BLOG: Own your choices – Helen Wright, Director of Rooted: Plant-Based PR

Now, more than ever before, individuals are empowered with the access to the information they need to make cruelty-free choices, writes Helen Wright, Director of Rooted: Plant-Based PR.

Change is coming to the way we eat, live and manage our resources – day by day, the vegan and plant-based movements are becoming more mainstream around the world.

The global market for plant-based alternatives to milk alone is now US$16.3 billion and counting, while plant-based alternatives to meat sold for US$3.1 billion in the USA during 2017, UK plant-based food sales increased 1,500% last year, and the projected size of the faux leather industry is set to reach US$85 billion by 2025 (statistics courtesy Kale Invests).

And the same growth trends are playing out in the cruelty free cosmetic industry, not to mention the exponential rise in ethical fashion, and many other industries besides.

As the momentum continues to grow, so too does the quest for transparency and acknowledgement about the realities of the way animals are treated by those businesses and institutions that do not adhere to humane, ethical values.

So how can you tell if the product you are buying is cruelty free? Ethical businesses which produce cruelty-free products naturally want make it a central part of their brand in order to make conscientious consumers aware. If you are unsure, here are five tips to help you make cruelty-free choices:

  1. When it comes to cruelty-free food, labels can be confusing. There is currently no legally binding definition of “vegan” or “vegetarian” for voluntary food labelling. Veganuary have produced a handy vegan label reading guide that helps shine some light. More information about animal-derived ingredients/products used in food manufacturing is available at Happy Cow
  2. The PETA website includes a searchable database for companies that do and don’t test their products on animals Searches produce a clear warning message if the company searched for does test on animals, and a clear confirmation if they do not
  3. Leaping Bunny has developed a comprehensive list of brands that it has approved as cruelty free. It can also helpful to cross-check companies between databases like this and PETA’s for extra confidence
  4. Ask the community – there is a wealth of knowledge in the vegan, plant-based, and cruelty free communities, so why not ask? Social media has made it easier than ever to connect with like minded people and, democratised the process of bringing issues to global attention
  5. If in doubt, contact the manufacturer directly either via email or on social media, or both. Most larger brands have ‘contact us’ pages and a social media presence. You may find you get a more prompt response if you query the product in public rather than simply emailing the info@ address or variation thereof.

Now, more than any time in the past, individuals are empowered with easy access to the information they need to question the brands that they engage with, and to opt for the cruelty-free choice.

Truly ethical brands should also have appropriate supplier vetting procedures in place. Still, it can remain challenging to gain transparency on every step in a supply chain and hold brands responsible for the actions of their third party supplier companies, but it is important to always ask questions, and keep the pressure on to achieve satisfactory answers.

Consumer choice drives market change, and individuals can make a difference to minimise animal suffering in our world by voting with their wallets. A growing movement of hundreds of thousands of like-minded people around the world are also working to make the world a better place as more and more individuals open their eyes not only to the cruel truth about animal agriculture and animal testing, but also to the devastating impacts of these activities on human health and our climate.

Find out more about the Animal Justice Project and how you can support its work.

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