As the awareness about animal cruelty and empathy for other beings on earth increases, the number of vegans is also increasing steadily. With more people reaching for cruelty free foods and products, the supply of such products in the market has increased.
Is it really about ethics or it’s just about marketing? How do you identify the real vegan product from others? How does certification of vegan products work? What organizations authorize this certification and what criteria are followed? Here’s what you need to know about vegan certification on food labels.
Vegan or Vegetarian?
Remember vegan and vegetarian are different concepts. Do not assume that if something is reliably certified to vegetarian, it is also vegan.
For instance the European Union Vegetarian label merely means that a product doesn’t contain meat, eggs or animal by products such as gelatin. Similarly food products from India have a small green square and a green dot inside to indicate vegetarian products.
However those products could contain milk and other dairy products, honey and so on. So depending upon your beliefs, you should check to see if products are vegan, vegetarian, lacto-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian or lacto-ovo-vegetarian.
Logos to Trust
The Vegan Society is among the most trusted certifiers of vegan products with its logo that says “Vegan” along with a blooming flower in a circle. You can be sure that if a product or business bears the logo, it follows the animal free standards of the Vegan Society.
The American Vegetarian Association (AVA) offers certification for vegetarian as well as vegan products. The manufacturer is required to submit the recipe, the package, menu, complete list of all ingredients of and all proprietary information to AVA prior to receiving certification. AVA claim to follow stringent ethical standards and as such their logo is a trustworthy way to know what you’re buying.
The non-profit Vegan Action has a certification program where they verify that a product is genuinely vegan and then permit the manufacturer to stamp their product with their logo consisting of a circle with the letters “CERTIFIED VEGAN” and a little heart with a V embedded in it. You can be sure that products stamped with this label do not contain meat, eggs, milk or their derivatives. It also signifies that none of the manufacturing or testing processes involved animals.
This Logo helps spread information about veganism and vegan businesses and is managed by the Vegan Awareness Foundation (Vegan Action is officially called this). It has to be noted however that all vegan products do not carry this symbol.