How do you get vegan certified?
Having your products or business certified as vegan gives consumers assurance that they are buying a vegan product or giving their cash to a vegan company. Displaying an accredited vegan trademark on your product is especially useful to vegans, as well as long-standing vegans and people shopping for their vegan friend, family member or partner. It certainly gives consumers a lot of confidence in their purchase with you.
When it comes to vegan certification, certifying your products and certifying your business are two different things. If you’re only interested in having your business certified as vegan then jump to the final section. But first, let’s look into how to get your products vegan certified.
How to get your product vegan certified
Right now, the vegan niche marketplace is becoming rather saturated, and there are many vegan products which state ‘suitable for vegans’ without any type of certification. You may (or may not) be surprised to know that anything self-labelled as ‘vegan’ doesn’t legally need to be a vegan product; this is because there’s no legal definition of ‘vegan’ regarding food or products. This is why in 2018 Glossier wasn’t really in legal trouble when their ‘vegan’ labelled mascara was found to contain beeswax – they just apologised and offered refunds. At this time, misleading consumers with information a business provides voluntarily about its products can get them into legal trouble, but mislabelling products as ‘vegan’ doesn’t. Hopefully this will change in time of course!
In the meantime, vegan consumers are hearing these horror stories and it’s making it difficult for them to trust products which are labelled as ‘suitable for vegans’ without any third-party authority backing that claim up. This means that it’s now more important than ever to get some sort of vegan certification for your products.
It’s also incredibly helpful to friends and families of vegans when a product has a vegan certified logo on it, as when they want to purchase gifts it’s almost impossible for them to know what is truly vegan without it. This is also true for new vegans – we all know how much easier it is to look for a vegan certified logo that we trust rather than having to read through all the ingredients!
How much does it cost?
There will definitely be a charge to certify your products as vegan, no matter which scheme you choose. Usually, vegan certification costs are on a sliding scale dependant on multiple variables, including your annual turnover and number of products to certify as vegan. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it gives you an idea of what information you’ll need to provide in order to get a quote. As a benchmark, the very least you should expect to pay is a few hundred pounds (GBP) or equivalent which will be renewable every 12 or 24 months. Some organisations offering vegan certification for products also offer product package plans, where you can pay for a 10-product package and register (for example) 6 products now, and then a register a further 4 products over the next 12 months at no additional cost.
What is the process?
For each charity and organisation, the requirements for your vegan products are mostly very similar. Your products (and derivatives) must not contain animal ingredients, and must not have been tested on animals at any stage. You must also ensure that you have taken all practicable steps to eliminate any risk of cross-contamination with non-vegan products. Some organisations will also require that your products contain no GMOs, or that the GMOs that your products do contain do not involve animal genes or animal-derived ingredients.
The process to register for most schemes is similar. As per the above, you will be asked some basic questions about your business, products and turnover, and they will then provide you a quote to register your products as vegan with them based on the information you’ve provided. You’ll often be given options about product packages and certification time periods. You will need to provide lists of all your ingredients and proof that they’re vegan (for example, if the raw materials themselves aren’t registered as vegan then at the very least this will require written statements from your suppliers).
The schemes likely won’t require a visit to your premises to inspect your manufacturing facility, but they will expect you to have a written testimony of your manufacturing process and that (if you also produce non-vegan products) you have done as much as possible to avoid risks of cross-contamination. At the very least, this would mean a full clean-down of equipment between running non-vegan and vegan lines.
If your application succeeds, then you will be able to add that scheme’s vegan certified logo to your packaging! You’ll be able to advertise your product as being certified by that particular scheme also. You may not be able to add that logo to the main design of your website, as that makes it appear as if the scheme is certifying your business as vegan (this is a separate service – skip to the final section to find out more). However, if you feature your certified vegan product on your website, then you can add the scheme’s logo next to the product to indicate that particular product is registered as vegan with that charity or organisation.
Note that each scheme does have its own variations in process and application, so make sure to talk to them first to find out full details.
Which scheme should I choose?
I’m sure you’ve seen these all-important ‘vegan’ logos on products popping up everywhere. But I’m sure you’ve also noticed that there are many different ones and this starts to make things more confusing. I know that when I started seeing them so often I asked myself: Why are there so many? Who are responsible for each? Are the criteria different? What does it all mean? Can I trust one more than another? Why isn’t there just one? Is it legally protected and must be vegan? I’m sure most of you will have had similar thoughts.
Let’s take a look at the different options available for vegan certification so that you can make an informed decision.
The schemes which ONLY certify vegan products
It’s preferable to choose a charity or organisation which only certify vegan products (rather than also vegetarian). This is because:
- You’re supporting a vegan charity or organisation, showing consumers you care about the cause they care about too.
- They only issue one logo, so there’s no confusion about the vegan status of your product. The confusion is created because many charities/organisations which certify vegan as well as vegetarian products use a very similar shape, font and colour scheme for their vegan logo and vegetarian logo.
The Vegan Society's Vegan Trademark (Worldwide)
The Vegan Society is a vegan charity, and their Vegan Trademark scheme is the gold-standard vegan certification scheme and the one which is recognised globally. Its weight and authority is because they are quite literally the birthplace of ‘vegan’: the Founder of The Vegan Society coined the term ‘vegan’, and their definition of vegan is the internationally recognised standard.
‘To make veganism mainstream and to have a vegan world – a world where humans do not exploit non-human animals’.
Every penny from The Vegan Society’s income goes back into the vegan cause and towards creating a vegan world; that is their sole cause. This means that having The Vegan Society’s Vegan Trademark gives your company the added advantage of letting your consumers know that you truly care about the vegan cause.
As an added extra, The Vegan Society also actively help to promote your products once they are registered with their Vegan Trademark.
The Vegan Society is recognised worldwide, but if you are in the USA or Australia, there are also 2 local organisations you may wish to consider:
Certified Vegan (USA)
Certified Vegan is run by Vegan Action, a non-profit organisation working to ‘to eliminate animal suffering, reduce environmental impacts, and improve human health through a vegan diet’.
To ‘inspire people to be vegan to save the world’.
Vegan Australia is a vegan charity.
To ‘gain the trust of both individuals and institutions so they change their attitude and behaviour, resulting in the end of production and consumption of animal products and the abolition of the use of animals for any purpose’.
The schemes which certify BOTH vegan and vegetarian products
Choosing a charity or organisation which also certifies vegetarian products can cause some vegan consumers to boycott your product, because you’ve chosen to give money to a charity or organisation which actively promotes a non-vegan cause. Also, the logo they use to certify vegetarian products is often dangerously close (in shape, font, colour scheme etc.) to their vegan certified logo – this can cause a lot of confusion for consumers.
Vegetarian Society Vegan Approved (UK)
The Vegetarian Society is a vegetarian charity.
‘To inspire, inform and enable people to be vegetarian’.
V-Label is run by the European Vegetarian Union (EVU).
To ‘respect life and inspire the change’.
VegeCert is a non-profit organisation that certifies vegan and vegetarian food products. They are one of the few certifications who will visit your facilities to make inspections.
There are other charities and organisations offering vegan certification which are generally location specific, so I’ve listed these below if you’d like to investigate your locality’s options further.
EVE VEGAN https://www.certification-vegan.org/
VEGAN CERT https://www.bioagricert.org/
Qualità Vegetariana Vegan http://www.vegetariani.it/
ICEA Vegan https://icea.bio/
Vege Project: https://vegeproject.org/
Vegan Korea http://vegan-korea.com/
Vegan Certified NZVS http://www.vegetarian.org.nz/
Polska Viva! https://vege.com.pl/
How to get your company vegan certified
So, now you’ve had a good look through the different types of certification for your products, you should think about getting your business certified as vegan! This is different to certifying your products as vegan, and all the above listed charities and organisations only certify physical products.
By having your business certified as vegan you’re giving your customers the knowledge that their hard-earned money is going to a vegan company and is therefore helping the vegan cause. At this time, there is only one organisation offering vegan certification for your business:
Vegan Founded is run by vegans for the community. All profit is used towards the vegan cause by directly supporting new vegan start-ups with grants, and by donating to vegan charities and animal sanctuaries.
They want to help vegan businesses from being overshadowed by non-vegan companies ‘cashing in’ on the rise in veganism. Vegan Founded recognise that our vegan community is still funding the exploitation of animals and testing on animals through our spending with these non-vegan companies. So, by helping to ensure that smaller authentic vegan businesses can easily be identified as such, the discerning ethical vegan then knows exactly where to put their hard-earned cash.
Vegan Founded certify vegan businesses so that vegans can recognise you. It does cost, but since it’s from as little as £15 it’s definitely worth looking into, especially if you’re looking to really connect with ethical vegan consumers.
Lisa Fox says:
So, now you have an overview of all your vegan certification options whether it be your products or your business, or both. Yes, it costs money, but if you make sure that you’re getting certified by a vegan charity or non-profit supporting the vegan cause, then you’re on the right path.
So that you understand why I say this…
It’s really important that you understand this isn’t just about choosing a logo, or about choosing one with the right colour scheme for your products, or the one you like best, or even the one based in your country. And for the record, as fun as it can be, it’s definitely not about doing ‘Eeny meeny miny mo’.
This is about carefully evaluating all of your options, and then deciding which charity or organisation resonates the most with you, your ethics and what your business ethically represents. Or, if you do not represent your target customer, then it’s all about which charity or organisation they will connect with the most.
Not all vegan certifications are equal. As vegans continue along their journey, we often become more discerning. Things we learn along the way change our buying behaviours. Products we would have purchased with particular vegan certification logos on 6 months ago, we wouldn’t purchase now. So, even if it costs a bit more, always choose the scheme which is right for your brand – it’s best to be a bit out of pocket than to alienate some of your consumers or make them question your ethics if your choice of vegan certification doesn’t match your brand message.
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