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Cruelty-Free and Vegan Labels & Logos Explained

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Cruelty Free and Vegan Logos Explained

Lately we’ve been ambushed with lots of new beauty products claiming they don’t contain animal ingredients, that they’re vegetarian, vegan, or cruelty-free, but what do these labels mean and should we trust certain logos/labels over others to help us make informed choices?

If you’re looking to avoid animal testing, ingredients, by-products, and other sort of animal cruelty in your consumer purchases, then it’s important to familiarize yourself with all of the different labels and logos, what they essentially mean, and who is verifying them.

Degree of Legitimacy

The degree of legitimacy of each logo/label varies and depends whether there are label standards or an organization who verifies such claims. If no one is policing a claim then manufacturers can use and sometimes even abuse these unregulated labels with the hopes it’ll convince consumers to buy their products.

Cruelty-Free And Vegan Logos/Labels

Using GreenerChoices.org as my primary source and then researching each certification program independently, I’ve created this guide to help you understand common cruelty-free and vegan logos/labels found on beauty products sold in North America. I’ve also included areas of concerns so that you are aware of certain limitations with each logo/label.

“No Animal Ingredients”

no animal-derived ingredients
no ingredients obtained from animals

DEGREE OF LEGITIMACY:
 

EXPLANATION

  • meaning: this product does not contain any animal ingredients or derivatives
  • no label standards and no organization verifies the use of this label
  • may have been tested on animals

CONCERNS

  • virtually anyone can label their products “no animal ingredients”
  • it’s up to companies what they consider “animal ingredients”, ingredients that do not involve the actual slaughter of animals like honey, beeswax, lanolin, and whey are sometimes not considered to be animal ingredients

“Cruelty-Free”

no animal testing
not tested on animals
we don’t test on animals
against animal testing

DEGREE OF LEGITIMACY:

EXPLANATION

  • meaning: this product and its ingredients were not tested on animals
  • no label standards and no organization verifies the use of this label
  • does not imply the product is vegan

CONCERNS

  • virtually anyone can label their products “cruelty-free”
  • company may commission animal testing of their products to a third party
  • ingredient supplier’s may conduct animal testing of their raw ingredients

“100% Vegetarian”

vegetarian
vegetarian-friendly
vegetarian ingredients
suitable for vegetarians

DEGREE OF LEGITIMACY:

EXPLANATION

  • meaning: this product does not contain animal ingredients or other ingredients resulting from animal slaughter and may contain animal by-products (milk, honey, beeswax, whey, shellac)
  • no label standards and no organization verifies the use of this label
  • may or may not have been tested on animals

CONCERNS

  • virtually anyone can label their products “vegetarian”
  • may use animal ingredients in the manufacturing process (even if they don’t appear in the final product)


“100% Vegan”

vegan
vegan-friendly
vegan ingredient
suitable for vegans

DEGREE OF LEGITIMACY:

EXPLANATION

  • meaning: this product does not contain animal ingredients or animal by-products
  • no label standards and no organization verifies the use of this claim
  • may or may not have been tested on animals

CONCERNS

  • virtually anyone can label their products “vegan”
  • may or may not use animal-derived substances in processing the product (even if they don’t appear in the final product)


petalogo

DEGREE OF LEGITIMACY:

EXPLANATION

  • meaning: the company and their ingredient suppliers do not conduct, commission, or pay for any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finished products.
  • verified by PETA
  • requires companies to complete a short questionnaire and sign a statement of assurance
  • companies pay to use and license the cruelty-free bunny logo

CONCERNS

  • no testing/monitoring is performed, therefore the meaning of this logo depends on the honesty and accuracy of written statements
  • does not mean the product is vegan


DEGREE OF LEGITIMACY:

EXPLANATION

  • meaning: none of its products and ingredients have ever been tested on animals by it, by anyone on its behalf, by its suppliers or anyone on their behalf and must not contain any ingredients derived specifically from killing an animal or provided as a by-product from killed animals
  • verified by Choose Cruelty Free (CCF)
  • CCF also will not accredit companies unless all parent and subsidiaries are also accredited
  • requires companies to fill in the Questionnaire & Application for Accreditation (Q&A), including a legally binding contract
  • companies pay to use and license the CCF rabbit logo

CONCERNS

  • no audit system is performed but companies on the CCF List are required to undergo regular re-accreditation to ensure that they continue to meet the CCF Accreditation Criteria.
  • some limitations to types of animal ingredients used but some vegetarian products can still be certified


DEGREE OF LEGITIMACY:

EXPLANATION

  • meaning: the company and their ingredient suppliers do not conduct or commission animal testing of their products
  • verified by Leaping Bunny
  • requires companies and their ingredient suppliers to commit and pledge to the Leaping Bunny standards
  • companies agree to be audited once every three years by an independent assessor, or, in the case of smaller companies, a “spot-check,” commissioned by the CCIC and performed by an accredited auditor
  • companies pay to use and license the Leaping Bunny logo

CONCERNS

  • does not mean the product is vegan


CF&V_logo_trans

DEGREE OF LEGITIMACY:

EXPLANATION

  • meaning: 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
  • verified by PETA
  • requires companies to complete a short questionnaire and sign a statement of assurance
  • companies pay to use and license the cruelty-free and vegan bunny logo

CONCERNS

  • no testing/monitoring is performed, therefore the meaning of this logo depends on the honesty and accuracy of written statements


Certified Vegan

DEGREE OF LEGITIMACY:

EXPLANATION

  • meaning: the product is vegan, defined as containing no animal ingredients or by-products, using no animal ingredients or by-products in the manufacturing process, and not tested on animals by any company or independent contractor.
  • verified by Vegan Action
  • companies provide signed written statements by the manufacturer with documents proving they meet the criteria
  • companies pay to use and license the certified vegan logo on a given product

CONCERN

  • no testing/monitoring is performed, therefore the meaning of this logo depends on the honesty and accuracy of written statements

trademark-logo

DEGREE OF LEGITIMACY:

EXPLANATION

  • meaning: this 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
  • verified by Vegan Society
  • companies provide signed written statements by the manufacturer with documents proving they meet the criteria

CONCERNS

  • no testing/monitoring is performed, therefore the meaning of this logo depends on the honesty and accuracy of written statements


Use of unverified labels

Just because a product uses one of the unverified labels like ‘no animal ingredients’ or ‘cruelty-free’ doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re misleading or lying to you. As conscious consumers, we need to be mindful of the legitimacy behind these labels. We can usually get more specific answers just by emailing or contacting the company directly. If you feel like they’re dodging your questions or giving you generic answers, you might want to consider purchasing from another company that is more transparent about their manufacturing process and ingredients.

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