Much as we’d like it to happen, not everyone’s going to go vegan right now.
But many meat eaters do genuinely want to reduce their environmental impact and try to implement some cruelty-free changes.
While that might sound like a contradiction, we as friends can respect that and do what we can to make those changes as easy, effective, and enjoyable as possible. It’s no good raging at someone about their roast chicken habit if that person isn’t in the right space to swap to nut roasts.
That’s something many of us forget the longer we’ve been vegan. The benefits of ditching dairy seem blindly obvious – but they’re often incomprehensible to others.
December is the perfect time of the year to start sneakily suggesting very small changes because we’ve got Secret Santas and family presents to buy. There’s loads of food and booze floating around. People are gearing up for the new year and their resolutions.
So here are just a couple of things we can suggest to our beloved omnivores which have little-to-no impact on their lives, while making a huge difference to the cause.
1. Swapping skincare
No one really wants to be using makeup and hair products that have been tested on animals – it’s just that they don’t know what products are cruelty-free. And they don’t know the difference between dermatologically tested and vegan.
Often vegan beauty is seen as being of a lower quality, simply because many designer brands test their products on animals. But you don’t have to go to a hippy-esque store to find cruelty-free bronzers and foundations.
Lush recently launched its own brand of makeup and its got loads of vegan options, while skincare brands like Skyn Iceland (available at M&S) and Dr. Roebuck’s all offer cruelty-free luxury. Dr Botanicals is especially lovely and has the added benefit of being able to tap into that CBD hype, as it has a hemp range which is totally soothing and refreshing.
2. Making all cleaning products cruelty-free
Again, these are the things that many people don’t even think about. Washing powder is washing powder.
But if you’ve got a pal who’s into stuff like Blue Planet, then why not introduce them to Ecover* which makes its bottle caps out of 50 percent recycled plastic – and aims to make all of its bottles from 100 percent recycled plastic by 2020.
The vegan brand uses mostly natural plant-based ingredients which are never tested on animals. It sells dishwasher, laundry, and household cleaning products.
Ecozone, Method, Ecoleaf, and Bio D are all similar brands which don’t cost the earth (you’re looking at about £3.50 for a surface spray).
3. Experiment with faux leather
Leather is still such a luxury item, which is why we often give little leather bits to each other as presents. Wallets, Oyster card holders, diaries – you name it, it comes in leather.
So why not try to find so vegan leather items to dish out this Christmas instead?
Three Six Five does lovely vegan leather journals for £25, while there are plenty of pineapple leather wallets, passport covers, and purses on Etsy.
4. Vegan alcohol
Again, quite a few non-vegans don’t know that lots of booze contains animal products – and those who do know that don’t know how to search for vegan wines and beers.
While many beers are vegan-friendly, a lot of wines aren’t. Young wines tend to be quite cloudy due to tiny molecules floating around. We like our wines bright and clear, so they go through a process called ‘fining’.
Normally if they’re left long enough, wines self-fine but when you’re producing gallons and gallons of the stuff, time is of the essence and producers use ‘fining agents’ to move things along.
These are traditionally made out of animal products like casein (a milk protein), albumin (egg whites), gelatin (animal protein) or isinglass (fish bladder protein).
While most winemakers don’t include vegan logos on their bottles, according to wine app Vivino, all you have to do is look out for the words ‘unfined’ or ‘unfiltered’ on the wine label and you’ll know that it doesn’t contain any animal products.
Supermarkets are getting better at labeling their wines too. M&S currently sells 384 vegan-friendly bottles, while the Co-op has 77. The Wine Society and Majestic both have extensive vegan sections for ordering in.
Why not host a vegan tasting wine night, using some everyday wines that just happen to be vegan? Tesco Finest English Sparkling Brut (£17.50) is a posh champers alternative, while Morrisons Fleurie Beaujolais (£8.25) is proof that you really don’t have to spend a lot.
5. Not mis-selling vegan food
This one is simple.
My mates always seem outraged every time I suggest we try a ‘pulled pork’ this or a ‘mac ‘n’ cheese’ that. Yet when we went to Genesis this week and I sold it as a healthy fast food joint based on mushrooms, they absolutely loved it. It’s all in the sell.
Omnis don’t want to be told that seitan tastes exactly like steak. More people seem to be open to trying new vegan food and enjoying it for being a totally different food item. Tell people that they’ll be eating chick-un and they expect something the same as actual chicken – which only really ends in disappointment.
The ideal future for most of us is one where no one even wants to be reminded that we once ate meat or dairy, so let’s start now. Stop talking about animal products and concentrate on plant-based foods – not alternatives.
*Ecover faced controversy recently when it revealed it tested products on water fleas. According to the company, it has now stopped.