure that the ingredients are vegan would be to look out for "certified Vegan" marks from the Vegan Society and PETA.
Certification marks & what do they mean?
Vegan - No animal products or by-products are used in the making of the product or food. This could have been because the manufacturer consciously made the product vegan or it was made without animal products just by chance. These items could say Vegan on the back, but it does not mean that these items were not tested on animals or is not sold in China.
Cruelty-Free - mean no animal testing on the ingredients or the finished product, but the products could have animal ingredients in them, examples of this would be Liz Earle or Burts Bees. Liz Earle & Burts Bees both hold a Leaping Bunny logo which shows that they do not test on animals but some of the products do contain Beeswax, Lanolin or honey.
Vegan & Cruelty-free - contains no animal products and has not been tested on animals. Brands that are cruelty-free and are vegan include PHB Ethical Beauty, Earth Conscious and White Rabbit Skincare
You need also to be aware that vegan and cruelty-free does not also mean natural or good for you, that why you need to look out for the different certification symbols on the back of products and be familiar with ingredient names.
Different Symbols you might find on products:
|Certified Vegan and Cruelty- Free by the Vegan Society.||Certified Vegan & Cruelty- Free by PETA|
|Certified Cruelty-Free.||PETA Cruelty-Free|
|Certified by Vegan Action. Cruelty-Free and no animal products or by-products.|
Not all health and beauty brands sign up to use the certification marks as they have to pay for them. So it is well worth your while to look up your favourite high street beauty brand on sites such as www.crueltyfreekitty.com. As with Ethical Elephant, the brands and products are mostly American but a lot is relevant to us here in the UK.
None of the brands selected for Premium Indulgence test on animals and all our products are either certified vegan or deemed vegan-friendly.
Information on the vegan society mark: https://www.vegansociety.com/take-action/ask-vegan-trademark
Information on the Peta mark: http://www.peta.org/living/beauty/beauty-without-bunnies/