Can something be considered cruelty-free even if it’s not vegan? By definition, yes — cruelty-free means there was no animal testing involved (from ingredients through to the finished product); but how can something that contains ingredients that have come from animals — who legally suffer every day — be considered “cruelty-free”? There are so many animal ingredients that are commonly found in cosmetics and household items — even “cruelty-free” ones. But sourcing these ingredients is anything but cruelty-free. That’s why vegans choose to not buy anything that contains animal-derived ingredients. Here are some cruel animal ingredients found in everyday products.
Ambergris — also known as ambergrease and grey amber. It’s derived from a waxy oil substance found in the stomachs of sperm whales. It used to be commonly found in perfumes to help make them last longer on skin, but it’s not as popular today. There’s a synthetic version called ambroxan.
Beeswax — also listed as cera alba, is a wax produced by honey bees. It can be found in candles, lip balms, and more. Sourcing beeswax, as well as honey (commonly listed as mel), negatively affects bees. Please check out this article and this article to find out how.
Carmine — also listed as cochineal, cochineal extract, crimson lake, carmine lake, natural red 4, C.I. 75470, and E120. It’s a red dye made from crushed cochineal bugs. This is what creates a bright red colour in all kinds of products. It can be found in a variety of cosmetics including lipstick, among other products.
Collagen — made from animal tissue, including skin, tendons, and ligaments of horses and other animals. It can be found in a variety of cosmetics, including skin care products.
Dairy — believe it or not, dairy is commonly found in a lot of products. The dairy industry is extremely cruel; please check out my Why I Went Vegan post and also this article to read more on how cruel dairy is.
Eggs — just like dairy, eggs are a by-product of animal cruelty. Again, please check out my Why I Went Vegan post and this article to learn more.
Estrogen — made from the urine of pregnant horses. It’s commonly found in hormonal medications, including birth controls.
Gelatine — just like collagen, this is made from the boiled skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones of animals. It’s found in a lot of processed, gummy and sugary foods.
Guanine — a shimmery substance found in crushed fish scales. It can be found in cosmetics, including lipstick, mascara, nail polish, and more.
Lanolin — a grease secreted from the wool of sheep. It’s found in a lot of different beauty products, including lotions, shampoos, conditioners, and many more.
Retinol — a source of vitamin A from animals, which is commonly used in “anti-aging” products.
Shellac — a substance made by the female lac bug, found on trees in the forests of India and Thailand. It’s added to products to create a shiny effect. It can be found in mascara, hair spray, makeup, etc.
Silk — made from larvae cocoon fibres. It’s used to make clothing, sheets, furniture, medicine, etc.
Squalene — a substance that is extracted from shark livers to make cosmetics such as lipstick and eyeshadow, among others.
Tallow — is animal fat that’s commonly used in bar soaps and other personal care items.
And more… there are many more animal-derived ingredients found in everyday products. Then there are the products that contain ingredients that could could be either animal or plant-derived, like stearic acid or glycerine…but that’s another post for another day!
We exploit animals every single day. We abuse them and take from them, just for our own selfish benefit …even though it’s completely unnecessary. These animals suffer so that we can apply an “anti-aging” moisturizer, a red lipstick, some lip balm, perfume, and thousands of other frivolous products. We continue to do this even though there are alternatives. Good alternatives…truly cruelty-free alternatives. I don’t believe that something can be completely cruelty-free if it contains animal ingredients. I honestly think that this is just another way of saying that some animals matter more than others. I think it’s important that the cruelty-free community updates the definition of cruelty-free to only include vegan products that have not been tested on animals. How can we call something cruelty-free if the ingredients are sourced from animal cruelty?
Note: I just want to add that up until April 2018, I used products that weren’t vegan and didn’t think anything of it. But when I decided to go vegan, my feelings toward non-vegan products changed, and I started to see how hypocritical it is to call products that contain animal ingredients cruelty-free.