The Ghosts In Our Machine

Samantha and Chris’ Ghost-Free Journey: Day 2

Photo of Ron by Jo-Anne McArthur

We had a record-setting posting day on Day 1 !  Samantha and Chris focused on ways to include vegan sweets in their busy schedules; ones that are easy to make, or available to buy in the Rochester, NY area.  We also discussed social aspects of being vegan in the workplace, and dealing with questions or comments from non-vegans.  Samantha and Chris received many suggestions about how to access some convenient foods through various websites, as there are so many wonderful products available that may not be in stores.  This was an exciting first day, and now we move to another topic they’d like to discuss.

Samantha and Chris would like to open a discussion about using medications as a vegan and ethics around this subject.  Naturally, this topic can be widened  to the use of other products (household and cosmetic, for example) and how animals are used in vivisection and testing .  Samantha and Chris, can you start the discussion today with your thoughts about this and specific questions you’d like to discuss?  Can you share about where you are in this transition to a vegan lifestyle regarding medications, household products, or personal care products that are tested on animals?

Coach Donna and Coach Rosemary

The opinions we express as GFJ Coaches are ours personally. We are not professional health practitioners.  Neither are we treating a specific health care issue.  That means we are not offering advice on health-care problems. If you  are experiencing a health-care problem, it is important to seek the advice of a health professional. However we are experienced, practicing vegans and we look forward to coaching you on your journey.


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  1. Samantha Beeney January 8, 2013 at 9:20 am

    At this point, to my knowledge none of our household cleaning products are tested on animals or use any animal ingredients. We tried using Dr. Bronners because it is so long lasting but then the house smells like hemp oil…and I cannot handle that. lol.

    We use method cleaning products for everything, if we cannot get them for some reason we use 7th Generation. We could use suggestions for something like bleach (multi-purpose) that is cruelty-free as we have been doing without. We usually buy Trader’s Joes paper products if needed, hoping to avoid the bad parent companies.

    All of our personal care products are Lush, with the exception of my deodorant (sadly the Lush ones didn’t work for me). When I do use makeup it is Lush’s Emotional Brilliance or certain ELF colors.

    For medication for me, before I living a vegan life, I took prescription medication for asthma, anxiety, and arthritis. I would also take the occasional tylenol or ibuprofen, or cold medicine when really needed.
    Since I started eating a vegan diet, I have found that I really don’t need any of the prescriptions anymore. I haven’t had an asthma attack since becoming vegan. My joint pain has greatly decreased and I have less feelings of anxiety. If I need to take something for my anxiety now it is usually a lavender tea, essential oils, or I take an herbal supplement.

    I assume that all medications like tylenol and cold medicine are tested on animals and probably contain animal ingredients. It is also probably likely that many herbal treatments are as well I suppose.

  2. Chris Beeney January 8, 2013 at 9:33 am

    I’ve been very much anti-medication my whole life but I do take it when needed. Usually if I feel like I’m “dying” I’ll take Nyquil but that’s rarely the case… for the most part I do not take anything, especially not for colds. I have used Umcka’s cold medicine a couple times during particularly nasty bouts. I’ve always preferred the capsules to the liquid, and was happy to find Nyquil and Dayquil in solid capsule form (no gelatin casing).
    As far as my personal care products, I use deodorant from Lush but it does not work at all when I’m at the pool in the summer. I also still have a spray on from Old Spice that I’m continuing to use (when needed at work) until it’s gone. Since I have a sitting job, an antiperspirant isn’t necessary but I would like to have something if I were riding my bike to work, or going to the pool, or something similar.

  3. Samantha Beeney January 8, 2013 at 9:39 am

    I feel that it is important to note that my husband does also use soap, shampoo and other personal care products. 😛

    I guess I want to know where other Vegans stand on the medication issue? Prescription? Day-to-day?

    If not, what do you use instead? I know I haven’t actually been sick since about a month after starting as a vegan but I am sure it will happen at some point.

    • Coach Donna January 8, 2013 at 9:57 am

      Hi Samantha and Chris –
      I think that there are numerous stances that vegans take on the issue of medication use – whether it is prescription or day-today (over the counter). I try my hardest not to take standard medications and if there is an herbal alternative, I will try that first, I did however have breast cancer 7 years ago and as part of the treatment, I did take tamoxifen for almost 5 years afterwards. It is most unfortunate that most -possibly all (??) prescription drugs are tested on animals. I am completely against this and yet I have found myself taking the end result. I have also been on antibiotics for other illnesses that there were no other known alternatives to. It is indeed a very complicated issue.

      • Samantha Beeney January 8, 2013 at 1:30 am

        I use clove oil for topical pain relief. It also helps to increase blood flow so it is good for joint pain.

      • Samantha Beeney January 8, 2013 at 10:34 am

        I feel like if it is a life or death situation and there are no alternatives, then perhaps it must be done. I would have done the same thing in your place.
I know for me when I was told to take antibiotics for anything that isn’t seriously life threatening I use herbal alternatives.There are a lot of good ones for mild/moderate issues 

      • Coach Rosemary January 8, 2013 at 10:47 am

        Samantha, can you tell us what herbal alternatives you use in these cases?

      • Coach Rosemary January 8, 2013 at 10:47 am

        Samantha, can you tell us what herbal alternatives you use in these cases?

        • Samantha Beeney January 8, 2013 at 11:04 am

          I most commonly use goldenseal (it should only be used for short periods of time of 1-2 weeks).

          I also use clove oil, peppermint oil, oregano oil, and garlic for milder issues.

          After my impacted wisdom tooth was removed, I actually used these instead of a conventional antibiotic. I took the goldenseal supplement and made teas of peppermint/oregano/clove to rinse with and drink. I also used clove oil as a topical pain reliever.

          • Coach Rosemary January 8, 2013 at 11:47 am

            Thank you, Samantha. Do you use a particular line for oils? I do like the Young Life brand, but don’t know much about others.

      • Samantha Beeney January 8, 2013 at 11:04 am

        I most commonly use goldenseal (it should only be used for short periods of time of 1-2 weeks). 
I also use clove oil, peppermint oil, oregano oil, and garlic for milder issues. 
After my impacted wisdom tooth was removed, I actually used these instead of a conventional antibiotic. I took the goldenseal supplement and made teas of peppermint/oregano/clove to rinse with and drink. I also used clove oil as a topical pain reliever.

      • Coach Rosemary January 8, 2013 at 11:47 am

        Thank you, Samantha. Do you use a particular line for oils? I do like the Young Life brand, but don’t know much about others.

      • Samantha Beeney January 8, 2013 at 11:59 am

        I really like Young Living oils (to the point that I wanted to sell them). I will also use Aura Cacia if I need something right away, they are available at Wegmans. 
I have heard that you can also make your own essential oils but I have not had the time to try it out yet. Maybe this summer.

      • Coach Rosemary January 8, 2013 at 12:03 pm

        I meant to say, Young Living! Yes, I love their oils, and use some of them for different purposes. Thieves can be used for so many purposes, like cleaning, washing hands, and for medicinal purposes as well. They are also great for aromatherapy 

      • Coach Donna January 8, 2013 at 12:04 pm

        I love Goldenseal!!! If I take this at the first sign fo a scratchy throat, I can usually ward off anything further. If not, and something develops, I can often treat with echinacea.
I know that clove oil is often applied to gums during teeth cleaning at the dentists – what else have you used it for, Samantha?

    • Nina January 8, 2013 at 10:08 am

      Hi Samantha and Chris, Donna and Rosemary – this is an awesome journey – I got so HUNGRY yesterday reading all your descriptions of food and recipes and the sensations around food! Donna, reacting to your comment about animal testing I am sure most of us can agree that testing on animals for life saving medical drugs is a very difficult issue to solve, but there are so many other unnecessary uses of animal testing – in cosmetics, household and other products where human experience and scientific data could do the trick, or even human testing! That would reduce the damage to so many lives by a significant amount !

      • Samantha Beeney January 8, 2013 at 10:37 am

        Yesterday’s posts made me hungry too! I ended up attempting to make pumpkin muffins, which turned out okay. Well the cat stole one off the counter and gave it to the dog, so they must be good.

        I guess it all comes back to doing everything that you can to reduce the cruelty in the world. If we just accept certain things to be fact (don’t put things in your eyes) and use testing alternatives the world would already be a much better place.

      • Coach Donna January 8, 2013 at 11:21 am

        Yes, absolutely Nina. The percentage of products that we use that involves treatment of a serious illnesses, etc., is so very small compared to the products that we use on a daily basis.
        So many strides have been made in the areas of personal care products. And I do believe that with all of the wonderful work of organizations like PCRM, animal testing for prescription medication – or any type of medical reason – will be a thing of the past. So many alternatives exist – ones that really do insure safety as opposed to animal tests that can yield results that have nothing to do with human anatomy. It’s a matter of getting the government agencies to accept these changes.

      • Coach Rosemary January 8, 2013 at 11:25 am

        Johns Hopkins and anti-vivisection website

    • Coach Donna January 8, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      I found a very interesting post (and ensuing comments) about this issue :

    • Coach Donna January 8, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      Samantha and Chris,
      I have been thinking about this topic a lot since this morning.and have been searching around the web.
      I found another interesting forum that addresses this issue – Does taking non-vegan medicine make me a hypocrite?

      • Coach Rosemary January 8, 2013 at 4:42 pm

        I especially love Jo Sepanniak’s response to this question.
        This is helpful to consider~

        • Coach Donna January 8, 2013 at 7:05 pm

          I agree Rosemary – it is very helpful.
          “Use the medication that has been prescribed for your condition with a clear conscience and a peaceful heart, knowing that as a vegan you are able to relieve the plight of others because you are wise enough to first take care of yourself.”

          I have been thinking about how as vegans, we are constantly aware of harm that we might cause to others and are always questioning what we do and what kind of impact it might have on other creatures. Too often, we forget about how important it is to take care of ourselves – if we are not healthy – both physically and emotionally – our ability to advocate for others becomes compromised and we are far less effective.

          • Coach Rosemary January 8, 2013 at 7:50 pm

            I think of all the issues, this is the toughest one to reconcile completely for me. It’s one thing to give up a favorite brand of shampoo because of animal testing. However, if you have diabetes or cancer, there may not be much choice in treatment options that are cruelty free. We all do our best.

  4. Coach Rosemary January 8, 2013 at 9:50 am

    You are both very conscientious about your product use…great!

    For so many people, once they adopt a whole foods, plant based diet, many symptoms decrease or cease all together. I’m so glad to hear that this is the case for both of you! There are many good medicinal sources that are natural, including teas, herbal formulas, and oils. Personally, I rarely use over the counter medicines because I haven’t needed to. I have to think more deeply about whether I would if I needed them. A tough issue.

    Deodorant and antiperspirants can be tricky. Currently, I use Kiss My Face roll-on for deodorant and LUSH coconut powder on top. I think everyone is so different, so finding what works for your body chemistry is key.

    The ethics and philosophy is complicated around vivisection and use of medicines for our use. Is it ok if it’s a life or death situation, and not for let’s say, a cold? or never? Hopefully, we’ll have input from others on this topic as well.

  5. Samantha Beeney January 8, 2013 at 10:12 am

    I was opposed to animal testing in cosmetics long before I became vegan or started at Lush. I remember shopping for makeup when I was 13 and refusing to buy anything that was tested on animals. Those where however, the good old days when you could buy Avon products and I LOVED Urban Decay. I have had a love/hate relationship with Urban Decay over the years which is now apathy.

    We have a variety of medicinal teas (which Chris hates because he hates tea) and a variety of essential oils. I have been also known to take a shot of hot sauce if I feel congested or an upset stomach. For some reason that works on me. Likely because I grew up in AZ and half my blood is hot sauce. LOL. This would probably make most people’s stomachs worse rather than better.

    I used all herbal treatments when recovering from wisdom tooth removal (no antibiotics for me) and don’t get flu shots etc. I feel that if there is a cruelty-free alternative it should be used.

    I REFUSE to use Tom’s of Maine products. I have tried Hugo Naturals & Kiss My Face Deodorants but both left me smelly even showering daily and applying throughout the day. Sadly, I am allergic to all the Lush deodorants except the Coconut (I have had a lot of plant based contact allergies such as sandalwood & pine). I use the Coconut as a dusting powder but apparently I sweat like a man.

    I don’t even let the hair stylist wash my hair or put any product in when I get it cut. I also gave up nail salons because I realized that I was bringing everything with me.

    • Coach Donna January 8, 2013 at 11:02 am

      Samantha – have you tried the Kiss My Face Natural Liquid Rock deodorant ? I find this one works really well for me and I know that many other people who like it. Also, Herban Cowboy makes a nice deodorant.
      Do you have any salons near you that use Purology products – they have many vegan shampoos/conditioners/hair styling products.
      As far as bleach – there is a 7’th Generation product –

      • Samantha Beeney January 8, 2013 at 11:11 am

        That Kiss My Face deodorant is the one that I am using now, it is a bit better than the others but I still have the same issues. I will have to look into the other one you mentioned.

        I don’t use Pureology because they are owned by L’Oreal.

        I will have to try to locate that 7th generation bleach. It would make life much easier (and brighter lol).

        • Coach Donna January 8, 2013 at 11:26 am

          on no!!!! I didn’t know that about Purology!!!!!

          John Masters Organics is a great line – not tested on animals, most products are vegan – a number of salons use these products – and he is a really nice guy! I know that when he started, he was making the products in his apartment. His line has grown and it is very successful – plus – he often has 25% off sales, so sign up for his e-mails. He really was one of the first to produce synthetic free products.

          • Coach Rosemary January 8, 2013 at 11:46 am

            I think Paul Mitchell is cruelty-free also.

          • Samantha Beeney January 8, 2013 at 11:55 am

            I will have to see if there are any local salons who use his products. I am happy with my products that I use at home. Everything is made by LUSH, you could call it an occupational hazard. 🙂

            I use the BIG solid conditioner and Daddy-O for my hair and do not often use any sort of styling product.

        • Coach Rosemary January 8, 2013 at 11:57 am

          LariJames salon in Webster is a Paul Mitchell certified salon

        • Samantha Beeney January 8, 2013 at 12:01 pm

          My only problem there is that I have a tendency to be cheap…lol.
I would literally cut my own hair at home with normal scissors if I had any ability to cut in a straight line.

      • Chris Beeney January 8, 2013 at 1:26 pm

        I came across this image from a friend of mine who’s more politically inclined than I. It does label the parent companies on some of the “natural” companies that were against labelling GMO’s on their products. I found it enlightening that companies like Odwalla and Honest Tea are owned by Coca Cola.

      • Coach Rosemary January 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm

        Thank you for this information, Chris!!! I learn something new (or several things new) every day – especially during these journies.

      • Coach Rosemary January 8, 2013 at 1:58 pm

        This is quite interesting, and makes one wonder about almost everything we use day to day. Thank you!

  6. Kelly January 8, 2013 at 12:22 pm

    I am pretty lucky, I have a hair stylist on staff, she does my hair with my products!! 🙂

    As for prescriptions and medications, I have found this to be a really tough one. I have always been anti medication… to me it always felt strange to mask symptoms and thought it would make me sicker longer. (May be just in my head!) I usually try a detox bath as soon as I start feeling something coming on. I use Geophyzz bath bombs (2 or 3) from work, but you can get the same effects from salts, baking soda and essential oils. (If you google detox baths you can find different recipes) I stay in the bath for at least an hour and drink a litre of lemon water. This fights of 90% of illnesses. I did get super sick this Christmas and ended up having to take cold medicine to make it through work. 🙁

    • Coach Donna January 8, 2013 at 12:39 pm

      You are indeed lucky, Kelly!!!! How fabulous it would be if LUSH opened hair salons.

      I know what you mean about masking symptoms – thesymptoms are there to tell us something. I like the idea of detox baths and will have to give this a try.

      I hope that you are feeling a lot better now. 🙂

    • Coach Rosemary January 8, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      This is another wonderful alternative, Kelly! Another reason to visit our local LUSH store 🙂

      For more “seasoned women” we also struggle with hair color that is cruelty free. I believe the LUSH color is a temporary color…correct?

    • Samantha Beeney January 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm

      I do love a good LUSH bath bomb. My favorite is Big Blue. Sadly no Geophyzz for me, because of the pine allergy 🙁

      The LUSH henna hair colors last about as long as boxed hair coloring.

  7. Rachel January 9, 2013 at 1:12 pm

    Joining this discussion a tad late, but I am very interested in your thoughts. I experience intense menstrual cramps and have reconciled use of OTC ibuprofen over prescription pills or birth control, options that would much more effectively limit this nuisance. As someone who generally tries to avoid meds, even use of these gelatin-free pills is difficult for me, as they probably contain hidden animal-derived ingredients and are funding probable animal testers. My inability to function without them or get relief from herbal alternatives has led me to articles about vegans turning to compound pharmacies to make specialized pills.

    I also struggle with shots and vaccinations. Do we only prioritize our bodily well-being over our ethics when dealing with a pressing problem, or do we extend that to potential threats like tetanus and the flu?

    Veganism can attract perfectionist personalities, and until the marketplace and animal testing laws that limit the marketplace are amended, we are unfortunately left with determining what is the lesser of the evils.