Vegan products a popular choice for eco-conscious shoppers
Go to veganstore. com and you'll see a welter of vegan personal care products ranging from contraceptives to contact lens solution.
Vegan products are increasingly popular with consumers searching for items produced without harming animals, but also with people preoccupied about the health of our precarious planet -- especially with Earth Day coming up on Monday.
Products certified "vegan" are not only free of all animal products but also "cruelty-free" (not tested on animals).
They also often happen to be "biodegradable, recyclable, made with minimal packaging and a lot of times are organic, too," said Andrea Mlak, co-founder of Vegan Presence, a service that sends subscribers a selection of vegan foods, beauty products and personal care items.
Exempting any use of animals in a product also benefits the environment because factory farming involving animals squanders land and water that could be used in a more sustainable manner, she added.
While about 22.8 million Americans follow a largely vegetarian diet, 7.3 million identify as exclusively vegetarian, according to the Vegetarian Times.
One million of those people identify as vegan -- people who neither consume or use any animal products at all, such as dairy, honey, lanolin, leather or silk.
Some consumers also refuse to buy vegan and cruelty-free products made by a company with a corporate parent that indulges in animal testing, or sells
to China (which requires animal testing for new products).
The European Union banned all cosmetics with animal-tested ingredients in March, so European companies such as Arbonne are usually good bets for vegan-minded shoppers, said Mlak.
Other companies with good vegan records include Per-fekt, Lush, Broo HairCare and Cynthia King (vegan actress Natalie Portman wore King's ballet slippers in "The Black Swan"), said Mlak.
The onus is on the consumer to see if a "cruelty-free" product is vegan by scrutinizing the label of ingredients, said Mlak. Because manufacturing methods and corporate ownership change so frequently, consumers may wish "to contact the companies themselves" to obtain the latest information.
"That lets them know there are vegan consumers who are concerned," Mlak said.
Also check out these websites, which are helpful resources to determine whether a company is cruelty-free and/or vegan: