There are many discussions on social media on what constitutes a vegan product. Many people think that if the producer of the product engages in animal testing, the product cannot be considered as vegan and not suitable for a vegan to consume.
Some years ago, this issue came up with respect to Daiya cheese substitute. Here is an (slightly edited) essay that I wrote with Anna Charlton back in 2017 and that was originally posted on the Abolitionist Approach website. The reasoning is applicable to any product.
Some people are upset about the fact that Daiya has been acquired by a company that is reported to do animal testing. They are claiming that Daiya products are, therefore, no longer “vegan” although Daiya does not contain any animal ingredients.
That claim makes no sense.
The claim that Daiya is no longer vegan is no different from saying that a package of frozen broccoli isn’t vegan because it is made by a company that also makes meat/dairy/egg products. It is no different from saying that the vegetables you just bought at the farm market are not vegan because the farmer is not a vegan and will use the money you paid to buy animal products she will consume. There is no difference between animal testing and any other form of animal exploitation. It’s all morally unjustifiable. But it is not relevant to whether a product contains animals or animal ingredients. And that is the only thing that determines whether a particular thing is suitable for a vegan to eat.
A company may make a product that contains no animal ingredients and do no testing, but may make all sorts of animal products. There is no morally coherent difference between exploiting animals for testing and exploiting them in any other context. Let’s assume that, instead of testing on animals, the company that has acquired Daiya does no animal testing but serves animal products to its workers in the company cafeteria. If Daiya is vegan in the latter situation, it is vegan in the former.
Many animal people seem to think that animal testing is more morally objectionable than other forms of animal exploitation. But then, many animal people believe that fur is more morally…