Is it impossible to live cruelty-free?

Veganism, cruelty-free make-up and eco-friendly fashion are more popular than ever before. And rightfully so. Although we do not all tend to a strictly plant-based diet or a planet-friendly lifestyle, some of us do at least try to minimize our consumption of questionable products. But how far does one have to go to reach the highest level of cruelty-free living?


Everyone’s Individual Perspective

Teenagers and young adults on Youtube have started to film trending videos which deal with the topic of cruelty-free make-up. Titles such as How cruelty-free is my make-up bag? attract an abundance of views from an environmentally-conscious audience. The majority of outspoken women and men who are advocating vegan products and are raising awareness about animal-testing often manage to have quite an impact on their loyal subscribers. However, along with the vegan hype comes criticism of it. Many myths about the benefits and/ or disadvantages of following a particular diet or lifestyle have been debunked by those who take a more sober approach to the subject matter. Staying objective is hard when it comes to important topics such as protecting the environment, however it is important to remember that there is seldomly one true solution to such a complex issue.

Whatever your motivation to go green may be, it will most likely benefit yourself and the world you live in. Be it a special love for animals or the urge to save the environment from greenhouse gases, everyone has their own personal motif when it comes to leading a more aware life. However, doing the right thing sometimes not only takes a big leap fueled by discipline and determination, but also sufficient financial means. A popular youtuber was faced with a huge backlash when she uploaded a video on how to live off of a raw vegan diet for $20 a day. Whilst $20 dollars do not sound like a lot of money, the youtuber’s viewers quickly did the maths and realized just how these expenses would add up after an entire month of following the recommended budget plan. It is definitely a great idea to search for similar videos or look up tips on how to shrink your ecological footprint. For future reference though, keep in mind that every human being is different and certain aspects of a particular lifestyle may need to be personalized. Furthermore, the phenomenon of video-blogging personalities showing their subscribers how its done is very much tied to the internet realm. The non-virtual, tangible world is a whole new chapter in itself. In how far the online guru advice can be realized for the average Joe remains questionable.

The Bigger Picture

Alright, so we all know we ought to take more care of the planet. We really should recycle more, eat less junk and read the labels on our cosmetic products. But is it really possible to live 100% cruelty free? What about make-up which has not been tested on animals – was no living being truly hurt in the making of these products? The youtuber Rowan Ellis sums it all up in her video on The Truth About “Cruelty Free” MakeupSure, vegan make-up is a great cause to put your money into, but do not be fooled by the trending term “cruelty-free”. As Ellis eloquently puts it in her watch-worthy vid, oftentimes certain contents of vegan as well as non-vegan cosmetics are mined by minors, thus breaking the anti child-labour laws. That does not sound as cruelty-free as we would have liked to believe, does it?


Cruelty-free is a Spectrum

I know, I know. You’re probably tired of the word “spectrum”. Everything’s a spectrum nowadays, right? Well, almost everything is. The world has never been black and white and people are only now slowly waking up to that fact. “Vegan” make-up being produced with the help of child labour, soaps containing crushed sheep skulls, palm oil found in your favorite bread-spreads, eco-unfriendly plastic shoes replacing animal-unfriendly leather boots – the list goes on. There seems to be no proper solution. That is precisely why going cruelty-free is not an end-all or be-all type of decision. You can slowly incorporate planet-friendly habits into your day-to-day life without feeling pressured into following strict guidelines on how to be the ultimate aware or caring person. As we’ve learned from Ellis’ interviews with the CEO of the Freedom Fund or the UK Independant Anti-Slavery Commissioner, there is no realistic way to live completely cruelty-free in the 21st century as of this moment.

Check out Rowan Ellis’ content here:

Cover image by Pixabay

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About Katie Reschenhofer

Katie is majoring in English & American Studies at the University in Vienna and is interested in the evolution of social media. Having lived in Oman, she is particularly interested in Middle Eastern affairs. In her spare time, Katie gives in to her shopping-addiction and satisfies her craving for sushi & maki. Shopping can sure make you hungry, you know!

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