Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Going Vegan: Animal Friendly Body Products

Veganism is a way of life, not just a diet. It seeks to reconcile what I believe is our inherent compassion with our actual behavior. I believe it is a lifestyle that the majority of the world can commit to with ease, and that it fits in nicely with the ideas of kindness, respect, sustainability, and good health.

I know it's scary. Anything different holds unreasonable power over our rational thought. Veganism is not seen as mainstream (b/c it's not!) and the stereotypes associated with vegans aren't always nice (and always ironic when I hear it come from people who fight against BSL, heh). But veganism is nonviolence. It is peace. It is a paradigm of healthy living and a sustainable future.

So, if you are at all interested in reducing your harmful (unintentional or otherwise) impact on animals (and by extension, the environment), I thought it would be nice to do a series of posts about veganism. And because I think body products are the LEAST controversial way to approach veganism, I thought I'd start with what I use and what you can use that doesn't harm animals or the environment. Or, that at the very least, reduces our negative impact on non humans and the planet.

Almost all of these products are available in supermarkets, at least in the United States. Yes, some are more expensive than other products, but many are priced comparably. And some stores offer their vegan generics right alongside the name-brands, so good deals are available.

Shampoo & Conditioner
I use Shikai color reflect shampoo and their spray-on conditioner. It's about $5.00 for one shampoo. You can find their shampoos in most supermarkets, like Safeway, and also in pharmacies, like Rite-Aid and CVS. They are also sold at Whole Foods and natural food markets.

Their products are not tested on animals nor do they contain animal ingredients. They use primarily organic ingredients as well.

Jason has dandruff shampoo as does Avalon.

Other products that are animal friendly and commercially available include: Jason, Alba (some products contain honey), Nature's Gate, Avalon, Giovanni, Dr. Bronner's (just get past the weird text on their products). Trader Joe's has their own line of really cheap vegan and organic products too!

Target sells Alba, Avalon, Nature's Gate, Giovanni and Dr. Bronner's. Wal-mart sells Avalon and Giovanni. No excuses if they sell it at these two stores!

I use Jason toothpaste, because it "foams" up nicely. Some natural toothpaste doesn't get thicker while brushing, which I don't like but some people don't mind. I get mine from Raley's, a large supermarket chain.

Tom's of Maine, which was purchased by a large corporation, has mostly vegan products (some have bee products) and their toothpaste is generally vegan. They are one of the few animal friendly products sold alongside their not-so-animal-friendly counterparts.

All of the brand names mentioned under shampoo also make soaps, facial cleansers, toners, etc. I use Giovanni's chocolate sugar scrub. I work hard to avoid eating it, because while it smells delicious, it probably does not taste so great. I use Dr. Bronner's soap and Avalon's facial scrub. Kiss My Face has a great line of shaving cream that lather really well.

It is REALLY easy to veganize your body products. With most readily available at places like Target, it can be affordable too. Since many use organic ingredients, you are pledging to put pesticide and insecticide free products on your body. These companies generally have higher ethical standards that ensure humans, as much as non humans, are treated with respect and compassion. They are not tested on animals, which is most assuredly unnecessary in the world of body care products, and they do not contain animal parts (excepting some that include bee products, which I easily avoid).

So next time you need to restock on shampoo, toothpaste or soap, why not decide on the kinder, more sustainable product? It's not going to break the bank. It's not going to turn you into a tree-hugger, even though hugging trees SHOULD be a national past-time. It's not going to fix all the world's woes. But it will mean less suffering, a healthier planet, and a great statement to the stores that sell it. Nothing in this consumer-driven world is more powerful than voting with your dollar, and the more you do it with compassion and sustainability in mind, the more readily available these products will be. If they could, the animals would thank you. Since they can't, I will!

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