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Why I Still Support PETA’s Cruelty-Free List

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peta cruelty free list

There has been a lot of animosity and controversy surrounding PETA’s Cruelty-Free List lately and some even calling their list “garbage.” As I do agree that there are some major flaws with their list, at the same time, it’s hard for me to say the work PETA has done in the past and continues to do for animals is “garbage”.

I am by no means agreeing with how PETA gets their message out or how they approve companies to be certified cruelty-free. But just because we don’t agree with them, doesn’t mean we should be calling their advocacy work for animals “garbage”.

Any awareness, campaigns, or work that aims to help animals shouldn’t be called garbage or wasted.


I admit that I’ve been guilty of trash talking and openly expressing my skepticism about the legitimacy of PETA’s certification process in previous blog posts and online forums. But I don’t think that I was looking at the bigger picture at the time.

We’re all on the same team working to save and help animals and we need to work together not against each other. 

To make it clear.. do I trust PETA’s cruelty list exclusively and use it on a day-to-day basis? No, I wouldn’t rely or encourage others to use PETA’s list exclusively. But do I support what PETA is trying to do with their cruelty-free list? Yes, absolutely!

Disclaimer: In this article, I am going to exclusively talk about PETA’s cruelty-free list and the work they do for animals used for cosmetic testing. I will not be discussing any of PETA’s other animal rights campaigns, tactics, or allegations.


Source: jbsibley/Flickr

Reasons Why I Choose to Support PETA’s List

It’s Where I Got My Start

How does that saying go…Don’t bite the hand that feeds you? I have a lot to be thankful for PETA because I used their online cruelty-free database at the start of my journey 4 years ago.

Now there are unlimited online cruelty-free resources available, but I owe a lot to PETA’s list and I shouldn’t slander their work after they helped me get started… which I think is the hardest part!


PETA’s Bunny Free Mobile App

It’s a Great Starter’s Guide for Beginners

For someone who is just starting to transition to cruelty-free products, I really do encourage beginners to start with PETA’s cruelty-free list, for a number of reasons that I think PETA’s list does very well:

1. Accessibility

There are over 2,000 PETA certified brands!! This shows beginners that cruelty-free brands are accessible no matter what your budget is or where you’re located. It’s comforting to know that your options are not so limited at the start.

2. Convenience

PETA’s online database and mobile app are both very easy to use, requiring little to no effort or prior knowledge. It’s really unlike any other online database that is available right now, users just have to type in a brand and it’ll tell you whether or not if they test on animals.

Leaping Bunny has a similar format but they don’t tell you which brands are not cruelty-free and you need to avoid. For beginners, it’s sort of nice to be spoon-fed and told how to shop!how-to-use-peta-cf-database3. Empowerment

It feels good knowing you can just search a brand name and do the research yourself where you don’t have to feel overwhelmed with what types of questions you should be asking brands or checking multiple lists when you’re just starting out.

PETA’s cruelty free lists empowers consumers to start making conscious choices with very little effort. Starting is the hardest part of any transition and people just need a starting point which is where PETA’s list comes in handy!

But when you start to feel more comfortable, I highly suggest using multiple resources including Leaping Bunny, search engines, and even checking out blogger’s lists like Logical Harmony and Cruelty Free Kitty.

PETA Has Done a Lot for Animals Used for Cosmetic Testing

One of the motivators that pushed me to write this article was the undeniable fact that PETA has done a lot to help save animals since their start in 1980! I may not agree with the way PETA gets their message out but they’ve done some pretty amazing things.

Source: PETA

PETA’s undercover investigations exposed the truth and animal cruelty violations in many cosmetics and household product testing laboratories; they’ve convinced and persuaded lots of big cosmetic brands to go cruelty-free in their early stages; and PETA was the first animal rights organization to expose the Chinese government’s requirements for tests on animals.

Although their cruelty-free list may not be the most reliable compared to other resources, it’s hard for me to disparage an animal rights organization that made a lot of progress for animals used for cosmetic testing throughout the years.

My Feedback to PETA

PETA, we’re on the same team here and I thank you for all you’ve accomplished for animal rights and the work you continue to do for animals used for cosmetics testing.

Although I have evidence that your cruelty-free list comes up short on many occassions, instead of calling your work “garbage”, I’d like to offer you some feedback of how you can improve, refine, and reinforce your cruelty-free standards.

  • Require all certified brands to be reaccredited after a year of being approved. A lot can change for a business in one year and there needs to be some sort of regulation in place to make sure brands are still complying to your cruelty-free standards.
  • Require companies to submit proof of documents from their ingredient suppliers that they don’t test on animals and not just taking their word for it
  • Clarify to us why some companies that are certified are allowed to use the disclaimer “we don’t test on animals, except when required by law.”  I’m sure you have your reasons, I’d love to hear them!
  • Respond to the allegations that you accept money or “donations” from companies to be included on your cruelty-free list.

I’m really hoping that PETA will use this as an opportunity to improve their cruelty-free list! You definitely have my support 100%!

How do you feel about PETA’s cruelty-free list and what they’re trying to do?

*Animal testing can be done by ingredient suppliers; commissioned to third party laboratories; and in certain countries, the government officials require some products/ingredients to be tested on animals before they’re allowed to sell in their country.

Photos by blenderizer

10 Responses
  • Phyrra
    May 17, 2016

    Great post! I agree that we need to be supportive of everyone who cares about animal welfare like PETA and Leaping Bunny.

  • Ado
    May 13, 2016

    Interesting and well written article.

    PETA’s list might be misleading, its requirements somehow dubious, and indeed the list itself and the organization as a whole is full of flaws, but it is also unquestionable how they have helped the animals throughout the years, even with their scandals and all.
    Besides, “Free The Animals” is one of the best books I’ve read =)

    We have to keep in mind that any big organization will more likely go into the ways of corruption, in one way or another.

    About the comment recommending Leaping Bunny instead, well, they seem to like the taste of money a bit too much. It is the problem with all these lists of “certified” logos and such. See, for example, how they mislead customers into thinking that Ecover doesn’t experiment on animals when, in fact, they do use crustaceans for their tests (and, well, they still avoid to adhere to a cut-off date and use animal products, so it all sounds like a lot of B.S. to me, to be honest).

    Alas, it is hard to have a truly reliable list with all the tricks and deceitful tactics companies use to sell their products, much more when other supposedly vegan companies support them.
    The best thing to do, perhaps, is to have some guidelines and research and investigate for yourself as much as your ethics push you.

    • Phyrra
      May 17, 2016

      If it helps, it’s completely free to get Leaping Bunny certification. There’s a lot of misinformation about how you have to pay for it, when it’s free. There’s only a one time optional fee if you want to use the logo, and it’s a sliding scale.

      • Vicky Ly
        May 17, 2016

        Exactly! Courtney, would you happen to know if Cruelty Free International (BUAV) charges a fee to become Leaping Bunny certified?

        I reached out to someone from LeapingBunny.org and they told me they only deal with companies in the US and Canada whereas CrueltyFreeInternational.org handles companies headquartered elsewhere in the world. And they might have a different process of approving brands (and may even charge a fee to becoming certified).

        I contacted CrueltyFreeInternational.org but never heard back. Was hoping you had some information about this? Because I have some readers who strongly believe that there is a fee to become Leaping Bunny certified!

  • Margaret
    May 12, 2016

    I completely agree. PETA’s cruelty free list was the first place I ever went to find out about cruelty-free products back in University. (Interestingly, I also distinctly remember the first time I saw a bunny logo was at the Body Shop – they may not be the most environmentally friendly company, but they introduced me to the whole concept of animal testing).

    Now that I know a bit more, I’m willing to go further to get answers. I think PETA could do a better job, but they are focusing their efforts on activism more than their cruelty-free list, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. You can’t be all things to all people, and I think PETA’s main goal is to be a public presence, introducing people to these concepts.

    And that’s why we need people like you 🙂 This is the first place I look whenever I want to know if a product or company is truly cruelty-free.

    • Vicky Ly
      May 12, 2016

      I’m happy to hear that I wasn’t the only one that used PETA’s list at the start! =) You bring up a good point that I didn’t really consider and you’re absolutely right! PETA is a huge animal rights organization that tackles a bunch of different issues (not just animal testing).. and so they might not be prioritizing their cruelty-free list!

  • Caitlin
    May 12, 2016

    great post! i do not ever look at peta’s list, but obviously have heard many reasons why there are issues with it. it kind of gets under my skin when companies tout that they are peta certified over other, more reliable certifications. but i agree, we’re all on the same team 😉

    • Vicky Ly
      May 12, 2016

      omg, YES! I know exactly what you mean.. The Honest Company in particular keeps bringing up how they’re PETA certified, no matter how many times I follow up with very specific questions about their policies… each time they respond, they just keep saying that they’re cruelty-free certified by PETA and nothing more!

      Now, THAT drives me crazy! =(

  • Vivi
    May 12, 2016

    I sort of sighed when I read this because I know there are a lot of different opinions out there and even though they are very controversial i know a blogger who works there and they have good intentions.
    I personally don’t use the PETA list and suggest people use Leaping Bunny to my readers because I think their list is more reliable because of the certifications and controls they require. I still mention PETA in my resources because, as you said, they’re still very known and relateable.
    I do mention that it should be used with caution and cross referenced though.

    • Vicky Ly
      May 12, 2016

      I was hesitating to post this article and it was sitting in my drafts folder for awhile because like you said, there’s just so many different opinions about PETA.

      But having been on the receiving end of people trash talking my cruelty-free resources.. it doesn’t feel good and in fact, made me want to just crawl into a hole and never come out.
      But again, I realized that I said the same things about PETA’s list in the past.

      So it’s really got me thinking about the bigger picture. My only goal is to have more cruelty-free bloggers (like you and me!) help expose the flaws with PETA’s list so that they can IMPROVE their certification process. I never hope that they’ll just abandon it because so many people rely on it! =)

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