WHO TO TRUST?
“I have been on the internet for the past 3 weeks trying to find list of products that were cruelty-free and vegan. Every list is different. One says you can use this shampoo and another list says no.
I don’t depend on PETA’s lists because I do not believe they do what they say. I love leaping bunny but even on their list, several products were not allowed that other lists said were okay. Leaping bunny says they investigate the company and anyone that works for them outside of the US to make certain no one is testing on animals. But also, they name the actual company and shows all the products that they still use animals for testing…like Johnson & Johnson, Protor & Gamble. So I don’t want to financially support companies that use animals for anything they sell.
As a vegan, I do not want an animal to have something crammed in their eyes or have needles stuck under their skin just so I can have a vegan life. Who do I listen to?”
Ah yes, one of the most common questions I get asked…WHO SHOULD WE TRUST? Here’s the truth.
There is no right or wrong way of being cruelty-free. There’s no rules to follow. Or rules to break.
Do whatever you feel is right and trust nobody but your own judgement.
How Would You Define Cruelty-Free?
Since there’s no industry standard for what it means for a brand to be “cruelty-free,” every consumer, blogger, resource, organization, and company is going to have their own definition.
It’s almost impossible to universally draw the same conclusions about whether a brand qualifies as being “cruelty-free” while making everyone happy. Instead, we should focus on doing what we personally feel is right.
I can’t tell you which cruelty-free list is better over others because I have no authority or right to say so. It’s ultimately up to you.
But what I can tell you are my own personal experiences and opinions about each list and resource. These are my opinions from being a cruelty-free shopper that has been through all of the trials and errors that I also encourage you to experience yourself in order to find what works for you!
The company’s website or FAQ page
Pros: This may seem like the most logical and fastest way to get an answer by going directly to the source.
Cons: But you’re choosing to trust the same people who are trying to sell you their products. Very few companies (if any) will come out and say that they test on animals.
Instead, most companies will beat around the bush with very vague statements like “we don’t test on animals” or “unless required by law” which can be misleading.
Certified Third-party Organizations
Pros: Organizations like PETA and Leaping Bunny are great because they’re a third party that verifies a company’s animal testing policy. This means that it’s someone else other than the company itself authenticating cruelty-free claims.
Cons: But both programs are completely voluntary. So unless a company decides to apply and become certified, there’s really no way of knowing about the other hundreds of thousands of brands that choose not to go through certification.
So that’s why there’s only a few number of brands on both list and is not nearly an exhaustive list. Just because a brand isn’t listed on either PETA or Leaping Bunny doesn’t mean they are not cruelty-free, it just means that they choose not to voluntarily apply and become certified.
Cruelty-Free Bloggers’ List
Pros: Bloggers are cruelty-free shoppers themselves so they’re actively trying to find out whether a brand is cruelty-free or not and will gladly share their findings with you! These lists are great because bloggers will personally reach out to brands instead of waiting for brands to come to them (like PETA and Leaping Bunny) to verify their animal testing statements and therefore blogger’s lists include more brands compared to PETA and Leaping Bunny.
Cons: But blogs are merely just opinions. This hurts me a little inside because well, I’m also a blogger. We express in writing, what we personally consider to be cruelty-free. Some bloggers do more in-depth research than others to verify whether they consider brands to be cruelty-free but it all goes back to how each blogger defines what “cruelty-free” means to them. That’s why we see different brands on some lists and not on others. Some bloggers are very transparent of how they verify each brand and others keep it confidential. It’s up to YOU to decide which blogger’s list you want to trust.
Cruelty-Free Mobile Apps
One mobile app in particular that I hear people trust is the Cruelty-Cutter app created by the amazing folks at the Beagle Freedom Project.
Pros: Lots of people trust this app because it’s super convenient where it lets you search, browse, and scan products while on the go to determine if they’re cruelty-free or not! This app is great because The Beagle Freedom Project is a third party verifying a company’s animal testing statement.
Cons: However they don’t give out too much information about their process in screening brands to know if they’re cruelty-free or not. Again, this goes back to what The Beagle Freedom Project defines as “cruelty-free” and whether or not you agree with them.
Taken from The Beagle Freedom Project’s website:
“We are rigorous in evaluating these companies; we independently research their practices as well as directly request statements from them, and compare to other cruelty-free authorities when available.”
Contact the Company Yourself
Pros: By composing your own specific animal testing questions directed to someone at the company may be the best option to get a clear and concise answer.
Cons: But for bigger companies that have more than one customer service rep that answers customer inquiries and emails, you may get different answers from the same company.
It’s like asking a cashier at a grocery store which aisle the gluten free bread is, you’re most likely to hear a different answer from each cashier. Who knows whether they are intentionally giving you the wrong information or if they’re genuinely mistaken.
So what now?
Explore all of these options and see for yourself the type of results you get. At first, I was religiously following PETA’s online database until I started to contact some of the companies myself and I was getting confusing statements from some of the brands. As a result, I now use PETA’s list as a starter’s guide and since brands don’t have to be re-accredited once their approved by PETA, I email the companies myself just to make sure their animal testing policy is still in place.
Do what works best for you! and give yourself permission to make mistakes along the way and know that it’s OK. As long as you keep an open mind and trust your own judgement!