World Vegan Month 2021: Are vapes vegan-friendly?

It’s World Vegan month! With COP26 also underway this week, there’s even more headlines circling about what we can do to minimise our carbon footprint. It’s well-known that cutting down on your meat intake can help reduce your carbon footprint, and many will likely try veganism this month. 

If you’re a smoker, you might also be looking to quit, as not only are cigarettes really bad for your health, but they aren’t vegan-friendly either. To help you kick the habit, you might be thinking about switching to vaping. But is vaping vegan? What e-liquid ingredients do you need to look out for? Here’s everything you need to know about vegan vaping. 

What is veganism?

According to The Vegan Society, “Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment.” 

In dietary and lifestyle terms, this means that you don’t consume or use any products that are derived either wholly or partially from animals. If you are vegan or vegetarian, you’ll probably already spend a lot of time researching the ingredients and testing processes of everything you buy from food and drink to your clothes and toiletries. 

Why aren’t cigarettes vegan?

Cigarettes are not vegan-friendly for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s well documented that tobacco companies continue to use a lot of animal testing, despite the wealth of evidence we already have on the negative health effects caused by smoking. 

There is also a vast amount of evidence supporting the fact that animal testing does not provide an accurate representation of a substance’s effect on humans. Because tobacco cigarettes aren’t a medicine, many argue that animal testing involving smoking is cruel and unecessary. 

There are some tobacco companies that no longer test on animals, including Lorillard Tobacco Company. In 2014, they banned all animal testing that was not required by US regulation, but that doesn’t necssarily mean they never test on animals. 

Are there animal derived ingredients in cigarettes?

There are thousands of chemicals found in cigarettes and cigarette smoke, including around 70 carcinogens, so it’s no surprise that many smokers are unsure as to whether they contain animal derived ingredients. 

Castoreum is a common ingredient in cigarettes. This chemical is sourced from the castor sacs of the mature North American Beaver, and it cannot be acquired without killing them. Many cigarettes contain honey and beeswax, which many vegans avoid. They often also use hydrolysed milk solids, lactic acid, L-Lysine and more. 

Whilst the ingredient list of every pack of cigarettes and tobacco products needs to be submitted to the UK government, they do not need to be listed on the packet. This can make it difficult to know exactly what’s in it before you light up, so many vegans just avoid them all together. If you’re currently a smoker and you want to go vegan, it might be time to consider switching to vaping. 

Are e-liquids vegan?

Most e-liquids are vegan friendly, especially here in the UK thanks to strict regulations on what ingredients vape juice manufacturers can use. E-liquid made and sold in Britain can contain the following ingredients:

  • Propylene Glycol (PG)
  • Vegetable Glycerin (VG)
  • Nicotine
  • Flavour Concentrates

To enhance flavour, some also use artificial sweeteners, but it depends on the specific e-liquid and you can find this out from the manufacturer. To learn more about the ingredients used and e-liquids in general, take a look at our complete guide to e-liquids. For now, let’s take a look at why each ingredient is vegan-friendly. 

Is vegetable glycerin vegan?

Whilst the glycerin found in many lotions, soaps and other body care items is made using animal products, vegetable glycerin is not created using animal derivatives. 

Vegetable glycerin (VG) is made by pressing vegetable oil at a specific temperature, before adding a small amount of water to it. The fatty acids within the oil are absorbed by the water, which creates a thick, syrup-like consistency. 

It’s worth noting though that some VG is made using palm oil, which has received a lot of bad press in recent years due to the mass deforestation palm oil farming has caused. This is a big concern for many people, not just vegans, so if it’s something you’d like to avoid then your manufacturer may be able to tell you the base ingredients of their VG. 

Is propylene glycol vegan?

Propylene glycol (PG) is an organic compound derived from petroleum, which is a fossil fuel. Whilst most of it comes from fossilised plants, some does come from ancient animal remains. There is some debate as to whether this is strictly vegan, and it’s totally up to personal preference, but PG is generally considered to be vegan-friendly. 

If you don’t want to vape propylene glycol or you’re allergic to it, you can buy 100% VG e-liquids. Make sure with the manufacturer that it really is just VG though, as some add very small amounts of PG with flavourings. 

Is nicotine vegan?

Nicotine is the addictive substance found in tobacco products and many e-liquids. It is a naturally occurring substance in nightshade plants, which include tomatoes, potatoes and aubergines. For this reason, nicotine is vegan friendly as it isn’t made using any ingredients derived from animals.  

Are dessert flavoured e-liquids vegan-friendly?

Dessert flavoured shortfills and 10ml e-liquids are really popular among vapers with a sweet tooth. When you see tempting flavours on the shelves like Apple Crumble and Gingerbread Latte, it’s unsuprising that many people think they contain dairy. 

In most cases, the artificial flavourings used in dessert blends are actually chemicals which don’t use dairy or other meat derived ingredients. If your e-liquid contains only artificial flavourings, then it’s safe to assume it’s vegan-friendly. 

Some use natural sources, typically for fruit flavoured e-liquids. By definition, natural flavourings can potentially include ingredients derived from animals or their produce, including milk, eggs and other dairy products. If you aren’t sure, you can always check with the manufacturer to find out exactly what’s in your e-liquid. 

Do vaping companies test on animals?

Whilst most e-liquids use vegan-friendly ingredients, it’s important to remember that chemicals like PG and nicotine have and may still be tested on animals. There is still a lot of research taking place surrounding the effects of long-term vaping, and whilst most studies use human trials, some may still use animal testing. 

If in doubt, the manufacturer might be able to help. They will know where their ingredients have come from and who produces it, and it’s possible that they’ll be able to tell you so that you can dig a little deeper. 

Summary

Most of the e-liquids you can buy in the UK will be vegan-friendly, you’ll just need to do a little research into the animal testing side of things. Just like many medicines, most chemicals have at some point been tested on animals. 

In comparison to the tobacco industry’s horrific history with animal testing, many e-liquid manufacturers actively work to avoid it. Besides that, vaping has been shown to be at least 95% safer than smoking cigarettes, so if you’re struggling to quit then e-cigarettes could be a great option. 

You can vape 100% VG and nicotine free vape juice if you do have concerns, and we offer a wide range of shortfills that you don’t have to add the nicotine to if you’d prefer nic free. 

Alternatively, more experienced vapers can mix their own e-liquids using our great selection of flavour concentrates, nicotine shots and some vegetable glycerin if you don’t want to use a VG/PG premix. There are loads of great tutorials online to show you how to do this, but make sure you’re following the instructions on the bottles and if you still aren’t sure, don’t risk it. 

For more information about the e-liquids we stock, head over to our website to see a breakdown of each product’s ingredients. Alternatively, you can pop into one of our stores, where our friendly team will be happy to help. 

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