In the animal rights movement, cruelty-free is a label for products or activities that do not harm or kill animals. Products tested on animals are not considered cruelty-free, since these tests are horribly painful and cause the suffering and death of millions of animals every year. Every product, every action, and every lifestyle decision can be a choice to stop the immense suffering and death of animals who can’t speak up for themselves.
Animals such as rabbits, rats, mice and guinea pigs are kept in tiny cages and forced to eat or inhale toxic substances, or have cosmetic ingredients rubbed onto their shaved skin, eyes, or ears every day for 28 or 90 days to see if they have an allergic reaction. After these gruesome and archaic tests, the animals are killed and thrown away like yesterday’s garbage. These tests are also done with pregnant animals who, after much suffering, are killed along with the fetus. In more prolonged carcinogen tests, rats are force-fed a cosmetic’s ingredient over two years, and then killed.
Typically, a little rabbit, or other small animal is tightly constrained in a box so that he is completely unable to move. Clips hold his eyelids open. A disgusting “tester” puts a concentrated substance to the outer layer of the eye and observes over a span of days or weeks for responses such as blindness, bleeding, hemorrhaging and ulceration. Because the poor animals are unable to move, they can’t even scratch their eyes or skin. They are kept from moving for days and even weeks. After the test, the animals are killed.
Primates, dogs such as the beagle, and cats are used for ghastly invasive experimentation as well. Many laboratories use these species to test drugs and chemicals old and new, and to study the effects of disease.
There are several organizations working hard to get outdated animal testing replaced with quicker, cheaper, and more accurate methods. Alternatives to animal testing have shown results that are far more accurate to humans. Remember, the reactions of rabbits, mice, etc. cannot be extrapolated to a human. However, using human tissue as well as computer modeling, researchers can legitimately test how humans will respond. For example, reconstructed human epidermis—which uses human skin donated from cosmetic surgery to replace the hideous rabbit Draize skin test—is more relevant to human reactions. Other methods replace the Draize eye test by using in vitro (test-tube) human tissue. Computer-based systems allow for isolation of a select tissue or organ to conduct tests in an extremely controlled environment. These tests not only save millions of animal lives, but are more precise and accurate at protecting humans from toxic substances.
Companies now offer a wide range of cruelty-free products such as cosmetics, personal-care products, household cleaners, clothing, shoes, and candles (which usually use paraffin or beeswax). Organizations such as PETA, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection and its offshoot organization Cruelty Free International, have issued lists of cruelty-free products to buy and cruel products to boycott. There is also the “Leaping Bunny” symbol or the PETA “Cruelty Free Bunny” logo that identifies products not tested on animals and manufactured without animal ingredients. More and more companies are now identifying on the packaging products that are “not tested on animals and no animal ingredients were used in the manufacturing of this product,” making it easier than ever to buy “cruelty free!”
Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share the planet!