Switching to a vegan diet is extremely easy, as anyone who has already made the change will attest to. However, being vegan is not all about what we can and cannot eat; it also means abstaining from using animal derived products and products that have been tested on animals. This includes everything from the clothes we wear and the skincare products we use, to the cleaning products and detergents we use in our homes. I found this aspect of becoming vegan the most daunting and indeed, I put off calling myself vegan –preferring the label strict vegetarian - for nearly a year because I thought that as a student on a limited budget I could not possibly afford to change all my make-up, skincare products, toiletries, perfume etc to those that are suitable for vegans. A quick check on websites like the vegan store and the animal free shopper online will certainly produce a list of cruelty-free products but many of them are very expensive to buy and must be bought online, and therefore, they don’t make the switch from non-vegan to vegan brands an easy task. So I feared I was destined to remain a ‘strict vegetarian’ until I graduated and got a full-time job which could finance my expensive vegan lifestyle.
But, for all vegans in my boat who have to live on a budget for whatever reason, I have found a few money-saving tips that I am going to share with you now. * Drum roll please *
1.) Need to buy deodorant, moisturiser, facial wash, shower gel and other skincare products? Then try the Simple skincare range. You can get Simple products in any UK pharmacy, and many local shops too, and their whole range is available on the high street at Boots, Superdrug, Gordons and other big brand chemists. The Simple handwash costs around £1.39, and you can get facial washes, moisturisers, facemasks etc for around £3-4, which is cheaper than many of the other big brand skincare products on the market. Most Simple products state that they contain no animal derived ingredients, but just to make sure they were suitable for vegans I emailed them directly and they confirmed that they also do not test on animals and that their products are vegan. In addition, their vegan products are listed in the Vegan Society’s Animal-free shopper guide (See www.simple.co.uk/Skincare-Solutions/FAQs/FaqDetail.aspx?fdFaqId=173 for more info). There are a few exceptions where beeswax or honey have been used, however, and Simple list those products on their website (See http://www.simple.co.uk/Skincare-Solutions/FAQs/FaqDetail.aspx?fdFaqId=111 for more info).
2.) Not a fan of Simple’s products? Then try Superdrug’s own brand products. Again, not all of Superdrug’s products are animal-free so do check the label on the back. They will state very clearly if a product is suitable for vegans. Their range of products include body sprays and deodorants for men and women for under £1, a range of handwash products that cost around 70p, shower gels and bath crèmes for around £1, a range of their own brand skincare products, such as the Natural High collection, which includes day cream with SPF 15, night cream, eye brightening cream and facial wipes, all for under £5. They also have a range of vegan body lotions and hand creams, again all costing around £1, and they even have their own hair colouring products, which are also vegan. In addition, they regularly have special offers on brands like Original Source shower gel, which is vegan, and can often be bought for around £1 too.
3.) Not able to get to a Superdrug store? Then try the Co-operative. The Co-op is one of the few big brand supermarkets in the UK, which lists every one of their own brand products as vegan or vegetarian so you know exactly where you stand when you shop with them. Like Superdrug, they have a range of their own toiletries, which have all been BUAV approved, are not tested on animals and do not contain any animal derived products and are listed with the ‘V’ sign for vegan. These include deodorants for men and women, body spray, shower gels, shampoos and conditioners, toothpaste, mouthwash, shaving foams for men and women, and many other products. These products usually cost in and around £1 as well so again, you can get everything you need relatively cheaply, and certainly much cheaper than if you were to buy the same type of products online. In addition, the Co-op has its own brand of washing-up liquid, washing powder, air freshener, fabric softener, anti-bacterial wipes, multi-surface cleaner, bleach and many other household products, which are also BUAV approved, vegan and cheap to buy.
4.) Need perfumes, fragrances, bath salts or other items to make you feel that little bit special? Then try your local Lush store or check out the Lush website at https://www.lush.co.uk. All their products are vegetarian and now most of them are also vegan and endorsed by the Vegan Society. They have some beautiful fragrances such as their Karma and Vanillary atomisers, both sold for between £20-£25. Lush have also recently bought over the company ‘B Never Too Busy to be Beautiful’, who have a vast array of fragrances and skincare products, which are also vegan.
5.) Need make-up? Then try either Lavera or Lily Lolo. You can probably find at least one of these brands on sale in your local health store (for example, in Belfast, Eatwell health store on the Lisburn Road sells Lavera make-up), but if not, then check out their websites at http://www.lilylolo.co.uk/ and http://www.lavera.co.uk/index.php. Lily Lolo’s foundation and cover-up powders are amazing and very reasonably priced (only £7 for the cover-up powder), and the company also sells synthetic brushes for applying foundation, blusher, concealer, finishing powder and eye make-up to replace those brushes you would buy in most high street stores, which are often made from animal hair.
So there you have it. While I would certainly recommend visiting your local health store to buy products if you can since the money you spend there will go directly to supporting that local business, and most of their products will probably be much healthier for your skin and the environment as they won’t contain as many chemicals, sometimes it just won’t be feasible, and in that case hopefully you will find the guide above useful. Being vegan doesn’t have to cost a fortune, and it means that while you feel good on the inside for choosing a way of life that is ethical, healthy and environmentally-friendly, you can also continue to look and feel good on the outside.
Happy shopping, and Vegan Hugs! J