As a vegan there are a few questions guaranteed to get under your skin, to fill you with rage and make you want to commit acts of violence against those who question you in bad faith.
The top of the list is, where do you get your protein.
Right under that is, how can XYZ be vegan? Today that’s what I want to talk about.
When I first began my vegan journey in 2017, I was solely focused on the animals that went into my body and stopping that, period. It meant–and still means–carefully reading ingredients lists on every dang thing that I buy. Of course that started with food, especially things that you wouldn’t think have animal products in them such as potato chips (hello milk powder) and jarred or canned products that are not vegetables.
The more I explored what it meant to be vegan and all the ways in which animals are exploited to make our lives easier, or whatever. That’s when I started to realize just how much we make use of animals in our daily lives.
Whether it’s a snack like peanut butter, which of course shouldn’t have ANY animals in it, or more innocuous products like face moisturizer, lotion and toothpaste, So many of our regular, every day items contain animal products.
More talk of vegan skin & health care products discussed here.
So now, for me, being vegan means being more aware of all the other ways we all may or may not contribute to the exploitation of animals. I won’t get too preachy, so let’s just think of this post as a way to expand your horizons.
I know this is going to seem a little odd since The Spicy Spatula focuses mostly on vegan food and vegan recipes, but that’s really only because my passion for cooking has never waned from living on animal products to giving them the boot from my life. I love to cook and I have since I was a little bitty girl watching both of my grannies whip up their favorite Southern recipes.
But being vegan, or rather living vegan isn’t just about the food you eat. The same way that I lost weight, by changing my entire lifestyle so that eating healthy and exercise were just a regular part of my life, that’s also how I live as a vegan. It took some time and A LOT of label reading but it has become a habit, I am happy to report.
So how do you level up your vegan-ness for 2022?
What Vegan Means To You
Being or going vegan is a personal choice that has a far-reaching impact, not just on animals and the environment, but your own body as well so choose what that means to you. Do you strictly consume a vegan diet or does that overlap into other parts of your life?
The choice is yours.
Do your best to be kind and compassionate as well as a good steward of the earth, and if you can do it without breaking your bank account or your enjoyment in life.
How You Can “Live” Vegan
This one is a hard one for those who still consume animals because they have no idea just how pervasive the dreaded milk powder can be in everything from potato chips (I’m talking to you Pringles) and pasta sauce and plenty of other things that under normal non-addictive circumstances wouldn’t have milk in them at all.
But when it comes to non-food products, living vegan means you need to look out for glycerin, mostly derived from animal fat. It is in lotion and face creams, body wash, soaps and SO. MANY. THINGS.
This was the biggest shocker to me when I adopted a vegan lifestyle, realizing just how much we rely on animals for everything, and unnecessarily so.
Read the labels. The best way to know what items are vegan and which are not, is to read your labels. Even if an item isn’t labeled as vegan, you can tell because ingredients lists will go out of their way to add in phrases like “soy based” or “plant derived” when it comes to glycerin.
And good news for you, it is usually one of the first 5 ingredients listed.
Know your animal products. Research is king when it comes to figuring out what some of those ingredients actually are. I won’t go into great detail in this, but if you’re interested, PETA has a good starter resourcehere. If you really care, you have to be willing to do the research to know that you are being the best vegan you can be.
Find vegan or vegan-friendly products. Let’s not be naïve here, the vegan market is a heavily emerging one which means lots of cash for those who care to target this particular demographic so it’s not too hard to find them in most major cities. But, maybe you want to give your hard-earned money to a company that caters specifically to vegans, it helps to know who they are (and to pass that news along to fellow vegans).
That isn’t always possible. Right before the pandemic hit, we were visiting family in Romania and that is where we still are, and outside Bucharest there aren’t a lot of choices for vegan products that fall into the non-food category.
Before Romania, I lived in Germany which–who knew?–prepared me a lot for life in Romania. So many of the products come from Germany or Austria (an interesting history lesson another time. If you’re interested tell me in the comments), which made it easy to be able to read the German ingredients. And it also helps that Berlin is one of the biggest vegan hotspots in Europe. My point? Alverde was my very first and still much loved vegan products for things like face wash, moisturizer, lotion, eye cream, toothpaste, hand soap and body wash. They even make makeup and lip balm, shampoo, face wipes, foot cream…a lot.
I love this brand because they offer just enough variety that I can switch up scents, but not so many that it’s overwhelming. But Alverde does fall on the pricier side of things, so when I found out that the drugstore brand started to offer vegan products earlier this year I was super excited. Not excited enough to just buy them, mind you, but I did stand in the aisle and meticulously go through the ingredients list before I tested out a few products.
And later, I went back and got more stuff. Why? Because the price differential was…significant. But they still have the best options for lip balm as far as I’m concerned.
Ask. Sometimes all you have to do is ask. Just because there is a lot of vegan hate around, doesn’t’ mean that cashiers and managers haven’t fielded these questions before. Sometimes it’s all in a label but sometimes it’s just a simple stamp that says “Vegan” on the back of the packaging.
Not Just Skin Care & Body Wash
Since there wasn’t much happening in 2021 and I couldn’t get much traveling done, I did something else. I found a fully vaccinated and English-speaking tattoo artist and I got myself some ink.
I found out by asking that yes, they do use vegan friendly ink (Intenze, Starbrite, Micky Sharpz & Yakuza) and have several brands, but my ink was Eternal which is vegan-friendly. For the after-care ointment, you should ask ahead of time because you’ll need it the day you get inked and you don’t want to waste time looking for it. But this is also one of those times where you have to decide if you want to ruin your hard-earned ink or get what’s recommended by the professionals.
My advice? Call ahead of time and ask what aftercare creams and ointments they sell so you can look up the ingredients list. Depending on where you live, you might have to buy it online ahead of time, so do your homework and do it early!
After Inked is a vegan brand of aftercare cream and there are many others to research before you get your vegan ink.
What Are Your 2022 Vegan Goals?
Simple. Be a better, more conscientious vegan than I was in 2021. Do more to stay healthy, to help the animals and the environment. Just that.