What Are Cruelty-Free Products?
Many of us consider ourselves to be against animal cruelty. But have you ever stopped to think about which products are actually cruelty-free? Many major cosmetic, fashion and cleaning product companies still rely on animal testing. Working out which companies are truly cruelty-free can be difficult. This guide offers a few tips on how to identify ethical companies that look after animal welfare.
The problem with the ‘cruelty-free’ label
If you see the words ‘cruelty-free’ on the packaging of a product, you should treat it with caution. ‘Cruelty-free’ is a very vague term with no standard legal definition. It could mean that the final product has not been tested on animals – however the ingredients used to make it may still have been tested on animals. It could mean that no animal testing was carried out – but there could still be animal products used in the product.
The definition of cruelty-free is so vague that it’s easy to fit many products under this label. In actual fact, some of these companies could be using animal products and ingredients tested on animals.
How to tell if a company is truly cruelty-free
Specific labels such as ‘not tested on animals’ or ‘vegan’ can give you a much better idea of whether animals were harmed or killed. These terms have a much more specific legal definition, meaning that a company cannot get away with slapping them on the packaging.
It’s also worth looking out for cruelty-free certification. PETA and Leaping Bunny are two official certification bodies that you can trust – if a product contains a logo belonging to either one of these organizations, you can trust that it will be genuinely ‘cruelty-free’. Such organizations put a lot of effort into assessing companies before providing certification, and they are willing to revoke certification (and deliver lots of public criticism) if a company later adopts ‘cruel’ methods. This guide to cruelty-free logos offers more information on what to look out for.
Where can I find cruelty-free companies?
There are many advocates out there such as Katherine Marraccini who are dedicated to animal welfare news – these advocates may be able to help you identify products that are cruelty-free and products that aren’t.
There are also many sites containing lists of cruelty-free brands. By reading these lists, you can find trusted companies that are worth supporting. For instance, this guide at Elle features a great list of cruelty-free make-up brands.
The good news about cruelty-free products
A growing number of companies are taking steps towards being cruelty-free. Many of the cruelest forms of animal testing have been banned across the world (with some companies like Canada taking much more stringent bans) and many companies have taken steps to give up other types of testing. Human volunteers, computer models, and tests on lab-grown organic matter are becoming increasingly popular. With further growing pressure against animal testing, we should hopefully start to see cruelty-free becoming the norm in the future.