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Vegan and Cruelty Free?

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Many people have the notion that if a product is vegan, it is also cruelty-free. This is why the term is often used interchangeably. However, this is not true. Not every vegan product is cruelty-free, and not every cruelty-free product is vegan. Confused? Let’s break it down a little bit more. Cruelty-free products have not been tested on animals, whereas vegan products do not contain any animal-derived ingredients. In this article, we will clarify the main differences between the two so that you can make an informed decision while selecting a product.

A product can be both cruelty-free and vegan

Yes, it is completely possible for a product to be both cruelty-free and vegan. When a product is both cruelty-free and vegan, it was not tested on animals, nor does it contain any animal ingredients or by-products. There are many brands that sell cruelty-free and vegan products.

A product can be cruelty-free but not vegan

A product can certainly be cruelty-free, but not vegan. This means that the product was not tested on animals but contains animal ingredients. There are brands that have a strict animal testing policy and have been certified cruelty-free by both Leaping Bunny and PETA’s Beauty Without Bunnies Program, but their products contain animal-derived ingredients like milk, carmine, lanolin, royal jelly, and honey.

A product can be vegan but not cruelty-free

In some cases, it is possible for a product to be vegan but not cruelty-free. Some products do not contain any animal ingredients (like beeswax or carmine), making them vegan-friendly. However, the ingredients or the finished product may have been tested on animals. A good example is a conventional toothpaste, which often uses plant-derived glycerin instead of animal sources and is, therefore, essentially vegan. However, the product or ingredients may have been tested on animals. There are also “Accidentally Vegan” products like chips and crackers that can’t be classified as cruelty-free.

Other Cases

There aren’t any standard definitions for the term “vegan”, so many people interpret it in different ways. Some may consider a product to be 100 percent vegan when:

a) it does not contain any animal products


b) it does not contain any animal products and at the same time, it does not exploit animals in the development or manufacturing process.

So if you classify the term ‘vegan’ with the second instance, then it’s important that you do some research to figure out what a company means when they tag their products as ‘vegan’.


If all this talk has got you overwhelmed, you need to relax. Don’t feel pressured to switch all of your products to cruelty-free and vegan products overnight. Instead, familiarize yourself with what these labels truly mean and search for a happy medium that suits your own beliefs and values. Do opt for change when you feel like doing it, rather than just doing it under pressure or to follow trends.

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