IS TOOTHPASTE VEGAN?
…AND WHY IS IT SO HARD TO FIND OUT IF IT IS?
In the last few years, it has become much easier to avoid animal products. With an increasing demand for vegan options, more and more products carry a vegan label. When it comes to food, a quick check of the ingredients can also help identify plant-based options. But have you ever looked at the ingredients on personal care items? It is a very scientific list describing the chemical components, and even if you have an idea about what something is, you still don’t know how it’s produced.
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GLYCERIN – A TERM SO PRECISE IT DOESN’T TELL YOU ANYTHING
Glycerin is a great example of this problem. It locks in moisture, making it ubiquitous in personal care products, such as soaps, lotions, shampoo, and toothpaste. The term glycerin describes a very specific substance with a precise molecular structure (it’s C3H8O3 if you want to get all nerdy about it). But there are different ways to produce this substance – either from animal fat or plant oil.
It takes companies with a real commitment to transparency to find out more. I found such a company when I was vetting Davids Natural Toothpaste Inc. for inclusion in the askBelynda plugin. Not only do they use (and declare) plant-derived glycerin, but they also shine a light on their other ingredients. Here is what they say about their mission:
“Our founder Eric attended many vegan trade shows during the four-year journey of formulating Davids Natural Toothpaste. He was shocked by how many people had no idea that their toothpaste contained animal by-products. This not only heightened his passion for formulating the best vegan toothpaste out there, but it also reminded him how important it is to bring more transparency and awareness into an industry dominated by the same few “big name” brands for decades. So, here we are, increasing your awareness and upholding our commitment to transparency.”
DO YOU BRUSH YOUR TEETH WITH BONE MEAL?
I did actually know about the glycerin problem before, but one ingredient I had never looked into before is calcium phosphate. It’s often contained in fluoride-containing toothpastes (not Davids). I’m sure that if I ever read the term, I just assumed it was some sort of mineral (which it is), and never even wondered where it came from. Well, it can be either from rocks or from bone meal! Again, there is no difference in the declaration on the package, and no way to find out if the company doesn’t voluntarily tell you about it.
Vegan ingredients are not enough to guarantee an animal-friendly product. Testing cosmetics, including toothpaste, on lab animals is sadly still the norm rather than the exception. Fortunately, a lot of companies are working to change that. Davids toothpaste carries the Leaping Bunny Seal, one of the most recognized labels for cruelty-free cosmetics.
If you love vegan and cruelty-free products but are too busy to do all the nitty-gritty research, let askBelynda help you! Download the free browser extension and get sustainable suggestions right in your Amazon shopping window. With each suggested product, you can click on the “Reasons Why”, and learn more about it. Vegan and cruelty-free are just two of the criteria we are looking for when vetting companies for inclusion.
Jennifer Scales is a photo artist and train travel enthusiast. When she is not vetting companies for askBelynda, she spreads her love for sustainable travel by capturing the beauty of nature seen through the train window.
Check out her website Landscape in Motion and follow Jennifer Scales | Fine Art on Instagram to see her artwork.