What I Didn’t Know About Vegan Food Labeling Standards in Canada

SPOILER ALERT: There aren’t any (labeling standards for the term “vegan”)!

After losing my vegan virginity in 2017, my eyes were opened to a confusing and scary reality – product and food labeling.

When it comes to shopping for food, I stick to a whole-food plant based diet but that doesn’t mean I’m immune to cravings for crunchy salty snacks and sweet treats. 

If you’re like me and live in Canada you may be surprised to learn that the CFIA (the government agency which regulates food labeling) doesn’t have specific standards set-out for the term “vegan”*.

While the Canadian government doesn’t regulate the use of vegan labeling, there are a number of organizations which provide certifications. These companies own a trademark, review submitted products and, for a licensing fee, allow for the use of their trademark on products that they certify. Organizations like Vegan.org for example have a distinct and easily recognizable symbol that makes purchasing easy.

Problem solved, right?

Unfortunately, not. Not all vegan products are certified and sometimes the labelling on products can be confusing because sometimes the company producing a product puts their own labels on a product.

So what’s a vegan to do?!

There are a few options:

  1. Make something yourself! But, if you’re like me, when you’re craving something you normally want it like…5 minutes ago…sooo next option!
  2. Google – trusty old google. It might take you a little longer at the grocery store but once you discover your favorite cookies (Oreo’s!) are vegan, I highly doubt you’ll forget that tidbit of knowledge.
  3. Quick list – And for the easiest cheat sheet ever, check out this awesome list of 20 Products that are Accidentally Vegan

Happy Snacking!

The Vegan Virgin, xo


*The CFIA does have standards for the term vegetarian and their definition allows for the inclusion of dairy and egg products. The complete definition can be found here.

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