Cleaning up vegan style

Bathroom

Gone are the days when people used to say “you eat shoes?” when I mentioned the search for vegan-friendly footwear.

Now, it’s generally realised that being vegan goes beyond diet and means doing as little harm as possible.

I personally have been looking for more environmentally-friendly bathroom products. Plastic is killing our ocean life, so this is certainly a vegan issue. I have done away with bottled shower gel and replaced it with vegetable-based bars of soap.

I was horrified by the difficulty of finding a shaving brush not made with badger hair. In the end, I plumped for a kit from www.twaburds.co.uk I found safety razors to be very expensive, so have bought a Preserve razor for Animal Aid – it’s made from recycled materials and it helps a worthwhile cause – http://www.animalaidshop.org.uk/household/preserve-razor-triple?cPath=20 They also have a toothbrush available. http://www.animalaidshop.org.uk/household

I’ve also noticed an increase in non-packaged bath bombs and soaps at vegan markets and festivals – so it’s all good – and, of course, Lush has a great range of vegan products. Or you could make your own bath bomb – I found this recipe with a simple Ecosia (ethical alternative to Google) search – https://www.bathbombfizzle.com/blogs/news/all-natural-bath-bomb-recipe-that-is-vegan-with-essential-oil

Superdrug is great for products with the leaping bunny logo too.

Why in the 21st century are companies still testing on animals when there are so many alternatives available?

To get around EU regulations, companies test household products abroad. So, when it comes to household cleaning, it can be a dirty minefield out there.

Recently, Method and Ecover lost their Naturewatch accreditation due to a takeover by SC Johnson – who test on animals. Basically, if you buy a product, it helps to make a profit for that company’s parent company – profit which helps funds animal tests elsewhere in the business.

The good news is that it’s so easy to pick up alternatives on the High Street – Astonish is a well-known and well-loved brand of vegan cleaners – they are available in many pound shops and Asda – a full list of stockists is available here – https://www.astonishcleaners.co.uk/stockists/

There is also Marks & Spencer, Co-OP, Waitrose and Ecozone. Look for the leaping bunny symbol – but, be careful, that symbol means the company will not use any newly-derived ingredients tested on animals after a fixed date. This means testing on animals now and in the future is frowned upon.

The Compassionate Shopping Guide from Naturewatch has lists of companies which are and aren’t endorsed as being cruelty-free. Get one here – https://naturewatch.org/compassionate-shopping/compassionate-shopping-guide

Peta also have some useful PDFs available online – http://features.peta.org/cruelty-free-company-search/index.aspx

Of course, there’s still the issue of plastic packaging and chemicals – so why not make your own products? Baking soda and white vinegar are the staple ingredients of most DIY cleaners and they work very well. Simply Vegan magazine recently published a “one mix to clean them all” recipe. This included 1 cup of Castile Soap, 2 cups of purified water (filtered or boiled then cooled), 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp of baking soda, juice of a lemon, 5 drops of tea tree oil, 5 drops of orange oil, 5 drops of eucalyptus oil and 5 drops of lemongrass or lemon oil all mixed together in a spray bottle.

Naturewatch also sells a household cleaners recipe book – https://naturewatch.org/compassionate-shopping/homemade-household-cleaners

There are also some good tips and recipes here – https://wellnessmama.com/6244/natural-cleaning/

I’m sure many of you have tips and recipes too – I’d love to read those.

 

Let’s talk iodine

Let’s talk about iodine

Why? Well, the Press and non-vegans seem to think it’s a problem for us vegans – isn’t it nice how they worry more about our health than we do?

Until recently, I, probably like many of you, hadn’t even heard of iodine, let alone wondered about its absorption into my body – so what is it?

In the words of the Vegan Society, “Your body uses iodine to make thyroid hormones. These hormones control how fast your cells work. In the UK, the recommended iodine intake for adults is 140 micrograms per day. Every vegan needs a reliable source of iodine in their diet.”

So now you know!

Earlier this year, there were a couple of articles about concern vegans weren’t getting enough of the stuff. There are always articles about what vegans lack (I lack tolerance for stupid comments made by non-vegans, for example), but I wondered how many people had actually heard of the stuff? So I decided to blog on it – because it’s important nutritionally. Iodine deficiency affects mental health and alertness and can cause fatigue and stunt mental growth in children – it’s vital pregnant women get enough (incidentally, breast milk is another good source). In the words of Wiki: “It may result in a goiter, sometimes as an endemic goiter as well as cretinism due to untreated congenital hypothyroidism, which results in developmental delays and other health problems. Iodine deficiency is an important public health issue as it is a preventable cause of intellectual disability.”

In other words, it’s important.

So, why is it a vegan issue? Well, some believe (wrongly) that animals are the only source of iodine – or the only reliable source anyway.

The best source is some seaweed (kelp, nori, kombu, wakame). But, the Vegan Society warns: “Although seaweed is a rich source of iodine, there are several reasons why it may not be the best option. The iodine content of seaweed is variable, and sometimes too high. Also, some types are contaminated. Iodised salt is not a good option because public health authorities recommend that we cut down on salt.”

They argue that a supplement may be the best option.  The Vegan Society markets a daily vitamin and mineral supplement designed for vegans called VEG 1, providing reliable intakes of vitamins B12 and D, iodine and selenium. Please discuss the use of supplements with a health professional to help ensure that they are suitable for you. Read what they have to say on the issue: https://www.vegansociety.com/resources/downloads/iodine

Personally, I adore samphire – I love foraging for it and cooking it – most of all, I love eating it! In fact, I wrote about it last year: https://veganonadesertisland.com/2017/07/23/foraging-for-samphire/

But it is rich in iodine. The amount of iodine in veg varies so widely because it comes from the soil in which they grow – and the amount in soil varies wildly. Therefore, the dairy and eggs supposed to be strong sources, also vary according to the amount of iodine the cows and chickens themselves receive.

The Vegan Society explains: “During the last century, farmers started supplementing animal feed with iodine because research showed that this could make their businesses more productive. This also resulted in a huge increase in the iodine content of cows’ milk, particularly during the winter months when grass is limited. Disinfectants containing iodine also contribute to the iodine content of cows’ milk because they are used to clean teats and tankers. It is probable that supplementation of animal feed boosted the iodine contents of meat and eggs too.”

In other words, animal agriculture is only a reliable source because the products are supplemented with it – hardly natural!

It also needs to be said that you can get too much. ODing on iodine causes thyroid issues and weight gain – so be careful with the supplements. The NHS online says taking a 0.5mg or less supplement a day is unlikely to have any adverse effects.