Beyond vegan eating

Adopting a plant-based diet is one of the best things you can do to help animals, but there are other aspects of veganism that you may also wish to consider.

Clothing
You will most likely be well acquainted with the cruelty involved in the production of fur, and whilst the barbaric practice of farming and trapping animals solely for their fur is illegal in the UK, there are many places in the world where it is still legal.

Mink, foxes, racoons, and other animals (including cats and dogs), are confined to tiny cages for their short, miserable lives. They are then killed in horrific ways – including electrocution, being bludgeoned to death, and some organisations have documented animals being skinned whilst alive.

But it isn’t just fur that is cruel. Leather is equally as cruel and unnecessary, with cows suffering horrendous lives and deaths. Even where the leather is a by-product, it is still a result of animal exploitation, suffering and slaughter. In addition to this, leather is the worst material in terms of environmental cost.

Some may see wool and a cruelty-free product, after all sheep do need to sheared in the summer. Well, the meat and wool industry are inextricably linked and so all the suffering we know about with one is inherent in the other. Sheep are subject to mutilations. They are often left without due care to cope in extreme weather conditions, impregnated through surgical means (yes, really – sheep breeding is commonly conducted by introducing semen surgically via the ewe’s abdomen), and suffer a host of health problems including foot rot, scald, scrapie and mastitis. At the end of all that – and having their lambs taken from them – they may be transported long distances to slaughter. As for the shearing itself, there is also documented evidence of sheep being abused during this process, including in the UK.

Some coats, duvets and pillows contain feathers, and if you think the companies that make them wander the lakesides looking for naturally-shed feathers to stuff into their jackets, you’re about to get a shock. If those feathers were not plucked from their slaughtered owners, then there is a good chance they were pulled out of them while they were still alive – a painful, stressful, terrible process. Thankfully, synthetic jackets, duvets and pillows are readily available, non-allergenic and a whole lot less scratchy, too.

Being vegan is about doing the best you can. You shouldn’t feel bad about owning a pair of leather shoes or a wooly jumper. It makes so sense to simply throw these items out and send them to landfill. Some people choose to just wear these pieces of clothing out until they need to be replaced, and replace them with vegan alternatives. You can also give them away to somebody else – this may stop them from buying an animal-based product. Whichever you decide to do is of course the best thing for you!

Cleaning products and toiletries
Thankfully cosmetic testing has been illegal in the UK and EU for many years – in fact, any new products that are sold in the EU cannot have been tested on animals elsewhere. But that’s not to say that all of these products are actually ‘cruelty-free’. Some toiletries and cleaning products may contain animal products, such as honey, milk, and even weirder stuff like beef fat.

The good news is that vegan cleaning products and toiletries are now widely available. Superdrug own-brand products are all certified as not tested on animals and mostly vegan – this is clearly stated on the packaging. Ethical cosmetics store Lush also ahs a he vegan range!

In terms of cleaning and household products, M&S and Co-Op own-brand are all clearly labelled, and the brand Astonish is all entirely vegan and cruelty-free and is available in Poundland and at The Range.

Animal Aid’s shop is bursting with amazing vegan and cruelty-free items including chocolates and snacks, and toiletries and clothing. Enter the discount code SVP19 in the discount code box to receive 10% off across the Animal Aid shop, this is valid from 1stJune – 31stJuly!  

Entertainment
Animals are still used and abused in the name of entertainment. For example, in Britain an average of 200 horses are year are killed on British race courses. Many more are killed or sent to the abattoir for failing to meet the grade for racing or because they have failed to make their ‘owners’ enough money.

Recent figures also show that around 1,000 greyhounds were killed as a result of the racing industry in 2018. Again this figure doesn’t include those who do not make the grade for racing. It has also been documented the greyhounds from the UK and Europe are sent to China to race, some of whom end up in the dog meat industry.

And let’s not forget that despite plans in motion to ban wild animals in circusesin England and Scotland, these circuses are still touring. Whether the animals are considered wild or domestic, all animals suffer when placed in the unnatural circus environment.

It seems that animal cruelty is never ending, but these things only exist because there is a demand for them. By going vegan you have made the first huge step to reducing animal suffering. Veganism isn’t about perfection, it’s about doing the best you can.