Throughout the Great Vegan University Challenge, we’ve largely focussed on the vegan diet. That’s because, for one thing, farming animals is the single biggest cause of animal cruelty in the UK. Almost one billion land animals are killed for food in the UK every year – plus a huge but unknown number of sea creatures – and as our undercover investigations into farms and slaughterhouses have shown, suffering is rife in the industry. Also, for many people, changing their diet is the greatest hurdle to overcome. What we eat is bound up with our culture, our traditions, the way we socialise and so many other aspects of our lives that changing our diet can seem very daunting. But I hope that through the Great Vegan University Challenge, we’ve shown you that being vegan is not only easy, but can be a joy!
Sadly, animal exploitation is not just limited to food, of course. Being vegan also means questioning the clothes we wear, the hair and skin care products we use, and so much more. It’s about developing a thoughtful approach to the world around us and our place in it. And it invites everyone to share and to encourage the rejection of cruelty and exploitation in all its forms wherever possible. So, if you’re considering remaining vegan when the challenge ends – and we sincerely hope you will – here’s some advice on ways you can further eliminate animal products from your life.
Toiletries and make-up
One of the most obvious non-food items for which cruelty-free alternatives are easy to obtain is skincare products. In addition to specialist companies such as Faith in Nature and Honesty Cosmetics, several leading high street companies also sell vegan beauty products. Very helpfully, Superdrug and Co-op label which of their goods contain animal products, and almost all are not tested on animals. A special mention must also go to Lush, who not only oppose all animal testing and have a wonderful range of vegan products in their shops, but also lend their support to groups like Animal Aid who work to end all animal cruelty.
Most household cleaning products are tested on animals, but the Co-op and Marks & Spencer lead the big retailers in marketing items that are not. Specialist cruelty-free companies include Faith in Nature, Bio D, and Suma, but for a low-cost option, you can often find the Astonish range in discount shops like Poundland and The 99p Store.
Clothes and shoes
As students, you’re unlikely to be in a position to throw out all your leather bags, suede shoes, woolly jumpers and silk shirts, and we don’t expect you to. But what if they wear out, or you simply need to buy new clothes and shoes? Fortunately, with clothing it’s pretty easy. There are plenty of fashionable items made from cotton, hemp, linen and other plant-based fibres, as well as synthetic materials, so avoiding leather, wool and silk shouldn’t be a problem.
Shoes can be more of a challenge, but there are still plenty of options out there. Discount retailers like Shoe Zone often sell shoes that are made from 100% man-made materials, making them suitable for vegans. There is also a range of specialist websites where you can order vegan shoes of all styles, including:
Whether you’ve decided to remain vegan or not, thank you so much for taking part in the Great Vegan University Challenge; your participation has made a huge difference for countless farmed animals. For those of you who decide that they can’t commit themselves totally to veganism, we hope that you’ve found the experience interesting, enlightening, even fun, and will, perhaps, depend far less on meat and dairy in the future. For those who do want to stay vegan, thank you and please remember that we’ll still be available at all times to answer all your queries.