The Difference Between Vegan and Cruelty Free
The difference between vegan and cruelty free is quite significant. A product made from all vegan ingredients may still have used animal testing somewhere within its production processes. Alternatively, a product that is defined as “cruelty free” can be made from, or using, animal derived ingredients.
DEFINITIONS OF VEGAN AND CRUELTY FREE PRODUCTS
VEGAN PRODUCT DEFINITION – a VEGAN product is free of animal ingredients, and that no animal products have been used in the process of making the product.
CRUELTY FREE PRODUCT DEFINITION – a CRUELTY FREE product has not undergone animal testing, and it should also mean that none of the ingredients used in the making of the final product, have undergone animal testing.
On top of this confusion consumers have to contend with “greenwashing” by brands trying to market their products as ethical and sustainable.
So how do you make an ethical choice?
Cruelty Free Certifications
The only way to be sure that a company is cruelty free, is if they have an independent 3rd party certification from a trusted organisation, such as the not for profit organisation Cruelty Free International and their Leaping Bunny Programme.
Cruelty Free International’s Leaping Bunny Programme is the global gold standard for brands wanting to show their commitment to being a cruelty free brand. Leaping Bunny approved brands must first go through an incredibly thorough approval process. This process checks for animal testing right back to the production of each and every raw ingredient used in the manufacturing of a brands products. Cruelty Free International also do regular compliance checks, (via independent audits) of the brands listed under the Leaping Bunny Programme in order to ensure no animal testing has unknowingly crept into a brands’ supply and production chains.
*Important for Vegans – Cruelty Free International’s Leaping Bunny List, has a search criteria option under Ethical extras where you can select “offers vegan”.
Vegan brands may have opted for third party vegan certifications and/or, vegan trademark logos by organisations such as The Vegan Society. This organisation asks brands applying to also check that there is no animal testing involved, but they don’t require the deep dive and proof into the manufacturing of raw ingredients, or run audit and compliance checks.
For those wanting a product to be vegan friendly as well as cruelty free, you will need to do some further research.
First look to see if a brand states it is “vegan friendly” on their website/socials/packaging etc… Beware if you are after a fully vegan brand, as some brands are only partly vegan friendly, and will label only certain products in their ranges as vegan friendly. Secondly, you can check the list all of the ingredients to ensure all are vegan. *Note- often fragrances will not list ingredients due to formulations secrecy, so this is why an independent third party certification is helpful in deciphering the ethical stance of a company.
Ideally to ensure a vegan brand is also cruelty free, you would want the brand to have also achieved approval by Cruelty Free International .
Different Rabbit Logos and Vegan Logos
There are various other vegan trademark logos and cruelty free logos on offer for brands to use.
Although many have requirements that brands not using animal testing, it is important to note, that they don’t require the deep dive, or compliance checking, from their listed brands like Cruelty Free International does. Therefore, as far as looking for certainty that a brand has done its’ due diligence into checking for animal testing thoroughly, these other certifications, can at best, offer only a very light indication that a brand is truly cruelty free.
*Note for Australians – The Cruelty Free Rabbit Logo was the trademark of the former Australian nonprofit, Choose Cruelty Free. Choose Cruelty Free merged into Cruelty Free International on June 1st 2021 to join in the global fight to end animal testing . You can read about the merge here .