If you grew up going to daycare, kindergarten, or public school, then there’s a 99.99% chance that you’ve used one of Crayola’s many products before.
The most popular Crayola products are Crayola markers and crayons. They also manufacture a number of other affordable art supplies, primarily marketed towards children and their parents.
Are Crayola markers vegan, though?
While Crayola markers may seem innocent enough, they’re actually NOT vegan. Like many art supplies, Crayola is guilty of using animal by-products in their markers, crayons, and other art supplies.
Gelatin, shellac, and animal-derived dies are some of the most common culprits that make Crayola products non-vegan.
I know what you’re probably thinking… “Is nothing sacred anymore?”
We all grew up with Crayola products, and the last thing any of us expected was to learn that they contain animal by-products. However, part of growing up is learning that the world isn’t as perfect as we thought.
Thankfully, there are plenty of vegan-friendly markers and crayons on the market that you can replace your Crayola products with!
In today’s post, I’m going to break down what Crayola markers and crayons are made of. Then, I’ll show you some of the best vegan alternatives to Crayola markers and crayons. c
Just because you can’t use Crayola doesn’t mean that you can’t buy art supplies! You just have to know what to look for. Continue reading to find out more…
What Are Crayola Markers Made Of?
According to Crayola:
Crayola markers are made using 1) a plastic barrel, 2) a plastic cap, 3) a porous plastic nib, 4) cotton filament, and 5) water-based dye.
Sounds innocent enough, right?
The fifth ingredient (water-based dye) is where the problem lies. Unfortunately, Crayola markers use animal by-products in their dyes and coloring.
It’s not like they’re made of blood or anything crazy, but they do contain products like gelatin, shellac, and animal fats. All of these added animal ingredients help stabilize the colors and keep them consistent.
It’s important to understand that Crayola doesn’t directly slaughter animals to obtain these products. Instead, they get most of them for free (or very low-cost) from slaughterhouses, which sell these non-meat animal by-products to manufacturers to use in their products.
That being said, by using animal by-products in their markers, Crayola is directly supporting the commercial meat industry. Essentially, they’re helping slaughterhouses get rid of animal remains that they would otherwise have to deal with themselves.
Even though Crayola may not be as “monstrous” as a slaughterhouse, they’re a willing participant in animal slaughter. As vegans, we should always do our best to avoid any and all companies that contribute to animal cruelty and slaughter.
Do Crayola Markers Have Animal Fat In Them?
Crayola has always been very vague about exactly what’s in their dye. All we’re told is that it’s a water-based dye. However, one thing that we do know is that Crayola marker dyes use a product called stearic acid.
While stearic acid can be obtained from vegetables, it’s cheaper and more readily available from animal-derived sources. Stearic acid typically comes from animal fats (beef tallow) and is most often obtained by cooking down beef remains.
Considering that Crayola has directly admitted to using some animal by-products in their art supplies, we can only assume that the stearic acid used in Crayola markers is animal-derived and non-vegan.
Does Crayola Test On Animals?
Thankfully, Crayola does not test on animals. This is good news, as there are a number of high-profile cosmetic companies that perform cruel and unusual tests on animals.
The more big-name brands that come out against animal testing, the fewer animals that will be tested on, tortured and killed in the name of “safety” in the future.
That being said, Crayola is still a non-vegan company.
While I applaud their policy of not testing products on animals, they still use animal by-products in their markers and should be avoided by vegans.
Are Crayola Markers Toxic?
One of the biggest reasons why Crayola markers are so popular in schools is that they’re non-toxic. The one thing we all know about kids is that they have no problem putting just about anything in their mouth or up their nose.
Parents generally feel a lot more comfortable about letting their young children use art supplies if they know that the child isn’t going to have to go to the emergency room after trying to eat them!
Many of the permanent markers used by adults are very toxic and can cause extreme sickness if ingested or inhaled for too long.
Vegan Marker Alternatives To Try
Unfortunately, most of the washable markers on the market use some form of animal by-products. This makes it rather difficult to find vegan markers. However, based on my research, I was able to find two specific brands that offer vegan-friendly markers:
- ADMarkers by Chartpak
- All markers manufactured by Copic
Are Crayola Crayons Vegan?
I know what you’re probably thinking… “Okay, I understand why markers aren’t vegan. But crayons have to be vegan-friendly, right?”
Unfortunately, Crayola crayons aren’t vegan either. They contain animal-derived waxes and pigment, making them just as non-vegan as Crayola markers.
Although Crayola didn’t exactly invent the concept of crayons (they were used in Renaissance-era Europe and made from wax, charcoal, and natural pigment), they invented the “Crayon” as we know it today.
What Are Crayola Crayons Made Of?
Crayons were some of the first art supplies I ever remember using as a young child. I went through hundreds of pages of coloring books in my day.
All the while, I never once cared or thought about what was in them. To me, they were just colorful sticks that made a boring page come alive with color.
So, what are Crayola crayons made of?
Crayola crayons are made using a blend of paraffin, beeswax, and carnauba wax. The pigment is added to this wax blend. While some of these pigments are synthetic, some of them are also non-vegan.
Both paraffin and carnauba wax are vegan-friendly. Paraffin is a synthetic wax made from hydrocarbons and is commonly used in candles, cosmetics, and other everyday products.
Carnauba wax is a plant-based oil that’s derived from the carnauba palm tree. It’s a thick wax that’s often used in paints, car wax, and other products.
Beeswax, on the other hand, is not vegan. In fact, the majority of the vegan community regards bee products as non-vegan since commercial bee farming exploits the colonies and often kills them off to encourage the over-production of resources like honey, beeswax, and propolis.
As far as the dyes and pigments go, they’re usually “mystery ingredients.”
There are plenty of vegan-friendly synthetics or plant-based pigments that are used in crayons. However, there are just as many animal-derived pigments or pigments that use animal by-products.
So, while some of the ingredients in Crayola crayons may be vegan, the rest or not.
Are Crayons Toxic?
Like Crayola markers, Crayola crayons are non-toxic. This is the biggest reason why crayons are so popular in schools and among young children. Not only are they affordable and widely available, but they’re not poisonous.
Not that you should try to eat them to prove a point, but they won’t kill you if they’re ingested in small amounts.
Vegan Crayon Alternatives To Try
Thankfully, there are a couple of vegan-friendly crayons on the market that parents can choose from instead of Crayola’s non-vegan crayons.
One of the most popular brands of vegan crayons is Azafran.
Azafran Vegan Crayons are made from all-natural plant-based colors and waxes. This means that you don’t have to worry about beeswax or potential animal by-products in your crayons. Additionally, Azafran Vegan Crayons are also non-toxic, so they’re completely safe for kids. In fact, they’re probably safer and less toxic than Crayola crayons are! Lastly, they’re hypoallergenic, so there’s a very low chance of them ever causing an allergic reaction.
Should I Let My Child Use Crayola Markers & Crayons?
As adults, we rarely ever need to use crayons or washable markers. For the most part, we’re just fine using plain old-fashioned pencils and pens.
The main people who are concerned about Crayola markers and crayons are the parents and teachers who have very limited options when it comes to non-vegan art supplies.
The few vegan-friendly markers and crayons on the market also happen to be very expensive, as they’re regarded as a “luxury item.”
Seeing as most teachers in the U.S. are already underpaid and are required to bring their own art supplies to class, buying expensive vegan crayons and markers for the class often isn’t an option.
Also, many classrooms in America rely on parent donations. Seeing as Crayola is the most affordable and available brand of crayons and markers available, most classrooms are going to be full of them.
As a vegan parent, this presents a moral dilemma.
My advice would be to try and purchase vegan crayons and markers for use at home. It’s impossible to control what your kids use in the classroom and it’s unhealthy to try and micromanage their life in school.
It’s one of those situations where you just have to do the best you can without being over-controlling.
Hopefully, in the near future, there will be more vegan-friendly art supplies available to parents, teachers, and kids. However, there are very few available today.
As the plant-based lifestyle continues to grow, though, I’m confident that the art industry will grow and evolve to adapt and will offer more vegan-friendly options.
In the meantime, we can all do our best to help our families eat healthy, vegan alternatives. For instance, I guarantee your child won’t be able to tell the difference when you feed them vegan ice cream!