Being vegan is all about choice, and rarely, if ever, is the choice of being ‘perfectly vegan’ an option. That said, there are definitely some products and items that are more vegan than others.
Technological devices, such as computers, phones, and cameras, have become an integral part of our everyday lives, but no technology is purely vegan. Let’s look at our cameras. How are they not vegan?
Are Cameras Vegan?
Cameras are not strictly vegan as they may include animal derivatives in their parts and production processes. The extent to which you consider cameras non-vegan will depend on how you choose to define your veganism and the type of camera you select, and how you use it.
Suppose you’re a vegan who decides to omit animal by-products only where practicable and when an alternative exists. In that case, you will probably still consider the use of cameras acceptable by vegan standards.
What Non-Vegan Products Are In Cameras?
Gelatin is the main identifiable animal-derived product that is found in cameras, film paper, camera batteries, and film. Gelatin is made from the parts of animals, usually pigs or cows. It’s used to give metals their structure and as a binding agent.
There could be animal cholesterol present in the LCD screens of digital cameras, and the glues used during manufacture may also have animal traces in them. In fact, it’s very difficult to know exactly what components of a camera, its accessories, or the machinery and processes used to make them, contain animal by-products.
While not essential if you are shooting digital, camera film is still widely used by amateur and professional photographers. Peta, People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals, confirm that they know of no film that does not contain gelatin.
Are Some Cameras More Vegan Than Others?
Yes and no. While there aren’t any cameras that can claim to be vegan-certified, there are definitely differences in the way that major brands approach manufacturing from an environmental perspective. An eco-conscious approach takes into account the welfare of all sentient beings, including animals.
It may take some research, but try and find a camera brand that’s got a good rap for being eco-friendly and investing time and money into further sustainability improvements. The more consumers support companies that are taking the right steps over those that aren’t, the brighter the planet’s future should be.
Organizations such as Forbes regularly release lists of the top-performing tech companies in terms of environmental action.
Can I Make My Camera More Vegan?
You can reduce demand for new camera production, and thus the increased use of animal by-products in their creation, by using the camera on your phone rather than investing in a separate device. Shooting digitally will reduce the amount of film consumed, also reducing your consumption of animal-derived products.
However, remember that digital images are also generated using technology involving animal products in their creation. Consider purchasing a second-hand camera. By re-purposing an existing item, you are also not contributing to an increase in the manufacture of new camera equipment.
When shopping for camera accessories, try to choose vegan alternatives to leather or polluting plastic. There are plenty of fashionable and functional camera accessories available.
Are Cameras Ethically and Environmentally Produced?
Many Vegans have a strong ethical and environmental compass. They want products and services that don’t exploit animals, but that also minimize harm to the environment and to humans. Unfortunately, the social and environmental record of most technology companies isn’t that great.
Tech production can involve not only the exploitation of animals but also conflict mining, human rights abuses, and pollution. All electronics contain chemicals that can be toxic to the planet and processes that result in harmful greenhouse gas emissions.
Some companies have been revealed to score better than others in terms of their commitment to eco-friendly and humane practices. Vegans may wish to avoid Nikon and Leica as two examples of camera manufacturers linked to the promotion of trophy hunting. In addition, Samsung has been criticized for abusing the rights of workers.
Look for companies that don’t promote or glorify trophy hunting or other inhumane activities through their marketing, sponsorship, or the products they produce.
Will There Ever Be Vegan Cameras?
Research has been conducted into alternatives for gelatin, including some conducted by major manufacturers of camera equipment and film such as Kodak and Fuji. Unfortunately, there has not been a success in developing a suitable alternative as yet.
If, and when, a vegan substitute for gelatin is discovered, it will be a game-changer for those wishing to embrace cruelty-free technology as gelatin is found not just in cameras and film but in all manner of technological devices and processes.
Its replacement will pave the way for vegan-friendly tech. That said, experiments into gelatin alternatives can be traced back as far as the ’50s and ’60s, indicating that success is a little way off yet.
Why Can’t We Make Vegan Gelatin Alternatives?
Each year there are hundreds of thousands of tons of gelatin produced. It’s made from the collagen of animals, by boiling tendons, ligaments, skin, and bones, in water. Usually, cow or pig parts are used to make gelatin. Rather than the animals being slaughtered exclusively for its production, it’s a by-product of the meat and leather industries.
The unique characteristics of gelatin and its ability to give integrity to metal and bind different materials together across a wide range of products have made it difficult to replicate. Polyvinyl alcohol and vegetable alternatives have been extensively trialed, but none have so far yielded the results of gelatin.
It’s hard to imagine that the technology industry, which relies on producing high-functioning products, will give up on gelatin until an equally versatile and effective replacement exists.
In the absence of perfect vegan choices, you can always strive to make better choices. A large part of that consists of being well-informed and up to date with who is doing what in terms of action on climate change and on protecting against the further exploitation of animals. The internet, which it may not be strictly vegan, is a wonderful resource for selecting the right brand of camera to use.