Products that are certified cruelty-free aren’t automatically vegan. Cruelty-free simply means that the product and its ingredients weren’t tested on animals at any stage during its development. Vegan, on the other hand, means that no animal-derived ingredients were used in developing the product.
Vegans search for cruelty-free and vegan products. They avoid animal byproducts not just in their food, but also in their health supplements, medicines, cosmetics, bath products, and cleaning agents. Surprisingly, many everyday products turn out to contain animal-derived ingredients, such as amino acids, carmine, and fats, to name a few. As such, it can be difficult for vegans to shop in grocery stores, because most known brands aren’t vegan and cruelty-free.
So if you’d create a vegan health & nutrition brand, it’s crucial to make your products both cruelty-free and vegan. Health supplements, for one, may look vegan because they just contain vitamins, but that’s not the case at all. Animal by-products can also be found in certain vitamins and additives. Did you know that some pigments are derived from bugs?
That said, there are numerous animal-derived ingredients used in different products, but in health supplements, these are the ones you’d usually find, and therefore avoid:
Vegans with adrenal fatigue will require adrenal supplements, but they can’t take the ones with adrenal extract. Those are derived from slaughtered cows, pigs, and sheep. Instead, they only take synthetic adrenal extracts, or vitamins C and B (which should be derived from plants), and magnesium.
2. Amino Acids
These protein sources usually come from meat, but can also be taken from plant sources. Its synthetic versions are also safe.
3. Animal Fats and Oils
Omega-3 fatty acids are common in health supplements. Most of them are sourced from tuna, mackerel, and salmon, making them non-vegan. Luckily, there are vegan alternatives for them including almond oil, olive oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, wheat germ oil, and safflower oil.
4. Certain Food Additives
The following food additives aren’t vegan:
- E120: Cochineal, taken from the abdomen of a scale insect
- E322: Lecithin, made from eggs or soy
- E422: Glycerol or glycerin, mainly plant-based but some variations are derived from animal fat
- E471: Mono and di-glycerides of fatty acids, can be derived from animal fat
- E542: Edible bone phosphate, from the bones of cattle and pigs
- E631: Disodium Inosinate, produced from meat, fish, or tapioca starch
- E901: Beeswax, produced by honey bees
- E904: Shellac, extracted from the lac beetle
Synthetics or plant-based alternatives exist for these animal-derived additives. You can replace cochineal with beet juice, beeswax with vegetable oils and fat, and shellac with plant waxes or Zein (from corn).
Gelatin may look like it has nothing to do with animals, but the painful truth is that they’re obtained from boiling the skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones of cows and pigs. You can replace this thickening agent with carrageen, seaweeds, or pectin.
6. Natural Flavorings
The word “natural” won’t automatically appeal to vegans. After all, natural can also mean taken from animals. If you need to add sweetness to your chewable supplements, obtain the flavor from fruits instead, like cherries and various berries.
7. Vitamin D3
Most vitamin D3 products come from fish oil or lanolin that is found in sheep’s wool. Offer vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 from lichen instead.
8. Dairy Ingredients
Lactose, whey, and casein are off-limits to vegans. Use non-dairy alternatives instead such as hazelnut, cashew, soy, almond, or hemp.
Ensuring Your Health Supplements’ Vegan and Cruelty-free Status
Many vegans may hesitate to take health supplements, because Leaping Bunny, the organization that certifies cruelty-free brands, focuses only on cosmetics. That means drugs and dietary supplements can be advertised as vegan or cruel while actually containing animal ingredients, or being tested on animals.
This foul play repels many vegans from authentic vegan health & nutrition brands. To prove your authenticity, ensure that your ingredient suppliers don’t perform animal testing as well. If your company itself manufactures the ingredients, enlist a third-party lab to perform in-vitro imaging scans and other cruelty-free tests.
“In-vitro” is the Latin word for “in glass”. It is a testing method that occurs outside of a living organism, contrary to “in-vivo”, which in Latin means “within the living”. In-vitro testing is commonly used in many laboratories developing different drugs. They’ve been helpful in ending the practice of animal testing. Though it still requires the involvement of animal or human cells, no living being is directly harmed during in-vitro procedures.
Keep this essential information in your rule book as you begin developing your vegan health & nutrition brand. Be transparent with your market, telling them the story and purpose of your brand, as well as its business practices and lab processes. Your transparency will encourage more vegans to trust real vegan brands like yours.