A philosophy and lifestyle, which has become very popular in the recent years. Not just because it sounds trendy or healthy, but because it is ethical and environmentally friendly, too.
Introduction - An exciting history
It used to be considered as an extreme lifestyle choice, but nowadays thanks to positive media campaigns, celebrities reported to follow plant-based diets and the awareness of health benefits, environmental and welfare issues, veganism became one of the most influential trends.
Vegetarian diet can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilisation of 3300-1300 BCE. There were many great philosophers, writers and poets throughout history known not just for their thoughts and work, but also registered as followers of strict diets, such as the Indian emperor Ashoka, the Greek philosopher Plutarch, the Roman poet Ovid or the playwright Seneca.
The earliest known vegan was the Arabian poet Al-Ma’arri in the 10th-11th century. Still, it was not until the 19th century that vegetarianism as well as veganism establishing themselves. The poet Shelley published his thoughts on natural diet at the beginning of the 19th century and Graham’s meatless diet became popular in the 1830s. In the mid 1840s the first Vegetarian society was founded.
Almost 100 years later Mahatma Gandhi joined the Society on his visit to London in 1933, and it still took another decade to evoke the term vegan, when Donald Watson set up his newsletter The Vegan News in 1944.
A couple of decades later alternative food movements became very popular. Vegetarianism amongst many hippies of the USA in the 1960s and the 1970s, and veganism in the UK’s punk subculture during the 1980s.
But again, we had to wait until the 21st century to see it going mainstream.
Embracing a philosophy - A new horizon of lifestyle
With compassion for animals or because of health issues, many people decide to become vegetarians or often even vegans. Avoiding meat, dairy products, egg, honey and other is one big step forward, but wearing vegan friendly clothing and accessories is an even bigger one to embrace vegan living and philosophy.
Living a vegan life is not just about eating vegan, but affects each and every aspect of your everydays. Products tested on animals are out of question and anything made from animal parts, such as clothes (wool, silk, cashmere, angora), shoes (leather, snakeskin), accessories (fur or felt bag, jewellery made of feathers or pearls), make-up (mascara containing beeswax, cream with lanolin, brush from squirrel hair) are all out.
But there are still so many materials, which can be used in clothing and other everyday utensils, like linen, cotton, rubber, cork or mushroom leather.
Going vegan also means that you have to take extra care of what you eat and what kind of supplements you take to keep your body healthy and well-nourished. A well planned diet with attention to specific nutrients is vital.
With almost unlimited access to information, people are more educated and know more about natural ingredients. They are aware of the effects of vegan or non-vegan products on their body and their environment, and this is a great force behind the growing popularity of veganism.
To keep up the pace with the market of veganism recently embraced by the mainstream, popular restaurant chains, supermarkets and brands are now offering vegan options. Among them there are more and more vegan skin care products appearing on the market. But how to find the most suitable ones for you?
Vegan Skin Care - Your choice of healthy beauty
Vegan skin care products do not contain any animal by-products and are not tested on animals. In most cases also the ingredients are sourced ethically and are certified vegan.
Honey, beeswax, lanolin, collagen, are widely used in the majority of beauty, cosmetic and skincare products. Needless to say that these ingredients are not part of vegan skin care.
Choosing vegan products may have a positive impact on the environment and can be part of an eco-friendly lifestyle. But don’t confuse cruelty-free or eco-friendly with vegan. Many products which are cruelty-free, may still contain milk, honey or animal fat.
As a vegan you may pay a great attention to not to use any personal care products, not even household cleaners that contain animal products.
Animal ingredients can be cheap by-products of the meat industry to be used in skin care and cosmetic formulations. For example, collagen derived glycerin, which is widely used as a lubricant in soaps, creams or shaving foams. Stearic acid is also part of moisturizers and shower gels frequently. Lactic acid derived from milk is a typical ingredient of facial creams. Lanolin from sheep’s wool is often found in moisturizers or lip balms as well. Carmine from insects might give the red colour of cosmetics, such as red or pink shade of lipsticks. Keratin, a protein from ground-up horn, feathers and animal hair, is often added to hair care products. And there are many more animal based ingredients to add to this list.
The good news is that, luckily, most of the time there are vegan alternatives to animal related skin care ingredients. Vegetable glycerin is available on the market, and stearic acid can be plant based as well. Vegetable oils are great as lubricants in soaps. Butters like shea or cocoa work wonderfully as moisturizers. While powdered hibiscus or beet is giving gorgeous colour to lipsticks, rosemary or nettle can give body and strength to your hair.
Because of the carefully selected ingredients, vegan skin care products are often more gentle to the skin and tend to be more beneficial for those with sensitive skin. They are minimal and natural, and they generally nourish skin. Therefore they can serve as more soothing alternatives for sensitive skin types than the regular mainstream products with potentially irritating chemicals.
Ingredients of natural and vegan cosmetics are less processed. Vegan skin care products usually contain more minerals, vitamins and antioxidants to help the hydration and recreation of the skin.
Still it is important to check them for potential allergens.
While natural skincare products help us to maintain beautiful and healthy skin, they can only do so externally - following the right diet can help a lot to reach a nice complexion, too.
There are so many factors to keep your body and skin healthy. Plant based diet and vegan skincare is one of them.
How to choose - A simple guide
No matter whether you are wondering about going vegan, or you just want to use ethical and healthy skin care products, there are always guidelines to find your way in the everyday maze of ingredients lists.
Here are some tips about how you can make sure that the skin care product you’re buying is vegan friendly:
- Reading the label and the list of ingredients can become a habit after a while and is very useful while choosing the right product.
- Learning about animal-derived ingredients is very important to make a good decision.
- Look for logos, symbols and patches displayed on the product label, which can be helpful indicators, like: Organic, Cruelty Free Bunny, Vegan or Fair Trade.
Many people would like to lose weight, eat better, help animals, save nature or do more to make the world a better place. Going vegan or trying vegan products can be part of these pursuits. Be kind to the world and to yourself with organic and natural products, including vegan skin care.