It's January, or as it's known in animal rights circles, Veganuary. Since the eponymous charity launched in 2014, it's seen an incredible rise, and this year promises to be its most successful yet: every 2.4 seconds, someone signs on to the challenge to only eat animal-free foods during the month of January. But while most participants limit their Veganuary to food only, vegan living is so much more than what's on the menu. It's also about what's in our wardrobes, what beauty and personal hygiene products we use, what we choose to do for entertainment, and more. Here are a few ways to get active for the cause, once your plant-based grocery shopping is sorted.
Discover vegan fashion.
Veganuary is the perfect time to look into dressing with compassion. To avoid contributing to the mass killing of animals for fashion, vegans avoid wearing fur, leather, wool (and other animal-derived knitwear fabrics such as angora, alpaca, mohair, and cashmere), silk, and down. Instead, compassionate shoppers opt for plant-derived materials like cotton, linen, Tencel, hemp, and sustainably sourced bamboo, as well as recycled fabrics and plant leathers made from pineapples, cork, apples, mushrooms, cacti and more. Great places to shop include marketplace Immaculate Vegan and PETA's PETA-Approved Vegan list of over 1000 brands that offer vegan ranges.
Shop cruelty-free beauty.
Despite popular belief, animals are still frequently used for cosmetics testing. Although the 2013 ban on testing cosmetics on animals in the EU was ground-breaking, it comes with loopholes and is now being undermined. In fact, cosmetics are still tested on animals in many places around the world – but this is not the only danger that your beauty products pose to animals. Ingredients derived from animals such as carmine, squalane, beeswax, gelatin, lanolin and more are commonly used in cosmetics. It can be difficult for a layperson label-reader to know exactly what ingredient came from what origin, so the best we can do is trust certifications. When it comes to animal testing, Cruelty Free International's Leaping Bunny or PETA's Beauty Without Bunnies are both great certifications. Some companies carry the Vegan Society's vegan certification – but usually, if a label says “vegan” or “suitable for vegans”, it can usually be trusted.
Nix entertainment that exploits animals.
Every day, wild animals are imprisoned in various forms of “entertainment” for humans. From zoos where animals are often kept in inadequate enclosures and circuses where they are trained with violence and forced to perform, to marine parks which are akin to living your entire life in a bathtub, it's safe to say that there is no way to “ethically” exploit an animal for entertainment. Entertainment facilities' main focus is profit, not the well-being of animals, and it's been scientifically proven that wild animals can suffer tremendously in captivity. During Veganuary, say no to aquariums, zoos, and other forms of captive animal attractions – this is especially important to keep in mind if you are travelling.
Volunteer at an animal sanctuary or shelter.
If you want to bring a more hands-on approach to your advocacy, volunteering is a great way to help the cause – but it is also a great way to be reminded of your “why”. Looking into the eyes of animals brings back to mind whom you are saving, and is the ultimate inspiration to stay on track with Veganuary. Spending time at an animal shelter or sanctuary can also be a great way to meet like-minded people. If you can, bring a donation: it can be monetary, or in the form of animal food, blankets, or other things that the facility might need.
If you are having a great time with Veganuary, you might want to spread the joy! Invite friends for dinner and cook up a storm, or inspire your loved ones to choose the vegan option when eating in restaurants. Stay enthusiastic, and showcase the ease and delight of vegan living – it's the simplest and most effective way to open hearts and help change minds.