Reading Time: 2 minutes The phrasing does a disservice to people and animals
Reading Time: 2 minutes

I see it
nearly every day – on hashtags, t-shirts, and prints from talented vegan artists. ‘Cruelty-free’, I would argue, is among the most overused expressions in the
vegan movement.

In fact, it’s
my belief that it’s time for it to be dropped all together.


There are a
number of reasons why I feel this way – but they all link back to the fact that
it’s usually inaccurate.

We collectively
slap this verbiage onto just about any vegan food which, sadly, emphasizes the
rights of animals while marginalizing exploited peoples.

The fact of
the matter is that, just because a meal or snack is vegan, doesn’t mean it’s
cruelty-free and to pretend that it is is short-sighted, weakens our arguments,
and leaves us open to criticism.


As was
demonstrated by the uproar that resulted when YouTuber Kalel recently confessed
to regularly eating dairy
despite identifying as ‘vegan’, language is

When we
call something cruelty-free while overlooking the fact that it is the product
of exploitive industries in developing nations we leave ourselves open, as advocates,
to detracting from our own message.

Instead of
having a conversation about animal liberation and reducing harm, we end up having
a conversation about human rights which – while equally important – detracts
from the topic at hand.


Using the
term ultimately perpetuates the idea that once a person goes vegan, and stops
investing in industries that are by-nature exploitive, they’ve ascended to a
higher moral plane and are beyond reproach.

This simply
isn’t true. Capitalism is destructive, consumerism is destructive, and animal
agriculture is not the only cruel industry in existence.

We do
ourselves, other people, and animals a disservice by acting like it is.

Veganism is
a great place to start – but it’s not the finish line.

We shouldn’t
fool ourselves into thinking that it is.

Emily Court

Emily Court is a writer and content creator published in Plant Based News, Raise Vegan, Living Vegan and The Financial Diet. A self-described "recovering vegan hothead," she is now a pragmatic member of Vancouver's vibrant and growing plant-powered community. Hailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia, she holds a BA in Spanish and certificate in Intercultural Communication from Dalhousie University, where her thesis focused on topics of cultural and gender-based discrimination. She aims to apply a privilege-conscious and culturally sensitive approach to her work in all fields.