My eyes have been forced open. Gloved in latex, their rough hands are using clips to hold my eyelids back. I see them lift a familiar object near my face and feel a wave of relief wash over me; it is my good old friend, the milk dropper.
But rather than going into my mouth as I am eagerly expecting, it hovers over my exposed eye sockets and releases liquid onto them. For a moment, the only difference I perceive is that my eyes are more moistened; but then my whole world turns blood red.
My eyes burn and itch as if hot gravel had been poured into them. I desperately struggle to free my legs in hopes to run away from this torture, but my whole body is trapped in something they had referred to as a “restraining stock.” Screaming and crying out in blinding pain, I am left to suffer while they take notes.
Source: Psychology Today
What the little white rabbit — whose thoughts have been presented above — doesn’t know is that she will be in this condition of excruciating pain for the next few weeks. She is a subject — or should I say victim? — of the Draize Eye Irritancy Test, a method that was first developed three-quarters of a century ago when animal testing was still in its infancy. Today, this test has not only been deemed irrelevant and unreliable for humans as both organisms’ eyes are structurally different, but also unnecessary because as of 2018 there are several cruelty-free alternatives to such tests.
This bunny rabbit is just one of the many victims of animal testing, the process by which experiments are carried out on live animals that cause pain, lasting harm, and/or death. Allow me to give you an idea of just how large the scale of this brutality is. According to the Humane Society, approximately 500,000 mice, guinea pigs, rats, and rabbits suffer and die in chemical tests for cosmetics throughout the world annually — and this number doesn’t even include the thousands of more animal lives that are lost in medical training, curiosity-driven experimentation, and chemical, drug, food testing. After taking all that into consideration, the number of animal deaths rises up to 2 million.
Thankfully, however, the governments of many countries are beginning to acknowledge this injustice and are helping reduce it. For example, testing cosmetic products and their ingredients are banned in India, Israel, and across the European Union. As much of an achievement this is, there is still much progress to be made as a majority of the world permits legal animal testing and some countries — mainly China — even necessitate it. In order to sell in markets such as China’s, as well as to be able to defend themselves when sued by injured consumers, companies continue to carry out tests on animals in places where this practice is legal, despite the fact that alternatives exist. Some of the major companies that continue to pay for tests on animals are listed below:
After learning about the aforementioned, I decided to put myself to the test to see just how animal-friendly I am; the results were heartbreaking. I decided to go through my considerably novice makeup kit to get an idea of how many products I own would have been tested on innocent small mammals. The results? Out of a total of 10 items, 7 are from the brands mentioned above.
That’s when it hit me: I use products that were made by torturing other living beings, creatures that possess many of the same neural structures as you and I do; this means that they have feelings just like we do. According to Marc Bekoff, a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, “animals experience contagious joy and the deepest of grief, they get hurt and suffer, and they take care of one another. They have a point of view on what happens to them, their families, and their friends.” Yet, we treat them like nonconscious beings and ruthlessly exploit them, believing that they’re unaware of the injustice being done.
I strongly encourage you to watch this video before continuing on with this piece.
As the PETA video makes clear, animal testing is inhumane and must be stopped. After all, how could one ever justify that an ingredient for their split-end rescue shampoo is worth another’s life? Just because we can force an estimated 70,000 primates to live as research subjects in labs across the U.S. with our quick wits and brute force doesn’t mean we have the right to. As insignificant as animals may be to some of us, the reality of the matter is that Earth is an extremely fragile ecosystem and hence when animals are taken out of it, this complex network begins to crumble down, leaving everybody involved struggling. We are supposed to share this planet with the other creatures that inhabit it, not treat them as commodities to fulfill our whims and fancies.
So how can you help turn the tables? To begin with, there are numerous petitions designed to pressurize companies to be transparent with their manufacturing processes. Go ahead and sign and share them; create awareness. Another way you could help — which might require a little more dedication — would be to boycott products from companies that are ambiguous about their animal testing policies. Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to track down cruelty-free brands near you; for example, here’s a list of cruelty-free brands in India.
I would now like to leave you with a former animal researcher’s second thoughts: There is no research more valuable than our own integrity and ethical coherence, and our treatment of animals is a direct reflection of our values toward life and one another.