Product Distinctions: Vegan vs. Cruelty-free

I’ve noticed that a major misconception in the beauty community is that a vegan product and a cruelty-free product are the same thing. They’re not. Of course, they could be depending on how you define “cruelty-free” but most often the term is not synonymous with vegan.

There are many debates from various groups on the definitions of vegan and cruelty-free, and the information provided below is based on my understanding and use of the words. You are most welcome to have your own definitions but it’s important to understand what companies mean when they claim their products to be vegan or cruelty-free.

VEGAN
According to wikipedia, “is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, as well as following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals. A follower of veganism is known as a vegan.” (source)

For cosmetics to be considered vegan they must not contain any animal products, such as beeswax or carmine. Often companies will claim that the animal products that they use, such as beeswax or animal fur for makeup brushes, do not harm the animal. Regardless these would not be considered vegan as the principal of veganism goes beyond not harming animals and includes not exploiting animals for humans, which includes using byproducts of animals such as dairy, honey and beeswax.

CRUELTY-FREE
In the cosmetic industry, the term cruelty-free indicates that the product has not being tested on animals. Many times companies will claim that their products are cruelty-free because they do not test their final products on animals, but they will still test their unfinished products and ingredients on animals.

Other times companies will not test on products themselves or hire others to do so on their behalf, but they will purchase ingredients from third parties without the guarantee that they have not tested on animals.

For cruelty-free enthusiasts, cruelty-free means that the product has not been tested at any point. The Leaping Bunny list is the most effective way to ensure that a product is truly cruelty-free because they conduct a complete audit of the company, including the sources of their ingredients, to ensure that there has been no animal testing conducted at any point during the product’s production.

PETA’s list isn’t as dependable because they only request that companies sign a pledge that they don’t test on animals. This doesn’t stop companies from trying to quietly enter into the Chinese market (that has a mandatory animal testing policy) in an attempt to keep their PETA status.

Additionally, a company might be cruelty-free but owned by a company that is not cruelty-free. For example, Urban Decay does not conduct any animal testing and is certified by Leaping Bunny, but they are owned by L’Oreal who is notorious for animal testing. This comes down to personal preference on whether you are okay with purchasing cruelty-free products that profit companies who also produce non-cruelty-free products.

VEGAN vs. CRUELTY-FREE
It basically comes down to this. A product can be cruelty-free (not tested on animals) but not vegan (contain animal products/byproducts). Or a product can be vegan (no animal products/byproducts) but not be cruelty-free (tested on animals). Or a product can be both vegan (no animal products/byproducts) and cruelty-free (not tested on animals).

How To Eat An Apple Properly

Have you ever seen someone challenge the way you and the majority of people normally do something and show you that you were wrong the entire time? You feel blown away by this new information and start to question everything you know. Well…maybe not that far, but it is a jarring reality that you should start thinking outside the box.

Here is a classic example that happened to me recently – learning that the conventional way of eating an apple from one side to the other as oppposed to bottom to top wastes a good chunk of the apple. Check out this video for a convincing demo.

Mind blown! Here is the original article: So Apparently, We’ve Been Eating Apples All Wrong.

11 Myths About Animal Testing

Here is a great list from DoSomething.org on incorrect assumptions of animal testing. I feel that many people assume that animal testing either doesn’t exist or exists because there are no other alternatives to safety testing. Both can’t be further from the truth. Here is the list from the original article.

11 Myths About Animal Testing by DoSomething.org

You may be thinking that the globs of gel you put in your hair doesn’t come at a cost, but products that test on animals might be crueler than you realize. DoSomething.org asked Aryenish Birdie, Research Associate at Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, to dispel common myths about animal testing for cosmetics, household cleaners, and other products.

1. Animal testing exclusively involves mice and rats.
Companies that conduct animal testing use many different species. After mice and rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and dogs are the most commonly used animals.

2. When you test shampoo on animals, you simply rub it on their fur.
Animal testing usually involves applying chemicals or products to animals’ shaved skin or eyes. In one of the most commonly used tests, researchers put chemicals into their eyes and record the state of the injured eye for 21 days.

3. Animals can’t feel pain.
A recent experiment found that when mice are exposed to painful stimuli, they display facial expressions very similar to those humans show when in pain. Research has also found that many animals even suffer from depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders in laboratories.

4. All animals in laboratories have some legal protection.
The only federal law that applies to animals used for testing is the Animal Welfare Act, which only regulates cage size, cleanliness, and food and water, but does not limit the procedures that can be done. This law excludes rats, mice, birds, cold-blooded animals, and animals commonly killed for food—so rats and mice, the animals most commonly used in toxicity tests, are not even given minimal protections.

5. Animals are well cared for and are given anesthesia or painkillers during tests.
Generally, animals are not given anesthesia even during extremely painful tests.

6. Some animals get to live happy lives once they are not needed for any more testing.
Every year, millions of animals used for testing are killed during the experiment or soon after.

7. Cosmetic testing on animals is required by law.
The United States does not require tests on cosmetics. In fact, hundreds of companies do not test their products on animals, just look for the rabbit logo on the label that tells you that your beauty product is animal-friendly.

8. Testing cosmetics on animals tells us whether the products are safe.
It’s difficult to interpret what animal test results mean for humans, because each species reacts differently to various substances.

9. There aren’t any alternatives to animal tests.
There are many cheaper and faster alternative methods that produce more accurate information. Examples include artificial human skin and robotic technology that can screen thousands of chemicals at once using cells grown in the lab.

10. Companies always use the most current testing methods.
Many companies continue to test chemicals and products using animal-based tests developed in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.

11. There is nothing I can do to stop animal suffering in laboratories.
There are many things you can do to help animals in laboratories.

Want to go cruelty-free? Here are some resources.
1. Check out the Leaping Bunny program
2. Check out Gocrueltyfree.org
3. Check out my List of Animal Testing Policies by Companies page

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