Only some food packaging is vegan. Lets do something about this. + More please readI have come to realise that only some vegan food packaging is vegan. I recently messaged a UK supermarket to ask if a product in a glass jar with metal lid, but glued label was vegan, as I am aware that some glues are not vegan. They confirmed that the glue in the label contains casein from milk, so it is not vegan. This product clearly says it is vegan on the label though! I guess they can say that if the food is vegan, but if it is a vegan food then it should have to be packaged in vegan materials. Only some vegan food is packaged in vegan materials though. Let me go through all the materials used.
Plastic. Some plastics such as plastic bags are not vegan as they contain 'slip agents', which are derived from the stearic acid in animal fat such as beef fat (tallow). Stearates comprise approximately 100200 ppm in typical raw polyethylene for example. Many products such as frozen foods and drinks bottles are packed in polyethylene. These products are often marked as being vegan. Shopping bags from supermarkets also contain slip agents I believe.
Even if the plastic happens to be vegan, it could be printed on with a non vegan ink. Modern mass-market inks are generally petroleum oil based but sometimes contain animal bone char, glycerin from animal fat, gelatin from hooves, or shellac from beetles. If not printed directly onto the plastic, these animal products in the ink may be on the sticky labels used on many plastic products, this could be on plastics used for food or for any other plastic products. These sticky labels can contain bone parts or gelatine in the glue, or like the jarred product i mentioned earlier casein from milk. I believe it is very very rare for a vegan plastic to be used for a product with only a vegan ink such as petroleum oil based used to label it , but if that does happen, despite being vegan there is still the bad environmental impact to consider from using these materials. Other vegan inks are made such as vegetable or water based ink, though as far as i know these are quite rare at this point in time.
Paper/card. Paper and card as far as I'm aware are generally vegan, though sometimes they may contain animal products. The problem can again be with the printing onto these materials and labelling. Non vegan inks and sticky labels like I described for the plastic products may be used.
Glass, aluminium/tin cans and other materials such as compostable food packaging also suffer from this. Despite all of these materials being vegan, these have the same problem, non vegan inks and sticky labels may be used. Other Aluminium products, such as beer cans, kegs, drums and larger tins e.g for olive oil can be directly printed onto. Methods for this include: continuous inket - the ink may not be vegan. Laser printing - this may use no animal products, i've searched for this but as of right now cannot find a definite answer. On the wiki page for beverage can printing, it says the coatings on metals tend to fall into two categories: thermoplastic or thermoset. Under the types of thermoplastics also listed on wikipedia, there are vegan substances such as acrylic and substances which are generally non vegan such as polyethylene. So I guess thermosplastic coatings could be vegan or non vegan. For thermoset I can't find a definite answer. Both solvent based and UV inks are also available for decorating coated metals. Again I can't find out right now whether these processes use animal products or not. If anyone can help me find out whether laser, thermoset, UV or solvent printing use animal products I would appreciate it. Beer cans also usually come packed in plastic film that has been printed on and are unlikely vegan. If you could find a vegan beer can you would probably have to buy single cans.
I have contacted a well known vegan food company tonight to find out whether their packaging is vegan. They use inks to print on their packaging and plastic, both which may not be vegan. I have suggested to them that they start using vegan friendly packaging if they aren't already. I'm intrigued to hear what they say. I will likely be contacting more vegan food companies.
I have found a few manufacturers of vegan friendly packaging online, but I'm unable to find any food available to buy packaged in their products at the minute. This however shows it is possible. We need to demand the change from vegan food companies to use vegan packaging if these alternatives are available.
I'm even thinking of starting a petition to make it compulsory for vegan products to be packaged in vegan materials - if anyone here has ever started one before and would like to help me with this then let me know. I don't think most vegans are aware of this problem, i think if something says it is vegan on the packet they don't think about it. But as I have mentioned products labelled as vegan may still contain animal products in the packaging. All vegans must strive to eliminate this - how could they not want to?
The only downside I have found detailed on a vegan packaging companies website is that sourcing vegan materials is very labour and energy-intensive. This may result in a larger expenditure of fossil fuel compared to using animal by-products which is readily available.
On the other hand, the reason why animal by-products are readily available is because the demand is high. If companies like you and us start using more vegan products, they could eventually be a readily available material. Also, the huge impact of animal farming/livestock breeding and the resulting by-products cannot be ignored.
Worryingly, the fact that most packaging contains non vegan materials, applies to nearly all products you can buy on Earth, not just vegan foods. Hopefully as more of us become aware of this, the more we can start to ask for it to be changed.
I have been trying to figure out how to reduce the amount of animal based products in the food packaging I buy.
So far the only way we have found this may be possible is if we look for a vegan beer packed in a vegan can! Good luck with that.. I have turned to wholesalers, looking for bulk produce packed in paper/card as this is less likely to contain animal products. These usually have labels on but if they aren't vegan then at least the amount of non vegan packaging is reduced significantly.. Looking for local wholesalers rather than having wholesale produce delivered from far away online, and trying to choose food that is grown as locally as possible reduces the environmental impact too.
It must be remembered that environmental damage causes much harm to animals. This should be a huge incentive (this is as well as being bad for the planet in general)
for all vegans to be as environmentally friendly as possible at all times, although I believe many vegans and non vegans alike are becoming increasingly concerned about the way they effect the environment. Buying in this way from local wholesalers may have positives for these reasons, however what if all vegans did this? If the vegan companies who supply products to shops no longer had anyone buying their products the shops would no longer stock them and they would go bust. This of course would not be what we want, but if we are to continue to support them we must do something as soon as possible to change their packaging to be vegan friendly. In fact you could argue only then could they claim to be vegan companies.
Now that we have established that pretty much all food contains animals products, if not in the food then in what the food comes in, this raises a question - should i aim to buy and eat less food if I am a vegan? You could say all food you buy, or even almost anything you buy contributes to animal suffering. Should you never leave the house? the more you get out and move your body the more calories you will burn and the more food you will require to survive. For example if you are used to going for runs that are several miles long, must you stop doing this now? Should you also become a minimalist who buys as little as possible. If you don't do these things then you are arguably contributing to more animal deaths.
Another problem along with what I have said already, concerns again whether total veganism is even possible.
This is because even in plant food crops animals are killed. However it is still by far the best option as the number killed is generally, far less. This is something that is outlined here: Animal Visuals: Number of Animals Killed By Slaughter and Harvest in Eight Food Categories This link also contains an interesting study.
This study shows that animal lives could actually be saved by plant crops! Its not definitive but this is what it says. In the study, 33 field mice were fitted with radio collars and tracked before and after harvest. The researchers found that only 3 percent of them were actually killed by the combine harvester (amounting to one mouse). An additional 52 percent of them (17 mice) were killed following harvest by predators such as owls and weasels, possibly due to their loss of the crop cover. It is unknown how many of these mice would have been eaten by owls or weasels anyway.
Another potential problem I have encountered is with water supply. My local water supply adds chlorine to the water. As far as I know this is common practice worldwide. The water supply is an essential part of life from whether you choose to drink it, for bathing, household cleaning, for growing crops etc. Is this chlorine tested on animals? I have emailed my local water supplier about this some time ago but I am yet to receive a reply. Can anyone confirm this? Animal testing is something else that needs to be ended as soon as possible, I will look for any petitions about this soon and post them back here once I find them. Something needs to be done. If I can't find any I will start one. On the subject of animal testing I have found some household cleaning products in some supermarkets that are vegan and aren't tested on animals, however the packaging again as far as i know probably isn't vegan. I guess we should buy and support these products, whilst encouraging them to change the packaging, like with the food. I'll link these products here later on request.
Something else we can do to reduce animal deaths would be to recycle as much as possible. As well as reducing environmental impact this can save animal lives if you recycle a products packaging that may contain animal products such as a polyethylene drinks bottle or plastic bag. Whilst I hope we can do something to stop these materials being used if you have any of these items then recycle them - it should reduce the need to make new ones, which would be at the cost of animal lives.
Recycling any material is something positive people seem to be doing, and seems to be increasing. I hope this continues.
There are some more positives I've seen people doing recently.
Tesco for example in the UK are planning to eliminate plastic packaging and I hope stickers too on fruit and veg I believe. This even includes the plastic packaging the fruit and veg is transported in I think. I saw in a different supermarket recently loose veg was still picked out of a relatively small plastic bag that it must have been transported to the store in. This plastic is likely bad for the environment and as its a bag it also likely contains animal products. We need to encourage more shops to stop using them as well as stickers on fruit and veg. This would be a step in the right direction in my opinion. I have already seen many people want to use less plastic.
Switching to green energy is another positive along with green alternatives like electric cars. More people are interested in becoming zero waste, which is another thing that is positive, however at the minute it is hard to achieve fully. For example the shops they buy from are likely just buying bulk bags and decanting them into plastic dispensers. The dispensers could be seen as bad as they are usually plastic, and the bulk bags they've emptied out and any labels on them may not be recyclable which does create waste, this packaging again may not be vegan. Some zero waste shops require you to print labels for anything you buy, potentially creating waste. If you are buying from an online zero waste shop you have to take into account the effect on the environment of all the deliveries if they are coming from a long distance away too. If you are making trips to a zero waste shop often in a vehicle this could still be considered a problem somewhat which could be reduced by going to a wholesaler and buying similar items in bulk, this could save money as well, however if a large variety of products was wanted this may not be considered an option. Recycling as I mentioned is a positive people are doing, a form of this that many trying to live zero waste are doing is composting. I have found conflicting views on whether this is considered vegan or not when using worms however i think there are forms of composting that don't even require them. Can anyone confirm? I need to look into this. Another positive is the number of vegans is increasing all the time. Of course with this the demand for vegan products increases and more vegan products are made. The fact there are more vegans than ever now means that more can be done to create change. If even 1% of vegans took action on important issues then that would be quite a lot of people and because of this significant changes could be possible. I will look for petitions on animal testing. I will start one to make vegan packaging compulsory on vegan food. Vegans are being mislead about this, once they realise the packaging on the food they buy isn't vegan they must want to do something about it surely?
I hope we can do something about this.
Another thing I have seen that I hope increases is BioCyclic farming. Biocyclic vegan agriculture means purely plant-based organic farming. This form of cultivation excludes all commercial livestock farming and slaughtering of animals and does not use any inputs of animal origin. I really hope this becomes the future of farming.
Most of the Biocyclic farms are in Europe outside the UK, so in the UK it is hard to find any that you can support. However if you are reading this and you are located
in the same country as a Biocyclic farm and are able to support it, please do. We must help them grow as much a possible. The number has increased slightly over the last few years and I hope more and more are made. I really hope they are the future of farming.
Its good to see these positive changes. However there are a few more things I have found that could cause concern for people trying to be vegan.
Construction materials can be problematic, as can electronics. As for building materials, I have found this information:
such as phones and laptops.
LCD screens contain animal cholesterol. Timber, and wood, especially if it is reclaimed. These sorts
Batteries contain gelatine. of woods are often treated with by products from the animal industry, so it isn’t necessarily going to be Vegan.
Ox blood and glues containing animal fats are often found in older pieces of timber.
Cutting down trees for new wood can also be bad, in doing
so you’re removing the natural habitat of birds, insects and other woodland creatures. Though avoiding this is hard.
The humble brick - used for a good deal of new household construction often contains animal blood or fat in its mixture to help preserve it and to give it a longer life span.
Finally, there’s steel. Steel has longevity, as well as being recyclable, but its look may not be to everyone's taste.
Animal fats such as gelatine are used in it’s production, so therefore, it also is not suitable for anyone who is a vegan.
Steel is used in many everyday products not just building materials.
As I have stated earlier almost anything you can buy on Earth currently likely contains something not vegan in either the materials or the packaging.
Clothing is another example. Vegan clothes brands are still in the minority unfortunately but the number of vegan clothes brands is increasing.
Primark is a store in the UK that since 2020 has been certified as vegan since 2020.
although I need to find out if they have the same problem as vegan food - packaging.
I've noticed their paper bags have coloured ink printed on them which may not be vegan.
This could be the case with their price tags and clothing labels as well, I will try and find out.
But as far as I'm aware they are the only store in the UK certified as vegan, at least for a
retail chain store. More stores should follow this example.
Sorry for such a lengthy post. I hope all the positives people are doing keep increasing, I believe they will.
All the problems I have mentioned are a shame, but I believe they can all be changed if we take action. I am trying to find somewhere where I can find people who want to change such things. That's how I got here. I believe the world can be changed into a much better place, but we all need to play our part. The increase in number of vegans
for example gives me hope for the future, we must spread the word about the things we need to change and keep encouraging all of the positive things people are doing.
Great changes are always possible, this has been seen throughout history.
I have left out the sources for some of the information I have included in this post. If you want me to look any of these up, then let me know. I will try my best to find them for you. If you took the time to read this whole post,
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