Is Your E-Juice Vegan?
Yes! All of our e-liquids are 100% vegan safe!
Is Most E-Juice Vegan?
While Kai's Virgin Vapor is vegan approved, what about other vape juice? What does a vegan vaper need to know about e-juice ingredients?
While you would think that with the same basic constituents found in all vape juice--flavorings, nicotine, propylene glycol or vegetable glycerin and maybe some added color or sweetener or other additives here and there--that most e-liquids would be vegan. However, it's surprising how complex the answer to this simple question turned out to be.
At Kai's Virgin Vapor, we seem to have a much higher percentage of vegans working here than are seen in the general population so this is an issue we really care about. We took the time to dig in to the answer in detail for each e-juice component. The answers were surprising.
Are E-Juice Flavorings Vegan?
Many e-liquids are not vegan as the flavorings may contain animal ingredients. According to the FDA, Section 101.22 (a) (1), "The term artificial flavor or artificial flavoring means any substance, the function of which is to impart flavor, which is not derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof." Therefore, e-liquid that contains artificial flavors will not be derived from meat, fish, poultry, eggs or dairy products and will therefore be vegan.
Conversely, when it comes to "natural flavors," surprisingly the reverse is true. In Section 101.22 (3), the FDA says, "The term natural flavor or natural flavoring means the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional." Therefore, an e-liquid flavored with natural flavorings may contain ingredients of animal origin.
You'd tend to assume that if you just stay away from the bacon flavored e-liquids (yes, they do exist!) and stick to fruit or tobacco flavors you'd be safe but that's not actually true. "Natural" flavors are widely misunderstood by consumers. Artificial flavors are concocted by a chemist in a laboratory using various chemicals. Natural flavors are also concocted by a chemist in a laboratory using various chemicals, the only difference being that those chemicals are derived from natural sources.
What consumers tend to think of when they hear the term "natural flavor" is actually known in the flavoring industry as "from the named fruit," meaning that the flavor is derived from the actual fruit the flavor is named after. We use "from the named fruit" flavors here at Kai's Virgin Vapor (you can find out more in our article about the unique taste of our organic e-liquids) but that's pretty unique. A natural flavor may borrow one flavor note from a fruit but get the rest of the flavor notes that round out the melody from all kinds of bizarre, albeit natural, sources, not all of which are vegan.
Case in point, the origin of some fruit flavors may not be fruit at all!
Warning: if you have a sensitive stomach, you might want to stop reading here!
While it's hard to believe (and unbelievably gross!), according to Wikipedia, vanilla, strawberry and raspberry flavorings are often made from the "yellowish exudate from the castor sacs of the mature North American beaver." What exactly is an "exudate?" Yeah, we had to look it up, too. According to an online medical dictionary, an exudate is "a fluid with a high content of protein and cellular debris that has escaped from blood vessels and has been deposited in tissues or on tissue surfaces, usually as a result of inflammation." The exudate in question from beavers comes from a pair of sacks, located between the anus and the external genitalia, that hold the fluid, also called castoreum, which beavers use "in combination with urine to scent mark their territory."
It is interesting to note that castoreum is also used to enhance the flavor and odor of combustible cigarettes which begs the question, are cigarettes even vegan? And one really has to wonder who first came across a beaver's castoreum sack and thought, "Hmmm, let's give this a try! Yum, vanilla!"
Are E-liquid Colorings Vegan?
Again, not necessarily. If you're not nauseous yet, wait until you hear where the red comes from in many red food colorings. Yes, it gets worse. Red #4, a common dye used in food products and added to some e-liquids to create a more appealing red or pink color, is actually derived from ground up beetles! The body of the cochina beetle is dried, ground up and then boiled to create Red #4.
According to vegan.com, Red #4 may also appear on the label as cochineal extract, crimson lake, natural red 4 and E120. You'll want to avoid all of those forms if the thought of vaping ground up beetles doesn't appeal to you.
Is Propylene Glycol Vegan?
What about e-liquid bases, propylene glycol (PG) and vegetable glycerin (VG)? Are they always vegan?
Propylene glycol is a petroleum derivative. Technically speaking, unless you subscribe to the abiotic theory of oil, petroleum is is a fossil fuel. That means it was created, through heat, time and pressure, from the fossilized remains primarily of plants but also of some animals, perhaps even dinosaurs. Needless to say, there's lots of snarky debate on Reddit as to whether this makes PG appropriate for vegans. Ultimately, it's something you'll have to decide whether you feel comfortable with based on your reasons for being vegan and your personal philosophy. If you don't want to vape PG, it's easy to find 100% VG vape juice. Just make sure to ask your manufacturer if their VG e-juice really is PG-free because many flavorings come in a base of PG and, knowingly or unknowingly, vape juice manufacturers can end up calling their e-liquid 100% VG when, in fact, it contains PG added with the flavors.
Is Vegetable Glycerin (VG) Vegan?
Vegetable glycerin is made by pressing vegetable oil at a specific temperature and then adding some water. The fatty acids in the oil get absorbed by the water creating a thick, syrupy consistency.
There is another way to make glycerin that uses animal fats, putting them through a process of boiling and cooling to create an animal based glycerin. This type of glycerin is most commonly used in body care products such as soaps and lotions.
Fortunately, it's easy to tell these two types of glycerin apart. Glycerin made from vegetables is called vegetable glycerin and it's totally vegan safe. This is the type that is used in e-liquid manufacture so you shouldn't have to worry about VG in your vape juice.
Just for Laughs
While we're on the topic, if you want a good laugh, check out this ejuice review of a "Crab Juice" flavored e-liquid. It's pretty funny watching the reviewers grimace and gag their way through the video!
And what about this tuna flavored e-juice? Yeah, someone actually sells this stuff!!!
No word on whether it's vegan or not, but we doubt that's a question any vegan is going to want to know the answer to any time soon!
Happy vaping, fellow vegans! : )
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