Veganism is a lifestyle that evolved from the belief that humans can coexist with all other living beings peacefully, without using or exploiting them in any fashion. A philosophy that rejects the 'commodity status of animals'.
A vegan lifestyle varies from others in two key ways. The more well-known aspect is the dietary choices. Vegans don't consume meat, dairy or any foods derived from animal sources - directly or indirectly. Some take a step further to become ethical vegans. Alongwith abstaining from consuming animal products, they also refrain from using products and garments that have animal origins or that are tested on animals. It's usually an ongoing journey of discovering animal ingredients and finding alternatives to those products. Listed below are some common ingredients avoided by vegans.
Milk is not considered vegan since it’s derived mostly from cows, buffaloes, goats, or sheep. Cow’s milk is designed for calves, not humans. We are the only species that consumes milk from other species. We don’t need to consume dairy for our growth and development, or our overall well-being. Infact three, of every four humans are lactose intolerant! On top of that, did you know that it takes about 1000 gallons of water to produce 1 gallon of milk? With such a huge consumption of water, it becomes our responsibility to reduce and offset the impacts of water footprints.
Typically found in soaps, cosmetics, lubricants, toothpastes, adhesives, paints, pharmaceuticals, and foods such as margarine, shortening, and other baking ingredients, glycerin can be obtained from both plant as well as animal sources. Having said that, it is mostly derived from animal fat and tallow. Look for ‘vegetable glycerin’ in the label list to be absolutely sure.
Honey is bee food - which they’re being deprived off due to human consumption. Not only are we depleting their food stockpile, they’re kept in less than ideal living conditions.For vegans, any commercial or hobby-related mass breeding, capturing, buying, and selling of bees is considered an abuse due to human exploitation. People often wonder that ‘they would simply fly away if they weren’t happy’ - which actually does happen! There are instances when the bee colony will simply leave due to bad conditions. In fact, in some countries the queen bee’s wings are often clipped off - since the colony can’t abandon ship without her.Apart from this, they use smoke to get the bees out of their hives in order to collect honey. Due to this, many bees are killed during the process.
Cows are the largest source for leather, though some percentage is obtained from sheep, deer, kangaroos, alligators and sharks. Leather, in its most basic form is simply animal skin which, after a number of treatments lands up in making our belts, shoes, denim tags and of course, wallets and handbags. The softest leather, in the case of cowhide, is considered to be of “better quality” is obtained from calves.
The fleece or fur of sheep protects it from extreme cold. Wool, which is a textile fiber, is acquired from sheep. For an animal that grows a thick warm mane, shockingly, almost a million sheep die each year due to the cold! A common misconception is that wool may be vegan since it’s continuously reared from a sheep throughout its lifespan. The fact is, most sheep used for wool eventually end up being used for their meat once they’re deemed “unproductive”. Apart from that, the quality of life they have is stunted in many ways—cramped living quarters and abuse at the hands of farmers or factory workers are some common ones.
An oyster shell is forced open and subjected to an irritant. Thereafter, it is submerged in a cage with water where the temperature is fluctuated drastically to obtain that ‘perfect pearly shine’. After this, a pearl is extracted. Nearly a third of the oysters will not survive through the process, and a two-thirds of which do will have to go through this procedure all over again. Imitation pearls are a happier option, definitely.
Your average silk saree takes about ten thousand silkworm to make. They are usually factory-bred and -fed onto mulberry leaves where they spin silk around their cocoons. However, if they are allowed to develop entirely into moths and cut their way out of the cocoons, the amount of silk manufactured decreases by a good margin. In order to ‘optimize’ production, the silkworm are boiled alive during the cocoon phase which, of course, kills them instantly. The commodification of silk worms continues with other methods of making silk such as ‘ahimsa silk’ which can avoided.
Commonly found in jellies, desserts, confectioneries, shampoos, and cosmetics, gelatin is obtained from animal by products. Animal skin, tendons, and ligaments are boiled together to produce gelatin. Again, gelatin is something that can be avoided completely or replaced with a vegetarian alternative - agar agar.
That’s right! Latex, widely used in most condoms, is not vegan. It comprises of ‘casein’, a milk (dairy) protein. This is a useful information for non-vegans as well who are lactose intolerant or have allergies due to the consumption of dairy or dairy products.
Other Things You Probably Didn’t Know Were Non-Vegan:.
- Beeswax: Made from melting a honeycomb, beeswax is widely used in cosmetic. In order to obtain the honeycomb, farmers will move the queen bee to a new hive, killing some or all of the older bees in the existing hive.
- Plastic Bags: In order to derive a smooth finish, a ‘slip agent’ is used to reduce the friction. The slip agent is made from animal fat. Depending on the manufacturing set up, this may vary from chicken fat to beef tallow. Apart from this, the environmental hazards are numerous. An average stray cow in India feeding off of garbage bins has more than 15 to 20 kg of plastic in its intestines. We’re better off ditching the ‘thailis’, don’t you think?
- Palm Oil: It’s derived from plants and found extensively in almost everything - foods, detergents, soaps, and cosmetics. Almost half of an average household products contain palm oil. Mass manufacturing needs mass lands with favorable conditions for growth. Rainforests are being cut down to give way for plantations, leaving thousands of orangutans and other fauna homeless and on the brink of starvation. Orangutans are considered an endangered species with only 50,000 or so surviving. They’re found in the rainforests of Borneo & Sumatra, and every year an estimated 2,500 orangutans meet their end directly or directly due to palm oil plantations.