Did you know that animal testing is still perfectly legal in many parts of the world including Malaysia? In fact, it’s even making a comeback in some regions, subjecting thousands of animals to needless suffering and death.

Photography: Humane Society International

A little push goes a long way

Just like you, I’ve heard the term ‘against animal testing’ repeatedly but the idea to read a beauty product label before purchasing it never really crossed my mind because 1. I thought I knew the brand well enough that the product will definitely solve my beauty woes or 2. It was affordable – simple as that. But the question remains: how is one expected to go against animal testing just by reading the label of a product?

Well, what I’ve learnt over the past few years is to plan my shopping routine properly. Buying things at the last minute always leaves me in a dilemma as I don’t have enough time to do my research about the history of the brand before making a purchase. As a result of that, I always end up looking for something before my product finishes (not after) and take the extra effort to do some research about different brands and their practices beforehand. In addition to that, looking out for products that come with the bunny logo translates to giving a quick nod to the product being one that is against animal testing.

Photography: Humane Society International

Save Ralph!

As the saying goes, it takes a village to raise a child, and likewise with me, after many failed attempts, I’ve finally come to realise how my negligence is taking a toll on the lives of innocent animals. In addition to that, Hollywood filmmakers and Humane Society International recently came up with a powerful stop-motion animated short film called Save Ralph that brought tears to my eyes and made feel extremely guilty of my buying behaviour in the past.

Featuring voice-overs from Hollywood stars such as Taika Waititi, Ricky Gervais, Zac Efron, Olivia Munn, Pom Klementieff and Tricia Helfer, this video was produced with the aim to reveal the actual process and the kind of torture that animals have to go through whenever they are used as testers for commercial purposes. “Save Ralph is a wake-up call that animals are still suffering for cosmetics and now is the time for us to come together to ban it globally. Today we have an abundance of reliable, animal-free approaches for product safety assurance so there’s no excuse for making animals like Ralph suffer to test cosmetics or their ingredients,” shares Jeffrey Flocken, president of Humane Society International.

Troy Seidle, the NGO’s vice president for research and toxicology, says, “It’s easy to assume that companies are the problem, but the truth is that they are a vital part of the solution. It’s laws that need to be changed, and industry leaders like Avon, L’Oréal, Lush, P&G and Unilever are working with us to secure animal testing bans in many of the world’s most influential beauty markets. We’ve recruited Ralph as our spokesbunny to help get these laws over the finish line.”

Meanwhile, actress Maggie Q says, “I believe in people. I feel like if they knew about the enormous suffering caused to animals in the name of beauty, they would demand differently. Animal testing for cosmetics is still legal in many places around the world including Southeast Asia. I encourage consumers in this region to think twice about where they put their money. For me, I know I don’t need cruel products to be beautiful – and neither do you. Let’s make a statement together!”

The real deal behind the scenes

On the bright side, based on a survey done by Humane Society International, it was found that 93 per cent of Malaysians are in support of banning cosmetic testing on animals. But what is the big deal when we have products that are tested on animals? In a nutshell, it refers to procedures that are performed on living animals for the purpose of research – reaction towards diseases, its effectiveness and impact on human health, environmental reaction, etc. Not only for beauty products, these actions are performed across various industries including cleaning detergents, F&B and pharmaceuticals too.

Sad fact: rabbits aren’t the only animals used in this process as cats, dogs, fishes, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice and other farm animals are also used as testers. In a report provided by Humane Society International, rabbits like Ralph are locked in neck restraints and have cosmetic products and ingredients dripped in their eyes and onto the shaved skin on their backs. Guinea pigs and mice also get chemicals spread on their shaved skin or ears, and the worst part? None of these animals are given pain relief and they eventually end up being killed. Now think about it for a second: what if you were the one who was going through all that pain?

Photography: Humane Society International

Make a change!

Fortunately, more than 40 countries around the world including India, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand, Guatemala, and 10 other states in Brazil have gone the extra mile to ban products that aren’t against animal testing. As of today, more than 2,000 cruelty-free beauty brands are available worldwide including Dove, Garnier, H&M and Lush, which produce safe products by using ingredients with a history of safe use together with modern animal-free safety assessment tools.

We understand that there’s a long way to go before we can go all out and ban brands who test on animals here in Malaysia, but for now, what you can do is show your support towards the #SaveRalph campaign so that the number of countries that ban animal testing go up and hopefully, that will create a greater buzz for lawmakers to notice the severity of this problem. Besides making the right purchase from now on, click here to show support that you’re against animal testing too.

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