Delving deeper into this vegan enquiry, thoughts seem naturally to turn to items other than food that I buy or have bought courtesy of the life and service of a non-human animal. I have never been a big cosmetics user, I subscribe to the view that the less stuff you put on your skin the better, but I suppose I have been a bit a bit of a snob in my time for what I did buy was the best that I could afford. Best I interpreted as higher-end products that had sophisticated ingredients and were backed by some kind of branding or celebrity that I somehow aspired to. Isabella Rossellini was the face of Lancome for 14 years and I couldn’t imagine a more sophisticated looking woman to emulate.
I have been passively aware that animal testing for cosmetics was a continuing practice but along with farmed animals, was not aware of the extent or, not to put too fine a point on it, the torture that is endured. Fortunately since March 2013 there has been a European-wide ban on companies testing new cosmetic products or ingredients to be sold in the EU. The Leaping Bunny stamp gives consumers the peace of mind that not a single commodified creature has had their skin or eyes irritated, burned, scarred or damaged for the sake of what is in their make-up bag or in the bathroom cupboard.
As with most things in life their are exceptions and loopholes, that’s why we have discussions around corporate tax avoidance and evasion (is there really a moral difference?). Cosmetics companies who have markets beyond the boundaries of the EU can continue to test on animals outside of the EU and then sell those products everywhere, including inside the EU (all smacks of something similar to the dreaded TTIP). This let’s off the hook the global brands especially those who sell to China, a market that has created a bit of gold-rush fever among multi-national corporations who are greedy for the massive profit potentials. The Chinese, you see, insist on a variety of tests, including those on animals, before a cosmetic product can be launched into their expanding market. So if you want to sell a mascara or a moisturiser in Brighton, Berlin and Beijing you have to animal-test.
Moral of the story is that I look for the Leaping Bunny stamp and check brands on their website. Happily there is a great range of products from specialised brands to supermarket and drugstore favourites. Now, as I run out of a product I replace it with something from a UK or EU firm that puts compassion at the heart of its business or at least is beginning to realise it’s important to some of us.
Image via rsi.ch