November is World Vegan Month and today we're excited to celebrate one year of being a PETA-certified Cruelty Free and Vegan beauty brand. We’re using this opportunity to put the spotlight on what it means to be cruelty free & vegan and share updates on the animal testing ban for cosmetic products.
Animal testing is still legal in 80% of countries. Despite opinion polls showing the public’s support of a ban on animal testing, only 600 beauty brands worldwide are cruelty free and even fewer vegan. To understand why there are still so few of us, it is important to know the limitations of being a cruelty free and vegan business.
- There are over 23,000 ingredients used in cosmetic products today. The vast majority of these ingredients have already been tested on animals and deemed safe for human use. All cruelty free companies use ingredients which have already been established to be safe and therefore do not require any testing.
- Cruelty free companies which have to test their products or ingredients use humane alternatives to animal testing including in vitro testing using human cells or tissues as well as in silico testing using advanced computer modelling. These tests are not more expensive than animal testing but many corporations would need to change their internal processes to adopt these new techniques and that has proved challenging.
- Finally, and this is a big one, any cosmetic company that sells in China is required by law to submit its products to animal testing. As a result, many brands accept to stow away their ethics in favor of accessing the Chinese market, which is expected to reach $127 billion by 2020.
All is not bleak for us cruelty free beauty advocates, there are some clear wins and hope in the horizon.
- In 2015, New Zealand added a new amendment to its 1999 animal welfare act to explicitly ban all testing of cosmetics on animals without the consent of their Animal Ethics Committee.
- In 2016, the coalition government in Australia announced a ban on the sale of cosmetic products tested on animals with a “defined and reasonable transition period”. The implementation of the ban was meant to take effect on 1 July 2017 but it was delayed twice since that announcement. The Australian Government has now decided to defer the commencement of the ban until 1 July 2019.
- In the United States, the California Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act (SB-1249) was signed into law in October 2018. It prohibits the sale of cosmetic products and ingredients that have been tested on animals beginning in January 2020. As the world’s fifth largest economy, California’s decision will have a huge impact. There were high hopes when the Humane Cosmetics Act was first introduced in March 2014. Despite support from over 150 cosmetic companies and 175 cosponsors, the bill has yet to receive a hearing in Congress. Hopefully, with California’s landmark decision, momentum for the Humane Cosmetics Act will resume.
In the absence of uniform regulations, it falls on us as customers to vote with our dollars and to make it a priority to purchase cruelty free products to continue to drive slow but steady change in our societies.
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