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Does Cruelty Free Mean Vegan?

by Lorraine Jones


Photo by Ron Lach from Pexels


Consumers have the power to influence an industry and create positive social change based on our ever-evolving culture. We are now seeing an interest in vegan and cruelty-free products from the cosmetic industry; a term that is typically associated with salads and nuts is referencing mascara and other beauty items. But if makeup isn't edible, how is it vegan? The terms cruelty-free and vegan are constantly tossed around. But, what exactly do they mean in this context? Are these labels interchangeable?

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“The term cruelty-free is a general term used by food and product manufacturers to communicate that they have not used cruel practices towards animals in the development of their products. Because this term is not an official term with legal specifications, several meanings have been used among various companies making it important to dig deeper into what the specific manufacturer is trying to communicate by using cruelty-free,” said Lisa Richards, a nutritionist, and creator of the Candida Diet. Cruelty-free fights to prevent the destroying of natural habitats for food consumption and production.

Ethical shopping is important because it helps put an end to the pain of animals such as dogs, cats, horses, monkeys, rabbits, etc. “It's very important to support cruelty-free since animal suffering is completely unnecessary at this point for any product. Animals have feelings just like humans and it's horrible to treat them like they don't. These days, more companies are aware of cruelty-free and following this standard. It's a lot easier now to find cruelty-free products, especially with the leaping bunny symbol found on labels,” said Aydela Shatzberg, of the vegan parenting blog

On the other hand, if a product is labeled vegan, that simply means it does not contain any animals or animal by-products. A vegan not only refuses to contribute to the murder of animals for food such as chicken, beef, and pork but they go as far as not consume items that have come from animals such as milk, eggs, cheese, beeswax, gelatin, and even honey.

Being vegan goes beyond a mere diet, it is a lifestyle choice. As a vegan, one is refusing to contribute to the suffering of animals such as not buying leather or fur, going to zoos and even horseback riding. Vegan is typically a dietary choice by a consumer whereas cruelty-free is a choice made by a company or manufacturer. But now veganism is expanding beyond food and making its way into the beauty industry.

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Veganism is more desirable because of the health benefits. “Veganism helps me feel healthier physically and mentally. Being vegan is not only about helping animals in some ways, but it is also helping my body, as animal-based products are often made of a lot of artificial substances,” said Jabran Kundi, a Writer for

“For a food or product to be deemed vegan by regulators it is not to use animal products or testing on animals in any stage of the development. Therefore the consumer can be assured that their vegan product is cruelty-free. The terms just shouldn't be used interchangeably considering the lack of consistency with the term cruelty-free,” continued Lisa Richards.

This is where it gets tricky, often cruelty-free includes vegan items but vegan products don't necessarily include cruelty-free. These two labels are often confused because they both have similar intentions with their purposes, to protect creatures of the earth. Both have the initiative of limiting animal harm and ending the cycle of environmental suffering due to our consumer economy. “Veganism and cruelty-free movement are not the same, but they are related. Both of these lifestyles exclude everything that was made by animals’ origin or by their cost. But cruelty-free doesn’t mean vegan, as vegans can buy cosmetics or other items that practice animal testing,” said Kundi.

In the world of food, veganism dominates the labels, but while in the cosmetic industry, cruelty-free can be a deal-breaker for many shoppers when it comes to which brands to support. Our goods and products are a reflection of the integrity of both businesses and consumers as ethical consumption is the future of the beauty industry. Support cruelty-free brands with confidence right here at Liz Rettiz Cosmetics.

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