Living a vegan lifestyle

So, you made it through Veganuary- congratulations! You’ve mastered the art of veganising your favourite meal, you’ve found your favourite accidentally vegan snack, and you’re now an expert in reading labels in the supermarket. But living a vegan lifestyle is so much more than just your food choices. Author Katy Beskow has been a vegan for 12 years and shares her tips on how to live a cruelty-free lifestyle.

Wine

Not all wine is created equally, just the way that not all wine is vegan. More often than you know, animal ingredients are used in the wine making process. These ingredients can include egg white, gelatine, milk protein and isinglass (from the swim bladders of fish). I don’t know about you, but I don’t like knowing that has been in my wine! Some supermarkets have started to label wines as vegan, but this is not consistent or standardised, making it difficult to understand which wines are truly vegan. The winemakers of Proudly Vegan have created a range of 100% vegan wines, including a Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Rose, each being able to pair beautifully with your vegan supper. Proudly Vegan have gone a step further for their ethical customers, by ensuring that the ink and glue used on the label are also animal-free. Pair Proudly Vegan Sauvignon Blanc with a vegan Thai green curry and coconut rice, for heightened notes of lime and lemongrass.

Fashion

It goes without explanation that vegans don’t wear fur or leather from any animal, but did you know that vegans also avoid wool, silk and mohair? Vegans avoid these products due to the cruel practices and techniques used to obtain them, and also the direct links and funding to the meat production industry. These industries also often have a negative impact to the environment, with large quantities of chemicals used to colour and treat the materials. Many high street brands no longer stock fur or angora, but do check the inner labels on clothing before purchasing. Faux leather has improved greatly over the years, with accidentally vegan bags and shoes being found in most high street stores.  Whatever your budget, it’s simple to make switches to vegan friendly clothing and accessories.

Toiletries, cosmetics and perfumes

To avoid any personal or cosmetic products that have been tested on animals, and avoid any that contain animal ingredients such as lanolin, carmine, honey, musk and keratin simply read the label. If a label has BUAV ‘leaping bunny’ approval of no animal testing, this does not necessarily mean that it is vegan friendly, as it does not account for any animal ingredients – just the testing element.  Some high street stores have a no animal testing policy, with many products labelled as vegan, or search out 100% vegan companies such as Heavenly Organics Skincare, Eden Perfumes and Beauty Without Cruelty for peace of mind.

Vegan communities

It’s always good to chat with other vegans, whether it’s to share recipes, discuss a new vegan product, or for support on how to promote your ethics. Social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are a great place to start, with many accounts, pages and groups being dedicated to helping you live your best (vegan) life. Look out for local meet-ups, often held in independent veggie and vegan cafes, which are a great way to meet local people with similar values and beliefs. When I became vegan in 2006, I joined The Vegan Society for access to recipes, magazines and as much practical advice as possible. Established in 1944, The Vegan Society is a network for vegans new and old, and also gives its trusted trademark to eligible products. Proudly Vegan wines are registered by The Vegan Society, and show the trademark logo on each bottle.

Household cleaning products

Use brands that have a clear and proven no animal testing policy and display the BUAV ‘leaping bunny’ logo. Animal products can be hidden in cleaning products, such as animal fat in most fabric softeners, beeswax in furniture polish, and oleyl alcohol (derived from fish) in detergents. British companies Astonish and Bio-D are fully vegan, and can be found in supermarkets, high street stores, and some discount shops. If you have animal companions at home, aim to use non-toxic products to keep them safe- or just get creative and make your own products! Use white vinegar to leave windows and mirrors sparkling, baking powder (a natural deodoriser) to absorb unpleasant smells, and lemon juice to clean stubborn worksurface stains. These natural switches will also save you some money too.

This blog was written by renowned vegan blogger, Little Miss Meat Free aka Katy Beskow.

“Katy Beskow is an award-winning cook, writer and cookery tutor with a passion for fuss-free, affordable home cooking. She is the author of three books in the bestselling 15 Minute Vegan cookbook series, and lives in Yorkshire, England.”