According to The Vegan Society, veganism is “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.” For most, this starts with the most obvious: food. Cut the meat, dairy, eggs, and honey and swap in a whole array of equally delicious plant-based alternatives.
What many people realize soon after they begin to eat vegan is that many items they use in everyday life—from animal hide boots to down feather bedding—are made with animal products. Out they go! Vegan is a lifestyle of compassion, after all, so when you can switch to something that doesn’t harm animals, why wouldn’t you?
Long-time vegans like myself have gone through many such “ah-ha!” moments when we realize that items in our lives that we previously assumed were vegan, actually aren’t. I’m going to share 5 of those with you today.
6 Things You Thought Were Vegan (But Aren’t)
1. Polaroid cameras and photographic film
2. Pregnancy tests (the kind where you pee on a stick)
3. Tattoo ink, sometimes (and often tattoo transfer papers)
4. Soy cheese, sometimes (contains the milk protein “casein”)
5. Pill capsules (often made with gelatin)
6. Plants, mostly (because of the soil)
That’s right, friends. Photographic film contains gelatin (which is made from boiled animal skin and bones). Pregnancy tests are made using antibodies from animals, usually mice or rabbits. Tattoo ink can contain bone char, animal fat, gelatin, and crushed beetles. I could go on and on.
The reason I share this is not to intimidate, overwhelm, or make being vegan feel like an impossible goal. Quite the opposite. It’s impossible to be a “perfect vegan”—there is no such thing!
It’s all about doing the best we can and that starts with empowering ourselves with information—a conscious awareness about how items in our lives came to be, and who, if anyone, was harmed in the process. That’s how we can make the most informed decisions.
Instead of perfection—expecting yourself to be 100% perfectly vegan in every aspect of life in an instant (which can quickly lead to total overwhelm since it’s an unattainable goal)—why not instead focus on continually learning and evolving as a person. As you learn about new non-vegan things in your life, you can slowly phase them out as you discover kinder alternatives. Change takes time, so be gentle with yourself and with others. We’re in this for the long game, right?
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