November 1st is World Vegan Day. I celebrated by presenting a talk about Animal Testing and how difficult it is to avoid, in my opinion, this cruel and unnecessary practice.
Many people who are vegan or become vegan do so because they’ve made the connection between eating animals and factory farm cruelty, but often, we vegans forget about or overlook, or don’t want to know about things we do, things we wear and things we NEED that exist because of animal suffering of some sort.
Snuggling under that down blanket, a new pair of Jimmie Choo’s and yes, your new bottle of volumizing shampoo. Here’s where it gets tricky. In the beauty biz, the problem is animal testing.
Animal testing, and its relation to the cosmetics, personal products and household cleaning products is hardly “OBVIOUS’.
Everyone agrees – animal testing “BAD” Cruelty free Companies and Products “GOOD” but it isn’t that simple. How hard could it be to stock my shelves at juju in a cruelty-free way? Let’s keep in mind that I have an organic and natural salon and that I need to supply products that actually deliver salon-worthy results! Sticks, mud and a few herbs and plants are not enough!
My friend Sevi Kay, founder of Eco-Sevi body and Hair products, a vegan and animal activist, creates honest, cruelty free products. And she says about her products or any beauty and personal care products “we are aware that these very ingredients all have been tested by other companies — we cannot change the past, but hope that we can all unite to find alternatives to animal testing in the future.”
Can we call that an “Ethical Statute of Limitations?”
Because, really, we need a starting point, and something to stand on if we want to truly look at and work toward a future of total cruelty free living.
I am NOT an expert in Animal Testing and Experimenting. I’m a hair stylist with a Philosophy degree, please keep this in mind. There is so much information out there. In researching for this presentation, I became overwhelmed with the amount of history, data, research, organizations, movements, theories, regulations, arguments, international edicts, rules and ethics out there that encompass this nebulous issue. Again, as a non-expert, trying to put all of this together into a succinct, informative and moving presentation seemed impossible! BUT…..here are some of some thoughts and findings as they pertain to me, the Vegan, the Animal Lover and the Sustainable Business Owner.
Many of the chemical concoctions tested for industrial, medicinal and pharmaceutical reasons, once approved, find themselves useful in personal care products, cleaning products and some such. It’s the little, tiny, individual ingredients that are tested on animals, NOT the finished product.
These chemical concoctions, known as Intermediary Ingredients, are developed continually, because Industry demands newer, more efficient and cheaper chemical “things” to use in their products. So these things are concocted, tested and let out on the Market.
Wondering if your mascara was tested on animals? Who the hell knows for sure, probably!
For example. I’m L’Oreal and some company comes to me and says we have this new binding chemical substance…and it can do all these things that no other thing can do: it can bind, waterproof, congeal, stabilize etc. This new product has probably been developed for the Paints and Pigments Departments at Dow chemical, but….I could use it for our mascara lines and save $$$!
So, it’s on the INGREDIENT LEVEL that the testing occurs. An estimated 100,000 chemicals are marketed globally, with hundreds more new chemicals being introduced each year. Most are plastics and related polymers, while a smaller proportion include cleansers, paints, adhesives, lubricants, industrial solvents and a variety of short-lived by-products or “intermediates.” while others may be marketed in high volumes and/or used as ingredients in products to which human beings and the environment may be exposed – like cosmetics and household cleaning products, plastic packaging, and gasoline. Recently implemented laws in Europe, China and elsewhere are requiring companies to produce large quantities of test data, which could mean suffering and death for tens of millions of animals.
Big name cosmetic conglomerates like Estee Lauder, Revlon, L’Oreal and Procter & Gamble are trying to convince us that their mission is “committed to the elimination of animal testing,” BUT in able to sell to one of the biggest consumer markets in the world, China, they are required by the Chinese government to be tested – on animals – in China – before being sold in that huge country. Domestic Chinese countries are exempt from this ‘law’ but, let’s face facts, are any of the big companies incorporated in China!!
of hidden Parent Companies. Often, smaller companies and manufacturers that insist that they are cruelty free and have received Leaping Bunny verification, can be owned by larger Corporations that do not support the Leaping Bunny, i.e. Urban Decay Cosmetics who are owned by L’Oreal and Burt’s Bees, acquired recently by Clorox. To maintain their Leaping Bunny status, these companies must operate as ‘independent subsidiaries.’ We consumers know the connection and have to make the decision whether or not to spend out dollars here.
In the end, remember this: The FDA does not regulate product labeling for cosmetic and personal care products in the US. A company can literally put just about anything on its label. “Vegan Friendly” and “Cruelty-free” may or may not be the whole store. To be sure, look for CCIC’s Leaping Bunny and a PETA rated: V, CF (Companies that don’t test).
Delve deeper, Google your favorite brands or even call the company! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve typed “Is such and such a product Cruelty-free?” in my search bar.
Empower yourself with awareness and a little effort in order to buy cruelty free. Spread the word!