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Vegan and Cruelty-free: Are they the same thing?


The "cruelty-free" confusion

There's a caveat to this rising veganism movement. 

With the growing demand for vegan and ethical products, many brands are claiming to be vegan. However, it doesn't necessarily mean they are cruelty-free. 

Let me explain.

Both the terms "vegan" and "cruelty-free" are often used interchangeably. You may have heard a vegan brand claim they are "cruelty-free".

Sure, a part of their definition does overlap. They might sound similar. 

But they're not the same. 


Vegan or cruelty-free: what’s the difference??‍ 


First, let's look at the similarity. 

Both the terms "vegan" and "cruelty-free" refer to products that are ethical and plant-based (mostly). 

But their difference lies in the meaning.

The term "cruelty-free" exists primarily to protect our furry friends - the voiceless animals. It refers to a product that has been made with no animal involvement at any part of the supply chain. This means the ingredients are not derived from animals. And the product has not been tested on animals. Hence, no form of cruelty towards animals. 

However, the term "vegan" doesn't promise the complete safety of animals. 

A vegan product might be free from ingredients that are derived from animals. Common ingredients like beeswax, squalene, wool, and honey are derived from animals. A vegan product stays away from all these ingredients. 

But, even though the product is free from animal-sourced ingredients, the final product or individual ingredients might still have been tested on animals. 

This is often the case with many cosmetics and skincare products that go for rigorous animal-testing before launching their new line of products in the market. 

To put it simply - a "cruelty-free" product means that while ingredients were sourced, no animals were harmed. And after the product was made, it was not tested on animals. The individual ingredients can still be from animals. Which is why - it is not vegan. 


How to tell if a brand is vegan or cruelty-free? 


"Do I look for vegan products? Or cruelty-free products? How do I tell which is what?" 

I get it. It can feel confusing while you're shopping for a product online. 

The quickest way for you would be to read the labels.

But these days, labels are often misleading. 

Since no strict definition exists, companies can come up with their own terms and define them to their advantage. 

For example, terms and claims like “100% Vegan”, “Cruelty-Free”, “100% Vegetarian” can have hidden clauses where the company does not consider beeswax, lanolin, or pearl extract as animal products. 

Unfortunately, there is no strict regulatory body that regulates and monitors the usage of labels.

But one rule of thumb is to check the Certifications. 

Look for common certifications like the ‘Leaping Bunny’. This popular certification identifies the product as cruelty-free. It signifies that the company doesn’t source its ingredients from a third party that does animal testing. 


 Cruelty-Free Certified | NeuEve Blog


There are certificates from the Vegetarian Approved Society as well that certifies vegan and vegetarian products. 

It's still unclear how strict these certification boards might be. Or what is their exact auditing method. 

A lot of times there are different board certifying companies in different countries. So if you can, look for specific areas. 


Brands that are both vegan and cruelty-free

Finding products that are cruelty-free, vegan, and not burning a hole in your pocket is a tough job. 

But it's not impossible.

These days, many homemade and artisanal brands are popping up in different cities that are both cruelty-free and vegan. 

To make it easier to find these brands, we've listed down a few of them for you below – 


They have a wide variety of skincare and hair care products to choose from. They also provide for recycling and reusing options, and are environmentally friendly in every possible way. 


Dr. Sheth’s 

They are a scientifically backed up skincare brand that's cruelty-free, vegan, and also dermatologically approved. 


Kiro Beauty 

They are an ethical beauty brand that sells both makeup and skincare products. They are known for their affordable range of vegan, cruelty-free products. 


Conscious Chemist, Neemli Naturals, Asa Beauty, and Disguise Cosmetics are other cruelty-free and vegan brands found in India. 

Bottom line

Overall, there is a lack of transparency when it comes to labels and certifications in this growing industry. 

Many labels and certifications will be easy to understand. Many won't be.  

Many brands will be upfront about their ingredients and products. Many won't. 

So it's always best to do your own research on the company, drop them an email and read the ingredient list carefully. 

Yes, it might be a bit of hard work. But in the end, it's worth the precious lives of our furry friends! 

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