Tikkun Olam Tuesday

This is a difficult post for me to write, because it’s hard for me to talk about “ugly” topics. It feels … impolite. My mother didn’t raise me to be impolite. So this is where my Southern upbringing differentiates me and other Southern Jews from our Northern counterparts. My Long Island family members would have no trouble talking openly and loudly about such an unpleasant topic. However this is an issue that is near and dear to my heart. Remember those two little bunnies from Sunday’s post, well here’s another picture of them:

Sally & Linus

When I look at their sweet faces, it helps me remember why I must speak out against animal testing in cosmetics and beauty products. And that, friends, is what today’s post is about. I am still being a little cowardly, in that this post is not about the horrors of animal testing, but instead, it’s an excuse for me to share good news. You may not know this, but 2013 has been a good year for the fight against animal testing in beauty products!

In the first half of March, the EU law banning the sale of cosmetics tested on animals officially went into effect. While there are still some lingering questions about how the Cosmetics Regulation will be interpreted and executed, this is still a wonderful step forward.

I want to believe that government regulation isn’t necessary to stop animal testing on beauty products. I wish the free market could take care of this on its own, but sadly, there is already government regulation in some countries, for example China, that requires brands to test on animals. That’s right, the Chinese government requires brands to test on animals in order to retail in China. Many companies that had been historically cruelty-free began testing their products on animals or paying for 3rd party testing in order to have access to the sizable Chinese market. See this list of beauty brands selling in China. With some governments institutionalizing cruelty, it is necessary that other governmental bodies regulate against this same cruelty.

While I applaud the EU, I also applaud companies that refuse to abide by China’s animal testing mandate and leave the market. There is much to be celebrated here. I eagerly look forward to the day when China approves non-animal cosmetic tests.

I wish I could say that I understand how hard it is to only buy cruelty-free. Many cruelty-free products are not as good as X Brand or more expensive than X Brand or harder to find than X Brand. But you know what, buying only cruelty-free products is not hard. You know what’s hard: being a slave is hard. And we Jews have spent the past 8 days remembering when we were slaves and celebrating that we are no longer slaves. At our Seders we say, “Once we were slaves in Egypt, and now we are free.” The language is clear – the Passover story didn’t just happen to our ancestors, it happened to us. That we who were once slaves would financially support a system that enslaves defenseless bunnies so that we can have better, cheaper, and more readily available mascara, is absurd, inexcusable, and – dare I say – not Jewish. We can do better. It’s really not hard. PETA has done a phenomenal job compiling lists of cruelty-free brands. I understand that many of us, and I include myself in this category, take issue with some of PETA’s methods. If you feel like some of their methods are objectionable, I’m not asking you to give PETA any money, but please take advantage of the information they make freely available. This isn’t about any one organization. It’s about Tikkun Olam.

Ok, maybe I’m not as polite as I like to think I am. But, you know what, I think my mother will forgive me for this lapse in etiquette. After all, she really loves her grandbunnies.

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