Vegan Symbol: What Does It Mean? (2024)

If you’re new to plant-based eating, then you should always be on the lookout for the vegan symbol.

It’s a simple logo featuring the letter “V” within a black heart and serves as the official food certification provided by If you’ve never seen it before, though, you may be wondering, “The vegan symbol: what does it mean?”

The vegan symbol is a certification that’s given out to food products that have undergone’s advanced testing and certification process.

To legally showcase the vegan symbol on its food products, companies must verify that no animal products were used to create the food. Additionally, they must prove that they don’t use animal testing.

In a world where nutrition ingredient labels are becoming harder and harder to read, having an easily identifiable symbol is a great way to make shopping easier.

Instead of having to read the fine print, just look for the little black heart with its signature “V.” In today’s post, I’m going to explain what goes into getting a vegan certification and why it’s so important!

Certified Vegan: What The Little “V” Stands For

Certified Vegan: What The Little “V” Stands For

On the surface, all vegans follow a simple creed: don’t consume, wear, or use animal products. At first, this sounds simple… That is until you find out just how many common ingredients in our diet contain animal products or come as the result of animal testing.

For instance, most people are unaware that simple refined white sugar is not, in fact, vegan. There are tons of other shady ingredients that may seem vegan that are derived from animals as well, including the vitamins and minerals they add to your breakfast cereal!

When you see the certified vegan symbol on a food container, you can purchase it with complete confidence that you’re buying a 100% vegan product. You don’t have to worry about any mystery ingredients, animal testing, or “grey areas” that could prick your conscience.

Keep on reading to find out the specifics of why the little “V” is so important…

1) Contains Absolutely No Animal Products

1) Contains Absolutely No Animal Products

The first and foremost concern in vegan diets is to avoid eating meat and animal products at all costs. Of course, this applies to the obvious:

  • No chicken or poultry.
  • No fish, shellfish, or seafood (although some vegans do support eating bivalves like mussels and oysters).
  • No cows, or red meat.
  • No game or wild-caught animals, such as venison.
  • No fowl or wild-caught birds.

However, this principle also applies to smaller ingredients that are made using animal-derived products.

For instance, white sugar is refined using bone char, and honey is obtained through exploiting bee colonies and their labor. Even though consuming ingredients like sugar and honey isn’t as bad as eating meat, it still supports industries that profit from animal exploitation.

Today’s meat industry is nothing short of horrifying. In the past, animals were usually responsibly farmed and often lived happy, healthy lives until they were unfortunately killed for meat. While this isn’t exactly “better,” per se, it was far more humane than today’s hellish slaughterhouses.

To fuel consumers’ barbaric addiction to consuming meat every day (and sometimes with every meal), massive meat farms pump their animals full of drugs and growth hormones, rape, and artificially inseminate females to produce more offspring.

Feed the animals unnatural diets, and put them in conditions where they’re overcrowded and disease runs rampant.

The second the animals are “big enough to eat,” they’re killed in brutal, inhumane manners that would be considered “war crimes” if they were performed on humans.

I could go on, but it’s a really dark and depressing topic. Needless to say, the modern meat industry is one of the greatest evils this world has ever seen and was one of my main reasons for going vegan.

2) Does Not Involve Cruel Animal Testing

2) Does Not Involve Cruel Animal Testing

If you thought the meat industry was dark, try looking into the animal testing industry. You’ll find horrors that you never even knew could exist.

I’ll never forget the time I saw videos from a facility where cigarettes (yes, most tobacco isn’t vegan) are tested on dogs, and the dogs are forced to inhale the equivalent of 80 cigarettes worth of smoke every single day.

Don’t believe me? Check out this horrifying video:

Whenever you see the certified vegan symbol on the side of a food product, you can buy it with complete confidence that no animals were ever tested to create the product.

Whether it’s a food item, beverage, or cooking ingredient, no animals were harmed or treated cruelly in the testing or creation phases of product development.

Simply put, any “testing” that the product underwent was performed by humans who voluntarily participated in taste tests.

3) Contains No Animal-Derived GMOs

Contains No Animal-Derived GMOs

GMOs are genetically-modified organisms that have had their DNA altered to produce a more marketable product. Most often, GMOs refer to plants (mostly fruits and vegetables) that have been modified to produce larger, faster-growing, or better-tasting crops.

However, GMOs can also refer to animals that have been genetically modified as well. Animal GMOs often find their way into non-meat processed foods and are often hard to detect if you’re just reading an ingredients label.

Thankfully, you can have 100% confidence that your food contains no animal-derived GMOs if you see the vegan symbol printed on the food’s packaging!

4) Proven Verification

Proven Verification

Most food products don’t control the production of all of their ingredients. For instance, a company that makes pre-packaged brownie mix will often source its ingredients from multiple farms and distributors.

While some of the ingredients may happen to be vegan, other ingredients may not be vegan.

To prevent the presence of any non-vegan ingredients in your food, products that bear the vegan symbol must present proof that all of their ingredients are 100% vegan, as well as the finished product.

How Do Food Companies Obtain Vegan Certification?

So, let’s just say that you have a great recipe for vegan protein bars and you want to take the product to the market… How would you go about obtaining your own vegan certification?

As it turns out, it’s pretty simple!

  1. First, you’ll need to contact the Vegan Action/Vegan Awareness Foundation that runs
  2. They’ll ask you to fill out an application for the product you want to be certified. There’s a $100 fee for each product application.
  3. Along the way, you’ll work with an officer to provide proof that your products are, without a doubt, 100% vegan and adhere to the principles outlined above.
  4. Lastly, you’ll need to pay an annual fee for each product. This varies significantly, depending on how much your annual revenue is. Companies that bring in less than $15,000 every year will only need to pay $150 per year, while companies that do over $1 Million per year will need to pay $2,000 per year. This is why certified vegan foods often cost a little bit more than non-vegan foods.


If you want to make your shopping a lot easier, then all you have to do is look out for the certified vegan symbol – the letter “V” within a black heart.

It should be clearly printed on the outside packaging or label of the food product that you’re buying.

While the vegan symbol is a great way to be 100% sure that the product is vegan, not all vegan foods are certified, as the process can be costly. There are lots of non-certified foods that are vegan-friendly, you’ll just need to read the labels closely!

As always, I appreciate all of my readers, and your support makes it possible for me to keep providing you with great content. If you enjoyed this post and my section on animal testing, then you’ll love my post on whether or not Cetaphil (the world’s most well-known face wash brand) is cruelty-free!

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Author Bio
Im Emma and I’m the creator of Vegan Calm. When I became a vegan seven years ago, I mainly did it for health and ethical reasons. To my surprise, it had another amazing benefit; I became a much calmer and peaceful person. This change inspired me to create Vegan Calm. Whether you’ve been a vegan for a long time or just want to learn more, this website will have something for you!

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