Veganuary: Why Going Vegan Is Not Only About Food

2024 is set to be another great year for the Veganuary campaign: after a record-breaking 700,000 people took part last year, the charity is once again looking forward to helping thousands of people discover the joys of vegan living. But while in this case it's certainly true that peace starts on your plate, vegan living is so much more than what we eat. 

By Sascha Camilli: writer, speaker, activist, and vegan fashion expert. 

Veganism is a lifestyle which, in its aim to reduce human-caused harm to animals as much as possible, does encompass food - but vegan living goes far beyond what's on the menu. Here, we break down the ways in which veganism applies to our modern society, outside the kitchen.

Ashoka Marilyn bag

Vegans don't wear animals.

One of the main industries where animals suffer is fashion. Leather takes approximately one billion lives annually, while  over one hundred million animals are still killed for fur every year. Animals suffer when violently sheared for wool, live-plucked for down feathers, or cut up for "exclusive" accessories in exotic skins. Vegans avoid animal suffering for fashion by simply refusing to wear animals' skins, fur, wool, or feathers. Choosing vegan fashion – which can be made from cotton, hemp, wood-pulp cellulose (Tencel) or plant leather such as mushroom, cork, apples, and grapes – is the only way to be sure that no animal suffering was involved in the process. Certifications meant to ensure that animals are treated humanely are often futile, as undercover investigations have many times shown. 

Peter Kalonji Unplash

Vegans don't use makeup tested on animals.

Despite what many people believe, animal testing for cosmetics still happens. Not only are thousands of rats, mice, dogs and other animals still tormented and often killed in laboratories for testing makeup, skincare, hair- and body care products, but some countries have also seen developments that actually set the progress on animal testing back instead of going forward. To be sure that no animals suffered for beauty, vegans look out for certifications such as PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies logo or Cruelty-Free International's Leaping Bunny symbol, to assure that the product is really cruelty-free. Vegans also avoid cosmetics that contain animal-derived ingredients such as carmine, beeswax, squalene and more.

Rick L Unsplash

Vegans don't partake in "entertainment" that hurts animals.

Whether it's abroad or at home, vegans stay away from any form of entertainment where animals are confined, exploited and sometimes both physically and mentally harmed. This includes circuses that force animals to perform for humans, marine parks that keep orcas and dolphins in enclosures that are much too small for them, and attractions such as horse-drawn carriages or "tiger selfie" experiences. Any time animals are used as props or tools to make money for humans, they are likely to suffer: captivity is notoriously harmful to wild animals' mental health, and physical harm is also pervasive: horses used for racing are often injured, and animals held in marine parks are prone to a number of health conditions. Vegans choose entertainment that is animal-free - which, in our society, is abundant and readily available.

Being vegan is a lifestyle that goes beyond the menu – but it's also easier than ever to live with kindness. And it's anything but a life of sacrifices. Just like vegan menus are getting more varied and delicious by the day, so is the offering of vegan fashion, cruelty-free beauty and kind entertainment. There is no better time to discover this than Veganuary, so enjoy!

By Sascha Camilli

About Sascha

Sascha Camilli is a vegan fashion writer, speaker and activist. Her book Vegan Style is out now on Murdoch Books. For more about Sascha, you can read our interview with her or listen to her podcast Catwalk Rebel. You can also follow her on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Cover image by Stijn te Strake via Unsplash. Second photo via Ashoka Paris. Third photo by Peter Kalonji via Unsplash. Fourth photo by Rick L via Unsplash.

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