Vegan leather. Vegan pizza. Even vegan dog food. We must be dreaming!
If someone would have said a few years ago that so many household products would now be available in vegan form, we would have thought no way! But in the past several years, these kinds of items have become part of the mainstream market, and finding vegan versions of our favorite products has become easier than ever before.
But what about products that help care for our health and body? Is it possible to find a truly vegan toothpaste? With so many boxes to check, can a vegan version of this product exist? And if so, would we even want to use it? And if we used it, how would it perform?
We know, so many questions that need answers!
Not to worry. Read on and we’ll help guide you as we explore what the market has for those of us wanting to live with a clean mouth and a clean conscience.
What Does Vegan-Friendly Mean?
Before we get into the “meat” of this topic, it’s really important to understand what the term vegan actually means.
From hashtags like #veganforanimals, #veganuary, and #plantbased, vegan culture, sometimes called “plant based” culture, is definitely picking up steam, so you may be surprised at the misconceptions around what a vegan lifestyle truly entails. The spectrum of the different ways to eat and live are varied. With terms like lacto-vegetarian, ovo-vegetarian, acto-ovo vegetarian, and pescatarian out there, you’re not alone if it seems confusing.
Let’s start by clearing up a few basic misconceptions!
First, being vegan is not the same as being vegetarian, though sometimes the misconception does arise. Yes, a vegetarian diet does eliminate the consumption of meat, but veganism is much more than simply a restrictive way of eating.
Vegans do join in refraining from the consumption of meat, but limitations extend to the consumption or use of any poultry, eggs, fish, and any dairy products as well as the use of any products that contain them in order to avoid using or consuming anything that is animal-derived.
Additionally to all this, finding products and foods that are cruelty-free, meaning products that undergo testing and development without the involvement of animals, is the key.
Benefits of Veganism
So why is veganism an important choice, and what kind of benefits exist?
For starters, eating a diet free of all animal products and byproducts can have several health benefits:
- Lowering the risk of Type 2 Diabetes
- Reducing the risk of certain cancers
- Promoting weight loss
- Reducing your risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels
- Supporting healthy kidney function
Outside of these health benefits, veganism helps our environment by reducing waste, carbon emissions, and even keeping nutrients in our soil that the production of meat has reduced over time!
Which Ingredients Make-Up Toothpaste and What Are They For?
Hopefully now you are familiar with some of the benefits of a vegan lifestyle.
Another benefit is getting into the habit of looking at labels and gaining an understanding of what you are putting into your body. In that spirit, let’s talk toothpaste!
Here are the types of ingredients contained in store-bought (rarely vegan) toothpaste, and what they do:
In order to keep toothpaste, well, a paste, manufacturers have to include thickening agents to the ingredient composition. Imagine the mess without it! A few common ingredients used as toothpaste thickeners are guar gum, cellulose gum, xanthan gum, and carrageenan. Gluten is also used by certain brands so if gluten concerns you, make sure to check your label!
While certain toothpaste manufacturers boast a non-fluoride product, most will have this ingredient listed on the tube. The reason is because fluoride is vital for cavity protection. This ingredient strengthens enamel and discourages plaque build-up. This is a must-have in effective toothpaste!
The reason for sweetener placement in a toothpaste ingredient lineup should be obvious. Amidst the other hardworking ingredients, these players literally sweeten the deal and make brushing twice a day more bearable. While some are riskier to brush with than others, here are a few you might find in a toothpaste: saccharin, aspartame, xylitol, or sucralose.
Triclosan is a chemical that has been used in personal cleaning products for years, because of its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. On the opposite end of the spectrum from fluoride, triclosan is not found in many toothpastes though it has been used by some brands as protection against gingivitis. Triclosan has also been tested on animals.
Even though the color of your toothpaste does not pose any oral benefits, it is very common to find dyed toothpaste on the shelves of the grocery store. Keep in mind that the addition of these dyes is unnecessary and certain individuals may find them to be irritating to gums. Blue #2 is a common source of that “fresh” looking color, but it is a synthetic dye. If you desire a more natural toothpaste, you may want to forgo these types of toothpastes and opt for a vegan toothpaste like those from Twice, with everything you need, and nothing you don't.
You may have heard that gentle scrubbing with a soft bristle toothbrush is the best way to brush your teeth (and if so, you’ve heard right)! But it is beneficial for your toothpaste to contain some sort of mild abrasive ingredient to aid in cleansing and stain removal. Some common examples are baking soda, hydrated silicates and calcium carbonate.
Like other perishable items, toothpaste requires preservatives to protect it from the growth of microorganisms and extend shelf-life. Some preservatives you might see on your toothpaste label are sodium benzoate, benzyl alcohol, or various parabens.
These types of ingredients keep your toothpaste from drying out and in a semi-solid state, as well as deter the growth of bacteria. Common humectants you may find in toothpaste are glycerin, sorbitol, other glycols, and more recently, water.
Which Ingredients Aren’t Vegan Friendly?
Now that you are a pro at deciphering what the ingredients listed on your trusty toothpaste tube do, how can you tell if they’re vegan?
Here’s another quick list to help you out!
If you missed this sneaky little guy under humectants earlier, we’ve got you covered! Sometimes labeled as glycerol, animal fat-based glycerin can be found in tons of household products, including toothpaste.
Plot twist--glycerin can also be sourced from vegetables, in which case it actually is completely vegan-friendly, which is the case for our toothpaste!
These next few ingredients are not as commonly found, but some toothpastes do contain them so be on the lookout and stay clear of these when brushing your teeth!
Though this is an uncommon ingredient, propolis can be helpful in fighting gingivitis, but you should know that this tree sap is often harvested from bee hives, and the bees use it to seal their hives. You’ll want to avoid this one!
Clearly not vegan, bee pollen is the secretion from worker bees, composed of grains combined with honey or nectar. Once again, not vegan-friendly.
We say “no thanks” to this ingredient, which is made from a fine powder of dried and crushed animal bones. I bet you’re wondering how it made its way into toothpaste. We are puzzled too! You may see this on the label as “calcium phosphate,” but don’t be fooled. It is derived from animals. We’ll pass, thanks!
Our Favorite Vegan Toothpaste That Works (Spoiler: It’s Ours)
With how difficult it can be to read and decipher what the ingredients on your label contain, finding a vegan option (and one that performs, at that) can seem daunting. Not to mention that using vegan products goes beyond just the containment of animal products, but also making sure that all ingredients used are cruelty-free.
Some ingredients are tested on animals (we’re looking at you, triclosan), so the best way to know what you are putting into your daily oral routine is to find a toothpaste from a company that you trust, preferably one with an explicitly vegan product.
Hi, we’re Twice, and our toothpaste is 100% vegan, cruelty-free, gluten free, and non-GMO.
Each tube of our vegan whitening toothpaste works by using safe and balanced amounts of scientifically proven ingredients, using only what you need, and nothing you don’t.
There are so many amazing benefits of adopting a vegan lifestyle, and whether you are looking to do so to improve your health, help take care of animals, or live more sustainably, you are making a great choice!