Lifestyle: Where do you draw the line between cruelty free products and a vegetarian/vegan diet?

You may remember from last month that I wrote a post discussing my favourite Lush products, which is a brand well known for being 100% vegetarian and cruelty free. Following that post, I’ve been pondering my stance on consuming products where animals have been harmed in some way, whether through my dietary choices or cosmetics.  Honestly, I’m not 100% sure where I stand yet, so I thought I’d write down my thoughts and hopefully get a discussion going with you, my lovely readers.

First of all, I’ve reduced my consumption of animal products over the past 18 months or so.  In May 2015 I became pescetarian, which means I cut out all animal flesh from my diet except for fish and other forms of seafood.  This was for two reasons – I didn’t think I would commit to full vegetarianism straight away so I wanted to ease myself into it, and I also really love(d) calamari and teriyaki salmon.  However, my last taste of fish was some fancy salmon mousse on New Year’s Day, and since then no animal flesh has passed my lips (except for the time my Stepdad accidentally gave me some pasta with ham in).

My current rule is that I won’t eat an animal product if the animal has had to die for me to be able to consume it. This includes all flesh, gelatine (made from animal bones) and rennet (made from calf stomach lining), and means that I still consume milk, eggs, and other dairy products.

This rule also means that I won’t purchase products made of leather (excluding the leather bag my Mum bought me for my birthday last year), suede or other animal skins, but I will by products made of wool.  When I move away from diet and consider cosmetics, this is where the line between what I can and cannot purchase becomes to blur.

For me, my reasoning for becoming vegetarian (and eventually aiming to become vegan) consists of two main factors. The first is that I am against the unnecessary cruelty involved in the farming industry. The second is that I have found that I am capable of living a healthy life and meeting all of my dietary and nutritional requirements with a vegetarian diet, plus iron supplements.  However, like meat products, soap and conditioner are not life necessities for me: even though I wouldn’t have many friends if I didn’t wear deodorant, I wouldn’t die without it.  This video ( which includes some strong language, by the way) by Australian lifestyle and beauty YouTuber Nibbles Official explains that side of the argument quite well, whilst also going into why she herself doesn’t follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Most of the toiletries I buy are already cruelty free. A number of them aren’t vegan as they contain products such as honey, but because I am only vegetarian at the moment I’m happy to still use toiletries containing animal products.  The main area where I struggle to draw the line is make-up and other cosmetics.  According to the RSPCA, it is illegal to sell products in the EU which have been tested on animals or have ingredients which have been tested on animals, which means that all of the products on the shelves at Boots are cruelty free.  This is reassuring, but unfortunately that doesn’t mean that the brands themselves are totally cruelty free, because China legally requires cosmetic companies to test their products on animals before they can be sold in the country.  That means that companies that do sell their products in China do still test some of their products on animals.

This is why I struggle to draw the line: if the make-up brands I use sell their products in China and therefore test on animals, should I stop purchasing from those brands, even though I know the products on UK shelves haven’t been tested themselves?  Am I OK with supporting a brand who does test on animals under certain conditions, even though the products I buy are cruelty free?  Again, make-up isn’t a life essential (although you might think it is if you knew how long I spent on my eyebrows in the morning), so shouldn’t I work harder to ensure that my purchases do not enable or condone animal suffering?

I’d be very interested to hear from my followers, whether you use cruelty free products, are vegetarian or vegan, or just have a strong opinion on the subject. Let me know your thoughts on my Facebook or Twitter page, or in the comment section below this post.

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6 thoughts on “Lifestyle: Where do you draw the line between cruelty free products and a vegetarian/vegan diet?

  1. Lulu 15/08/2016 / 12:05 PM

    What a journey! I wanted to become a pescetarian too but when I broke my bones my parents forced me to eat meat again. If I could I would only consume dairy and organic eggs, fish and seafood (I feel less compassion for fish than for mammals and as for shells, well they are shells). I try to buy cruelty free cosmetics as much as possible. But it’s so difficult to find the genuine cruelty free labels. I was offered a pair of Doccies which I know are made of leather, and in the future I’d like to cut down on the leather clothes (well, shoes and bags). I absolutely do not wear fur. Bunnies are like dogs and cats to me, I don’t eat them and don’t wear their skins or furs. Good luck on your journey to a cruelty free life!

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    • katieboyden 15/08/2016 / 6:18 PM

      Hi and thanks very much! I’ve been living independently for the past few years so I’ve been able to fully control the food I eat, plus I’ve not had to deal with anything like broken bones – hope you’re recovered now! I see your point about being pescetarian, as that was my reasoning for still eating seafood when I was pescetarian, and any reduction in consuming animal products is a positive change in my view. :) Yes I agree that it’s tricky to find truly cruelty free products, because sometimes individual brands are cruelty free but their parent company isn’t, so then you have to decide whether you’re still OK with inadvertently supporting the parent company. I still have a pair of Doc Martens and use my leather bag, mainly because I feel like I might as well get as much use out of them as possible now that I own them, but I won’t be buying leather replacements. And definitely agree with you about fur!

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  2. London Vegan Bunny 15/08/2016 / 11:51 AM

    Unfortunately these brands still test on animals; whether it’s to sell at home or across the world. Under the new chemical law ‘reach’ http://www.peta.org.uk/issues/animals-not-experiment-on/reach-chemical-testing/ and also because of selling in china. The new European law is a massive breakthrough, but it does still mean that the company tests on animals in order to make a profit. The product we buy here in the UK, is the same product in China, but animals had to go through testing for them to be on china’s shelves. Personally, this is enough for me to not buy their product. There are so many other brands out there that have committed to ending animal testing… we should support them which will force the other companies to follow suit. Also the European law is only for cosmetics and we are yet to see the same law for household products. I personally only go for Leaping Bunny certified products, because you know what you’re supporting. What products are you using that are hard to let go? i may know of some alternatives that are cruelty free?

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    • katieboyden 15/08/2016 / 6:08 PM

      Hi and thanks for the link and additional information, I really appreciate your input! I’m definitely still learning and researching about becoming cruelty free, and one of my first steps has been to start purchasing toiletries from Lush which has reduced the amount of cruelty free products I buy. My next step will be to move on to make-up, because a lot of the make-up products I use are the same as I’ve been using for years, so the idea of trying to find something new is a bit daunting! I’m not in the financial position to just throw away all of the make-up I already own and start from scratch, so as the products I already own run out I plan to start purchasing cruelty free replacements. :)

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      • London Vegan Bunny 15/08/2016 / 8:35 PM

        I totally hear you. I finished all of my products too… it’s so wasteful to throw away. When you’re ready to buy new, head to superdrug. All of their own brand is leaping bunny certified and the majority is suitable for vegans. Their make up brand ‘B’ is great. Its affordable and does the job. A great place to start. Lush is so awesome, but yeah a little expensive to be buying everything for everyday use. Leaping Bunny website have a list of brands ranging from all different prices. Its definitely worth checking out their site. Other own brands that are leaping bunny (good for house hold items like cleaning supplies) is Co-op, Morrisons & M&S. Good luck and keep up the good work. Looking forward to reading your cruelty free journey! ❤

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      • katieboyden 16/08/2016 / 1:57 PM

        Yes I’d already heard about Superdrug’s own brand products being leaping bunny certified, I hadn’t heard about Co-op, Morrisons or M&S so thanks for letting me know! Definitely agree about Lush, their products do last a long time but if you run out of lots of products at once it can be a bit of a financial blow to replace everything. :P Thanks for the encouragement, I’ll definitely be sharing more about my cruelty free and vegetarian (eventually vegan) lifestyle in future. :)

        Liked by 1 person

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