Simple switches for a more vegan-friendly lifestyle
In honour of World Vegan Month, we explore how switching to vegan-friendly lifestyle alternatives can help save the planet
Veganism has never been so popular. Google searches on the plant-based lifestyle quadrupled between 2012 and 2017, while the number of books in Waterstones with ‘vegan’ in the title has more than doubled since last year. Even KFC is getting in on the action after launching a UK trial of its new Quorn-based Imposter Burger.
Experts say the sea change in attitude is down to several factors, including a better understanding of the health benefits of eating less meat and dairy as well as a desire to end animal exploitation and lower our carbon footprint.
‘The positive portrayal of veganism in the media has contributed to its changing image, while documentaries on the realities of animal agriculture have gained prominence,’ says The Vegan Society’s Dominika Piasecka. ‘Delicious vegan recipes have also multiplied on social media and top vegan athletes are proof that you can be fit and healthy on a plant-based diet.’
Still, for many of us, giving up Big Macs forever is an unnerving thought. And that’s probably why incentives such as Meat Free Monday and Veganuary are inspiring some Britons to reduce their consumption of animal products without going ‘full vegan.’
While cutting down on eating meat and dairy can be a good place to start, it’s also possible to make more vegan-friendly choices – from the clothing you wear to the wine you drink – without completely altering your lifestyle.
One of the most effortless ways to transition into veganism is to switch your usual health and beauty products. You may have not given this a second thought, but unless you’re already vegan, it’s likely that you have animal-unfriendly products lurking in your cosmetics bag. ‘Animal products are widely used in the beauty industry,’ says Piasecka. ‘You can easily avoid them by looking for vegan symbols like the Vegan Trademark or information on the label that says it is free from animal products and testing.’
And the benefits aren’t just for the planet – vegan friendly products can also benefit your wellbeing: ‘Vegan products tend to contain more mineral, organic and natural ingredients that are kinder to your skin,’ says Piasecka.
It’s never been easier to live a more vegan lifestyle. In 2018, figures show that the UK launched more vegan products than any other nation on the planet. The beauty world is part of the movement and has welcomed a solid flow of new launches in the sector over the past few years. Many mainstream brands have also taken a clear stance on animal testing – making vegan beauty even more accessible.
Charlotte Tilbury, Decleor, Elemis, La Prairie and Liz Earle are all frontrunners in this movement and offer a realistic alternative for anyone looking to make a more conscious choice.
But vegan beauty doesn’t just stop at face creams and lipstick; you might be surprised to hear that many everyday products such as sanitary towels, tampons, toothpaste, fragrances and even lube are far from being vegan-friendly.
So, what exactly is going into the products we regularly use? Nancy Saddington, co-founder of organic and plastic-free period products brand Mondays, explains: ‘Most disposable tampons and sanitary towels contain synthetic materials and super absorbent polymers (SAP) that transform liquid into gel. Manufacturers are not required to list all additional chemicals added during production and some very well-known brands test on animals for cytotoxicity, skin irritation and acute systemic toxicity.’
Likewise, consider the lube you might be using to spice things up in the bedroom. Some actually contain animal-derived products such as glycerin; plus, if they don’t say they’re vegan on the label, they’ve most likely been tested on animals.
Making product swaps can be a minor adjustment to your lifestyle, but it can have a big impact on the planet. And of course, small steps can lead to big changes. ‘As all vegans will tell you, the hardest bit is just deciding to get started – your compassionate habits will quickly develop from there,’ says Piasecka.
You never know: change up your every day products and you might just find yourself ordering the vegan burger after all.