02 May 2011

A vegan in a non-vegan tattoo parlor, what do you do?

Question: You want a tattoo. It's not a vegan parlor (very rarely do you come across a vegan tattoo shop).  What do you do?

As you may or may not know, most tattoo ink contains animal product. If you were to do a quick search you may find that perhaps the closest vegan tattoo parlor is miles, possibly states away. So you really want a tattoo, what do you do?

Before I became vegan I already had six tattoos, so obviously getting more tattoos in the future was not out of the question. After I had been vegan for about 6 months and had been experiencing the benefits of veganism, I knew I was never going back at this point. To commemorate this permanent lifestyle change I wanted to get a vegan tattoo of the word “vegan."

According to the Internet, the closest vegan tattoo parlor was all the way in Atlanta, Georgia, about a six hour drive from where I live in Johnson City, Tennessee. Costs, setting up an appointment and transportation made getting a vegan tattoo seem out of the question for me. I was a little depressed because at this point there was no way I would consider getting a dead animal derived tattoo.

I decided to pay a visit to a local tattoo artist who had worked on me before, Travis Wasko of Stay True Tattoo in Johnson City. After I explained to him the situation, I told him that I would be willing to pay extra if he ordered vegan tattoo ink. After checking with his distributor and totally by coincidence, it turned out that the ink he had been using was already vegan friendly! This was great news especially for me, because that meant that most of my previous tattoos were vegan all along!

So what do you do? Talk to your local artists, if they are decent human beings they will most likely find a way to work with you. If they don’t, then you don’t want them inking you anyway. Perhaps like in my situation they are unknowingly using a vegan ink already, I’m sure my situation is not an isolated case. I’m sure with a little effort you can get the vegan tattoo you have always wanted!

Steven Garnett | Facebook | @stevengarnett
Steven is currently pursuing a B.A. in history and women's studies at East Tennessee State University. He is the founder of Vegans and Vegetarians of the Tri-Cities and a student animal rights organization at ETSU. Steven is a vegan, active feminist, and environmentalist. He enjoys film, art, and delicious vegan cuisine and wishes to educate others about oppression, regardless if it's animal oppression or human oppression. Steven's blog.

Photo credit:Steven Garnett