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Top 5 Tips for going vegan, PLUS

Find out if your skincare is certified vegan by PETA

Charlotte, Vegan & Lifetime Ethical Consumer

Jan 25, 2018

When I joined the SkinNinja team, I was thrilled that our next major product release would include whether a product was certified as vegan or not. To anyone unfamiliar with the vegan world, it can be a bit of minefield.

What’s the difference between plant based and vegan? How does animal testing and making sure products are cruelty-free come in to it? What about brands that sell in China, which by law, have to test on animals? There are also various organisations and certifications out there. Who to trust? We chose to start with PETA as it’s the most internationally recognised, but there’s also Cruelty Free International (Leaping Bunny) and, in the UK, The Vegan Society. In time, we’ll add these programmes to the app too.

Georganics Oil Pulling Mouthwash

Activated Charcoal 100ml

To see if PETA has certified a company as vegan:

– Scan your product’s barcode to reveal the product card

– Scroll down to the Learn section

– Tap Certifications

– PETA has either certified this as a Vegan Company or has not certified this as a Vegan Company

“To celebrate our going vegan, I thought I’d share my own experiences with veganism and why it’s so relevant to those of us concerned with what we’re putting on our skin. As a vegan, we’re all too often thrown synthetic alternatives – which actually, may not be all that good for the skin either.”

To celebrate our going vegan, I thought I’d share my own experiences with veganism and why it’s so relevant to those of us concerned with what we’re putting on our skin. As a vegan, we’re all too often thrown synthetic alternatives – which actually, may not be all that good for the skin either.

So here it is, my top 5 tips and tricks for going vegan.

1) Vegan vs Plant Based: If something is ‘vegan’, that’s not the same as it being ‘plant-based’. Yes, both cut out food products that are derived from animals – but for plant-based products, that tends to be where it stops. The plant- based philosophy may be based on the belief that cutting out meat, dairy and eggs are better for your health, but it’s less concerned with ethical stances such as animal welfare or environmental impact (that’s not to say that those making plant-based products aren’t concerned with those factors, just that the starting point is coming from another angle).

Vegan is more of a lifestyle choice to avoid all animal-derived products. That means leather, honey and animal sports such as horse racing or bullfighting are all to be avoided, as well as (for some) palm oil, due to the destruction of the orangutan’s natural habitat. I had no idea when I started how much veganism would come to be my identity and infiltrate my values and choices in life – but it didn’t happen overnight! There’s definitely a spectrum, and every vegan seems to fall in a different place on it. And that’s okay. For most, just being aware of what we are consuming opens doors to a whole different way of thinking – and that’s where the connection of health concerns in our skincare and veganism crosses. By being aware of what we consume, we inadvertently find ourselves reading labels, questioning what we’ve been told, and asking the tough questions to big corporates and humanity on life’s bigger issues (Woah. Deep.). Plastics in the sea, alcohol consumption, medication, pretty much everything…at some point or another I’ve stopped and asked ‘is this really what I want? Or need? What actually is it? Who made it? What made it? How did it get from there to here?’

2) Going Vegan: Going from meat eater to vegan overnight is tough. I was vegetarian for most of my life (since I was 6), so challenging myself to Veganuary wasn’t that much of a stretch. My advice for anyone ‘vegan curious’ is to do it in stages and to be kind to yourself! I still cave to milk chocolate urges, or find myself accidentally eating cheese (maybe not so accidentally….my childhood dream was to own a cheese shop, so this was a tough one to get over). But when it does happen, I take a minute to think about it and acknowledge that somewhere down the line an animal has been involved with its production. And then I move on.

3) Synthetic Alternatives: Just because it’s not made from animals, doesn’t mean it’s good for you. I’m increasingly conscious of synthetics, though it’s an area I’m still learning about. It’s a constant learning curve for anybody in the industry, as we discover new benefits and risks all the time. With regards to veganism, there’s an environmental impact to leather synthetic alternatives but there are so many natural alternatives coming on the market, from pineapple to mushroom ‘leather’. I would like to understand the processes involved in these new materials, and will set that as my challenge for 2018: to understand the vegan alternatives better. 3 years in, I’m still adapting and moving along the spectrum. I’m not perfect.

4) Vegan cheese will never taste like real cheese: Instead of thinking of vegan products as a straight like-for-like alternative i.e. soya milk, think of them more as an additional food/product item you’ve added to your consumption repertoire. Vegan cheese for example, will never, ever taste like cheddar. But if I take it as an entirely new and interesting supplement to my diet, I find I can enjoy it more. Another thing: I’ve found myself naturally heading towards Asian food. I’ve never craved parmesan over my pad thai, and it took a month of Veganuary before I realised I hadn’t even had any cheese. But I hadn’t eaten any food that required it, and for me that was the key.

5) Widening your dietary horizons: Going vegan has meant that I actually eat a more varied diet than I ever did as a vegetarian (and I’m guessing as a 6 year old my diet mainly consisted of sausage and buttery mash). Dining out can be tricky and when there’s only one vegan option on the menu, it leaves limited choice. But not having a choice means I try things I would’ve normally not bothered with and so, I find myself trying completely new cuisines and meals (looking at you Ethiopian, I never knew what an amazing alternative vegan-friendly cuisine this is!).

So, three years into veganism (and 33 years into life), it’s only now that I fully understand the link between what we put in our bodies and what we put on.

I applaud anyone who is anyway curious. That might mean committing to Meat Free Mondays, or swapping milk for almond a few times a week (it lasts forever in the fridge!) or, it could just mean talking about it (be it in support or not). By talking, having discussions and debating these sorts of matters, we’re opening up a whole consciousness – and its effects go well beyond what we are eating.

We’re living in a time of protests, change and people speaking up on societal issues and calling out the BS in this world, and for the first time, I feel part of something bigger than just me. And that’s a pretty cool feeling.

Charlotte

Follow me on Instagram for more vegan musings @fortheloveofthewarrior

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