We inhabit an increasingly virtual world where our screens are our eyes to everywhere. Computers, phones, TVs, microwaves, clocks, electronic billboards, and countless other devices all feature screens.
LCDs or liquid-crystal displays make up most screens used today, and avoiding them altogether would be nearly impossible. What goes into making these screens, and are they vegan?
Are LCDs Vegan?
In general, it cannot be said with absolute confidence that LCDs do not contain animal products in their components or as part of their production processes. However, the amounts of animal trace products are likely to be very small. In the absence of alternatives that are absolutely confirmed as vegan, most vegans will continue using LCD screens. In this way, LCDs can be stated to be vegan-friendly.
What Animal Products Could Be in LCDs
The liquid crystals in LCDs are said to be formed using cholesterol from animals. There is some debate on the issue of cholesterol in LCDs and whether it contains animal products or is synthetic. The reluctance of major manufacturers to release statements on the matter does little to clear up any confusion.
Manufacturers often say that where animal products have been used, it is because there is no effective alternative.
Gelatin, also derived from animal sources, may be used in the metal structure encasing the LCD screen to improve its integrity. The glues used to bind together components of LCDs may also contain animal products. There may also be traces of animal products in the machines that make LCDs and in other design and development stages.
The difficulty remains in gaining confirmation from manufacturers about the exact nature of all ingredients, components, and processes that combine to make their products. While products such as glues can contain animal derivatives, synthetic alternatives can also be used.
Because it is impracticable to know with one hundred percent surety that LCDs do not contain any traces of animal products, many vegans will choose to classify them as good vegan products.
Are There Vegan LCDs Available?
The short answer is no. However, while you may not be able to locate an LCD screen that is vegan certified, you can find companies that are approaching the manufacture of electronics, and LCDs in particular, from a more ethical and environmentally conscious ethos.
These companies, such as Fairphone, show greater transparency than some mainstream electronics manufacturers, revealing the environmental and ethical principles that guide their product design and manufacture.
One alternative to LCDs that are becoming more readily available on the electronics market is OLEDs or organic light-emitting diodes.
It may be complicated to choose a life with no LCDs in it, but we certainly have the power to select the brands we use and, therefore, the company practices we endorse.
Are Any Electronics Absolutely Vegan?
When you consider how many parts and processes go into the complicated construction of electronics, then it cannot be said that any electronics are absolutely free of any animal exploitation at all stages of development. There are components, and then there are the components of components, and so on.
This does, however, mean giving into an industry in which animal abuse is condoned. Many developments have produced synthetic products that mimic those traditionally made with animal products, and these advancements continue.
As vegans, we can always attempt to choose the best option that is least likely to contain animal products and to demand even better options be made available. LCDs are a great example of a grey area product that most people will find difficult to avoid altogether, and yet few will endorse as being completely vegan.
Practicality, along with firm ethical principles, can be our guiding forces to leading a vegan-inspired life.
LCDs Vs OLEDs
The panels in OLEDs are said to emit less harmful substances, making them a safer environmental and human-friendly choice. LCDs use twelve times more plastic in their production than OLEDs. Reducing plastic usage makes for a more sustainable and eco-conscious product. OLED parts are also more easily recycled than LCDs.
They are currently a more expensive option, but their price should decrease as their usage becomes more widespread. While there appears to be little official confirmation that OLEDs are 100% vegan, there is also no suggestion that they use cholesterol from animal sources or other animal by-products.
As many vegans are also aligned with making better environmental choices, most of which directly influence the well-being of animals, plants, and humans, OLEDs could be a more vegan-friendly option than LCDs.
Will Vegan LCDs Ever be Mainstream
It was once unthinkable to go into the local pub and expect to find a vegan menu option. These days it’s a commonplace. The same can be said of food products, clothing brands, and many other products. Shop-savvy vegans can now consult lists of reputable brands and products that have been endorsed as animal cruelty-free.
The complexity of the electronics industry, the absence of any regulations surrounding ‘ingredients lists’ on devices, and other considerations all contribute to LCDs and other electronic devices not being listed as vegan or not.
As Veganism becomes an increasingly mainstream option, so too is the electronics industry evolving in its exploration of vegan-friendly alternatives.
Technology is, by definition, an industry of innovation. Electronics manufacturers are constantly reinventing the devices we use and rely on. Vegan-tech is already a term and an incentive in the development of electronics such as LCDs.
If you’re on the hunt for LCDs that are certified vegan, then you may be disappointed. If, however, your goal in being vegan is to participate in a world that minimizes the exploitation and suffering of animals, then engaging with technology companies as they shape the products of the future is an empowering way to start.
The more we express our demands for animal cruelty-free products and processes, the greater the response from the innovators of such items will be.