For most vegans, quitting meat and animal products is a dietary change initially. Which later on extends to fanatically checking food labels for any of the dairy-based ingredients food manufacturers have become so skilled at hiding behind various terms. Then comes the realization that things like leather are made from slaughtered animals too!
So, in an attempt to follow a cruelty-free lifestyle we become more selective of what we purchase and where we purchase it from. This involves clothes, cosmetics, and any other product which may have involved the torture, slaughter, or mistreatment of animals and/or humans.
Yet, is it possible to keep track of it all? After seeing this list you will be shocked to discover that many of the items you are possibly using on a day-to-day basis contain an animal product of some kind. It would be pretty easy to give up or replace some of them, but are you ready to make the extra commitment in order to stick to your beliefs? Looking forward to your thoughts in the comments below!
Most condoms are made from latex. To make latex smooth, the milk derivative casein is used in manufacturing. Because of this, pretty much all latex condoms are not vegan! Luckily, there are some companies which are making vegan condoms. The best options for vegan condoms are Sir Richard’s Condoms, L. Condoms, and Glyde Condoms. Even if you aren’t vegan, you might want to consider switching to these brands of condoms because they don’t use parabens, glycerine, or chemical spermicides like nonoxynol-9 — all of which are bad news for your intimate parts.
We all know that plastic bags are bad for the environment and even those “biodegradable” plastic bags probably take years to break down because they require light and air to degrade, things not available in covered landfills. But it also turns out that your plastic bag might have animal ingredients in it.
To make plastic bags more slippery so they can be opened easily and come off the machine easier, manufacturers sometimes add chicken fat to their exterior. This is just one more reason to bring your own bags to the grocery store!
I personally LOVE those super cute animal print reusable eco-friendly bags:
White AND Brown Sugar
A lot of vegans know that sugar is often processed with bone char to make it white. You might think that brown sugar is better because it isn’t white. But most brown sugar on the supermarket shelves is processed just like white sugar, and then has molasses added to it to make it brown.
To make sure you are getting vegan sugar, only buy organic sugar, as bone char is not considered an organic ingredient. Or you can buy beet sugar, which isn’t refined using bone char like cane sugar is.
The Vegan Resource Group has more info about whether your sugar is vegan here. You can find a list of sugar brands which are vegan here.
Paint and Art Supplies
I went to an art school where there was a high percentage of vegans. For some reason, I guess a lot of artists are vegan but a lot of the supplies they use aren’t. At Empty Easel, there is a great rundown of animal ingredients which might be in your art supplies, like ox gall from cows used as a wetting agent in watercolor paints, animal bones in ivory black pigments, and squid sacs in sepia ink. The good news is that there is finally a market for vegan paints, including vegan art supplies, vegan kids craft supplies, and vegan household paints, plasters, and wood finishes.
Some brands of vegan paint and supplies include:
Unearthed Paints (wall paints, plaster, wood finishes, thinners, pigments)
Natural Earth Paints (oil paint, face paint, canvas, gesso, solvent)
Colors of Nature (artist paints, pigments, brushes, and other art supplies)
At Amazon, you can find lots of vegan paint brushes.
This will probably come as a surprise, but a lot of juice has animal products. Yes, juice. There are a few ways that animal products can sneak their way into your juice. First there are all those juices fortified with vitamin D. The vitamin D might come from lanolin, which is derived from sheep’s wool. This is ironic since many vegan sites say that “fortified juice” is a good source of vitamin D.
Another problem with juice is that it can be filtered or clarified using animal products. For example, apple juice is often clarified with isinglass (fish bladder). This is the same substance which makes some beer and wines not vegan.
This issue is a bit harder to avoid and may entail you researching tons of individual companies. According to VRG, the juice brands Apple and Eve, Motts and Juicy Juice all claim to be vegan.
Artificially-Red Foods and Products
This one gets talked about a lot, so maybe you already know that some red dyes are made from cochineal, which is basically ground-up bug shells. Some of the products made with bugs include Ocean Spray Ruby-Red Grapefruit Juice, Nerds Candy, and some lipsticks and nail polishes. The product doesn’t even have to be red per se. For example, Mango Snapple is orange but contains cochineal. Since the bug dye is often only called “color added”, you are best avoiding foods with any artificial coloring. While you are at it, avoid processed foods completely!
Anything Fortified with Omega 3
Omega 3 fatty acids came to the public’s attention a few years ago and the food industry responded by adding omega 3s to their products. Well, the omega 3s they use to fortify foods often comes from anchovies, so be wary anytime you see a package spouting off claims that it is a good source of Omega 3s or contains added Omega 3s. Like this JIF peanut butter, which is NOT vegan! You shouldn’t be relying on fortified foods for your nutrients anyways.
Most tampons are made from cotton which is bleached with chlorine, and chlorine is tested on animals. Some tampons are directly tested on animals, such as by being shoved into rabbits. If you can stomach it, you can read some of the details of the testing process here. Since there are dozens of chemicals in tampons, including ones like dioxin, you are better off ditching them for good.
Try these absolutely adorable menstrual pads, which are the best earth-friendly solution that is healthy too!