God loves a trier and gosh… have I tried. Just when you think you’re living a cruelty-free life, someone sneaks gelatine into your favourite snack, or your favourite beauty brand starts selling in mainland China. It’s a tricky world to navigate and unfortunately pitchfork-wielding do-gooders are always on the sidelines ready to point out your faults. So how on earth do you stay on the straight and narrow?
Now I’m no angel. I’ve been a vegetarian for almost a decade, but I did once have a chicken related slip up with my gal pal HannahGetsHench. There was also the McDonald’s breakfast incident too…
None the less, we can all agree that there are many ways we can live a more conscious, cruelty-free lifestyle. I’m not here to judge. I’m just going to list a ton of ways we can try to live in a way that’s a little bit better for the environment and the animal population.
I’m going to stop sounding like a dick and get on with it now.
Don’t be militant about it
Before we get started, this is the most important.
No one likes the kind of guy that preaches about how evil everyone is, if they don’t follow the same values. Some people simply do not care. That doesn’t make them a bad person and it doesn’t mean you’re in a place to educate them. They don’t need a lecture every time they tuck into a bacon sandwich. Lets just say chill and love cute animals together in our own unique ways.
Support good causes
There are so many great causes out there which advocate higher farming standards, support animal shelters and generally do great things! It’s not all about PETA.
At the moment I have particular love for Arm the Animals, who kindly sent me the shirt pictured on the right! It’s such a gorgeous illustration. The charity sends a portion of the profits from t-shirt sales to various ‘no-kill’ animal shelters, a cause that pretty much everyone can get behind. (Unless you don’t like dogs, in which case you’re in the wrong place cause dogs are THE BEST!) Remember how I said being militant was bad? Well, Arm the Animals have no political affiliation, they just want to support the hard working staff behind animal shelters. They really are cool guys.
Remember to check if a brand trades in China
I briefly mentioned this before, but here’s the skinny: In China the Government insist that all cosmetics are tested on animals to ensure they are safe. Any company that sells in this territory takes part in animal testing, whether they like it or not. Often companies put profit over their cruelty-free statements *cough* MAC *cough*.
It’s up to you if you choose to consider this, but at least you’ll be making an informed choice!
Check if they use ingredients that are tested on animals
This is my biggest pet peeve. I’m looking at you, Body Shop!
When a brand claims to be cruelty-fee, they can cheat the system because there is technically no legal definition of the term. If a brand’s final product is not tested on animals, they can win accolades and certifications for being cruelty-free.
Unfortunately these brands can buy ingredients from companies that test on animals and don’t have to specify this on their products. It can be so hard to discover which brands do this, so if you find out your stash includes companies which are guilty of this try not to take it so hard on yourself.
Figure out your feelings on historical testing
A quick Google search of some common cosmetics ingredients may bring up evidence of animal testing. This is because back in the day certain chemicals and filling agents may have been tested on animals by big companies. However, now that we have the research testing no longer takes place.
For some people, this legacy of testing is cause enough to avoid the ingredient all together. It’s something I take into consideration, but I don’t live by it. There are so many ingredients that this applies to that it would be impossible to avoid them all.
Look into parent companies
This is where the challenge seems fairly impossible. When you look at many cruelty-free brands, they are still owned by companies who have a legacy of animal testing (E.G Urban Decay is owned by L’oreal).
There will come a point when you suddenly realise that Procter & Gamble, the world’s biggest animal tester, own pretty much every brand you ever loved. It’s extremely annoying. Here are some things you can do about it:
– Refuse to purchase the brand and find an alternative
– Reduce your consumption
– Contact the brand in question and clarify their policies
– Buy them anyway
I’m not sugar coating it. It’s up to you.
Don’t just trust the symbols
Many of us will look for the leaping bunny, but it’s always worth double checking. Once upon a time, due to UK laws, brands were not allowed to include cruelty-free badges on their packaging. Probably because it made the others look bad. Probably also because UK laws can be very silly.
Understand that it’s all part of a process
If you go veggie, vegan or try to live a somewhat ethical life, someone at some point will say ‘but animals are still dying so what’s the point‘. This defeatist attitude won’t solve any problems and your answer can simply be – ‘but it feels better for me to live my life this way’. That’s all. It’s not a question that really warrants a response, but hey, give them one they can’t argue with.
If you simply cannot give up meat, try to buy free-range. It goes without saying that animals should at lease deserve a good life, if it’s going to be short. I suppose that’s just my opinion though. Often free-range meet is actually just as cheap, which is a bonus! Have a look into the brands you purchase and the way they farm their livestock. It might be grim, but it’s all about being an informed consumer.
Know your limits
Personally I avoid animal testing in beauty as I feel like cosmetics are not a necessity. On the other hand, I will fully admit that I turn a blind eye to animal testing for medical reasons. Of course, the thought of universities making kittens go blind turns my stomach, but if I was knocking on death’s door I’d take whatever medical help I could get – without researching how they discovered if it was safe.
It’s important to evaluate your limits. Some people try going hard core vegan all at once and revert back to a meat based diet. This is mainly because they’ve not assessed their limits and thought about what’s best for them. It can be extremely hard to keep up with a cruelty-free life, so set yourself some boundaries. Take it as it comes and don’t beat yourself up in the pursuit of cruelty-free perfection.
My point is, no one lives a perfectly cruelty-free life but we may as well try! I hope I’ve given you some food for though with this blog post. Veggie or not, die-hard vegan or bacon lover, we can all do our bit to reduce our impact on animals and the environment!