Growing up in Egypt, I wanted to be a vet. I loved animals and thought that would be a great job. Till I had to dissect a frog in school and nearly passed out which put an end to that dream. I found another way to keep my love for animals alive by joining the school’s Green Peace group which was newly formed then. We would participate in many animal welfare and environmental activities.

My parents didn’t want to have pets in the house, but I would constantly bring injured kittens from the streets and try to heal them. We had an outdoor garden, so I was finally allowed to bring the strays and keep them there. When I was 15, my friends in school who knew how much I loved animals, pooled money to get me a puppy for my birthday. When I took the puppy home, my mother saw the little puppy and my happy face and finally gave in.

Even after I moved to Thailand, I have continued to volunteer for environmental causes and donate to animal welfare organisations. One of the ways this love of animals has shaped my life reflects in my shopping and lifestyle habits.

If you give me a pack of snacks to a personal care or beauty product, I will interrogate you to find out what its ingredients are and how it’s made. And if you accompany me when I am out shopping, you may probably get annoyed with me for checking and reading every line on the product label before putting it into my shopping basket. This habit of mine has got me to give up on some of my favourite snacks, biscuits, soaps and more. In particular, I have chosen to avoid anything with palm oil.

I started doing this after stumbling upon an article and learning that in the past 20 years, over 3.5 million hectares of forests in Indonesia and Malaysia were destroyed to make way for palm oil plantations. In this process, about 80% of the natural habitat of the native Orangutans disappeared. You will be surprised to know the number of products on the shelves that have palm oil in them.

For the last 5 years, I have also not bought any beauty or personal care products that are tested on animals. The switch was not as easy as I thought it would be, but in the end, I found some of the best products that I have ever used in my life are the ones that are totally animal cruelty-free. I have become a big advocate of this cause and make it a point to only gift cruelty free products to my loved ones. I share whatever knowledge I have with my friends and family to create awareness and help them research and identify where they can get animal cruelty-free products near them. I am also active in many social media groups that work towards creating awareness about animal welfare.

You will be shocked and horrified to know that so many glamourous and popular beauty products have an ugly side to them as they are a result of being tested on hundreds of thousands of animals in very cruel procedures.

When you switch to products that are cruelty-free, you are using or consuming products that contain natural ingredients instead of harsh chemicals. So even if you are not an animal lover, the fact that you can avoid consuming or applying products with potentially dangerous chemicals should be good enough for you to switch to animal cruelty-free products!”


Sandra Ellackany is our Senior Communications Manager based in Bangkok who hopes to educate as many people as possible to be conscientious consumers and help save the forests and the animals within