Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What's The Difference Between Vegan and Cruelty Free?

What's the difference between vegan and cruelty free?
Photo Credit: Rama - Creative Commons Legal Code

When looking for ethical products, vegans can find the terminology used by companies a bit confusing. If a product is cruelty free it must be vegan right? WRONG. It is important for vegans to know the definition of these terms so they can make informed decisions about the products they are buying and the companies they are supporting. 

Cruelty Free 

If a product is labeled "cruelty free" it means that the product has not been tested on animals. This may also be referring to the ingredients used to make the product.


If a product is labeled "vegan" it means that the product contains no animal or animal derived ingredients.

Is it that simple? Not exactly. Here are some other factors that come into play when dealing with a vegan or cruelty free product.

Origin of the Ingredients

Most companies can guarantee that their finished product has not been tested on animals and they do their best to find ingredients that have not been tested on animals. It's hard to expect that the ingredients of your products have NEVER been tested on animals, so just do your best and focus on buying from companies that do not test their products on animals.

Parent Companies 

There are cruelty free companies that have a parent company (a larger company that owns them) that tests their products on animals. The question is do you support the cruelty free companies that are in this situation? I've discussed this issue on my Instagram account and people have strong opinions on this. I will share my thoughts on the subject but in the end you will have to decide what is best for you.

I support companies that have cruelty free/vegan products even if their parent company does not follow those ethics, just as I eat vegan options in non-vegan restaurants. Do I wish that every company and restaurant was cruelty free and vegan? Of course. But that's not the world we live in. I want to show these companies that there is value in having vegan and cruelty free products and that it is in their best interest to keep these products and expand those lines. I think ignoring those products and companies only shows them that vegan and cruelty free products are not mainstream and have no market.


Before June 2014, China required all cosmetics to be tested on animals which of course was a big deal for companies wanting to stay cruelty free and ethical consumers who stopped buying products from "cruelty free" companies that started selling their products in China. Luckily, that situation has changed for the better. China has stopped mandatory animal testing on "ordinary cosmetics" like shampoo and skin care products, which is a great step in the right direction. So if China is a concern for you be sure to check if the company you are considering buying a product from is still testing on animals in China.


  1. I agree with you!

    The China issue is quite complex and goodness knows where it'll lead. Also, China isn't the only problem country.... I have enormous respect for those companies who've chosen to forgo the possibility of profit in China, regardless of whether or not the company that owns them is guilty of animal testing.

    1. Thanks for your comment! China is a situation that we have to keep tabs on since it's always changing. Hopefully it keeps changing for the better!


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