Thirteen years ago I quit eating meat. I wasn’t one of those “vegetarians” who gave up red meat or who still ate seafood — those aren’t vegetarians, those are just picky eaters who want a better label. I gave it all up. Seven years ago I gave up eggs. Five years ago I gave up milk.
I still indulge in cheese and yogurt. I’m not perfect. I’m not climbing onto my soapbox to make you feel guilty about the hamburger you just ate or the foie gras you indulged in this weekend. (If you realize ignorance isn’t bliss and you want to know the truth about your food, educate yourself. Make a change. You can even get a free vegetarian starter kit — coupons, recipes, general cruelty-free deliciousness.)
For the most part, I don’t have to feel guilty about my diet — except those times I overindulge in Vortex fried zucchini (OMG. Yum.) — because I know that no sentient being suffered and died for my dinner. Plus, it’s nice to know that my veggie burger or soy buffalo wings are free of hormones, antibiotics, large amounts of fat, etc.
But while my diet is cruelty-free for the most part, I’m still guilty of financially supporting industries that use and abuse animals so that I can safely wash my clothes, lengthen my eye lashes and condition my hair. That’s not OK with me. To some degree, I was allowing myself to ignore what’s going on in laboratories worldwide. (Do you know what happens to rabbits, cats, dogs and other animals every day? You probably don’t want to. However, if you need motivation to make a simple lifestyle change, educate yourself.)
Starting now, I will no longer be spending my hard-earned money to support such inhumane practices. If I claim not to be speciesist, then I need to truly live a life that’s not speciesist. In other words, if I’m going to talk the talk, I need to walk the walk. So, goodbye, Tide — I’m not OK with the Draize Test. I love your scent, Glade Fabric & Air, but I can’t freshen the furniture with a byproduct of pain and suffering.
This is going to be a long personal process full of baby steps for a variety of reasons. I’m not going to throw out that Neutrogena moisturizer just because I know how it’s tested. I’ll use it up — I won’t create unnecessary waste. And I’ve yet to find a website or database that provides me with a comprehensive list of cruelty-free products, prices and consumer reviews, so some Laura-style market research needs to be done.
I’m starting with shampoo and conditioner. After all, I have to keep my locks shiny and clean! And while I’m super intrigued by the soap-free, no-poo movement (as in shampoo), even this girl acknowledges that it’s not right for people with my hair type: long, straight, fine. If you have curly or wavy hair, though, check this article out: One green girl’s story of ditching shampoo altogether. It’s a good read.
So I picked up two shampoos and conditioners last week: Shikai moisturizing shampoo and Whole Foods’ 365 Everyday Citrus Grapefruit shampoo. While the 365 smells amazing (You have to understand my love of citrus scents — if I could have my skin infused with the scent of an orange or a grapefruit, I’d totally do it), it doesn’t lather as well and it leaves my hair fairly dry and difficult to brush. The Shikai, on the other hand, was perfect. My hair looked good.
It smells great, it cleans well, it leaves my hair silky — total win. The only downside is the price: $10 for a smaller bottle than the $4 bottle of 365.
However, unlike the 365, my Herbal Essences and every other mass-marketed shampoo out there, I can actually pronounce the ingredients. Now that’s refreshing. Plus, my Shikai contains just nine ingredients. Nine! My Herbal essences contains 23 — three of which are dyes that the FDA hasn’t conclusively tested, and after “water,” the remaining ingredients are a long, confusing list of tongue-twisting “oxides” and “sulfates.” No, thank you.
I realize this is my choice; it’s probably not yours. I understand the ease and simplicity of choosing to remain uninformed about how your dinner, clothes and soaps make it into the stores — my own mother refuses to learn what goes on simply because it would ruin beef stew and ham sandwiches for her. She’s actually forbidden me from ever telling her how that turkey makes it to Thanksgiving dinner. It’s her choice — I may not necessarily agree with it, but I respect it.
In situations like this, I can’t help but think of how my environmental ethics professor once paraphrased Peter Singer: “Think of it this way: You’re sacrificing an animal’s greatest interest — its very life — for your most trivial interest: the taste of its flesh.”
That really hits home for me. I may love the scent of my Tide with Febreeze, but do I love it enough to allow bunnies’ eyes to be smeared with chemicals? I sure don’t.
I challenge you to make the same ethical choice. You can even take the pledge. For a full list of companies that DO and DO NOT test on animals, check out these sites:
In Defense of Animals: cruelty-free companies