Being South Asian, most of us observe some religious guidelines during our weddings. Whether it be to not eat beef or pork or drink alcohol, we do our best to respect our culture.
But sometimes it is really hard. It’s really hard to avoid items made from leather or gelatin or silk as a bride!
Despite our best efforts to keep the food vegetarian, so much of what we wear and have is not. Gujarati choodas, are made from ivory. Do Gujaratis, who typically observe a vegetarian food diet, know how the choodas are obtained? We buy leather purses and shoes to accompany our ensemble. Silk, India’s prized possession comes from the killing of silk worms. And the list goes on and on.
Now, realistically, I cannot and do not expect anyone to have a pure vegan, cruelty free wedding. It is not always realistic and can drive you and your family insane.
To know what’s really animal based and what’s not, I went to one of the best blogs out there: Rose Pedals Vegan Weddings. I asked Sarah Prager, the blog and social media manager for Rose Pedals Vegan Weddings, to guest post for us. She knows her ins and outs when it comes to vegan products so we thank her for bringing in her expertise. Here’s her 10 wedding products that aren’t friendly to Hindu and Muslim traditions.
Most of us don’t think about what every ingredient in every product we use is. We use thousands of ingredients every day between clothing, furniture, and food, and your wedding day will involve even more. More of these products than you think come from animals.
Besides hurting and killing animals, using animal products isn’t eco-friendly. Each year livestock produce 18% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and consume 23% of the water in the agricultural industry. If you are trying to make your wedding earth-friendly, that means making it animal-friendly too. Here are 10 products to avoid:
Leather is the rawhide of an animal, usually cows, to create durable but luxurious goods. Most leathers in India are from camel hide to avoid conflict with Hindu values but popular brands use cowhide in their workmanship. Leather is more prominent in your everyday life than you might think. The shoes you’re wearing? The chair you’re sitting in? The handbag you’re carrying? The belt you’re wearing? Chances are at least one of them is leather.
You can minimize this in your wedding by having the groom wear shoes that are made of faux leather or cloth. There are several places you can buy non-animal shoes online such as MooShoes, Stella McCarthy, and Olsen Haus.
We all know that for a South Asian bride, jewelry is everything. Besides the gold, silver, and precious stone pieces you may wear, some jewelry contains bone or shell. Traditional choodas are made from ivory, which comes from elephants. It’s not known how these choodas are obtained (dropped tusks or poached elephants). To be safe, go for plastic choodas instead.
3. White Sugar
A lot of white sugar is refined with (animal) bone char, so many people seek out vegan sugar. Most supermarkets carry vegan sugar but you could even use brown sugar. Since sugar is part of all things sweet, ask your baker to use a cruelty-free sweetener in your wedding cake.
4. Wine & Beer
Not even the alcohol for your cocktail hour is necessarily animal-free! There can be animal products either in the drink itself or in the process that makes it. While there might be dairy or honey inside the beer or wine, there might be actual animal (not just their products) in the filtering process. Isinglass (fish bladder) is a common filtration product. The best resource for determining the animal-friendliness of an alcohol is to visit Barnivore, a guide to alcohol.
Silk is the most popular material for South Asian wedding saris, but it is made from a process that kills silk worms (gassing or boiling them). Satin, chiffon, and tulle are all made from silk as well. Alternatives like polyester, nylon, and rayon look and feel similar to silk and are non animal based fibers. But, these manmade fibers derive from plastics, a petroleum based product, and come with ecological concerns. No easy choice here!
You could also try “peace silk,” a new type of silk popping up around India and the world that is made with an alternative process that does not kill the silkworms. You can limit your bridal trousseau to fewer silk items, use part of your family collection (hello Mom!), and buy from eco-friendly shops.
Maang tika giving you a headache? Pop a pain-killer, but make sure it’s not in a gelatin capsule. Gelatin is made from cartilage, skin, tendons, ligaments, crushed bone, and internal organs of pigs, chickens, and cows. Not Hindu, Jain, or Muslim friendly.
If you don’t want to be eating or touching gelatin, stay away from Jell-O, some yogurts (check the ingredient list), matches, sandpaper, marshmallows, and most painkillers.
7. Dental Products
Look out for glycerine (sometimes made from animal fat) as an ingredient in toothpaste. Glycerine can also be found in some mouthwashes, and floss can contain silk or beeswax.
From food coloring to hair dyes, many are based in either insects or other animal products. This got a lot of press when Starbucks was forced to stop using cochineal extract red dye in their strawberry frappuccinos because vegetarians were upset that it is made up ground-up beetles. Non-vegetarians weren’t happy to learn that either! Don’t worry though, henna is animal-friendly so your mehndi is safe.
9. Photography Film
Essentially all traditional film is made with gelatin (see Medicine). Fortunately, most wedding photographers now use digital which is animal-safe. Digital photography is also more eco-friendly because of less use of paper and chemicals. And besides, all of the colors of your wedding will be sure to pop even more when they can be enhanced digitally.
Sometimes there are even some animal products in make-up. Gelatin is a culprit again and is often called collagen in the ingredients list. Besides make-up also using crushed bugs for coloring or collagen as part of the ingredients, make-up products abuse and heavily test their products on animals. There are many products today that are vegan and cruelty free.
Look for the “leaping bunny” icon that indicates a product is animal-friendly. Lush bath products and The Body Shop are a couple favorites.
When you are planning your wedding and doing your bridal shopping, think about how you can reduce your impact on animal based products and improve your spirit. There are no easy answers so the most important thing is to be aware of what you’re purchasing.