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Am I really Vegan, environmentally responsible and healthy?

As defined by the Vegan Society…

"Veganism is a philosophy and 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; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment.

Vegetarians, on the other hand, can wear leather but not eat it. Some leather is technically eatable, but that’s not vegetarian. Vegetarianism is simply a diet that excludes all products that have actual animals. Fortunately for vegetarians, this means that they can wear leather, both new and used.

And yet… over a third of vegetarians / vegans intentionally use cosmetics containing animal by products

A recent survey shows 34% of non-meat eaters are still knowingly using animal by-products within their cosmetics. In a survey of over 500 UK-based vegetarians, 36% were unaware that makeup can contain animal ingredient, but of those who were aware, 34% still knowingly used these products.

The survey also draws attention to the fact that, “There is an abundance of substitutes, both natural and synthetic available for use within makeup, and there is little reason why companies continue to use animal products.”

“But I care about the planet as well as what I eat or use on my skin.”

Recently UK-based meal delivery service allplants has challenged the theme for this year’s World Environment Day, “Solutions to Plastic Pollution”.

It is argued that plastic is a “distraction” from larger issues facing the planet, such as animal agriculture. Figures suggest that food production is responsible for 26% of global greenhouse gas emissions, and shifting to plant-based diets could slash emissions by up to 85%.

“Eating less meat is one of the best investments individuals and governments can make”. This makes adopting a plant-rich diet the second-most impactful solution to climate change, while reducing plastic use isn’t even in the top 50. Producing fewer animal foods would also have numerous other benefits, such as reducing deforestation and water pollution whilst stopping subsidization of the animal agriculture industry, and focusing on legislation that promotes plant-based diets would deliver a high impact on the environment.

“But I am also concerned about the dangers of things like ultraprocessed foods and my intake of chemicals.”

Where the use of some fertilisers in the past and chemically modified consumer products has become a major concern (supporting the value of organic ingredients), we are now beginning to realise the long-term health risks associated with a lifestyle where so many products are summarised by health professionals as “environmental factors” which can cause cancer, diabetes, heart disease and many other common diseases today. The latest BBC panorama programme provided a backdrop to the current health crisis, and the impact of additives such as emulsifiers which are commonly used not just in food, but also frequently in cosmetic products.

It's a balancing act. Caring for the planet, wanting to be more eco-friendly, avoiding the use of any animal products, and avoiding ultra-processed foods (and cosmetics) containing chemicals such as emulsifiers. How do you find the right balance in your life?

Whatever your reasons for wanting to choose to be Vegan, Veganism and the use of organic products clearly offers a strong foundation to a healthy lifestyle as well as making a difference to our planet.


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