Did you know there are so many different ways you can be vegan apart from changing your food habits? Read below to find out!
- Animal Tested products
The term “animal testing” refers to procedures performed on living animals for purposes of research into basic biology and diseases, assessing the effectiveness of new medicinal products, and testing the human health and/or environmental safety of consumer and industry products such as cosmetics, household cleaners, food additives, pharmaceuticals and industrial/agro-chemicals. The most common animals used include mice, fish, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, farm animals, birds, cats, dogs, mini-pigs, and non-human primates
These procedures often cause a great deal of suffering. As a vegan, all products that use animal testing should be avoided. Brands that are cruelty-free almost always specify so on their packaging thus making it easier to find such products.
Though, a huge variety of different types of insects are used to produce silk, the most commonly used species is the larvae of ‘Bombyx mori’ – (the caterpillar of the domestic silkmoth). During the production, the cocoons are put in boiling water for thread extraction, to ensure that there is no damage to the continuity of each thread. Thus, commonly sold silk is not vegan.
However, there have been advancements in the industry and several types of “Peace silk” (cruelty-free silk or Ahimsa silk) have been discovered. Although, it is important to look for proper certification while making such purchases.
The best alternatives are fabrics not made from animals at all, such as nylon, polyester, tencel, milkweed seed-pod fibres, silk-cotton tree filaments and rayon.
- Animal Musk
The main sources of animal musk are the secretions of civet cats, beavers, and musk deer. It is used in perfumes, body lotions etc. because of its odour characteristics, ability to remain for long periods of time, and ability to act as a fixative.
Deer musk is a substance with a persistent odour, obtained from the caudal glands of the male musk deer. Musk is obtained from the musk pod, a preputial gland in a pouch, or sac, under the skin of the abdomen of the deer.
Civet cats, who are rarely bred in captivity, are captured in the wild and held in tiny cages barely larger than their bodies, where they are kept without release in hot, smoke-filled sheds for up to 15 years. Every 10 days or so the musk is brutally extracted from the glands of the conscious civets.
While purchasing perfumes and other body products it is advised to read the ingredients carefully for such materials. Alternatively, one can look for the cruelty-free tag.
- Fur and Leather
Fur and leather goods are popular all over the world. They are used in bags, shoes, coats and many more. It is also widely known that these materials are extracted from dead or slaughtered animals such as cows. Fur farming is the practice of breeding or raising certain types of animals for their fur. Large amounts of cattle are killed for their skin, to extract leather.
Fortunately, there are alternatives available for people who still love leather and fur products. Vegan leather is often made from polyurethane, a polymer that can be made to order for any designer’s whim. Faux fur, suede and shearling are also commonly used.
Additionally, a lot of research is being done to create good quality vegan leather. One such example is leather made from Cacti.
- Goose or Duck down
Down refers to the soft layer of feathers that is closest to a duck’s or goose’s skin and is primarily located in the chest and belly regions. Down and feathers are removed from the chest, lower belly, flanks and the areas not covered by the wings. They are mainly collected after slaughter. However, most such birds are slaughtered for their meet and down is a by-product. Down is a fine thermal insulator and padding, used in goods such as jackets, bedding (duvets), pillows and sleeping bags.
- Bone Char
Bone char is a porous, black, granular material produced by charring animal bones. Bone char—often referred to as natural carbon—is widely used by the sugar industry as a decolorizing filter, which allows the sugar cane to achieve its desirable white colour. Alternatively, other types of filters involve granular carbon or an ion-exchange system rather than bone char, which should be preferred.
Beet and coconut sugar are never processed with bone char. Certified U.S. Department of Agriculture organic sugar cannot be filtered through bone char. If the sugar you want to buy isn’t organic, check to see if it says “unrefined”.
- Cochineal / carmine
Carmine, also called cochineal (for the insect from which it is extracted), cochineal extract, natural red 4, is a pigment of a bright-red colour obtained from the aluminium complex derived from carminic acid. It is commonly used in food colouring and cosmetics.
Colouring foods and natural colours based on anthocyanins and beetroot are the most common vegan replacements for carmine.
- Tallow & Lard
Tallow is a rendered form of beef or mutton fat, primarily made up of triglycerides. Lard is a semi-solid white fat product obtained by rendering the fatty tissue of the pig. Tallow has been used in cooking, for making soap, candles, as a healing salve and skin balm, as well as a lubricant for wood, leather and metal working industries. England has also used tallow in the production of their currency.
Avoiding tallow in each of its uses can prove to be difficult. It can be avoided easily in food, soaps and candles as we can control our purchases based on the ingredients.
Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug on trees in the forests of India and Thailand. It is processed and sold as dry flakes and dissolved in alcohol to make liquid shellac, which is used as a brush-on colorant, food glaze and wood finish.
Beeswax is a natural wax produced by honeybees of the genus Apis. The wax is formed into scales by eight wax-producing glands in the abdominal segments of worker bees, which discard it in or at the hive.
Determining whether beeswax is vegan requires a further look into the definition of veganism. While some companies harvest beeswax in a way that aims to protect bees from harm, the processes used don’t come without risk of hive disruption, damage, or accidental bee death. Furthermore, some people believe that disturbing animals or their habitats or taking something from them without their direct consent does not align with the principles of veganism. Based on this definition, even if beeswax is removed from hives in a way that avoids harming the bees directly, it’s still removed without their direct consent. Hence, while beeswax can be considered a vegetarian substance, it’s not truly a vegan ingredient.