You don’t need to be a vegan or vegetarian to help animals.
Okay, so now if there are any hardcore vegans reading, they’re probably about to start getting hateful. But listen: I’m not here to trash vegans. It’s a perfectly valid lifestyle that does, in fact, help the planet and our fellow earth-dwelling creatures. It’s my opinion though that there’s no such thing as a “perfect vegan.” As human beings and the way that our society works presently, we are sadly too dependent on animal products to go without them completely. I was surprised this past fall to find that even my employer-sponsored flu shot included egg proteins.
All we can do is our best.
We can try to avoid animal products and make vegan items fit into our personal lifestyles, but that’s all we can do. And there’s no right or wrong way to do that.
I’ve been a bad vegetarian for the past couple of years now. I say “bad vegetarian” because, while I refuse to consume animal flesh, I still eat eggs and dairy (which, in some ways, are industries that can be just as inhumane as meat). I’m also not going to lie… I’ve snuck a bite of sausage pizza or a pork egg roll here and there during the past couple of years. (Gasp!) But I’m not the kind of vegetarian that still thinks it’s okay to go to Chick-fil-a or whatever. Under normal circumstances, I do my best to completely avoid consuming animal flesh because it’s just not something that I want to support or participate in. And that’s all that matters. I’m doing what I can to help.
One of my personal favorite ways to help is to go cruelty free! When possible, I obviously like to buy faux-leather or faux-fur items rather than the real deal, and so should you! (Doesn’t the idea of wearing a real animal creep you out just a touch anyway??!) But what about the items nobody else really thinks about? Did you know that over 200 animals die in testing labs every minute? That’s absurdly high! Especially since there’s no point in testing them on animals. Human hair, skin, eyes, etc. all react differently than those found in other species. Why are we even putting them through this kind of torture??
So today I’ve decided to share some of my favorite cruelty free products. Hopefully this will help some of you decide to make the jump to buying from friendlier companies that don’t participate in this awfulness!
For the past several years, I’ve basically been outsourcing my personal hygiene to a company called Every Man Jack. I originally found a bottle of their sandalwood body wash at my local Kroger store and I was excited to try it out for two reasons: Not only did they have some amazing scents (which also includes citrus, cedarwood, eucalyptus mint, and more!), but I was also impressed to see labels like “Naturally Derived” and “Non-GMO” on their packaging. I was finally sold when I picked it up and looked on the back to see the “Cruelty Free” logo along with a line that simply states, “And never tested on animals.”
Since picking up that original bottle, I’ve since branched out into many of their other products. This includes hand lotion, shampoo, conditioner, and arguably the most important: deodorant. Their deodorant is completely free of aluminum and parabens also, so none of those itchy, potentially cancer-causing ingredients will be rubbing up against your underarms either!
I nearly prefaced this section with a warning that the ladies might not be interested, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that Every Man Jack has also now launched a women’s line called Own Beauty! It’s Every Man Jack’s same fantastic plant-based ingredients and cruelty-free mission but formulated for women with fruity/floral scents and varieties.
If you aren’t attached to your Head & Shoulders or Lady Speed Stick for some weird reason, consider giving these brands a chance!
I pretty much covered the personal hygiene tip with the last section, but I have
to mention method. While Every Man Jack body wash is great, they don’t exactly manufacture soap and cleaning products for other areas of your life. I’m talking dish soap, hand soap, laundry soap, surface and floor cleaners, etc. That’s where method comes into my life!
Not only is method cruelty-free, but their soaps and cleaners are also totally safe to use around your furry friends! They also don’t contain any animal byproducts. This company is so cool about how animals are treated, in fact, PETA made method’s co-founders “People of the Year” and named the company a progressive business in 2006!
Also, their soaps and other products are just plain colorful. Who can’t appreciate that?!
Seventh Generation isn’t a company that I turn to often, but it is one that saves my butt sometimes! Like Every Man Jack and method, Seventh Generation creates wonderful cruelty-free soaps and cleaners, but they take it a step even further! They offer baby products, paper products, feminine hygiene products, and trash bags that are also made and packaged from recycled materials! They’re also plant-based and one of the company’s missions is to be completely transparent about their ingredients so consumers don’t have to worry or wonder.
Seventh Generation laundry detergent was one of the very first cruelty-free products that I specifically sought out to try. It is fantastic and works wonders for people with sensitive skin!
Cruelty-Free Makeup Brands
I can’t say that I have pretty much any experience purchasing makeup, so I can’t really recommend a specific cruelty-free brand for its look or feel, but this is a fantastic resource of existing product lines out there that don’t test on animals. They include popular brands like:
If you’re into cosmetics, definitely think about trying these brands first!
Food & Treats
This might technically be considered cheating, since we weren’t talking about diets, but guess what? Vegans don’t just eat salads and tofu! There are literally tons of amazing food products out there that can be considered vegan, whether they meant them to be or not! (This includes the legendary Oreo, which is just one of many accidentally vegan treats!)
Here’s just a couple of my favorites:
Seriously, get a box of their Beast Burgers and grill them up outside. Top ’em with a slice of cheese, ketchup, mustard, lettuce and tomato and you’ll never know you aren’t chowing down on the real deal. I’ve done exactly this before and I can tell you that you can literally take my word for it!
Beyond Meat also sells some amazing sausage, chicken strip, and beef crumbles that are completely meatless!
Oreos might not have been the first thing you thought of when you try to imagine vegan foods. It’s a cookie and it has a creamy center. And although there are supposed trace amounts of cross-contamination with real milk, guess what? The actual package ingredients are completely innocent — at least, as long as you aren’t trying to eat healthy anyway! They mostly contain wheat flour, sugar, and cocoa!
Check out this list for several other grocery store staples that are “accidentally vegan,” including unfrosted Pop-Tarts, Ritz Crackers, Krispy Kreme Fruit Pies, and Thomas’s New York Style Bagels!
Friendly eating definitely doesn’t have to be boring!
Whenever it comes to finding a suitable meat substitute, Gardein is almost always the brand I turn to. The brand name itself is a portmanteau of the words “garden” and “protein,” to signify that its ingredients are totally plant-based and chock full of protein. One thing that its name leaves out, however, is the fact that they’re 100% delicious!
My personal favorite item that Gardein offers? Their award-winning Seven Grain Crispy Tenders! They are, quite frankly, the closest thing I’ve been able to find that tastes like a real chicken tender. The first time that I bit into one, I enjoyed it so much that I made my meat-loving, vegetable-fearing father taste test one as well. And he even approved of the taste!
Gardein also sells a variety of other meatless food products from meatballs to crabcakes. They’ve also recently started selling full skillet meals to take on such popular meat-filled entrees as chicken fried rice and chicken florentine. So if you’re looking for a product that even the meat-eaters in your family will enjoy, head to your frozen food section and pick up some Gardein!
Lots of other popular brands are cruelty free. You might just not know without having to hunt it down at the store and taking a magnifying glass to the labels. Fortunately, PETA hosts this very large and free database of companies that have a variety of statuses like cruelty-free or vegan. Be prepared to be disappointed though, because there’s also a large database of companies that do test and perform cruel experiments on innocent animals. And there are a number of large, popular companies that make that list such as Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Avon, Mary Kay, Sephora, Jimmy Choo, Unilever, and much, much more.
If you want to help save animal lives but simply can’t bring yourself to put down the hamburger, the easiest way is to say no to these brands and instead shop from some of those that I’ve listed above. Seek out products that have a bunny logo like the one pictured here somewhere on the packaging. I know I’m beginning to sound a little like a public service announcement at this point, but it really, truly is just as simple as doing your part and doing it as best as you can.