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Understanding Different Vegan Certifications

In recent years, the rise of veganism has prompted a surge in the demand for certified vegan products. As more consumers seek to align their purchases with their ethical and environmental values, the need for reliable vegan certifications has become increasingly important. However, navigating the various symbols and labels on products can be a daunting task. Understanding the differences between different vegan certifications is essential for consumers looking to make informed choices.

The Difference Between "Cruelty-free", "Vegan", and "Animal-free"

  • "Cruelty-free" refers to products that are not tested on animals. It means that neither the product nor its individual ingredients have undergone any form of animal testing. This term is commonly used in cosmetics, personal care products, and household items, reflecting a commitment to ethical practices and animal welfare. However, animal byproducts can be present in the final product (e.g. lip balm).

  • "Vegan" refers to a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude (as far as is possible and practicable) all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.

  • "Animal-free" refers to products or items that do not contain any ingredients derived from animals or animal by-products. These products are entirely free from animal-derived components or substances. This term is used by VeganMed for healthcare products only (e.g. prescription medications, dietary supplements). However, animal-testing may have been used in the research and development process.

Diverse Certifications

Numerous organizations and labels exist worldwide to certify products as cruelty-free, vegan, or animal-free. Understanding the nuances of these certifications helps consumers identify which standards align best with their values. Here is a breakdown of some we found (listed in alphabetical order).


No Animal Byproducts?

No Animal Testing?

Follows AMA Policy H-100.947?*

$0 Application Fee?

Average Certification Time

A few weeks

​4-6 weeks

3 months

30-60 days

4-6 weeks

2-4 weeks

2-8 weeks

A few weeks


*Animal-Derived Ingredients Policy H-100.947: (1) Urges manufacturers to include all ingredients and components present in medical products on the product label, including both active and inactive ingredients, and denote any derived from an animal source; and (2) encourages cultural awareness regarding patient preferences associated with medical products containing active or inactive ingredients or components derived from animal source.

The Importance of Third-Party Certification

Independent third-party certification is crucial as it offers impartial and credible assessments of products. These certifications ensure unbiased evaluations, standardization, and consistency. They hold companies accountable, encourage transparency, and drive improvements in industry practices while differentiating products in competitive markets. Ultimately, third-party certifications establish trust, confirming a product's adherence to specific quality standards.


The growing availability of vegan certifications, including VeganMed's Animal-Free Certification, is a positive step toward a more transparent and sustainable future. Each certification represents a commitment to the environment and consumer transparency. Whether it's vegan, cruelty-free, or animal free certifications, certification labels provide a sense of accountability and allow consumers to connect with the products they choose. By understanding the differences between these certifications, consumers can confidently support products aligned with their values.

Co-authored by: Anthony Petraki and Louis Sun


Disclaimer: The product and/or information provided on VeganMed is of a general nature and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We do not lab test the products to confirm that they are free from animal ingredients, and it is possible that the formulation and ingredients could have changed. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or product. The information provided in this post is accurate and up to date as of the date it was written. However, please note that circumstances and facts may change over time, and new information may become available that could alter the accuracy or relevance of the content. We encourage readers to verify and cross-reference any information provided here with trusted sources or consult relevant professionals for the most current and accurate updates.L


Looking for certified and verified animal-free products?

Thank you for your awareness and concern for animal-derived ingredients!

As a reminder, please comment on our FDA Citizen Petition, requesting clear labeling of animal-derived ingredients in medications. Together, we can make a difference.

If you have any further questions about ingredients in your medicines and supplements, feel free to reach out to the VeganMed team!

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