It was an honour to be invited to Cruelty Free International’s Banniversary event last week at The House of European History in Brussels. As Ireland’s first cruelty-free beauty blogger, I was so excited to represent the growing cruelty-free and vegan platform in Ireland, and to be part of this extraordinary movement to create a global ban on animal testing.
Five years ago, after twenty years of campaigning by Cruelty Free International, the European Union took the landmark step and banned all animal testing and marketing in Europe. This was a monumental move for the European consumer market, which was worth a whopping £75 billion in 2017, and provided two million jobs. Europe makes up 15% of the global population, and because their continental ban on animal testing and marketing has been so significant, other countries have been inspired to make the same move. These countries include South Korea, New Zealand and India.
Last Tuesday, the 6th of March, I entered the House of European History to be warmly welcomed by the Cruelty Free International team. Upon arrival, guests were treated to an exclusive Cruelty Free International goodie bag, which contained some innovative Leaping Bunny-certified products from brands like The Body Shop, hownd, Suma Naturals, Waitrose and COOP.
The room for the event was a large, modern and artistic hall with paintings of animals all over the walls. Bright pink lighting decorated the interior to stay true to the colours of Cruelty Free International’s logo, and posters with animal testing facts stood around the room.
Of course, as an Irish gal, I was particularly excited to see the complimentary booze stands on either sides of the hall. One one side there was wine, champagne and delicious Belgian beer, and on the other side there were hundreds of neon pink Cosmopolitan cocktails. Homemade vegan canapés were served throughout the night, which consisted of vegan chocolate mousse, herby hummus crackers, tiny mushroom pies and more.
Gathered together at the event were MPs from the European Parliament, business owners and fellow bloggers. The panel of speakers were five inspiring women involved in the movement to ban animal testing globally.
English model and singer, Pixie Geldof, gave a heartfelt speech about her cruelty-free adventure. She spoke of her initial discovery of animal testing, and how she was horrified to find out that many of the cosmetic products she had been using had been tested on animals. Geldof emphasised the fact that animal tests are only accurate 40%-60% of the time, whereas non-animal tests are far more reliable as they are accurate 80% of the time, and hence described the ‘need’ to test on animals is simply “an act of evil”.
Michelle Thew, the Chief Executive of Cruelty Free International, passionately demonstrated the global need for a ban on cosmetic animal testing. Her enthusiasm for more politicians to get involved in the campaign to ban animal testing worldwide was inspiring, and Thew strongly encouraged everyone at the event to approach their local MPs to get them to support the movement.
The Body Shop International’s Chief of Global Campaigns, Jessie Macneil-Brown, described the main argument she receives about a worldwide ban, which is that it “would not be good for small cosmetic companies”. She addressed this concern by outlining how the world would see significant benefits with a global ban, especially considering that the European cosmetics market has grown by 8% in the last five years. European cosmetic companies have even continued to refresh 20% of their product lines every year since the EU ban.
Scottish MP, Lisa Cameron, gave a personal speech about her discovery of animal testing. Before her career in politics, Cameron had been working in a door-to-door sales role where she had to sell a certain cosmetic brand face-to-face. She explained that this was simply a job that helped her have a bit of money to have fun at the weekend and that she didn’t really want to look for a different job at the time. However, when one person told her that they refused to purchase their products because they tested on animals, Cameron decided to hand in her notice and advise the manager to help them change their ways. She since has worked closely with animal welfare authorities and has integrated this into her successful career in the Scottish parliament.
Birgitta Ohlosson from the Swedish Parliament discussed her determination to help the global ban on animal testing succeed. She explained the importance of her work in the Swedish Parliament to encourage fellow politicians to support the campaign, and she urged everyone to get more people involved.
Sirpa Pietikäinen, MEP and President of Animal Welfare Intergroup, gave a passionate speech about the unnecessary need to test cosmetics on animals. She comically dissed the cosmetic industry’s desire to sell in China, where it is required by law to test all cosmetic products on animals. This was a moving speech that emphasised the moronic lack of justification to test on animals.
The evening ended after a few more Cosmopolitans, chats with politicians and some interviews. I felt proud to have represented the cruelty-free movement in Ireland, and thrilled to have been part of such a lovely event.
However, Cruelty Free International’s work is not quite done. We urgently need a global ban on cosmetic animal testing, as still, 80% of the world test on animals. We can change this. Please sign the Forever Against Animal Testing petition that is being campaigned by Cruelty Free International and The Body Shop. With over 4.7 million signatures achieved already in just a matter of months, another 3 million signatures are required to bring the campaign to the UN to make a significant change to the lives of thousands of animals around the world.