Living a vegan lifestyle is more than just the food you eat. The full transition usually takes some time as there are lots of products that have hidden animal ingredients. To make your research a bit easier, we gathered a small but basic list of the most common non-vegan items to avoid.
Most of your clothes and accessories are probably vegan friendly. However, products like leather, wool and silk are sadly still very popular in the fashion industry. So don’t forget to check the tags.
There can be less obvious materials in making clothing and accessories as well. Often, glues and dyes are animal-derived or tested on animals. Check out this great shopping guidefrom PETA
Some of the most popular ethical vegan-friendly brands are:
Matt & Nat – for fashionable ethical vegan Canadian bags.
MooShoes – vegan-owned business that sells an assortment of cruelty-free footwear, bags, t-shirts, wallets, books and other accessories.
Stella McCartney – One of the very few luxury designers committed to cruelty-free fashion.
Fast fashion brands like H&M, Forever 21, and Payless Shoe Source usually have lots of vegan-friendly options. However, for cheap ethical shopping, we recommend thrifting or buying secondhand items online.
Have you ever read through the ingredients on your cosmetics? You’d probably need a chemistry degree to understand most of them. Not only are the chemicals in some beauty products harmful to your body, they might also be derived from animals or tested on animals and bad for the environment.
There are thousands of other ingredients that can be in your beauty products so the best is to go to the drugstore prepared. We love the app ThinkDirty to find toxin-free cosmetics which happen to be vegan most of the time. The following are some ingredients that are easy to remember and identify. Even natural products might contain these.
Beeswax – (aka cera alba, cera lava) – It can be found in many forms of makeup, from eye shadow to foundation to lipstick and even deodorant.
Carmine – (aka cochineal, cochineal extract, crimson lake, natural red 4, C.I. 75470, E120) – This deep red color is taken from crushed insects. It is commonly used in lipsticks and blushes.
Collagen – Collagen is typically used because of its temporary plumping or firming effect and can be found in lotions, creams or lipsticks.
Guanine – (aka CI 75170) – You can typically find this ingredient in the sparkles of your products such as blush, eye shadow and nail polish.
Some of our favourite vegan and environmentally friendly companies are:
Vitamins and other supplements that come in tablet form often contain stearates or glycerine. These products come from animal sources; most often they are a milk derivative. These tablets casings are then usually made of gelatin, which is derived from animal skin and bones. Some vitamin D supplements take vitamin D3 from animals. Make sure to look for vitamin D3 supplements that are produced from non-animal sources and clearly labeled vegan. The best way to determine if any type of medication contains animal products is to ask your pharmacist.
Mattresses – Are often made with silk or are down filled. Check with the manufacturer to make sure synthetic fibres are used.
Plastic bags – Many plastics, including shopping bags, contain what they call ‘slip agents’, which help with the friction amongst bags and are generally made of animal fat. All the more reason to take your reusable cloth bags when shopping.
Cleaning Products – Many cleaning products are not vegan, like cosmetics, they are made using animal by-products or by testing their products on animals. For example, Downy fabric softener contains Dehydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride which comes from sheep, cattle and horse industries.
You can stock up on baking soda, vinegar, club soda and a few other simple ingredients to make your own cleaning products. Otherwise, look for eco-friendly brands such as Nature Clean, ECOS, Dr. Bronner Sal’s Suds, Mrs. Meyers & Simple Green.
Glue – Most glues are not vegan. Who had the idea to make glue out of the connective tissue of cattle and horses? No wonder they look and smell gross. Elmer’s Glue, claims to not use animal products any longer. There is also Weldbond, which is known vegan all-purpose glue.
Candles – Check labels for traces of beeswax, something most candles contain. Also, beware of unnaturally dyed candles that use the red dyes we mentioned in the cosmetics paragraph.
Keep in mind this is just a list of the most common everyday non-vegan items to look out for. Try your best to read labels and do brand research. Not all items will have vegan alternative either, like car and bike tires for example. Just do what you can to support your vegan lifestyle; the animals and the environment will thank you for it.