Alexa is working toward a vegetarian diet, and is loaded with questions. Jennifer’s got answers. We talk about anything as long as it is vegan. Are tattoos vegan? How do I politely not eat Thanksgiving dinner? How do I order without pissing off the waitress? We know you are dying to ask!

asksalexaI’ve been saving up for my first tattoo, is there anything I should know about veganism and tattoos?

Vegans and tattoos kind-of go hand in hand right? I mean, there aren’t too many vegans I know that don’t have a tattoo, me included. Hell, even buzzfeed got into the vegan tattoo market. So it is surprising to find out that tattoos aren’t vegan. So should you be concerned about it? Well, I think the biggest concern for the veganism movement is probably bringing attention to the food and fashion industries, but it shouldn’t mean you should ignore other markets. Education is always best, especially when you get stuck in a “gotcha!” vegan debate. (you know the ones where people ask you if semen and breast milk are vegan) So I’ll break down your major concerns in sections, so you know how to deal with it.

The Animals Are in the Ink

Yeah, that actual ink being used is not vegan. What is in it? The standard black ink uses charred animal bones and most inks have glycerin (animal fat) as a stabilizer. There can also be gelatin and shellac (from beatles) in other ink shades. I am sure the idea of having animal bones forever in your skin isn’t the most comforting thing.

There are all vegan tattoo parlors out there, but sometimes you want a specific artist. If you want you can ask if they could use vegan ink on you. Need suggestions to give your tattoo artist? Some brands are Intenze Tattoo Ink, Waverly Color, and Stable Color. I’ve read online that black uses the most animal products, so keep that in mind. Some artists don’t make the switch as they claim that the blacks aren’t as black. Some people say the boldness of the black is dependent on the skill of the artist. So keep it in mind, this is a lifetime commitment.

Numbing Agents, Sterilization, and Cleanings

When I got my tattoo, I didn’t ask any questions. I got a lot of things slabbed onto my arm, lotions, sterilization pads, even a numbing agent (the artist accidentally spilled his ink and took pity on making me wait longer). I have no idea what my tattoo artist used, or what went on my body. You can ask your tattoo artist what else he will use, and suggest if you bring your own products…

Or you can do an easier route and research vegan tattoo parlors. There are few out there, but most are in major cities like New York City, Portland, and LA. Some parlors don’t advertise if they are vegan, so it never hurts to ask, and some individual artists might be vegan while others in the same parlor are not. No vegan tattoo artists near you? Keep your eyes peeled for tattoo conventions, some traveling tattoo artists might be vegan, and you can schedule an appointment during the convention.

Aftercare Treatment

This is the section that you have the most control. Your tattoo artist might try and sell you some tattoo aftercare products. They might say to use unscented lotion. If you choose to use products specific for tattoo aftercare, you have lots of options. H2Ocean (including lotions and pain relievers), Devita, Merry Hempsters, and After Ink are all various cremes that help speed up the healing process. But, any non-scented lotions can do the trick, so nothing to sweat over.

So What Does This All Mean?

So there are lots of non-vegan products associated with tattoos, but it shouldn’t stop you from getting one. As mentioned before animal products in tattoos is kind-of of the bottom of the list of concerns. We all should know by now that it is impossible to live in a completely vegan environment. We live in a world where animal products are imbedded in so many aspects of our lives. It is up to you how much action you will take. There are many tattoo artists and vegans who don’t find out about the non-vegan status until years after they “turn.”

That being said, it never hurts to ask. If you have an artists picked out, just go ahead and ask. Who knows they might be 100% and only use vegan products and just don’t advertise it. Maybe your artist doesn’t know about the animal products in their ink and YOU WILL CHANGE THEIR LIFE.

Or maybe not. But you’ll never know until you try.