When the average person thinks of the word “vegan” and what it means, he or she might think about food and people’s choice to remove animal products from their diet.
However, removing animal products from one’s food is simply eating plant-based. Vegans take this a step further and remove animals, animal products, and animal exploitation from all aspects of their lives. This goes beyond food to include clothing, hygiene, entertainment, housing, etc.
I’m by no means trying to be the vegan police or a gate-keeper here. All are welcome to join us on the vegan dark side, haha. I just want to make sure we have a clear understanding of the difference between vegan and plant-based before we continue.
It is very common for people who are transitioning to the vegan lifestyle to go plant-based first before removing animals from all other aspects of their lives. That’s what Alex and I did. Instead of throwing products we owned away, we continued to use up what we had and replace items as we needed with purely vegan and cruelty-free options. We didn’t feel comfortable wasting products we had already purchased, so finishing up the products and then replacing with vegan options made the most sense to us. This took us longer than just transitioning our diet.
With all of this said, here are a few common household items that you might have in your house that may contain animal products. I have included my favorite recommendations for replacements.
- Dryer sheets: I recently learned that it isn’t uncommon for dryer sheets to be made with animal fat. Ew, why would anybody want to wear a greasy layer of animal fat on their clothes? We have personally just forgone dryer sheets because we don’t see them as necessary and they are a single-use item that does not match our movement towards a zero-waste home. However, you do not have to give up dryer sheets completely if you find them necessary. Consider this DIY, zero-waste, animal-free alternative.
- Blankets: Are the blankets in your home made of wool or fur? Consider how wool and fur are meant to keep animals warm and how their bodies aren’t ours to take. Blankets typically do not need to be replaced frequently, but if you decide that you want to get those animal products out of your house, you can donate them to a homeless shelter or to an animal rescue. I recommend a 100% cotton throw blanket such as this one as a replacement.
- Candles: This one may be more obvious just because the front of a candle will usually state whether it is made with beeswax, soy, or some other type of wax. Beeswax obviously comes from bees, so beeswax candles are not vegan. Other candles can contain stearic acid, which is sometimes an indicator that animal fat was used. Look for a soy-based candle to play it safe. I HIGHLY recommend the Woodwick candle series from Yankee Candles. Not only are they vegan, but they last forever, the scent is strong, and the wicks crackle as they burn.
- Condoms: There are the obvious non-vegan condoms such as lambskin. Those are exactly what they sound like. What shocked me more is that pre-lubricated latex options very frequently contain casein, a protein that comes from milk. The casein is used as a lubricant. Pretty gross, right? This is the case with most of your big brand condoms. Practice safe, vegan-friendly sex with a vegan condom brand such as Kimono, Glyde, or L.
- Nail Polish Remover: Did you know that gelatin is a common ingredient in nail polish remover? I didn’t either for a long time, but now that I do know, I stay away from that junk. I personally use Ella+Mila Soy Polish Remover because it’s both vegan and cruelty-free and it comes from my very favorite nail polish company.
- Plastic bags: Not only are plastic bags horrible for the environment and many people are switching to reusable bags already, here is another reason to ditch the plastic. Gross, for sure, many plastic bag manufacturers add chicken or other animal fat to plastic bags to make them easier to open quickly. Allll the more reason to bring your own reusable bags to the store. I recommend BagPodz because of their convenient storage and the carabiner that allows you to clip the bags directly to your shopping cart. Bonus: some stores provide a discount if you bring your own bag (or they charge to use their bags, so either way you’re saving money!)
- Toothpaste: This one is tricky. Your most commonly found toothpastes commonly contain glycerine. Glycerine can come from either animal sources or plant sources, so unless your toothpaste specifically says that it’s vegan, it can be hard to know for sure. I recommend searching for a brand that states very clearly that it is vegan and cruelty-free, so you don’t have to wonder and have the potential of using animal products unknowingly. My two favorites are Tom’s of Maine Clean Mint and Schmidt’s Wondermint with Activated Charcoal.
Were any of these shocking to you? Did I forget anything? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!