Toothpaste seems like it should be vegan, right?
Well, as I’m about to go over, most toothpastes are not vegan.
I’ll explain why, and then give you a few recommendations at the end.
Why Most Toothpaste Isn’t Vegan
There are 2 issues here:
- Animal products
- Animal testing (the main concern)
Many toothpastes actually have both these issues.
Animal Products in Toothpaste
The main ingredient of concern for vegans is glycerin.
Glycerin (or glycerol) is sometimes vegan, but not always. It is derived from fats, and those fats can come from plant or animal sources.
It’s in many of the most popular toothpastes, although not all of them (not in Crest for example).
Additionally, some toothpastes contain “flavor.” This is a vague term that covers a wide variety of ingredients. Most of them are plants, but some may not be.
Unless specified that it’s vegan-friendly, it’s something I avoid. I contacted Crest about this, and they basically said it’s “proprietary” and wouldn’t specify which flavors were used.
So, there’s a few animal products to look out for, but the biggest concern is animal testing.
Most toothpastes contain flavoring ingredients or glycerin, which both may come from plants or animals. Contact customer service for a brand if you really want to know if a certain toothpaste has animal ingredients in it.
Animal Testing and Toothpaste
There’s animal testing involved in toothpaste manufacturing in 2 ways.
First, most popular brands use artificial colors (e.g. red 40, blue 2, etc.), which are often tested on animals. Some vegans avoid these, while others don’t – choose for yourself.
Secondly, and most importantly, chemicals added to toothpastes are tested on animals.
Here’s a detailed look at the animal testing if you’d like to read it, but I’ll summarize it here.
Millions of animals have been caged, subjected to tests, and ultimately killed after being their “usefulness” was worn out.
The saddest part is that most of these tests continue to be on ingredients that we already know are safe.
All the most popular toothpaste brands test on animals and are not vegan. At least for the time being.
It’s a safe assumption that all popular toothpastes that you grew up with are not vegan, because of animal products in them or animal testing.
Toothpastes That ARE Vegan
The alternative is to buy toothpastes from manufacturers that don’t use ingredients that would have been tested on animals.
Most of these are marketed as “natural” toothpastes.
The easiest one to find is Tom’s of Maine toothpaste, it’s the one I use.
There are others like Dr. Bronner’s, but one thing to watch out for is that many “natural” toothpastes don’t contain fluoride.
Many varieties of Tom’s toothpastes don’t have it either (but the one I linked above does).
It’s not a “natural” ingredient, but it’s proven to be safe and effective over a long time period, and from what I can see, it’s not tested on animals either.
By all means, you can avoid it if you’d like, but just be aware that you may have to look around a bit to find a toothpaste that is both vegan and contains fluoride.
Colgate’s “Zero” Product Line
In early 2020, Colgate unvelied their new Zero product line, which includes toothpaste and mouthwash.
These products are all:
- Free of artificial flavors
- Free of artificial colors and sweeteners
This may be the easiest vegan toothpaste to find depending on where you live.