The control and labelling of vegan products is a service offered by independent associations mainly based in Europe, the United States, Canada or Japan. The oldest vegan label dates back to the 1970s. The most recent is from 2017.
There are no international or european regulations on vegan products. Thus, only official organizations (Vegans or Animal Rights organizations) are in a position to protect and defend this allegation. It is important to support them when you want to mention “vegan” on your products.
These bodies represent the only credible experts in a position to decide on the conformity of products (is it vegan or not ?), in that they are considered official and independent (recognized by the vegan and vegetarian community).
Interests in obtaining a vegan label
Official labels give a higher value to the product than the information pictogram (logo without a link to an official organization). Indeed, official bodies carry out thorough checks (verification of ingredients and visits to operators) to validate the admissibility of the “vegan” claim in accordance with their specifications.
An official label is always better than a “vegan” claim.
It is important to know that veganism is a philosophy and that the boundaries of what is acceptable to these organizations may vary according to their politics and history.
Vegan certification procedure
The vegan certification procedure differs from one organization to another. Indeed, some labels are granted on simple declaration, others carry out in-depth controls and audits in the field. This sometimes explains the great differences in pricing.
The registration period and contractual commitments also differ from one organization to another. Royalties are sometimes to be expected on the sale of certified products.
The minimum criteria for vegan eligibility are the same in all organizations : No animal ingredients and no raw material and product tested on live animals. However, some may have additional criteria such as the rejection of GMOs, palm oil or certain CRMs. For the moment the growing method is not included in the conventional certification, but is indispensable for the certification linked to the growing method (more information here).
Beware of double labels
Finally, some of these labels also register vegetarian products (still contains animal derived products). Beware of sources of confusion for consumers who would not check the label in detail. They could confuse a vegetarian product with a vegan product. If you want to promote a non-animal lifestyle, you should prefer labels not linked to vegetarian products too.
Vegan farming labels : Vegan from the field
There are also labels that include the mode of agriculture in their certification procedure. Indeed, vegan agriculture exists, but it is still marginal (agriculture without livestock and without animal inputs). It is possible to obtain a double certification if your products are vegan and also from vegan agriculture.
It is not mandatory that the ingredients of the products be from vegan agriculture to obtain traditional vegan certification. However, with the development of vegan agriculture in the world we can imagine that one day it will become so (more information here).
Cruelty-free = vegan ?
Be careful, the cruelty-free labels do not replace the vegan certification. Indeed, a certified product without animal testing may still contain ingredients of animal origin and may not be eligible for vegan certification (e.g. sheep fat can be accepted in a “cruelty-free” product).
On the other hand, a vegan certified product is always cruelty-free (without testing on live animals). The criteria for in-vitro animal testing (animal cell or animal derivated product) may vary from one organization to another.
All labels are valid internationally (all private trademark), but their reputation and recognition may only be local (one country, one continent). If your products will be sold in different areas, register your products under different labels.
You do not need to change your logo to market your products in different countries.
List of the world vegan official certification organizations
Consult our indexing of official labels here.