What is vegan?
At its core, vegan means that an item does not contain any animal products or by-products. Beyond this, vegan practices and products look to avoid as much as possible any and all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals. While typically associated with food and diet choices, animal products are found in many different types of everyday products, including clothes, accessories, and cosmetics.
Why it matters
There are a number of very compelling reasons in favor of veganism. The most obvious reason, of course, is that fewer animals are harmed or exploited as resources.
Veganism has also been shown to lead to substantial environmental benefits. Cutting animal products out of your diet can reduce your individual food related carbon footprint by as much as 73%. If we consider animal related products such as leather, then the carbon reductions are likely to be even greater. According to the UN, carbon emissions from global livestock represent 14.5% of all human caused greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock also require a substantial amount of land, with forests frequently being cut down in order to make room for grazing. Deforestation and other forms of wild land lost to agriculture is a driver of mass wildlife extinction. Animal farming also places a substantial strain on freshwater supplies in terms of both demands and subsequent pollution. This is problematic as the world is likely to face significant water scarcity issues in upcoming years. According to an author of an influential UN report, “Animal products cause more damage than [producing] construction minerals such as sand or cement, plastics or metals. Biomass and crops for animals are as damaging as [burning] fossil fuels.”
In short, adopting a vegan diet is one of the most straightforward ways that we as individuals can help mitigate some of the worst impacts of climate change.
Why you might want to choose vegan products
Avoiding animal products is one of the best ways to support animals and avoid participating in their exploitation or harm. It also will help to reduce your personal carbon footprint.
There’s a distinction between vegan (excluding animal products) and cruelty-free (not testing on animals) and the two terms are not necessarily mutually exclusive. A vegan product can be sold by a company that engages in animal testing and a cruelty-free company might sell products that include animal ingredients.
We consider a brand to be vegan if they do not:
- Use any animal products or animal by-products. This includes, but is not limited to: animal skin (e.g. leather, snake skin), down and/or feathers, rabbit hair (e.g. angora), fur, horn, ivory, coral, turtle armature, tortoiseshell, nacre (mother of pearl), ambergris, carmine, cochineal, carminic acid, casein and its derivatives, musk, wool, lanolin and all products derived from bees.
What you can do
There are a number of vegan certifications that set out to verify whether products adhere to a number of strict guidelines required to be considered vegan. These are generally a good measure of compliance when assessing brands. However, lack of certification does not necessarily mean that an item is not vegan so ensuring a consistency of values and outcomes when looking for aligned brands or products is important.
If you want to support vegan brands, we have a list of recommended vegan brands. Similarly, you can find a wide range of vegan products in our store. If you want to learn more about what vegan means, you can read our in-depth guide.
If veganism is something that matters to you, we also suggest looking into our cruelty-free, bee friendly, wildlife friendly, reef safe and palm oil free products. Similarly, if you are against animals being killed but still want to use wool and/or beeswax, you might be interested in vegetarianism.