From leather alternatives and vegan wine, to strictly plant-based skincare, it’s getting easier to avoid animal-derived ingredients if you choose to do so…

Veganism has proved to be more than a passing trend in recent years, and the lifestyle choice continues to grow in popularity. In fact, The Economist recently published a piece predicting that veganism will go mainstream this year as the movement gains momentum. If you’ve considered veganism yourself, you will know that opting for items that are free from animal products goes beyond the plate, with fashion, make-up, and skincare all becoming considerations. Fortunately for those who prefer to avoid animal-derived ingredients completely, more and more brands are taking on the challenge of producing and using vegan-friendly materials — sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

Conscious cosmetics

For years, mainstream make-up has been packed with animal-derived ingredients — lanolin, a common ingredient in lip balms and glosses, is derived from sheep wool; shellac is a resinous product taken from insects and used in nail products; and guanine is made from fish scales and used in products like shiny nail polishes, eyeshadow and bronzers. Now, there are a growing number of local make-up brands that offer vegan products. Lula Fox makes a range of eyeshadows made with plant extracts, as well as a concealer that contains certified organic ingredients like coconut, jojoba seed and castor seed oil. Johannesburg brand, Homespun Apothecary produces a lip polish made with olive oil, sugar and essential oils, as well as some vegan facial serums and bamboo make-up brushes.

Keep it clean

When it comes to skincare, vegans need to watch out for ingredients like collagen, which is derived from animal tissue; keratin, which is taken from animal horns and hair; and beeswax, which is sometimes used in emulsions and mascaras. Back 2 Nature is a Cape Town company that produces a range of handmade skincare products in small batches. All of their ingredients are vegan, sustainably sourced and free from preservatives, and their range includes a day cream moisturiser, an exfoliator, body butter, toothpaste and sunscreen. An added bonus is that the brand uses glass jars to package their products and avoids plastic whenever possible.

Watch your wine

Thanks to increasing awareness of vegan dietary needs, Cape Town now boasts a number of spots where it’s possible to enjoy good quality dishes. But, when it comes to drinking, it’s not always that simple. A lot of wines are clarified with the use of milk protein, egg whites, gelatine, or fish bladder protein to achieve the beautifully clear liquid we know and love. Fortunately, some local winemakers are starting to use vegan-friendly ingredients like activated charcoal and clay-based agents. Last year, Delheim released a vegan-friendly pinotage rosé and sauvignon blanc using a plant-derived protein, while Org de Rac uses the clay-based agent bentonite to produce its range of wines.


Animal-friendly fabric

The local fashion industry has also seen some clever innovation recently, particularly in terms of fabrics and fibres. WeAllShareRoots is a small Cape Town-based French-South African company that is the first on the continent to use Piñatex, a PETA-certified leather alternative made from pineapple leaves. The material is made by felting pineapple leaves together — WeAllShareRoots uses it to make bags and purses featuring bold African prints.

Eco GemGem is another company that offers a cruelty-free alternative to leather — they make a collection of bags with pleather, and recently released a new range made from recycled plastic bottles taken straight from landfills. Some of their designs consist of up to 21 plastic bottles!

WeAllShareRoots is a small Cape Town-based French-South African company that is the first on the continent to use Piñatex, a PETA-certified leather alternative made from pineapple leaves.

For more inspiration and motivation, as well as a host of options on vegan or vegan-friendly eateries please visit