With Veganuary now over it is time to reflect and consider if veganism is for you.  But did you know that being vegan is more than what you eat?

Veganism is a lifestyle for an increasing number of people around the world.  Their ethos is to reduce or ultimately eliminate all animal products from their day to day lives.  Animal products are what is derived from the killing or exploiting of animals for human use and in the pursuit of profit.  Vegans also will strive to only use products that have not been tested on animals and to live sustainably, ensuring that they have as little impact as possible on the planet.

Getting started

It has never been easier to follow a vegan lifestyle.  You may have seen Bethany Magennis-Prior’s recent article Veganuary 2021: A Guide to Eating More Consciously in 2021, listing vegan food products in supermarkets and vegan options in restaurants.

But where do you start to follow a vegan lifestyle?  

Remember that it is more manageable to introduce change slowly, one aspect of your life at a time in order to not become overwhelmed.  Below are ways that you can become more animal and environmentally friendly whilst still living the modern lifestyle.

Disclaimer:  This is a very high angle to look at veganism and concentrates on the availability of products for those starting their vegan journey or planning on reducing their impact on the planet.

Health and Beauty

Look at the products that you use and try to identify any animal products and whether the company tests on animals.  You can also look at the packaging that is used and whether it is recyclable or made from recycled materials.  Internet research is key to determining these facts.

Otherwise here are some stockists that have vegan products:

  • Superdrug – all of Superdrug’s own brand products are clearly labelled as to whether they are vegetarian or vegan friendly.  They boast of over 1,000 vegan products and have opened vegan pop-up shops in London. 
  • Faith in Nature – has been a stalwart of vegan toiletries since 1999 and was, until recently, only available in health food shops but is now being stocked in supermarkets including Sainsbury’s.
  • Lush – more than just bath bombs!  All vegan friendly products are clearly labelled and the packaging is low or zero waste.

Cleaning products

We all need to clean our houses and much prefer to use something convenient and typically in a spray bottle.  As above, you can determine whether the products you already use are vegan friendly by checking the label or doing a quick google search. You may be surprised to find your cupboard under the sink already contains vegan products.

Here are some brands who make vegan friendly cleaning products:

  • Astonish – has been around longer than some may think, originally being sold door-to-door.  You may have picked up one of their amazing products in pound shops without realising it was vegan and cruelty free!
  • Fabulosa – a relative newbie but with ardent fans already.  
  • Soap nuts – have been used for years by eco-friendly people for years to wash their clothes.  These are available to buy online.

Clothing

Clothing has traditionally used natural materials such as wool, leather and down due to their warmth and waterproof qualities but we now have an array of synthetic materials that have the same properties as natural, animal derived materials, without the killing or exploitation of animals.  I’m not suggesting throwing out your whole wardrobe and starting again but when it comes to updating your wardrobe it is always worth checking the label.

Brands have been slowly moving away from what they consider cruel materials such as fur and feathers and now opt for synthetic alternatives.  But there may be hidden animal products such as the glue holding together non-leather footwear which could include an ingredient derived from collagen.  

Here are my tried and tested tips:

  • Shop second hand where you can – the benefits are three-fold: cheaper for you, money to charity and saves clothes from landfill!
  • Don’t throw away those sturdy leather boots – this is divisive, but what would be the point of sending the boots to landfill?  Either gift to a charity shop or a friend in need or look after, repair and wear them until they fall apart, only then replacing with a vegan pair.
  • Get handy with a sewing machine or knitting needles – when you make your own clothes you can ensure that all the materials are responsibly sourced, you will have a unique piece and you will look after it better than store bought.
  • Don’t get sucked into fast fashion.

Choose your path

There is no right or wrong way to becoming vegan.  Do your research, reach out to more experienced vegans in your area or online and enjoy the fact that you are helping rather than harming the animals and environment.

As a final thought – search out vegan owned businesses and support them in any way you can.

For more information and guidance:

The Vegan Society