Why Not All Toothpaste is Vegan
Let’s talk about vegan toothpaste. Now, you may be wondering, isn’t all toothpaste vegan? While it may not seem like our twice-daily oral care routines require animal products and byproducts, most conventional toothpaste actually does contain animal-sourced ingredients. This blog will get to the bottom of why not all toothpaste is vegan, and share some ways to brush in an animal-friendly way.
Is Toothpaste Vegan?
Let’s start with the basics; is toothpaste vegan? While it’s possible to find vegan toothpaste, many of those that line supermarket shelves do contain animal-based ingredients. When it comes to non-vegan-friendly ingredients, there are four main ones to be aware of: glycerin; calcium phosphate; propolis; and flavor.
Glycerin, also referred to as glycerol or glycerine, is a sugar alcohol and humectant. In other words, it’s a gooey moisturizing ingredient that prevents the toothpaste from drying out—and does the same during our two minutes of brushing. Glycerin also contributes to the taste and mouthfeel that many of us have come to associate with toothpaste.
That squeaky clean feeling that comes with brushing our teeth? That’s often a result of glycerin. But is glycerin in toothpaste vegan? Unfortunately, our lathered up pearly whites may be thanks to animal-based glycerin. While glycerin can be sourced from genetically modified plant sources, it can also come from animal fats.
Fortunately, we don’t need glycerin at all! Take our Brilliant Black Toothpaste, for example, it’s made with plant-based ingredients, like organic extra-virgin coconut oil. Working like glycerin, moisturizing coconut contributes to a creamy mouthfeel and keeps dry mouth at bay—all while helping to trap and remove bacteria!
Minerals like calcium phosphate are also common in conventional toothpaste. Calcium phosphate is typically included to serve the same purpose as fluoride: remineralization of teeth. After eating, the ions in calcium phosphate work to repair teeth and support enmel to prevent cavity formation.
Like glycerin, calcium phosphate may be derived from animal sources. While smaller amounts can be naturally found in rock deposits, calcium phosphate often comes from bovine milk, bones, and other animal remains. Also like glycerin, calcium phosphate has vegan alternatives that may be even better for teeth!
Nano-hydroxyapatite is relatively new to the oral care scene, but it’s already making waves as an excellent (and safer) remineralizing alternative to fluoride and calcium phosphate. The biocompatible material is synthesized in a lab, making it vegan. This means we can enjoy our favorite vegan products without worrying about potential animal-derived ingredients that make our cavity-free teeth possible.
It’s important to recognize that natural toothpaste doesn’t always mean vegan-friendly toothpaste—and quite often, propolis can be the reason. Propolis is a type of resin that’s produced by bees. It’s a blend of compounds produced by plants, trees, and buds that is combined with bee saliva and beeswax.
This “bee glue” is what bees use to repair their honeycomb and seal the hive. It's also used to help clean teeth and ward off bacteria. It’s naturally antiviral and antibacterial; just like a great propolis alternative: organic coconut oil! Save the bees and look for vegan toothpaste instead.
Your fresh “Clean Mint” breath may make your partner smile—but you may not be able to say the same for animals. The vast majority of conventional toothpaste contains both artificial and natural flavor. Natural flavor can be derived from natural substances—which include meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products.
Because you’ll just see “natural flavors” on the ingredient list, it can be difficult to determine if these are animal-derived or not. It’s much better to look for specific ingredients that provide a toothpaste’s flavor—peppermint oil and tea tree leaf oil, for example.
While artificial flavors don’t come from natural substances and are instead created in a lab, they, too, may not be all that animal-friendly. Along with these other ingredients—and toothpaste as a whole—artificial flavor may be tested on animals.
Vegan-Friendly and Cruelty-Free Toothpaste
A vegan toothpaste may be totally free of animal-derived ingredients, but if it’s tested on unwilling animals that doesn’t make it very animal-friendly, does it? If you’ve been following a vegan lifestyle or wanting to live a life that’s a little kinder for all of Earth’s inhabitants, you may want to look for not only vegan ingredients, but also confirmation that they’re not tested on animals.
Short of making your own DIY homemade vegan toothpaste, a brand’s transparency and relevant certifications can help you determine whether your pearly whites are pro-animal welfare or not.
Brush in a Way That’s Better for All Beings
The Terra & Co. story starts with a desire for a toothpaste that’s “safe for everyone.”By everyone, we mean all beings—human and non-human. That’s why our vegan whitening toothpaste, oil pulling mouthwash, zero waste floss, and toothpaste tabs are both vegan-friendly and cruelty-free. We do not test on animals and instead of animal-derived ingredients, we opt for the healing power of plants to support a safe and sustainable smile.