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Posted by Lilian Elizabeth on

Hey guys. Today, I’m coming out! I want everyone to know that it’s been a long and difficult process to come to terms with who I am. I don’t want anyone to think less of me because of this article. I know it’s not the common trend at the moment – some might say it’s not normal – and sometimes I get labelled as a bad person. People often accost me at the beauty store and tell me that I’m just uneducated. That’s why I live this way. If I really cared about those around me, I would be able to change the way I live. I could do more. Be better! People even accuse me of not loving animals or the environment because I eat meat.


Oh, sorry, did I not mention I’m coming out as a meat eater? Not queer? I mean, I feel like I’ve been queer for long enough now that it’s not going to make the news. So, here I am. I’m baring all. As a non- vegan. And, I’m going to be honest, this feels risky as hell. Even when I do use our vegan body scrub!


As always, let’s do a quick disclaimer before we crack right into the nitty gritty. I am well aware of the shit vegans cop online and I think this is completely wrong. I don’t feel like everyone shoves the veganism movement in my face the way the mainstream discourse would have you believe. I also do think there is sufficient evidence to support the idea that veganism is a positive step for our environment. If you want more research on this, you can check out these studies hereand here. I think everyone who has the ability and capacity to be a vegan should consider the movement with the same consideration they would anything else that is trying to make the world a better place. Also, buying vegan beauty products is completely positive. There are so many great body scrubs (like ours!) out there. But…. I think it’s a complex issue. And, it isn’t always presented like that. Often, I’ve found that people who are against veganism see it as some cartoonishcult-like eating habit that provides some great content for meme culture. On the other hand, people who are vegan can sometimes disregard a whole world view for their one perspective, and don’t consider peoples individual circumstances or larger socio- economic factors.


So, let’s do it. Let’s consider people’s circumstances and the larger socio- economic factors of being vegan.


Now-days, there are a lot of companies out there that exploit the label ‘vegan’ and use it to say they’re great for the environment. Not even that far. They just want one tick on the nice list to combat the millions on the naughty list. Hey – look at that; we’re already looking at how the binary distinction of equating being vegan to ‘good’ and being non- vegan to ‘bad’ is super problematic! Isn’t this fun! As if buying one type of body scrub makes me wholly good or evil. For the record – our natural skincare is always on the nice list ;)


Anyway, take Oreo’s cookies as an example. Every time I ask what snacks I could still eat if I was to hypothetically become a vegan, Oreo’s are the ones that I get back. On a surface level, this is great. Oreo’s are an easy & classic snack that I can now feel great about eating because they’re vegan. I’m such a good person now. Believe me – companies like Oreo’s know they appeal to this consumer. They package the same way natural beauty products do. Their packaging ingredients are all vegan and you have to go to their FAQ page before you find a ‘cross contamination of milk solids” caveat. Don’t worry, our body scrub is completely natural and vegan, but we have a proviso too – which I’ll happily discuss later. Like Oreo’s, there are loads of companies in the last few years that have seized the opportunity to become recognised as ‘vegan’ or ‘gluten free’ in the hopes it’ll paint a pretty picture over their ugly faces.


Oh, but the sins. Some of these companies are still desperately evil under their vegan make up. Like Oreo’s. They’re owned by a way way larger corporate overhead called Mondelez International, which has a bad track record for tax avoidance and deforestation to produce palm oil. Not to mention the exploitation of factory workers. The veganism doesn’t really combat it in my head. At least our beauty store isn’t like that.


But, I know, it’s not a great example of vegan snacks. A lot of vegan people really strive to eat organic and buy small brand. This is a really inspiring aspect of the movement, one that I would encourage people to keep at. Arguably, this is a part of veganism that can be done without the actual veganism and still be objectively positive for the environment. You can do things like buy natural beauty products even when you’re a non- vegan.


But… it’s classist to assume that people can afford these types of foods. A lot of people can’t incorporate expensive market vegetables, bulk buying and non- brand foods into their diets. Look, I’m not saying nobody should do it. And, I’m not trying to argue that veganism is bad for society. I happen to think it’s majorly beneficial in a western context. I’m just considering it as an increasingly western perspective that sees shopping at off- brand markets as feasible.


It’s also a wholly western perspective that sees veganism as one of the only viable options for healthy food and environmental care for the whole planet.  A privileged perspective that doesn’t consider lower classes in countries like Guatemala who eat a primarily vegetarian diet because they have to. The milk and meat they receive contains vital nutrients that often can’t be found elsewhere. The western perspective of eating doesn’t really consider this cultural implication in other lifestyles.


More and more often, Veganism seems to be a response to the multi- factory farming system that happens in corporate western companies. Sure, it’s a viable response. And, it’s one that considers how we should treat animals. A huge side of veganism that hasn’t really been mentioned here - a love for animals. I just think, looking at all of this, veganism becomes a more complicated issue than simply ‘going vegan for the benefit of the environment’. The ‘go vegan’ perspective often ignores these minute details for the overall attribution to a black and white perspective of right and wrong. Like, can we stop with binary’s? Body scrub or not, we all just want to feel good about ourselves.


Although we promote ourselves (because its true!) as a vegan skincare company, Sass + Co. Body made a brave move and collaborated with the crew at VASH, who produce beautiful leather handbags. I’m proud to say the collaboration is awesome and their intentional commitment to other aspects of the moral high ground is what makes it so. VASH produce stunning cow hide leather bags – obviously, not vegan. But, I don’t see this as a problem. They’ve created an economically sustainable business model where they pay their workers a fair wage. Each bag is hand crafted by a small group of people coming out of South Africa. Furthermore, the company is committed to the proper representation of South African designs and artworks. To sacrifice all of this cultural and fair-trade positivity for the sake of veganism seems to disregard the bigger picture. Plus, those bags last forever and won’t end up in the landfill like our friend ‘pleather’.


Our collaboration with VASH is just one thing to consider when buying our Sass + Co. Body beauty products. Our body scrubs are completely vegan and animal cruelty free. And Sass + Co. Body is committed to that. We believe people use vegan beauty products for all kinds of reasons – for example, an allergy to lanolin. Vegan labelling makes it really easy to not rub waxy sheep gland excretion all over your face by accident. Not great if you’re allergic to wool. If you wanna check out some more about lanolin you can look here. Just for the record – lanolin can be cruelty free, but not exactly vegan. So, again, there are so many nuances to veganism.


There are also some lovely people at Lanolips who believe using lanolin doesn’t have to mean cruelty to animals. Their luscious lip balm beauty products are completely animal cruelty free while still using lanolin! It’s the different facets of this movement that make it interesting: love of animals, the environment, positive lifestyle points. And none of them are easy to decide on.


Often, companies are making a conscious choice to be better, without the necessity of being vegan. Maybe we should stop viewing the binary for right and wrong as such a black and white concept and then maybewe’ll all be able to stop hating on each other so much. Instead, we might be able to consider the multitude of variations that make up society as a whole. We could even try to make the world a better place by weaving together our different ways of going about the day. The world gets better with all the different things we think. Do. Are. Even if what we are is a vegan. Or, a non- vegan. We’re all just trying to be better here, baby.  What does it matter if that looks a little different each time?

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