In no particular order (and now updated for typos).
This is deceiving and duping customers. I have effectively been supporting a company whose actual practices are contrary to everything I beleive in, and believe to be morally right. This is perverse. It’s a use and abuse. Against my will. Contrary to my wishes.
Disgust. Think of a vegetarian fed meat disguised as tempeh. A Jew or Muslim being forced to eat pork is one thing (and it’s happened: Third Reich Germany, more recent US abuses in “war on terror” prisons and camps). But imagine finding that you’d been eating it for years, thinking it was chicken (or tempeh, as the case may be), because that’s what you’d been told and that was what was written on the label.
I supported these companies for years. Back in the 90s, I was a poor student. I had a grant, had no loans—don’t believe in them—and lived within my means. The following mascaras were available to me and within my budget:
- Beauty Without Cruelty briefly: they folded, in the UK, just as I’d started using them 😦
- The Body Shop
- Cover Girl
- Max Factor
Of these, either they tested on animals, or their mascaras were pretty crap, or both.
I started using Clinique BECAUSE their mascara was good, and it was cruelty-free. It was about twice the price of the ones above. I made it last twice as long. I STARVED to buy that mascara. Spending a lot of my time eating beans on toast, hearty home-made soups, and classic Grub On A Grant bean-lentil-herb-spice-random-veg stews.
I did this as a super-informed customer. My decisions based on the available information. Being involved in anti-cruelty and anti-vivisection campaigning and protesting, I had access to and actively sought out as much information as possible on unnecessary cosmetic testing.
I was super-duped.
Also used Clinique when I was a student again in the US. Here, not too expensive: only a little more than regular drugstore brands. Not too much self-sacrifice involved.
Here’s another thing, that’s larger-scale and potentially more worrying.
We can see that a large number of potential customers in China, with often very different attitudes towards animals, are worth more than the entire worldwide ethical-consumer potential.
Another case of “because we/you’re worth it.”
This is worrying not just because a company is more interested in sales and numbers (and shorter-term gains) than in ethics. I mean, this is business; and even for the greenest company on the planet, mom-and-pop kitchen-sink producing granola self-sufficient hand-made stuff from their own organic raw materials, business is business. For that sort of company, you tout and flag and big up those qualities as Unique Selling Points.
Counter-attacks and boycotts risk feeding into the right-wing end of protectionism: it’s already happening in the US and EU. Historical coincidence with elections in both areas. We’re already seeing racist abuse in some of the comments online, about Chinese people eating dogs and skinning animals alive for fur. But bear in mind: big country, many cultures, some of them (Buddhism/s) with strongly pro-animal and vegetarian stances.
I say let’s get the international Buddhist community on board. And let’s look to Hinduism too for support: India is a massive market too. Believing in cruelty-free and putting your money where your mouth is isn’t exclusively or somehow more naturally Western (or, in my own case, feminist and atheist). Some might say quite the opposite…
This is a global human matter. And yes, a matter that matters.