Veganuary: Thoughts and reflections

Just to be clear before you read this post and perhaps get upset with me at the moment I currently have not gone vegan for January. However, I have been reflecting a lot of veganism this month and wanted to share some of my thoughts and reflections.

First of all, I have been thinking about making more of my diet vegan. One, because it makes me think about what I’m eating more and two because it encourages me to eat more vegetables (though to be honest I’m not struggling too much in that regard). I also have been thinking about this because of the ethical aspect and while I admire people who do have a fully vegan diet; at the moment this is not something I am ready to fully commit to. I do maybe want to try doing things like having one vegan week a month and generally having more fully vegan meals however.

Another thing I have been considering is the other parts of living a vegan lifestyle, i.e. whether your makeup is cruelty free (and uses animal products) and the role of fashion within veganism. I have touched on this subject before on my blog and generally adhere to a lot of these in my everyday life. I don’t buy products that I know are made of leather  (I check what things are made of but I’m sure that I have missed some things). I know veganism often considers other animal by-products like wool and silk and while I do wear wool I do not wear silk. While I am not as studious on this as I sometimes would like to be I try my hardest to keep to what I personally feel happy with.

However, I will admit there is a bit of paranoia that lies within that. I often imagine people are policing me and I sometimes even unconsciously police other people on whether I think they are wearing leather, etc. This especially increases if I visit a vegan place to eat, which usually happens everytime I go to London. While I do believe in thinking about these things; I do think I have a tendency to over think and be critical, especially when I start to consider what people think of me.

I have recently started watching the videos of the Youtuber Qcknd and came across this video in which she discusses her transition into veganism. She particularly discusses how she regrets throwing away some of her leather items that had memories because when she first turned vegan that is what she felt like she had to do. I too have had such thoughts as a vegetarian when thinking about some of the few leather products I own. I’ve not thrown my items away as I thought that was more of a waste but I felt like I needed to sell the items, despite the fact that they do hold memories.

After, watching the above video though I realised that I was too focused on what people thought of me. My white Dr Martens have special memories to me, as does my Cambridge Satchel bag. And keeping or wearing them is my business and no one else’s. She also discussed buying items containing animal products from vintage shops stating how she has no problem with that. In the blog post I mentioned I also said that I had no problem with it but felt weird about it myself. I think this to a certain extent stemmed a little from being scared to wear these items because of what people thought.

Now, I’m not going to consciously look for leather items in vintage shops but if I like something and know I am going to care and look after it I need to stop feeling guilty about wanting to buy it. I wouldn’t buy something leather new but honestly I would prefer people use vintage items, as these are items already made (and not only that they have a history about them that I love)- throwing or not reusing these items would be a waste.

I also want to touch on the other topic Qcknd discusses, which is what to do about receiving non-vegan gifts as a vegan. I personally would only feel weird about leather items or cruelty free makeup as a gift, which luckily I did not receive for Christmas. My response would be depending who it was to be open or honest. If it was from a close relative and came from a place of love who did not realise I would accept the gift and maybe mention at another point that I tend not to buy leather goods or makeup that isn’t cruelty free.

I have talked a lot in this post about being less hard on myself but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop working towards being more ethically conscious (and this feeds into other things too- I haven’t forgotten for example about posting more information about where my clothes come from in regards to ‘fast fashion’ and sweatshops). I have switched to cruelty free perfumes, which I am very excited about but am yet to switch to things like deodorant. I have used cruelty free shampoo and conditioner but sometimes when I couldn’t afford to I didn’t. Also, to be honest I haven’t found one that works as nice for my hair. I think what everyone needs to remember you don’t have to do everything at once just working towards it is more than enough.

So essentially this Veganuary I want to reflect on how I can still bring more elements of veganism into my life but how I need to not worry about anyone’s judgement but my own. I also want to say a big shout out to all the vegans out there- thank you for bringing way more vegan and vegetarian food options into my life last year and I’m sure in the years to come!

April

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My Cruelty Free Journey

Image: Pexels (so is free from attribution, but I’m putting the attribution here in case anyone wants to use the image!)

So I think it’s appropriate to start this post by saying that I’ve been a vegetarian for quite a long time now. Although, I can’t exactly remember the year I fully committed (there were a few failed attempts before then); I think it was about aged 16. So about 5-6 years of vegetarianism is probably a good estimate.

For a while I was afraid to admit this, but at the start of being a vegetarian I didn’t really at first catch on to the other animal products that surrounded me like leather, etc. I finally did however realise and started to genuinely phase leather items out, though I will admit this was not without me failing a few times because I put fashion above my beliefs. I do now though only own leather items that I bought quite a long time ago now (and are up for sale on Depop, unfortunately no one wants them). Although, I have put my items up for sale; I personally can’t just throw those items away, as that to me personally feels more like a waste; but at the same time I feel uncomfortable wearing the items.

So basically what I am trying to say is I understand the struggle, and would never call you out for what you wanted to wear. I also love vintage clothing, and can understand why people might be alright with wearing vintage leather (or even fur, though personally, although I know it is skin like leather, real fur has always felt more ‘icky’ to me). I however do not feel comfortable personally with that either, though if you’re vegetarian (or even vegan) and want to buy vintage leather items- go ahead- like I’ve mentioned I think it’s worse to just waste the suffering of the animal and throw the item away. I also think it’s ok if you like a vintage bag for example but the strap is leather (but not the main part of the bag) and tell the store to keep the leather strap to use on another bag, and then replace the strap with a faux leather one (you can find them quite cheap online). There is then always ways to make a item work. I also mentioned the bag idea, as this is something I am considering doing- if you have any thoughts on this ethically let me know, as I’d like to hear opinions.

This dilemma is also part of the reason I decided to make this post, as I am still not fully through my transition and fully cruelty free in my life. I think part of the reason is because when I started this journey I didn’t realise how many things are not cruelty free, which I will talk more about later within this post.

Clothing 

So there are a number of different materials to consider with clothing, and those are leather (and suede), silk (there is however a cruelty free silk option so make sure to always do your research), fur, and for some people wool.

The most prolific of these items that you are most likely going to encounter however is leather, which nowadays is not that hard to avoid with high street clothing retailers often opting for cheaper faux-leather alternatives for their items. Higher end items however are mostly leather and a lot harder to avoid though Stella McCartney and Moschino (I don’t think this is true for all their range however but I know that some of their range is- so make sure to check!) are known for their leather free ranges. As for the high street just make sure to look up the product online before you buy it, as it will say if the product is made out of leather in the product description. Topshop, for example, are about 50/50 with their shoes though I’ve noticed unfortunately that more and more are starting to be leather- you can usually tell however by the higher price bracket before you even look at the item. Leather gloves whatever the shop always seem to be real leather so to be honest I would just avoid them.

If you’re looking for a little stress in your shopping routine Iron Fist shoes are vegan and free from leather, and they are known for their alternative designs. For vegan bags (and shoes I just recently realised) check out Matt and Nat ,who are on the pricey side but are effortlessly stylish and chic (definitely one for those times when you are trying to be all chic and Parisian). I’ve also noticed that Unif stock loads of vegan leather products (I’m not sure if they stock anything leather, though if I was going out a limb I don’t think they do- definitely check though), and are a great alternative brand- they’re a little like Lazy Oaf in execution but much more about the cleaner lines and tighter fit (they also have a bit more of a straight up 90s vibe going on). A lot of the amazing shoes stocked on DollsKill (like all the amazing Current Mood ones) are usually vegan/ not leather (but make sure to check, as I know they have a few styles that are leather). Also, if you’re like me and obsessed with Dr Martens (I do still have a pair that I saved, and saved for but that I feel weird wearing now that are on my Depop) then they do a vegan range. However,  unfortunately their collaborations are usually not vegan so no, Adventure Time (please, please, Dr Martens on the very unlikely chance you are reading this bring out vegan versions of these designs) or Lazy Oaf collaboration for me!

I’ve also noticed that in regards to brands like Vans, Converse and Adidas, and all the similar brands that are popular right now (due to sporty casual making a comeback) that some of their shoes are vegan, but some are not- so be sure to look out for that!

Makeup 

So makeup and whether or not certain brands are cruelty free is being talked about a lot recently, which is amazing. It also gets a bit confusing, as often I see one source telling me a brand is cruelty free and another telling me it is not. Therefore, I thought I’d sum up all the information I’ve gathered about what someone means when they say a product is not entirely cruelty free. Also, I’ve put skincare on a separate post, as I personally don’t tend to buy my skin care stuff from the same brand that I get my makeup from.

Ok, so first of all a brand may be cruelty free but that doesn’t necessarily mean their products are entirely vegan- so they may for example still have dyes in their eyeshadows like carmine (or cochineal), which is essentially made from crunched up insects. At the moment, my makeup bag is cruelty free (minus a few old products that I don’t use but just have not got round to throwing out/ seeing if a family member/ friends wants it) but not vegan, however I am striving to have it both cruelty free and vegan in the near future.

The other confusing bit in regards to makeup being cruelty free involves China. Essentially to sell a product in China, the makeup then has to be tested on animals (though makeup produced in China does not have to go through this testing so theoretically companies could sell in China and be cruelty free by having a factory in China to distribute products there- as far as I’m aware) so therefore retailers who sell in China are not classified as cruelty free, though they themselves do not necessarily test on animals.

To make it a bit simpler here is a list of all the companies that test on animals. However, there is then another issue that arises in regards to cruelty free. This is when a parent company, basically the big organisation that owns lots of smaller makeup brands (L’Oreal is a good example, as they basically own everything) is not cruelty free but the company itself is. An example of this is the brand Too Faced who are generally considered a brand in their own right and describe themselves as cruelty free with a lot of their products being vegan. However, in 2016 they were acquired by Estee Lauder who are not cruelty free. There is also a lot of other controversy surrounding the brand regarding the Youtuber Nikkie Tutorials, which I won’t get into but if you’re interested you can read about. Especially, as a lot of this as far as I’m aware is speculation. So brands with a parent company that are not cruelty free obviously are a bit of a grey area, as it means that your money still ends up going to a place that condones testing on animals. I think parent companies are basically up to each individual to decide on, but if you want to buy products from them still I don’t think it’s something to destroy an individual over (though just to note I don’t think you should ever aim to destroy an individual) if they are someone who says they are cruelty free.

Also, if you’re like me and a fan of some of the Japanese/ Korean makeup trends (mostly because they often do cute collaborations with Disney or Pokémon) I’m afraid these brands tend not to be cruelty free. For some interesting information regarding this see this post on Soko Glam, which also discusses how it is possible to sell some makeup products in China, without having to have the ingredients tested on animals.

If you’re looking for a list of cruelty free brands check out this list by Cruelty-Free Kitty, as it is by far one of the most definitive and informative lists out there. Basically, check out their site if you want to know more about going cruelty free and what brands are and aren’t. Personally, if you want great brands that are cruelty free I’d recommend Kat Von D and Urban Decay.

Perfume 

One thing I never thought about being cruelty free is perfume. Something, which was particularly sad for me to realise, as my favourite perfume of all time is Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel, and is actually very comforting to me. However, a while ago I finished the bottle Martin bought me (he bought it ages ago), and have decided from now on to only use cruelty free scents, which trust me is easier said than done (as unlike makeup the options are a lot fewer).

There are though options out there. Honey Pop Kisses in fact did an amazing post on this, which I suggest you look at for suggestions or again turn to the always great Cruelty-Free Kitty. Also, Kat Von D Beauty recently came out with two perfumes Saint and Sinner that I’m going to assume are cruelty free, since Kat Von D has took a very public stance on this, but I have emailed them to check and will update this post once I’ve received a response.

Nail Varnish

I don’t often paint my nails but I really want to more, and when I looked at my cupboard of ancient nail varnishes I came to the conclusion that pretty much all of them are not likely to be cruelty free. However, after a quick search I was happy to see, that a few brands like ORLY that I expected not to be cruelty free, are.

If you want to see a list of cruelty free and vegan nail polishes click here, or if you want to see 5 vegan nail polish brands (that are more UK based, and include brands like Barry M, who are cruelty free, with some of their products being vegan) click here. Both lists are definitely something which I think are useful to have with you when visiting the nail salon so you can quickly and easily make sure your selection is cruelty free!

Other beauty essentials 

Other beauty things you have to look out for are bath bombs/ general bath stuff. I’ve mentioned Lush’s policy in my latest Lush post for all those interested but there are some great companies out there (usually independents are a great place to look) like Geeky Clean that are cruelty free and vegan. The Body Shop, a old school cruelty free brand and fighter against animal testing has come under fire as they were recently acquired by L’Oréal (who are not cruelty free). However, L’Oréal recently sold the brand to Natura Cosmetics who are reportedly cruelty free (they have not been certified by a board like Cruelty Free International but as a company they have stated they are cruelty free).

In regards, to shower gel I know that Original Source products are generally vegan  and they do smell great. However, I have not found anything definitive to say they are cruelty free so I’m probably going to stop using them, but will email them if anyone would like me to!

Skincare is also something to pay attention to, particularly sunscreen (click the link for some cruelty free brands) but also look up whether your moisturiser, spot cream etc. contains animal products/ is cruelty free. I’d recommend trying to avoid supermarkets and bigger chains and trying to do your skin care routine from somewhere you know to be cruelty free and clearly labels their products, as being either vegetarian or vegan, like Lush (though whether you consider Lush to be cruelty free is up to you- see this post mentioned earlier). Or of course just look up your products before you buy them, though this could end up with you having to do a bit of the emailing and probably a lot of frustration.

Deodorant is something else to look out for and one of those products that I did not even think about. I have a can that I need to finish but soon as that is gone I will be trying out some new products (let me know if a cruelty free deodorant review series is actually something you’d all want!). However, I haven’t found a definitive list of which brands are not cruelty free, so I recommend just looking up your deodorant bottle (if you want me to compile a list let me know). For now here’s a list of 5 cruelty free deodorants that reportedly work and a list helpful for those of us in the UK (since I have a Holland and Barret’s really close to where I live I definitely will be trying out Dr. Organic soon).

So there we have it! My complete list of all the things I’ve started to consider on my cruelty free journey. This post is not designed to lecture you, but as a helpful guide for those looking into being cruelty free in their ‘beauty’ routine or for those who are cruelty free. Also, if I have made any mistakes in this post please let me know, as obviously I don’t want to tell people whether things are cruelty free or not, and then that information be incorrect. If I’ve missed something important out please also let me know, as a lot of this is still very new to me!

If you’ve enjoyed this post let me know, as I’d love to do a ‘Home’ (so cleaning products, etc.) version of this post, as that for me is the next planned stage of my cruelty free journey once I’ve fully completed this stage.

🍂April🍂

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Mini Lush Haul/Review: August 2017

(For some reason it looks like the bath bomb has a hair embedded in it- it didn’t- it must of been part of one of the flowers!)

I have watched (though ironically not read) a lot of Lush hauls in my time so I know the market is a little bit oversaturated but I still thought why not add my own Lush haul to the mix? Plus, you know then my content for two posts straight will be exclusively about bath stuff.

Right, so first let’s start with a bit about Lush as a company, since you know in regards to both clothing and cosmetics (etc.) I like to give any information about the company that I have found. In regards to being cruelty free Lush do not buy any raw materials that have been tested on animals. However, due to the new REACH chemical legislation Lush are not completely cruelty free because: ‘If a supplier gets involved in animal testing due to the unavoidable requirements of meeting the requirements of REACH legislation, we have to ‘accept’ this’. Their products however are all vegetarian, with a lot being vegan, and a lot of people still include them on cruelty free lists because of the dedication they have put towards being cruelty free over the years, and the strength of their other policies. Therefore, Lush is one of those I’m going to call “middle ground” companies  (like makeup brands where the ‘parent’ company is not cruelty free but the brand you are buying for is), where it’s up to you if you want to buy from them or not. Personally, I am trying to make my beauty routine completely cruelty free at the moment (which, I’m going to write a post about soon) and am not sure where I lie on this debate. I have seen Lush’s history of fighting against animal testing and how they continuously protest against what is happening, and the fact that their ingredients are vegetarian (and vegan at times) does appeal to me. I’d love however to hear everyone’s thoughts- in my mind though I don’t have an issue with anyone who uses Lush, and considers themselves cruelty free. If anyone’s interested I’ve also labelled whether the ingredients for each product are vegetarian or vegan.

Now on the haul. First of all if I’m being honest, I got this haul in July (not August- I thought the title would be confusing otherwise) because I was really stressed, and just needed a little treat. I thought some Lush stuff, and a nice bath would help. Which it did, but I was still stressed (dissertation pressure), though it definitely took the edge off.

“DON’T LOOK AT ME” Face Mask 

Don't Look at Me Fresh Face Mask(Apologises for my awful nails.) 

Don't Look At Me Mask

So I bought this because I wanted a face mask that wasn’t so “heavy duty”. I try to drink a lot of the old H20, and at the point I was being really consistent so spot wise I was doing ok. I was looking then for something to just brighten my skin and give it a good glow. So I had a little chat with one of the lovely customer assistants, and she recommended I try the “DON’T LOOK AT ME” face mask. This face mask then is one of their ‘fresh’ ones so you have to keep it in the fridge, and it doesn’t last as long as their other ones (like Mask of Magnaminty for example). I have to say I’m not sure if brightening is the mask’s primary effect but it definitely cleans a lot of the gunk out of your face. I used it recently, as my skin was feeling a bit oily (a product of not eating right and my face getting angry at me), and it did a great job at clearing out my t-zone.

The Mask(With the mask on.) 

Martin Mask(Martin also tried the mask. He was not happy about picture time. Or probably how unevenly I spread it on his face.) 

Face After(After the mask. Sorry there’s no before, I did take one but I was a bit vain and didn’t include it because it was really unflattering! I will make to take ones in future try on’s though.)

The one downside of this mask though is that is smells so overwhelmingly of lemon (and something else I can’t quite put my finger on) and I have to admit it puts me off buying it again. I’d rather buy a different “heavy duty” mask (as I do think this is not so much a “light duty” mask) that doesn’t overwhelm my nostrils as much (ironic I know when talking about Lush products).

Price: £7.25/75g 

Rating: 3/5 

This product is VEGAN. 

“Bunny Moon” Jelly Face Mask 

Bunny Moon

So I’m going to be honest I bought this because when I prodded the sample it wiggled. Also, honey is one of my favourite smells so I had to pick the one that smelled like honey up. Basically, how it works is you grab some of the jelly, work it into a paste with your hands and then apply the paste onto your face. I found it a little annoying to work with at times, but once you get used to it’s mostly fine. Plus, your skin will feels so soft afterwards (I put this on generally after the “DON’T LOOK AT ME” mask to get a bit of hydration back into my skin). The only other downside of this mask is that because of the paste texture I find it a bit hard to wash off, as it seems to want to combine with water more than anything. I’d definitely be interested in trying some more of these out, especially as they all appear to have different effects.

Price: £6.95 each.

Rating: 3/5

For more about the other jelly face masks in the range click here

This product is NOT VEGAN. It is however VEGETARIAN. 

Now on to the bath bombs…

“Titsy Tosty” Bath Bomb 

Titsy Tosty

Ok, so this bath bomb is just so pretty. It’d make such a great themed Valentine’s day present. However, the lovely shop assistant who served me at the till at Lush told me that these are going to be out of circulation soon. Something, which I found confirmed on the Lush website. You may still be able to find these in some stores however I’m assuming. I can’t remember the price of the bath bomb, however, and since it’s no longer online I can’t check. I do think though that it’s just about their average price so somewhere in the four pounds range. I also got some awesome video footage (check me out) of this as it dissolved in my bath, which will be on my Instagram: @aprilisthecruellestmonthblog and on my Instagram story on my main account @aprilisthecruellestmonth. I would put it on here but I need to upgrade my plan in order to include video footage, and unfortunately I’m not financially able to at the moment. Overall, this bath bomb is for you if you don’t mind having a bath full of dead flowers in order to get that vintage, Tumblr-esque vibe going on (they also get stuck in the drain afterwards which means you have to fish them out). I did though feel quite soft afterwards, which is always a bonus.

Titsy Tosty 2

Rating: 3/5 

This product is VEGAN. (Update: Found it for $6.95 on the American website so my according to Google this made it £5.39, but I genuinely don’t remember it being that pricey). 

“Dragon’s Egg” Bath Bomb

Dragon's Egg 1

Ok, so it said in the description that there was popping candy in this bath bomb so it makes popping noises as it settles into your bath. I don’t know if it was just that my extractor fan in my bathroom was loud, but no noise did I hear my bath bomb make. It did make the bath water go orange though, and a lot more ORANGE than the photograph is making it seem- the lighting in the bathroom was just terrible. Overall, it was a nice bath bomb I was just hoping for more colours and magic based on the description, and it fell a little flat for me.

Dragon's Egg 2

Orange Water(My bath water with the bomb in there.) 

Price: £3.95 each

Rating: 2/5 (see it’s finally not 3/5!)  

This product is VEGAN. 

“Metamorphosis” Bath Bomb

So this was a purchase for the Martin in my life, as I know he would not be happy if he didn’t get a present in my little splurge. I thought it looked a bit like a dragon’s egg so thought he’d appreciate it because he is obsessed with Game of Thrones. Plus, he’s definitely more into the darker, and cool tone palette than bright tones. However, there is no rating for this product because he is yet to try it out, and I have no pictures because I’ve just moved and have not unpacked enough yet (still!) to be able to attempt to find it!

Price: £4.25 each. 

Rating: Unclassified (because Martin is yet to try it out, so here is yet another incomplete review!) 

This product is VEGAN. 

So that’s the end of my little Lush haul. Let me know if you’ve been enjoying these little review/ haul type posts about bath products, or if there any posts you’d like to see more of. For anyone who enjoys my feminist reading journey series news of that will be coming very soon so until next time!