There are products you expect to be made out of animals, like meat, milk, or those donkey gonad injections you bought on the internet (yes, everyone knows). In fact, you’d probably feel ripped off if you bought a regular burger and they gave you a tofu patty with twig cheese and compost bacon. As it turns out, you’re much more likely to be in the opposite situation — enjoying some everyday item, well, every day, completely unaware that it’s actually made from formerly alive creatures that once blinked and farted. You don’t have to be a hardcore vegan or vegetarian to be unnerved that there are dead animal bits in innocent-looking stuff like …
6. Your Tattoo Ink Is Probably Made Of Incinerated Animal Bones
You only need to browse the veggie section at your local supermarket for a few minutes to notice that the Venn diagram between “avid vegetarian” and “tattoo enthusiast” is pretty close to a circle. Well, if you’re against harming animals and never gave much thought to where that ink adorning your body came from, prepare to hate us (and yourself) upon reading the next paragraph. Or, if you’re just the queasy type, you might wanna stop here anyway.
You see, unless you went out of your way to get a vegan tattoo, that ink almost certainly contains the charred bones of dead animals. That’s what gives it that crisp, appropriately death-metal-esque blackness. And that’s not all: Animal fat is commonly used as an ink stabilizer, while gelatin made out of animal hooves serves as a binding agent. We’re gonna go ahead and guess those hooves weren’t volunteered by their original owners.
Some inks use resin from shellac beetles for binding, which might be less horrible in the vegan/vegetarian sense, but is still skin-crawlingly gross. Fortunately, vegan tattoo inks do exist, but according to The Atlantic, “outside veggie hotspots like New York City, Portland, and Los Angeles, they can be hard to find.” We’re gonna assume all the cool kids with vegan tattoos knew this and carefully vetted their ink, lest they become a living, breathing example of irony.
5. Your Chewing Gum Is Chock Full O’ Sheep Grease
We’ve already told you that cosmetics contain a particularly gross substance called lanolin. What we neglected to mention is that it’s not just an ingredient in stuff you rub on your skin — it’s also in chewing gum. Just to be safe, you should probably spit out any gum you happen to be chewing before we continue.
What could possibly be so gross? Lanolin is gunk that’s “naturally produced by the sebaceous glands in sheep’s skin” and ends up all over their wool, “coating the fibers with a protective, waxy sheath.” In other words, it’s sheep sweat, and it’s pretty gnarly.
To get lanolin from wool the old-school way, you boil it and wait for the fat to rise to the top. More modern methods include pressing the oil out with rollers or spinning it in a centrifuge. Regardless of the extraction method, the end result is a nice tub of “wool fat” that you’ll want to pop straight into your mouth and chew, natch.
Most gum brands don’t list lanolin as an ingredient by name because it’s one of several that comprise the innocuous-sounding “gum base.” Also, note that while some companies claim that lanolin is “cruelty-free,” many vegans and vegetarians consider it unethical because it supports the “inherently cruel” wool farming industry. You know, in case the “chewing on a sheep’s body oil” part wasn’t enough for you.