This weekend, Brazilians all over the country will take to the streets to kickstart the world’s biggest party and broadcast the awe-inspiring parades in Rio de Janeiro’s Sambadrome.
Carnival is Brazil’s most famous cultural expression and it attracts people from all over the world. Deservedly, for sure.
It is a time of music, dance, debauchery, political protest, gender-bending and freedom that most people cannot afford to have in their daily lives. it is a time of fantasy.
To act out their fantasies, people need costumes and often costumes are made with animal suffering.
With the rise of veganism, there has been growing concern over the use of feather on the exuberant costumes worn during the broadcast parade as well as the leather used to make drums.
Three of years ago, Águia de Ouro, one of São Paulo’s samba schools, made a well-publicized decision to ditch all types of animal products from its performance, inaugurating a new era of animal-friendly Carnival partying.
In fact, the school dedicated its theme song to the relationship between humans and animals. Hedonism and ethics can go hand in hand.
The cruelty behind feather is notorious. Birds such as geese, pheasants, ostriches, ducks and peacocks suffer terribly as their feathers are plucked off, leaving many of them with fractures as they struggle against the torture.
Much of the animal materials used on costumes are imported from China and South Africa.
Of course, many organizations and individuals will insist that wearing feather is a tradition and will continue to support horrendous animal suffering. But the conversation has started and a section of the population is aware of the cruelty behind feathers and any animal product for that matter.
Glitter is another Carnival staple and more animal-friendly alternatives have been launched for vegans and anyone else concerned with sustainability.
Traditional glitter is a kind of micro-plastic that is not caught in treatment stations and ends up in the ocean and fish.
But there is no need to give up on glitter. Small companies in the south of Brazil, including Viva Purpurina Biodegradável and Pura are offering products that do not harm sea life and are not toxic to humans, so they can be safely applied on children.
Viva Purpurina says it is doing well and has received orders from other states and even from abroad.
The reason behind the success is new recipe made with food products, edible colorants and mineral powder. The price is not bad, either. An 18 ml flask costs only R$10 (US$2.28) and orders can be placed online.
Pura also follows a recipe based on natural ingredients such as vegetable pigments and minerals and sell their flasks for the same price. They trade online and from selected physical shops as well.