Choosing to be Cruelty-Free

I had quite a wake up call three years ago when an introduction to The Beagle Freedom Project crossed my desk. In that moment my naivete towards the world of animal testing radiated quite bleakly in my social awareness spotlight. The slap in the face came when the astounding percentage of 68 loomed across my laptop screen – referring to how many dogs (particularly beagles) are used in laboratory testing for human products, specifically beauty aids and pharmaceuticals.

Being the dog lover that I am, after reading this statistic and doing some further research, I had an emotional breakdown upon realizing that, by purchasing the products I was, I was both indirectly and directly paying for such heinous abuse. I offered a green light to pour chemicals into animals eyes; gave the okay for their body parts to be used in drug testing experiments; provided a thumbs up to subject them to unfathomable atrocities of physical abuse – not to mention acute emotional anguish. While I wasn’t so blind to know that this was happening, the extent to which it was literally stopped me in my tracks. Then I began to educate myself.

Cruelty CutterMy first stop was the internet. While that in of itself can be a death trap for bad and incorrect information, I spent a meticulous number of hours reading through different websites and blogs. Two that I have continued to refer to again and again are: Living cruelty-free in Canada and Ethical Elephant; both of which provide visitors with an exhaustive list (along with research based evidence) of which products are and are not tested on animals. The folks at The Beagle Freedom Project also came up with an amazing app that allows you to scan product bar codes, resulting in a red-highlighted warning if they have been tested on animals. A great in-the-hand resource when trying to make an overwhelming product decision in the middle of a well-stocked drug store.

When I think of all the choices I have made since creating a more simple life, it is this one that has had the greatest impact on both me and my day to day decisions. Whenever I look at my little Dora’s face it sickens me to think that so many of her canine counterparts are looking up at people, with the same trusting face, only to be tortured relentlessly with dangerous chemicals – all in the name of “science”. For that reason alone, I will NOT support such an industry any longer. Educating myself about cruelty-free products has literally changed my life. Not only has the switch made me more ethically conscious, but my skin and hair have never looked better. Honestly. Instead of supporting huge companies I now give my money in support of small, locally based companies who create ethically sound and amazing merchandise. My soap comes from Prince Edward Island, my mascara from Manitoba. Admittedly they cost a bit more for shipping, but it’s immensely gratifying to be able to chat with artisan masters who create their beauty products by hand.

When in doubt, look for the bunny!

Starting now, I will be adding a new category to this blog; not only for shared information but also because I firmly believe in getting the word out that there are so many amazing products that are NOT tested on animals – many of which are ten times better than those that are. Every month I will feature a product that I have come to love and made part of my daily beauty regime. Some are easily found at your local Shoppers Drug Mart, others will require ordering online. While I have tested a great deal of products over the last three years, it is certainly not an exhaustive search. I strongly encourage you to do your own research – you can start as I did, with some investigating online. Find out whether or not an animal suffered thanks to your hair gel, nail polish, or hand soap – I think you’ll be surprised. Out of all that I’ve learned about going cruelty-free, these are the main points I keep forefront in my mind:

  1. Choose products that are labelled cruelty-free AND vegan. There’s no sense in using a cruelty-free product if it contains animal-based products. Look for the bunny label and you won’t go wrong.
  2. Be aware of the “we don’t test on animals” line. If it’s a major retailer, the “we” implies that a specific product is not tested on animals, but who owns the company? While you are purchasing a cruelty-free product, you may still be indirectly supporting animal testing by supporting the parent company. This is where personal education becomes paramount. Buyer beware.
  3. Dig deeper if buying from a major retailer. Some brands stand firm to the no testing on animals policy, but DO test in order to sell their products in certain markets. China, for example, requires products to be tested on animals prior to being sold in their stores. Small, local companies are simply not faced with such a decision, whereas larger companies who stand strictly by their no animal testing policies will refuse to offer their products in such markets. Again, know what you are indirectly supporting with your purchase.

One huge advantage of this digital age is that it has made companies more transparent. A single Google search can lead to all sorts of positives and negatives about who/what claims to be cruelty-free. In this case, let the world wide web be your guide.

In the very least, I hope this post sparks a domino effect of taking a closer look at what’s in your medicine cabinet. I’m in no way implying that you need to be a crazed PETA advocate; simply educate yourself. As I’ve been saying all along, our choices have impact – and, in my opinion, this is no more true then when the well-being of animals are at stake.

I am choosing life before vanity.

Erica 🙂




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