Are your vegan purchases really 100% cruelty free?

Unclear regulations have allowed brands to sell animal-derived materials as vegan. Now, new guidelines are set to change that.

More than just a trend, ethical shopping is the lifestyle phenomenon that is changing how we eat, shop and dress. At the end of 2018 the ethical retail market was worth more than £41bn in the UK alone with 71% of women increasing their commitment to ethical living. This focus on curating an environmentally conscious lifestyle has led to more and more of us making animal product free fashion choices. 

If you have been eschewing leather, wool, suede and fur in favour of cruelty-free alternatives, you may be shocked to know that a lack of clarity surrounding the definition of ‘vegan’ has allowed brands to sell products containing animal derived materials as vegan. Now new guidelines from the British Retail Consortium (BRC) are aiming to cut through the confusing jargon surrounding vegan fashion and ensure that shoppers have full confidence in the ethical credentials of the vegan products they are purchasing. 

Throughout the industry the use of dyes made from animal sources such as a crushed beetles and fabric glues composed of animal bones is wide-spread. Until now fashion items that use glues, dyes and waxes derived from animal sources in their manufacture process have been allowed to classify themselves as vegan, provided that they don’t use animal skins such as leather, suede and wool. However, this is all about the change. Under new regulations the BRC wants to ensure that animal-derived materials are eliminated throughout the supply chain before a product can claim to have vegan credentials. 

BRC sustainability policy adviser Leah Riley Brown has confirmed that these new guidelines will ensure that fashion products described as ‘vegan’ really are 100% cruelty free: “Veganism is not just growing in food but in fashion too, as consumers look for products that cater to both their diets and their beliefs. Classing a product as vegan means not just ruling out the use of leather and wool but also many glues, dyes, and other animal-derived materials.

“To help tackle these challenges, the BRC and its members have published the Voluntary Guideline on Veganism in Fashion with the aim of providing consumers with the level of assurance that any vegan product can be purchased with confidence.”

The BRC also warns consumers that vegan products should not be automatically classified as sustainable just because they do not contain animal-derived materials or ingredients. At this stage these guidelines are voluntary, but as shoppers continue to vote for ethical fashion with their wallets, we hope that brands take the hint and get on board with creating truly cruelty-free pieces. Less time spent decoding complicated jargon, equals more time to curate your dream ethical wardrobe. Win-win.

Images courtesy of Getty & Twitter

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