This month, I want to focus on the topic of who can be “blamed”, or rather, held responsible for animal testing.
This isn’t about pointing fingers or making anyone feel bad about their choices. I believe, at least in the case of animal testing, that it’s important to place a “blame” somewhere because it would act as the first step towards finding a solution to this problem.
Blaming someone (or rather something, like some people’s actions or a country’s regulations) would mean that we’re deciding who is doing the most harm, and also, who has the power to do the most good.
I can think of 3 “entities” which can be held responsible for animal testing, at least to some degree. All of them have the power to do some good, and remedy the situation.
1. The brands themselves
The first and most obvious choice would be to blame the companies who test on animals. These are mainly giants of the beauty industry, such as L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever. These companies continue to finance tests on animals rather than use alternative methods or refuse to enter markets that require animal testing.
The problem with blaming and shaming the companies themselves is that businesses don’t feel guilt or shame, much less compassion. Businesses are fuelled by money. Even “ethical” businesses are motivated by money first and foremost, using ethics to appeal to ethical audiences in order to sell. So we could blame these businesses, but blaming them would have no real impact since profit is the only language they speak, meaning nothing would change.
2. The consumers
This brings us to the second most obvious group to blame, which is the consumers. Either out of ignorance or apathy, many consumers continue to purchase from the aforementioned companies which test mercilessly on animals. These consumers continue to unwillingly support animal testing by financing those companies, which sends them the following message: cruelty towards animals has no impact on their profits and is therefore okay.
But can consumers really be blamed? The truth about animal testing is often hidden, and billions of dollars are spent on marketing and PR to ensure that brands like L’Oreal and Covergirl only show us their most glamorous facade, burying any animal torture under the rug.
We’re left with one group which, in my opinion, can make the biggest impact: federal governments. Governments are generally responsible for placing limits on what’s allowed and what isn’t. They have the power to make any practice illegal. As proof, animal testing has already been banned in the EU, Norway, New Zealand, Isreal, Turkey, and India, and each of these bans reduced animal testing in part.
I believe that the future of the cruelty-free movement lies in governments worldwide banning animal testing. The main problem right now is mainland China’s policy, which requires animal testing for all foreign cosmetics. A change in China’s policy would have a huge impact on the beauty industry and would spare over 375,000 animals a year.
Unfortunately, governments are known to move at a turtle’s pace, so we can only hope that more bans will fall in place in the near future. Nevertheless, I think that more pressure should be put on our local governments to introduce these bill and see them pass. It’s where we can make the biggest difference.
Of course, purchasing cruelty-free brands and boycotting those who test on animals also has the potential to make a huge difference and should never be underestimated, as it's the main positive action that we can take as consumers.
What do you think about these issues? Do you think anyone should be held responsible for animal testing?