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What’s the Difference Between Cruelty Free and Vegan?

How to identify cruelty free vs vegan items

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Many assume that if something is labeled as vegan, it must also be cruelty-free (and vice versa). How I wish that were true! But these terms each have specific definitions. Cruelty-free cosmetics have not been tested on animals, whereas vegan cosmetics don’t contain any animal derived ingredients. Being aware of the difference of the two will empower you to make your buying power decisions that align with your ethics!

What’s the Difference Between Cruelty Free and Vegan?

It’s important to know that the terms ‘vegan’ and ‘cruelty-free’ are not synonyms, though the confusion is understandable. ‘Vegan’ refers to products without any animal-derived ingredients, but it does not specify on the production process. Technically, items tested on animals can claim to be vegan. By the same token, ‘cruelty-free’ means that the final product has not been tested on animals in the process, but can contain some of those pesky animal-derived or animal by-products.

Can something be cruelty-free but NOT vegan?

Sadly, the answer is yes. It can contain animal products or ingredients.

Can something be vegan but NOT cruelty-free?

Again, sadly, yes. The products or its ingredients may have been tested on animals.

When a product claims to be both ‘cruelty-free and vegan’, it means it was not tested on animals and it does not contain animal products or ingredients.

Understanding Vegan Certification

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Peta, cruelty-free and vegan. The company and their ingredient suppliers do not conduct, commission, or pay for any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finished products and do not contain any animal ingredients. No testing/monitoring is performed, therefore the meaning of this logo depends on the honesty and accuracy of written statements

certified vegan logo

Products must not have involved animal testing of ingredients or finished products by the supplier, producer, manufacturer, or independent party and may not be tested in the future. Products must provide supplier verification that animal products were not used in the manufacturing of ingredients
In order for a product to be approved for Vegan Certification it must not contain meat, fish, fowl, animal by-products, eggs or egg products, milk or milk products, honey or honey bee products, insects or products from insects such as silk or dyes, or sugar filtered with bone char.

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Vegan Society It means the product and ingredients do not contain any animal product, by-product or derivative and must not involve testing of any sort on animals by the manufacturers or on its behalf, or by any third parties
When you see one of these seals on a product package, you know it has met a more stringent set of requirements.  Other countries have other animal emblems to watch for.

Can vegan items have more than one logo? Yes, they can. They have both cruelty free and vegan logos if they are certified as such.

Simple tips on how to switch to Cruelty Free


Get the list of cruelty free Personal Care & Beauty Products

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