With the popularity of veganism on the rise, even in a country that makes the best shisanyama, we all know not to serve animal-based products to a vegan. But following a vegan lifestyle doesn’t stop at diet alone. Veganism also means abstaining from the use of all animal-based products. So while it’s easy for a vegan to say no to real leather shoes, do they really know what’s in their plastic bags, their paint, and even their tyres?
Are tyres vegan?
The short answer is: No, they are not. In the production of tyres, the majority of manufacturers make use of animal-based or at least a combination of both animal- and plant-based stearic acid.
Stearic acid – what is it?
Stearic acid is a waxy solid obtained from fats and oils. The Greek word "stéar" means tallow as it was often derived from the natural animal by-products and fats during the processing of meat. However, stearic acid may also be obtained from the fatty parts of certain plants such as palm oil, cocoa butter, and shea butter.
Why is there stearic acid in tyres?
Stearic acid enhances a tyres flexibility, strength, and grip and also helps the rubber hold its shape under friction during driving. So this chemical compound is no doubt an extremely important component in tyre manufacturing.
What tyre options are available for vegans?
As mentioned, almost all tyres make use of animal-based stearic acid. As far as our research goes, it seems that Michelin are the only tyre brand that manufacture 100% vegan tyres across their entire range.
A few other tyre brands may have vegan options on specific models, but it’s not clear which ones and in which countries they are available. According to Veg World Magazine, Dunlop/Goodyear, Pirelli, and Continental all have vegan options.
Veganism is more than a diet, it’s a lifestyle. It affects so many of the everyday choices we make – at home and on the road. Smart manufacturers know that they need to provide consumers with more vegan options if they want to keep ahead of the competition – even in the land of braaivleis!
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