They’re sometimes used interchangeably, but (spoiler alert) they don’t mean the same thing.
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You probably see a bunch of products labeled “vegan” and/or “cruelty-free” — even in a shopping post here! They give us the vibe that they’re somehow more conscious and animal-friendly. And better to buy.
But what do they actually mean? Well, let’s get right to it.
Vegan products do not contain any animal products or ingredients derived from animals, like honey or animal fats.
Lil’ caveat: Vegan =/= Vegetarian. For something to be vegan, it cannot include any animal or animal-derived ingredients. For example, dairy is not vegan, because it comes from animals — but it is vegetarian. While there are many variations, vegetarian diets (or products) don’t include meat, fish, and poultry.
Cruelty-free products have not been tested on animals — so no rabbits or rats are harmed or killed in the making of the product. Something can be “100%” cruelty-free if every stage of production did not test on animals. But sometimes, products that are cruelty-free only refer to the final product (and not each ingredient).
Study Tip: “Vegan” refers to the ingredients in the product, while “cruelty-free” refers to the production of the product.
That means they aren’t mutually exclusive terms. A vegan product can be tested on animals. A cruelty-free product can contain animal ingredients.
So how can ya tell if a product is vegan or cruelty-free?
Ofc, they’re usually labeled — duh. But, there’s actually no definition or legal standard for either term, so the labels don’t guarantee anything.
If you’d like to search independent ingredients yourself, PETA has a list of animal-derived ingredients so you can Ctrl+F away!
If you don’t feel like tracking every ingredient and production process of a product, here are some organizations that vet vegan and cruelty-free products for ya!
Keep in mind, companies have to apply for approval by Leaping Bunny and The Vegan Society, so their databases may not have every brand or company out there.
Capish? Here’s a lil’ chart to sum it up:
Now that you know, you can be a more conscious consumer! Congrats!
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