Questions and Answers

Find the answers to the main questions and doubts about our project.  Before contacting us we ask you to check these contents.

I'm Vegan Q&A

Frequent questions

Feel free to use our online form to submit your application. Kindly note that our certification process focuses on individual products, and on the certification of  companies, restaurants, food trucks, farms, and manufacturers.

Licensing fees play a crucial role in sustaining our certification program. They serve to fund the program, safeguard the integrity and rightful usage of the trademark, and ensure the longevity of the certification initiative. Our licensing structure entails an annual fee, applicable to a variable number of products within your portfolio. The fee is a standard amount or a company’s annual revenue based.

The processing time for each application varies depending on factors such as the number of products being submitted and the complexity of their ingredients. While we cannot provide an exact timeline, we typically aim for a turnaround of 2-4 weeks. For larger submissions, this period may extend to 3-6 weeks to ensure thorough evaluation. We kindly request that you refrain from contacting us via phone or email regarding the status of your application. Rest assured, we will reach out to you once a I’m Vegan Certifier begins reviewing your submission.

Products containing sweeteners such as cane sugar, beet sugar, corn syrup, coconut sugar, date sugar, molasses, agave, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup are indeed eligible for our I’m Vegan Verified Logo. However, it’s imperative that these sweeteners are sourced from suppliers who can provide a statement affirming that their production process does not involve the use of animal products, particularly bone char in refining. This requirement ensures adherence to our certification standards, maintaining the integrity of the I’m Vegan Verified Logo.

We do permit companies to utilize shared machinery, which may also process products containing animal ingredients. However, products produced in such facilities typically bear a label indicating this shared processing environment. Companies are required to furnish documentation outlining the thorough cleaning procedures employed to ensure the machinery’s cleanliness between non-vegan and vegan production runs.

It’s important to acknowledge that despite stringent cleaning protocols, shared machinery may retain trace amounts of animal-derived ingredients such as eggs or dairy. As a result, individuals with food allergies should exercise caution when consuming I’m Vegan Verified Products.

Our definition of veganism is rooted in its political and ethical dimensions, emphasizing a commitment to reducing animal suffering and environmental degradation. Contrary to popular belief, individuals typically adopt a vegan lifestyle not solely for dietary purity or allergy reasons, but as a conscientious choice to combat animal exploitation and environmental harm. The I’m Vegan Verified logo serves as a tool for consumers to align their purchases with cruelty-free principles, effectively voting against animal agriculture with their purchasing power.

Many vegan companies operate within non-vegan kitchen facilities and utilize shared equipment due to the prohibitive costs associated with acquiring dedicated machinery. Exclusively vegan equipment can be financially burdensome for small businesses, potentially hindering the growth of the vegan market.

During the inception of the I’m Vegan Certification Campaign, extensive deliberation was undertaken to establish criteria for what constitutes vegan. While some products may contain trace amounts of contamination due to processing, we made a conscious decision not to exclude such products from certification. Collaborative consultations with prominent vegan organizations reaffirmed the consensus that prioritizing vegan purity over accessibility could impede progress toward ending animal suffering.

Our overarching goal is to dismantle animal cruelty by demonstrating the viability and demand for vegan products within the mainstream food industry. By expanding the availability of vegan options, we aim to make veganism more accessible and appealing to a broader audience. Increased adoption of vegan lifestyles will drive market demand for more vegan products, facilitating the transition to dedicated vegan machinery over time. Ultimately, our mission is to make veganism inclusive, affordable, and widely accessible, thereby reducing animal cruelty on a systemic level.

The definition of ‘no-animal testing’ within our certification criteria unequivocally prohibits the use of animals, whether alive or deceased, for any research purposes, including feed or nutrition trials, toxicity testing, or tests mandated by law. Additionally, products must not have been tested on animals by another company or independent contractor since 2009, nor will they undergo animal testing in the future.

Plant-based proteins have emerged as a pivotal ingredient trend within the food and nutrition industry, facilitating the transition away from animal-based foods while ensuring ease, healthfulness, accessibility, and affordability. Protein, being an essential nutrient crucial for muscle growth and organ tissue maintenance, necessitates companies’ ability to make accurate protein claims on their product packaging.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates the inclusion of percent Daily Value for protein in the nutrition panel of all proteins, including plant-based proteins like pea protein. However, the percent Daily Value must be based on the “corrected protein value,” not merely the amount declared on the Nutrition Facts Panel. This corrected value is determined using the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS), endorsed by the Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) as the preferred method for evaluating protein quality in human nutrition.

Since 2014, the FDA has required animal feed trials to ascertain the PDCAAS of proteins. This involves feeding the protein to test animals and analyzing their feces. As an animal welfare organization, this practice conflicts with our principle of no animal testing prior to 2009, thus posing a dilemma regarding products containing PDCAAS-tested plant-based proteins.

Despite our exhaustive search for non-animal tested plant protein manufacturers meeting our guidelines, none were found to satisfy both our criteria and the market demand. Consequently, we made the decision to accept these ingredients for several reasons. Firstly, major manufacturers of plant-based proteins have undergone these animal feed trials to comply with FDA regulations, leaving them with no viable alternatives. Secondly, we recognize the importance of providing consumers with a diverse range of vegan options, including products bearing the Certified Vegan logo, to facilitate the adoption of plant-based diets. Thirdly, labeling plant-based protein products as “not vegan acceptable” would deter consumers from choosing these options, perpetuating animal suffering within the food industry and hindering progress towards a more ethical world with fewer animals consumed.

Moreover, once manufacturers have completed PDCAAS evaluations, the FDA does not mandate repeated animal feed trials to maintain product compliance. While we acknowledge that not everyone may agree with this decision, we firmly believe it serves the best interests of animals and urge your continued support for our mission.

We maintain stringent guidelines within our I’m Vegan program, prohibiting the use of any ingredient or product that has been tested on non-human animals. This encompasses various forms of testing, including feed trials, skin tests, and nutrition panels. Consequently, certain pet foods have been deemed ineligible for Vegan Certification due to their involvement in animal testing.

By upholding these standards, we ensure that products bearing the I’m Vegan Verified logo align with our core values of animal welfare and ethical consumption. Our commitment to cruelty-free practices extends to all aspects of production, including the sourcing and testing of ingredients, thereby promoting a compassionate and sustainable approach to veganism.

While the Impossible Burger does not contain any animal products in its ingredients, it recently underwent testing on animals for one of its components. Consequently, it does not meet the criteria for I’m Vegan Certification. Despite its popularity among meat-eaters and its potential positive impact on reducing the consumption of cow burgers, our certification standards prohibit products that have been subjected to animal testing.

We understand the significant role that products like the Impossible Burger play in transitioning towards more sustainable and cruelty-free food options. However, our commitment to upholding cruelty-free practices remains paramount in our certification process.

While we wholeheartedly support the cultured meat movement and advocate for its adoption over conventional factory-farmed animal products, we have chosen not to Vegan Certify cultured meat in accordance with our guidelines. As cultured meat requires animal cells and/or proteins for its growth, it does not align with our I’m Vegan requirements of being sourced exclusively from non-animal products or by-products.

Despite this limitation, we firmly believe that cultured meat presents a promising and ethically sound alternative that has the potential to significantly reduce animal suffering and environmental harm. We anticipate that cultured meat will become a viable, affordable, and widely accessible option in the near future, offering consumers a cruelty-free alternative to traditional animal-based products.

While cultured meat may not meet the criteria for I’m Vegan Certification, we view its development as a significant victory for both animals and the planet. We eagerly anticipate the widespread availability of cultured meat and its positive impact on global food systems and sustainability efforts.

We understand the pervasive history of animal testing within the realm of ingredient development and strive to ensure that our I’m Vegan Verified products do not contribute to ongoing animal research. Therefore, we have established strict guidelines prohibiting the use of any ingredients that have been tested on animals since 2009.

Effective January 1, 2024, Vegan Action has updated its policy on permitted animal testing for ingredients, extending the cutoff date from the year 2000 to 2009. This adjustment reflects our commitment to promoting cruelty-free practices and encouraging ingredient manufacturers to adopt alternative testing methods.

Many international ingredient manufacturers have already taken steps to reduce or eliminate animal testing, particularly in response to regulatory measures such as the European Union’s testing ban. The ban, which initially targeted finished cosmetic products in 2004, was expanded in 2009 to include ingredients used in cosmetics. This regulatory framework has incentivized ingredient manufacturers to seek alternative testing methods, aligning with our goal of providing companies access to ingredients that adhere to our certification standards.

By updating our criteria and supporting the transition toward cruelty-free practices, we aim to incentivize ingredient manufacturers to opt out of animal testing while ensuring that I’m Vegan Verified products remain ethically sourced and environmentally conscious.

Plant-based proteins have revolutionized the food and nutrition industry, offering a convenient, healthy, accessible, and affordable alternative to animal-based foods. Given the essential role of protein in muscle growth and organ tissue maintenance, it’s crucial for companies to be able to make accurate protein claims on their product packaging.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mandates that protein claims on packaging include the percent Daily Value (%DV) for protein in the nutrition panel. This requirement applies to all proteins, including plant-based proteins like pea protein. However, the %DV must be based on the “corrected protein value,” determined using the Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDCAAS). PDCAAS evaluates protein quality based on amino acid requirements and digestibility, and it’s endorsed by the Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) as the preferred method for assessing protein value in human nutrition.

Since 2014, the FDA has required animal feed trials to determine PDCAAS for proteins. This involves feeding the protein to test animals and analyzing their feces, constituting animal research that conflicts with I’m Vegan Project’s guidelines against animal testing prior to 2009.

As an animal welfare organization, we faced the decision of whether to approve products for I’m Vegan Verified designation if they contain plant-based proteins that have undergone PDCAAS testing involving animal feed trials. Despite our efforts to find non-animal tested plant protein manufacturers, none met our guidelines and market demands. Consequently, we made the decision to accept these ingredients for several reasons:

  1. Major plant-protein manufacturers have conducted animal feed trials to comply with FDA regulations, leaving them with no viable alternatives.
  2. Access to a variety of vegan options, especially those bearing the Certified Vegan logo, facilitates consumer adoption of plant-based foods.
  3. Labeling plant-based protein products as “not vegan acceptable” would deter consumers from choosing plant protein options, contradicting our mission to reduce animal suffering and consumption.
  4. Once manufacturers complete PDCAAS evaluations, the FDA does not require repeated animal feed trials for product compliance.

While we understand that not everyone may agree with this decision, we believe it serves the best interests of animals and hope for your continued support of our work. You can find more information on the FDA requirement online.

We completely understand and share your concerns. I’m Vegan Project is committed to fostering growth in the vegan marketplace and expanding the availability of vegan products. Our primary goal is to protect animals from suffering, and we recognize that achieving widespread adoption of a vegan lifestyle is essential for this purpose. While we are also concerned about human health and environmental sustainability, our focus remains on animal welfare.

We believe that mainstream adoption of veganism is crucial for significant changes to occur in the treatment of animals and the environment. Therefore, it’s essential to offer a wide variety of animal-free alternatives to attract a broader audience to veganism.

I’m Vegan Project is dedicated to maintaining simple certification criteria: products are either vegan or not vegan. We leave other certifications, such as organic or no trans fats, to separate organizations. We firmly believe that consumer purchasing power can influence companies to prioritize environmentally and animal-friendly practices. By choosing products that align with these values, consumers send a clear message to companies that they prefer ethical and sustainable products.

As more companies recognize the profitability of marketing environmentally and animal-friendly products, the market will respond with an influx of new offerings. Together, we can create a world where ethical and sustainable choices are the norm, benefiting animals, humans, and the planet alike.

We do permit the use of the I’m Vegan Compliance and I’m Vegan Verified logos by brands owned by large companies and corporations. Our primary motivation is to work towards ending cruelty to animals, and the goal of our certification program is to increase the availability of vegan foods to reduce animal suffering and death. We firmly believe that the existence of vegan products is beneficial for animals, as it provides alternatives to animal-based products. Moreover, it is crucial for consumers to realize that they have vegan options available to them.

By demonstrating to the non-vegan food industry that there is a viable market for vegan products, we aim to encourage the production of more vegan options. As the availability of vegan products increases, more individuals may be inclined to adopt a vegan lifestyle. This, in turn, will prompt more companies to produce vegan products, driving the market in a positive direction.

Currently, many people perceive veganism as difficult, restrictive, and expensive. However, as the variety of vegan food options expands, it will become easier to find affordable vegan alternatives. This accessibility will make veganism more appealing to a broader audience, leading to a reduction in animal cruelty.

Ultimately, our goal is to make veganism accessible to all individuals, regardless of their background or circumstances. By making vegan options widely available and appealing, we can foster a compassionate and sustainable future while lessening cruelty to animals.

We regard figs as inherently “vegan,” much like any other fruit. The process of a wasp entering the fig to pollinate the flower occurs naturally and is not a result of human intervention. While it’s true that not every female wasp becomes trapped inside the fig, if she does, she is enzymatically digested. This process is comparable to insects and earthworms decomposing in soil, which is a natural part of ecosystem functioning.

It’s important to acknowledge that unintentional insects may be present in many of the foods we consume, and they are often unavoidable in commercial products. Therefore, we permit the inclusion of figs in I’m Vegan products, recognizing them as a natural and cruelty-free food source.

We acknowledge the significant environmental degradation and animal suffering associated with most palm oil harvesting practices. However, according to our guidelines for I’mVegan Certification, palm oil qualifies as it contains no animal products and is not tested on animals.

While we recognize the devastating impacts of palm oil production on the environment and habitats, incorporating these factors into our certification criteria would potentially disqualify many products from being considered ethically vegan. The reality is that growing and harvesting plant products, especially on a large scale, have profound environmental consequences and can result in the loss of animal lives and habitats. For instance, the harvesting of potatoes leads to the deaths of tens of thousands of mice, voles, rabbits, and the destruction of their habitats each year. It’s essential to acknowledge that there is no way to consume without causing harm, but we all strive to make the best choices we can.

While we do not promote palm oil consumption and do not endorse any specific companies or products, we provide the public with information on items that meet our certification  standards.

While purchasing vegan products is a step towards making more ethical choices, we recognize that consumers cannot completely avoid negative impacts. However, there are many products on the market that are both vegan and free of palm oil, offering consumers a range of options to choose from.

These ingredients listed, such as lanolin, shellac, glycerine, caseinate, squalene, guanine, vitamin D, stearic acid, carmine, collagen, elastin, keratin, isinglass, castoreum, whey, gelatine, Hyaluronic acid, Chondroitin, enzymes, probiotics, and omega-3s, are all commonly derived from animal sources. As part of our Certified Vegan standards, products containing these ingredients would not qualify for Vegan Certification. We prioritize the use of plant-based and cruelty-free alternatives in certified products to ensure they meet our ethical and environmental criteria.

The main difference between vegans and vegetarians lies in their dietary choices and lifestyle practices:

  1. Dietary Choices:

    • Vegans: Vegans abstain from consuming all animal-derived products, including meat (beef, pork, poultry, etc.), seafood, dairy (milk, cheese, butter, etc.), eggs, honey, and any other foods containing animal-derived ingredients. Their diet consists solely of plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
    • Vegetarians: Vegetarians typically avoid consuming meat, poultry, and seafood, but they may include dairy and eggs in their diet. There are different types of vegetarians:
      • Lacto-ovo vegetarians: They exclude meat, poultry, and seafood from their diet but consume dairy products and eggs.
      • Lacto-vegetarians: They exclude meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from their diet but consume dairy products.
      • Ovo-vegetarians: They exclude meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy products from their diet but consume eggs.
  2. Lifestyle Practices:

    • Vegans: In addition to dietary choices, vegans also avoid using animal-derived products in other aspects of their lives. This includes clothing (such as leather, wool, silk), cosmetics, household products, and any other items derived from animals or tested on animals. Vegans aim to minimize their contribution to animal exploitation and cruelty in all aspects of life.
    • Vegetarians: While vegetarians primarily focus on dietary choices, they may or may not extend their avoidance of animal products to other areas of their lives. Some vegetarians may choose to avoid animal-derived products in clothing or cosmetics, but it is not a universal practice among all vegetarians.

In summary, while both vegans and vegetarians abstain from consuming meat, the key distinction lies in the inclusion of animal-derived products such as dairy, eggs, and honey in the diet of some vegetarians. Additionally, vegans typically extend their avoidance of animal products beyond diet to other aspects of their lifestyle, whereas vegetarians may or may not adopt these practices.

I'm Vegan Q&A