We cannot wait for solutions to come from the government or anywhere else. Nobody will achieve our vision for us. This is why, in addition to the many requirements in our vegan certification, we are putting in place new Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) rules for our certification. This will come into effect immediately for new certifications, and at their renewal in 2023 for existing products. This will apply to all our standards and certifications, regardless of where the product is mainly sold, including but not limited to “Animal-free”, “No animal testing” and “Vegan”.
We will be the ones making the value judgement whether or not a claim is “truthful and not misleading”. The regulations in the US are some of the most stringent and clear; as the EU has yet to come up with any meaningful regulations, we will use the US regulations as inspiration. This means that Canadian products will no longer be able to use the “Made in Canada with domestic and imported ingredients” if they do not meet the 51% threshold or the domestic content is lesser than the imported content. It also means we will not allow an unqualified claim of “Made in Canada” on the package front, with a qualifying statement hidden somewhere else. We consider these practices to be misleading for consumers as many are likely to be unaware of the subterfuge.
Our vegan certification investigates all factories regardless of where the factory is located in the world, therefore some of this information will now be made available to the public either via a smart label, on the product’s website or other equivalent means. We understand that due to various factors components of products can come from various sources, and if that is the case it will be clearly indicated. For example, a Canadian producer of apple sauce sourcing apples from both the US and Canada depending on availability can use on their label “Made in Canada from Canadians and US apples” but not “Made in Canada from domestic and imported ingredients”. The best insurance against false and misleading statements is to write informative and clear labels. All information will need to be truthful and not misleading, as determined by us. In all cases, our labelling requirements will meet or exceed those of any country.
Ultimately the responsibility falls on us to take any extra steps necessary to improve COOL efficacy. A lot of the inaction by our colleagues, many other organizations and society in general is based on the fallacy that solutions should come from above, instead of being grassroots in nature; this is a crucial deficiency that prevents all meaningful progress from taking place.
We have said many times that labelling everything vegan in conflict with our vision is not a solution, but labelling everything clearly in ways that are truthful and not misleading will allow consumers to make informed decisions.
We may have to tolerate the exploitation of animals in our day-to-day lives and there is usually little we can do immediately to change the situation. However, we can and must take action and prevent the exploitation that happens under the umbrella of veganism. We must not rely on governments or other external solutions, nobody else will end the exploitation of animals on our behalf.
What is ethically wrong with killing, animal testing or any other form of animal exploitation is not where it occurs in the supply chain, or whether it occurs to an animal that looks like a cow, but that it occurs at all. Always support products, services, certifications and organizations that align with your beliefs. Ours are clear and our dedication to our vision is unwavering.