Beyond Plant-based Eating

Veganism by definition goes beyond just eating plant-based foods and extends to avoiding other products and activities that cause cruelty to and/or exploitation of animals


Animal tested products
Whilst the testing of cosmetics on animals is now illegal in the UK, companies who sell their products in the UK still sell their products in countries where testing may be mandatory. Ingredients used in household products in the UK can also be tested on animals, but the final products cannot.

And to make things a little more complicated, just because a product is certified as Cruelty-Free and not tested on animals, that does not mean that it doesn’t contain animal products.

How to ensure you are buying cruelty-free and vegan
1) Look for the Cruelty-Free International logo (also known as the Leaping Bunny), this certifies that a product is not tested on animals. However, as this certification costs money, some companies opt to just state that the product hasn’t been tested on animals on the package.

2) Check the ingredients; is the product labelled as vegan? The Vegan Society also certifies household products and toiletries, and will only certify products that haven’t been tested on animals.

3) If you are unsure, you can contact the company directly, or check out Ethical Consumer who list many companies.

Where to shop
The Animal Aid online store only sells cruelty-free and vegan products. You can find a range of cosmetics, toiletries, make up, household products and more. And all of the money made from the sale of goods goes to funding our campaigns for animals.

Lush is a well-known cosmetics store that never tests on animals. However, not everything is entirely vegan so be sure to check before you buy.

Superdrug is another high street store that is worth checking out. Their own-brand stuff is certified as cruelty-free, and if a product is vegan, it will be clearly labelled. I have used their shampoo, toothpaste and mouthwash for many years.

Some supermarkets are also very good for cheap and cruelty-free cosmetics and toiletries. Marks & Spencer has a very impressive range of household products and cosmetics and toiletries that are all Cruelty Free International certified, and those that are vegan are labelled as such – including their laundry products. This is also the case with the Co-op.

It goes without saying that vegans avoid purchasing clothing made using animal products. Many people will understand why fur is cruel; animals are farmed in horrific conditions, before facing a brutal death which can involve being skinned alive, gassed or being bludgeoned to death.

As well as avoiding fur, vegan also avoid leather, wool, down (feathers) and silk. This may seem very restrictive, but there are many non-animal derived fabrics and materials, in fact most of the clothing you already own is most likely non-animal based anyway.

Companies who are getting on board
As veganism grows in popularity, many fashion brands and high street outlets are starting to bring out more vegan clothing and shoes, with an emphasis on sustainability.

Online store ASOS, for example. Now has a range of vegan certified shoes, and gives the option of filtering clothing and shoes to select only vegan options. Legendary skate brand Vans have recently launched a new vegan range of shoes, which are made from organic cotton and hemp. Superdry, a brand I am sure you are all familiar with, also have a vegan trainer range which are all Vegan Society certified.

What about animal-based clothing that you already own?
You may be thinking about the clothing that you already own which aren’t vegan. Perhaps you have some leather shoes, or a wooly jumper. What should you do with those? Well, this is something that is of course your decision.

Some people may choose to continue wearing these things until they are worn out and need to be replaced, at which point you can replace them with vegan products. This is certainly a good option as it avoids waste. However, some people, once they discover what the animals had to go through to produce such clothing, who wouldn’t feel comfortable wearing them. So, what else could you do?

Another option could be to donate them to those who need clothes, houseless people for example. Or to charity shops, which will enable people who would otherwise buy a pair of leather shoes brand new to buy a second-hand pair, which wouldn’t result in an increase in demand for animal skin. You could also give them away to friends and family.

There is no correct answer, it’s just whatever works for you and whatever you feel comfortable with.

Animals are also exploited and abused for the sake of entertainment. This is something that vegans avoid partaking in. It probably goes without saying that vegan wouldn’t participate in hunting and shooting, but this also extends to other forms of ‘entertainment’ like horse and greyhound racing. Racing animals involves exploiting and cruelty.

Click here to learn more about horse racing.

Click here to learn more about greyhound racing. 

Vegans also avoid zoos and aquaria. Whilst zoos are often touted as bastions of conservation and present themselves as ‘saving species from extinction’, very few animals in British zoos and aquaria (and globally) are endangered. The vast majority are not of conservation concern, and as such exist in captivity just for human entertainment. These enclosures are often many times smaller than their natural range, which results in a lot of suffering. There are many other issues relating to zoos and aquaria, but to save time I’m going to include a few links below:

Born Free: Do Zoos Put the ‘Con’ in Conservation?

Freedom for Animals

Nobody is perfect
I wanted to end this very long blog by saying that it is important to remember that nobody is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes and there may be things that I have mentioned above that you disagree with. You may also, for whatever reason, not be able to avoid certain things that may be considered animal exploitation. And this is fine; everyone is different. By eating more plant-based foods, and sourcing animal-free clothing and cosmetics where you can, you are definitely helping animals and reducing your impact on the planet… and that’s all that matters.