Animal Ingredients and their Ethical Alternatives

August 7, 2023

Our list of animal ingredients and their alternatives helps consumers avoid animal ingredients in food, cosmetics, and other products.

This list is as comprehensive as possible, with exclusions, omissions, and considerations listed at the end of the article.


Hormone from adrenal glands of hogs, cattle, and sheep. In medicine.

Alternatives: synthetics.


(See Amino Acids.)


In eggs, milk, muscles, blood, and many vegetable tissues and fluids. In cosmetics, albumen is usually derived from egg whites and used as a coagulating agent. May cause allergic reaction. In cakes, cookies, candies, etc. Egg whites sometimes used in “clearing” wines.

Derivative: Albumin.


(See Albumen.)


(See Allantoin.)


(See Allantoin.)

Aliphatic Alcohol

(See Lanolin and Vitamin A.)


Uric acid from cows, most mammals. Also in many plants (especially comfrey). In cosmetics (especially creams and lotions) and used in treatment of wounds and ulcers.

Derivatives: Alcloxa, Aldioxa.

Alternatives: extract of comfrey root, synthetics.

Alligator Skin

(See Leather.)

Alpha-Hydroxy Acids

Any one of several acids used as an exfoliant and in anti-wrinkle products. Lactic acid may be animal-derived (see Lactic Acid).

Alternatives: glycolic acid, citric acid, and salicylic acid are plant- or fruit-derived.


From whale intestines. Used as a fixative in making perfumes and as a flavoring in foods and beverages.

Alternatives: synthetic or vegetable fixatives.

Amino Acids

The building blocks of protein in all animals and plants. In cosmetics, vitamins, supplements, shampoos, etc.

Alternatives: synthetics, plant sources.

Aminosuccinate Acid

(See Aspartic Acid.)


Hair from the Angora rabbit or goat. Used in clothing.

Alternatives: synthetic fibers.

Animal Fats and Oils

In foods, cosmetics, etc. Highly allergenic.

Alternatives: olive oil, wheat germ oil, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, almond oil, safflower oil, etc.

Animal Hair

In some blankets, mattresses, brushes, furniture, etc.

Alternatives: vegetable and synthetic fibers.

Arachidonic Acid

A liquid unsaturated fatty acid that is found in liver, brain, glands, and fat of animals and humans. Generally isolated from animal liver. Used in companion animal food for nutrition and in skin creams and lotions to soothe eczema and rashes.

Alternatives: synthetics, aloe vera, tea tree oil, calendula ointment.

Arachidyl Proprionate

A wax that can be from animal fat.

Alternatives: peanut or vegetable oil.

Aspartic Acid/Aminosuccinate Acid

Can be animal or plant source (e.g., molasses). Sometimes synthesized for commercial purposes.

Bee Pollen

Microsporic grains in seed plants gathered by bees then collected from the legs of bees. Causes allergic reactions in some people. In nutritional supplements, shampoos, toothpastes, deodorants.

Alternatives: synthetics, plant amino acids, pollen collected from plants.

Bee Products

Produced by bees for their own use. Bees are selectively bred. Culled bees are killed. A cheap sugar is substituted for their stolen honey. Millions die as a result. Their legs are often torn off by pollen-collection trapdoors.


Wax obtained from melting honeycomb with boiling water, straining it, and cooling it. From virgin bees. Very cheap and widely used but harmful to the skin. In lipsticks and many other cosmetics (especially face creams, lotions, mascara, eye creams and shadows, face makeups, nail whiteners, lip balms, etc.).

Derivatives: Cera Flava.

Alternatives: paraffin, vegetable oils and fats. Ceresin, aka ceresine, aka earth wax. (Made from the mineral ozokerite. Replaces beeswax in cosmetics. Also used to wax paper, to make polishing cloths, in dentistry for taking wax impressions, and in candle-making.) Also, carnauba wax (from the Brazilian palm tree; used in many cosmetics, including lipstick; rarely causes allergic reactions). Candelilla wax (from candelilla plants; used in many cosmetics, including lipstick; also in the manufacture of rubber and phonograph records, in waterproofing and writing inks; no known toxicity). Japan wax (Vegetable wax. Japan tallow. Fat from the fruit of a tree grown in Japan and China.).

Benzoic Acid

In almost all vertebrates and in berries. Used as a preservative in mouthwashes, deodorants, creams, aftershave lotions, etc.

Alternatives: cranberries, gum benzoin (tincture) from the aromatic balsamic resin from trees grown in China, Sumatra, Thailand, and Cambodia.

Beta Carotene

(See Carotene.)

Biotin/Vitamin H/Vitamin B Factor

In every living cell and in larger amounts in milk and yeast. Used as a texturizer in cosmetics, shampoos, and creams.

Alternatives: plant sources.


From any slaughtered animal. Used as adhesive in plywood, also found in cheese-making, foam rubber, intravenous feedings, and medicines. Possibly in foods such as lecithin.

Alternatives: synthetics, plant sources.

Boar Bristles

Hair from wild or captive hogs. In “natural” toothbrushes and bath and shaving brushes.

Alternatives: vegetable fibers, nylon, the peelu branch or peelu gum (Asian, available in the U.S.; its juice replaces toothpaste).

Bone Char

Animal bone ash. Used in bone china and often to make sugar white. Serves as the charcoal used in aquarium filters.

Alternatives: synthetic tribasic calcium phosphate.

Bone Meal

Crushed or ground animal bones. In some fertilizers. In some vitamins and supplements as a source of calcium. In toothpaste.

Alternatives: plant mulch, vegetable compost, dolomite, clay, vegetarian vitamins.


(See Vitamin D.)


(See Leather.)

Caprylamine Oxide

(See Caprylic Acid.)

Capryl Betaine

(See Caprylic Acid.)

Caprylic Acid

A liquid fatty acid from cow’s or goat’s milk. Also from palm and coconut oil, other plant oils. In perfumes, soaps.

Derivatives: Caprylic Triglyceride, Caprylamine Oxide, Capryl Betaine.

Alternatives: plant sources.

Caprylic Triglyceride

(See Caprylic Acid.)


(See Urea.)

Carmine/Cochineal/Carminic Acid

Red pigment from the crushed female cochineal insect. Reportedly, 70,000 beetles must be killed to produce one pound of this red dye. Used in cosmetics, shampoos, red apple sauce, and other foods (including red lollipops and food coloring). May cause allergic reaction.

Alternatives: beet juice (used in powders, rouges, shampoos; no known toxicity); alkanet root (from the root of this herb-like tree; used as a red dye for inks, wines, lip balms, etc.; no known toxicity. Can also be combined to make a copper or blue coloring). (See Colors.)

Carminic Acid

(See Carmine.)

Carotene/Provitamin A/Beta Carotene

A pigment found in many animal tissues and in all plants. Used as a coloring in cosmetics and in the manufacture of vitamin A.

Casein/Caseinate/Sodium Caseinate

Milk protein. In “non-dairy” creamers, soy cheese, many cosmetics, hair preparations, beauty masks.

Alternatives: soy protein, soy milk, and other vegetable milks.


(See Casein.)


Wool from the Kashmir goat. Used in clothing.

Alternatives: synthetic fibers.


Creamy substance with strong odor from muskrat and beaver genitals. Used as a fixative in perfume and incense.

Alternatives: synthetics, plant castor oil.


(See Castor.)


Tough string from the intestines of sheep, horses, etc. Used for surgical sutures. Also for stringing tennis rackets and musical instruments, etc.

Alternatives: nylon and other synthetic fibers.

Cera Flava

(See Beeswax.)


Fatty acids and sugars found in the covering of nerves. May include tissue from brain.

Cetyl Alcohol

Wax found in spermaceti from sperm whales or dolphins.

Alternatives: Vegetable cetyl alcohol (e.g., coconut), synthetic spermaceti.

Cetyl Palmitate

(See Spermaceti.)


A fiber derived from crustacean shells. Used as a lipid binder in diet products, in hair, oral and skin care products, antiperspirants, and deodorants.

Alternatives: raspberries, yams, legumes, dried apricots, and many other fruits and vegetables.


(See Lanolin.)


A steroid alcohol in all animal fats and oils, nervous tissue, egg yolk, and blood. Can be derived from lanolin. In cosmetics, eye creams, shampoos, etc.

Alternatives: solid complex alcohols (sterols) from plant sources.

Choline Bitartrate

(See Lecithin.)


Unctuous secretion painfully scraped from a gland very near the genital organs of civet cats. Used as a fixative in perfumes.

Alternatives: (See alternatives to Musk.).


(See Carmine.)

Cod Liver Oil

(See Marine Oil.)


Fibrous protein in vertebrates. Usually derived from animal tissue. Can’t affect the skin’s own collagen. An allergen.

Alternatives: soy protein, almond oil, amla oil (see alternative to Keratin), etc.


Pigments from animal, plant, and synthetic sources used to color foods, cosmetics, and other products. Cochineal is from insects. Widely used FD&C and D&C colors are coaltar (bituminous coal) derivatives that are continously tested on animals due to their carcinogenic properties.

Alternatives: grapes, beets, turmeric, saffron, carrots, chlorophyll, annatto, alkanet.


(See Cortisone.)


Hormone from adrenal glands. Widely used in medicine.

Alternatives: synthetics.

Cysteine, L-Form

An amino acid from hair which can come from animals. Used in hair-care products and creams, in some bakery products, and in wound-healing formulations.

Alternatives: plant sources.


An amino acid found in urine and horsehair. Used as a nutritional supplement and in emollients.

Alternatives: plant sources.


(See Panthenol.)


(See Monoglycerides and Glycerin.)

Dimethyl Stearamine

(See Stearic Acid.)


Goose or duck insulating feathers. From slaughtered or cruelly exploited geese. Used as an insulator in quilts, parkas, sleeping bags, pillows, etc.

Alternatives: polyester and synthetic substitutes, kapok (silky fibers from the seeds of some tropical trees) and milkweed seed pod fibers.

Duodenum Substances

From the digestive tracts of cows and pigs. Added to some vitamin tablets. In some medicines.

Alternatives: vegetarian vitamins, synthetics.


(See Colors.)

Egg Protein

In shampoos, skin preparations, etc.

Alternatives: plant proteins.


Protein found in the neck ligaments and aortas of cows. Similar to collagen. Can’t affect the skin’s own elasticity.

Alternatives: synthetics, protein from plant tissues.

Emu Oil

From flightless ratite birds native to Australia and now factory farmed. Used in cosmetics and creams.

Alternatives: vegetable and plant oils.


(See Vitamin D.)


(See Vitamin D.)


(See Estrogen.)


Female hormones from pregnant mares? urine. Considered a drug. Can have harmful systemic effects if used by children. Used for reproductive problems and in birth control pills and Premarin, a menopausal drug. In creams, perfumes, and lotions. Has a negligible effect in the creams as a skin restorative; simple vegetable-source emollients are considered better.

Alternatives: oral contraceptives and menopausal drugs based on synthetic steroids or phytoestrogens (from plants, especially palm-kernel oil). Menopausal symptoms can also be treated with diet and herbs.


(See Animal Fats.)

Fatty Acids

Can be one or any mixture of liquid and solid acids such as caprylic, lauric, myristic, oleic, palmitic, and stearic. Used in bubble baths, lipsticks, soap, detergents, cosmetics, food.

Alternatives: vegetable-derived acids, soy lecithin, safflower oil, bitter almond oil, sunflower oil, etc.

FD&C Colors

(See Colors.)


From exploited and slaughtered birds. Used whole as ornaments or ground up in shampoos. (See Down and Keratin.)

Fish Liver Oil

Used in vitamins and supplements. In milk fortified with vitamin D.

Alternatives: yeast extract ergosterol and exposure of skin to sunshine.

Fish Oil

(See Marine Oil.) Fish oil can also be from marine mammals. Used in soap-making.

Fish Scales

Used in shimmery makeups. Alternatives: mica, rayon, synthetic pearl.


Obtained from animals (usually mink, foxes, or rabbits) cruelly trapped in steel-jaw leghold traps or raised in intensive confinement on fur “farms.” Alternatives: synthetics. (See Sable Brushes.)


(See Gelatin.)


Protein obtained by boiling skin, tendons, ligaments, and/or bones with water. From cows and pigs. Used in shampoos, face masks, and other cosmetics. Used as a thickener for fruit gelatins and puddings (e.g., “Jello”). In candies, marshmallows, cakes, ice cream, yogurts. On photographic film and in vitamins as a coating and as capsules. Sometimes used to assist in “clearing” wines.

Alternatives: carrageen (carrageenan, Irish moss), seaweeds (algin, agar-agar, kelp—used in jellies, plastics, medicine), pectin from fruits, dextrins, locust bean gum, cotton gum, silica gel. Marshmallows were originally made from the root of the marsh mallow plant. Vegetarian capsules are now available from several companies. Digital cameras don’t use film.

Glucose Tyrosinase

(See Tyrosine.)


(See Glycerin.)


A byproduct of soap manufacture (normally uses animal fat). In cosmetics, foods, mouthwashes, chewing gum, toothpastes, soaps, ointments, medicines, lubricants, transmission and brake fluid, and plastics.

Derivatives: Glycerides, Glyceryls, Glycreth-26, Polyglycerol.

Alternatives: vegetable glycerin—a byproduct of vegetable oil soap. Derivatives of seaweed, petroleum.


(See Glycerin.)


(See Glycerin.)


(See Glycerin.)

Guanine/Pearl Essence

Obtained from scales of fish. Constituent of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid and found in all animal and plant tissues. In shampoo, nail polish, other cosmetics.

Alternatives: leguminous plants, synthetic pearl, or aluminum and bronze particles.

Hide Glue

Same as gelatin but of a cruder impure form.

Alternatives: dextrins and synthetic petrochemical-based adhesives. (See Gelatin.)


Food for bees, made by bees. Can cause allergic reactions. Used as a coloring and an emollient in cosmetics and as a flavoring in foods. Should never be fed to infants.

Alternatives: in foods—maple syrup, date sugar, syrups made from grains such as barley malt, turbinado sugar, molasses; in cosmetics—vegetable colors and oils.


(See Beeswax.)


(See Animal Hair.)

Hyaluronic Acid

A protein found in umbilical cords and the fluids around the joints. Used in cosmetics. Alternatives: plant oils.


(See Cortisone.)

Hydrolyzed Animal Protein

In cosmetics, especially shampoo and hair treatments. Alternatives: soy protein, other vegetable proteins, amla oil (see alternatives to Keratin).

Imidazolidinyl Urea

(See Urea.)


From hog pancreas. Used by millions of diabetics daily.

Alternatives: synthetics, vegetarian diet and nutritional supplements, human insulin grown in a lab.


A form of gelatin prepared from the internal membranes of fish bladders. Sometimes used in “clearing” wines and in foods.

Alternatives: bentonite clay, “Japanese isinglass,” agar-agar (see alternatives to Gelatin), mica, a mineral used in cosmetics.

Isopropyl Lanolate

(See Lanolin.)

Isopropyl Myristate

(See Myristic Acid.)

Isopropyl Palmitate

Complex mixtures of isomers of stearic acid and palmitic acid. (See Stearic Acid.)


Protein from the ground-up horns, hooves, feathers, quills, and hair of various animals. In hair rinses, shampoos, permanent wave solutions.

Alternatives: almond oil, soy protein, amla oil (from the fruit of an Indian tree), human hair from salons. Rosemary and nettle give body and strand strength to hair.

Lactic Acid

Found in blood and muscle tissue. Also in sour milk, beer, sauerkraut, pickles, and other food products made by bacterial fermentation. Used in skin fresheners, as a preservative, in the formation of plasticizers, etc.

Alternative: plant milk sugars, synthetics.


Milk sugar from milk of mammals. In eye lotions, foods, tablets, cosmetics, baked goods, medicines.

Alternatives: plant milk sugars.


(See Lanolin.)


(See Lanolin.)

Lanolin/Lanolin Acids/Wool Fat/Wool Wax

A product of the oil glands of sheep, extracted from their wool. Used as an emollient in many skin care products and cosmetics and in medicines. An allergen with no proven effectiveness. (See Wool for cruelty to sheep.)

Derivatives: Aliphatic Alcohols, Cholesterin, Isopropyl Lanolate, Laneth, Lanogene, Lanolin Alcohols, Lanosterols, Sterols, Triterpene Alcohols.

Alternatives: plant and vegetable oils.

Lanolin Alcohol

(See Lanolin.)


(See Lanolin.)


Fat from hog abdomens. In shaving creams, soaps, cosmetics. In baked goods, French fries, refried beans, and many other foods.

Alternatives: pure vegetable fats or oils.

Leather/Suede/Calfskin/Sheepskin/Alligator Skin

Subsidizes the meat industry. Used to make wallets, handbags, furniture and car upholstery, shoes, etc.

Alternatives: cotton, canvas, nylon, vinyl, Ultrasuede, pleather, other synthetics.

Lecithin/Choline Bitartrate

Waxy substance in nervous tissue of all living organisms. But frequently obtained for commercial purposes from eggs and soybeans. Also from nerve tissue, blood, milk, corn. Choline bitartrate, the basic constituent of lecithin, is in many animal and plant tissues and prepared synthetically. Lecithin can be in eye creams, lipsticks, liquid powders, hand creams, lotions, soaps, shampoos, other cosmetics, and some medicines.

Alternatives: soybean lecithin, synthetics.

Linoleic Acid

An essential fatty acid. Used in cosmetics, vitamins.

Alternatives: (See alternatives to Fatty Acids.)


Enzyme from the stomachs and tongue glands of calves, kids, and lambs. Used in cheese-making and in digestive aids.

Alternatives: vegetable enzymes, castor beans.


(See Lipoids.)


Fat and fat-like substances that are found in animals and plants. Alternatives: vegetable oils.

Marine Oil

From fish or marine mammals (including porpoises). Used in soap-making. Used as a shortening (especially in some margarines), as a lubricant, and in paint.

Alternatives: vegetable oils.


Essential amino acid found in various proteins (usually from egg albumen and casein). Used as a texturizer and for freshness in potato chips.

Alternatives: synthetics.

Milk Protein

Hydrolyzed milk protein. From the milk of cows. In cosmetics, shampoos, moisturizers, conditioners, etc.

Alternatives: soy protein, other plant proteins.

Mink Oil

From minks. In cosmetics, creams, etc.

Alternatives: vegetable oils and emollients such as avocado oil, almond oil, and jojoba oil.


From animal fat. In margarines, cake mixes, candies, foods, etc. In cosmetics.

Alternative: vegetable glycerides.

Musk (Oil)

Dried secretion painfully obtained from musk deer, beaver, muskrat, civet cat, and otter genitals. Wild cats are kept captive in cages in horrible conditions and are whipped around the genitals to produce the scent; beavers are trapped; deer are shot. In perfumes and in food flavorings.

Alternatives: labdanum oil (which comes from various rockrose shrubs) and other plants with a musky scent. Labdanum oil has no known

Myristal Ether Sulfate

(See Myristic Acid.)

Myristic Acid

Organic acid in most animal and vegetable fats. In butter acids. Used in shampoos, creams, cosmetics. In food flavorings.

Derivatives: Isopropyl Myristate, Myristal Ether Sulfate, Myristyls, Oleyl Myristate.

Alternatives: nut butters, oil of lovage, coconut oil, extract from seed kernels of nutmeg, etc.


(See Myristic Acid.)

“Natural Sources”

Can mean animal or vegetable sources. Most often in the health food industry, especially in the cosmetics area, it means animal sources, such as animal elastin, glands, fat, protein, and oil.

Alternatives: plant sources.

Nucleic Acids

In the nucleus of all living cells. Used in cosmetics, shampoos, conditioners, etc. Also in vitamins, supplements.

Alternatives: plant sources.


(See Oleyl Alcohol.)

Octyl Dodecanol

Mixture of solid waxy alcohols. Primarily from stearyl alcohol. (See Stearyl Alcohol.)

Oleic Acid

Obtained from various animal and vegetable fats and oils. Usually obtained commercially from inedible tallow. (See Tallow.) In foods, soft soap, bar soap, permanent wave solutions, creams, nail polish, lipsticks, many other skin preparations.

Derivatives: Oleyl Oleate, Oleyl Stearate.

Alternatives: coconut oil. (See alternatives to Animal Fats and Oils.)


(See alternatives to Animal Fats and Oils.)


(See Oleyl Alcohol.)

Oleyl Alcohol/Ocenol

Found in fish oils. Used in the manufacture of detergents, as a plasticizer for softening fabrics, and as a carrier for medications.

Derivatives: Oleths, Oleyl Arachidate, Oleyl Imidazoline.

Oleyl Arachidate

(See Oleyl Alcohol.)

Oleyl Imidazoline

(See Oleyl Alcohol.)

Oleyl Myristate

(See Myristic Acid.)

Oleyl Oleate

(See Oleic Acid.)

Oleyl Stearate

(See Oleic Acid.)


(See Palmitic Acid.)


(See Palmitic Acid.)


(See Palmitic Acid.)

Palmitic Acid

From fats, oils (see Fatty Acids). Mixed with stearic acid. Found in many animal fats and plant oils. In shampoos, shaving soaps, creams.

Derivatives: Palmitate, Palmitamine, Palmitamide.

Alternatives: palm oil, vegetable sources.

Panthenol/Dexpanthenol/Vitamin B-Complex Factor/Provitamin B

Can come from animal or plant sources or synthetics. In shampoos, supplements, emollients, etc. In foods.

Derivative: Panthenyl

Alternatives: synthetics, plants.


(See Panthenol.)


In hogs’ stomachs. A clotting agent. In some cheeses and vitamins. Same uses and alternatives as Rennet.

Placenta/Placenta Polypeptides Protein/Afterbirth

Contains waste matter eliminated by the fetus. Derived from the uterus of slaughtered animals. Animal placenta is widely used in skin creams, shampoos, masks, etc.

Alternatives: kelp. (See alternatives to Animal Fats and Oils.)


(See Glycerin.)


From animal protein. Used in cosmetics.

Alternatives: plant proteins and enzymes.


Derivatives of fatty acids. In cosmetics, foods.


Obtained from the liver oil of sharks and from whale ambergris. (See Squalene, Ambergris.) Used as a lubricant and anti-corrosive agent. In cosmetics.

Alternatives: plant oils, synthetics.


A steroid hormone used in anti-wrinkle face creams. Can have adverse systemic effects.

Alternatives: synthetics.


Tree sap gathered by bees and used as a sealant in beehives. In toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, supplements, etc.

Alternatives: tree sap, synthetics.

Provitamin A

(See Carotene.)

Provitamin B-5

(See Panthenol.)

Provitamin D-2

(See Vitamin D.)


Enzyme from calves’ stomachs. Used in cheese-making, rennet custard (junket), and in many coagulated dairy products.

Alternatives: microbial coagulating agents, bacteria culture, lemon juice, or vegetable rennet.


(See Rennet.)

Resinous Glaze

(See Shellac.)

Ribonucleic Acid

(See RNA.)

RNA/Ribonucleic Acid

RNA is in all living cells. Used in many protein shampoos and cosmetics.

Alternatives: plant cells.

Royal Jelly

Secretion from the throat glands of the honeybee workers that is fed to the larvae in a colony and to all queen larvae. No proven value in cosmetics preparations.

Alternatives: aloe vera, comfrey, other plant derivatives.

Sable Brushes

From the fur of sables (weasel-like mammals). Used to make eye makeup, lipstick, and artists’ brushes.

Alternatives: synthetic fibers.

Sea Turtle Oil

(See Turtle Oil.)

Shark Liver Oil

Used in lubricating creams and lotions.

Derivatives: Squalane, Squalene.

Alternatives: vegetable oils.


(See Leather.)

Shellac/Resinous Glaze

Resinous excretion of certain insects. Used as a candy glaze, in hair lacquer, and on jewelry. Alternatives: plant waxes.

Silk/Silk Powder

Silk is the shiny fiber made by silkworms to form their cocoons. Worms are boiled in their cocoons to get the silk. Used in cloth. In silk-screening (other fine cloth can be and is used instead). Taffeta can be made from silk or nylon. Silk powder is obtained from the secretion of the silkworm. It is used as a coloring agent in face powders, soaps, etc. Can cause severe allergic skin reactions and systemic reactions (if inhaled or ingested).

Alternatives: milkweed seed-pod fibers, nylon, silk-cotton tree and ceiba tree filaments (kapok), rayon, and synthetic silks.


In some cosmetics (crushed).

Sodium Caseinate

(See Casein.)

Sodium Steroyl Lactylate

(See Lactic Acid.)

Sodium Tallowate

(See Tallow.)

Spermaceti/Cetyl Palmitate/Sperm Oil

Waxy oil derived from the sperm whale’s head or from dolphins. In many margarines. In skin creams, ointments, shampoos, candles, etc. Used in the leather industry. May become rancid and cause irritations.

Alternatives: synthetic spermaceti, jojoba oil, and other vegetable emollients.

Sponge (Luna and Sea)

A plant-like animal. Lives in the sea. Becoming scarce.

Alternatives: synthetic sponges, loofahs (plants used as sponges).


(See Shark Liver Oil.)


Oil from shark livers, etc. In cosmetics, moisturizers, hair dyes, surface-active agents.

Alternatives: vegetable emollients such as olive oil, wheat germ oil, rice bran oil, etc.


(See Stearic Acid.)


(See Stearic Acid.)

Stearamine Oxide

(See Stearyl Alcohol.)


(See Stearic Acid.)

Stearic Acid

Fat from cows and sheep and from dogs and cats euthanized in animal shelters, etc. Most often refers to a fatty substance taken from the stomachs of pigs. Can be harsh, irritating. Used in cosmetics, soaps, lubricants, candles, hairspray, conditioners, deodorants, creams, chewing gum, food flavoring.

Derivatives: Stearamide, Stearamine, Stearates, Stearic Hydrazide, Stearone, Stearoxytrimethylsilane, Stearoyl Lactylic Acid, Stearyl Betaine, Stearyl Imidazoline.

Alternatives: Stearic acid can be found in many vegetable fats, coconut.

Stearic Hydrazide

(See Stearic Acid.)


(See Stearic Acid.)


(See Stearic Acid.)

Stearoyl Lactylic Acid

(See Stearic Acid.)

Stearyl Acetate

(See Stearyl Alcohol.)

Stearyl Alcohol/Sterols

A mixture of solid alcohols. Can be prepared from sperm whale oil. In medicines, creams, rinses, shampoos, etc.

Derivatives: Stearamine Oxide, Stearyl Acetate, Stearyl Caprylate, Stearyl Citrate, Stearyldimethyl Amine, Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate, Stearyl Heptanoate, Stearyl Octanoate, Stearyl Stearate.

Alternatives: plant sources, vegetable stearic acid.

Stearyl Betaine

(See Stearic Acid.)

Stearyl Caprylate

(See Stearyl Alcohol.)

Stearyl Citrate

(See Stearyl Alcohol.)

Stearyldimethyl Amine

(See Stearyl Alcohol.)

Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate

(See Stearyl Alcohol.)

Stearyl Heptanoate

(See Stearyl Alcohol.)

Stearyl Imidazoline

(See Stearic Acid.)

Stearyl Octanoate

(See Stearyl Alcohol.)

Stearyl Stearate

(See Stearyl Alcohol.)


From various animal glands or from plant tissues. Steroids include sterols. Sterols are alcohol from animals or plants (e.g., cholesterol). Used in hormone preparation. In creams, lotions, hair conditioners, fragrances, etc.

Alternatives: plant tissues, synthetics.


(See Stearyl Alcohol and Steroids.)


(See Leather.)

Tallow/Tallow Fatty Alcohol/Stearic Acid

Rendered beef fat. May cause eczema and blackheads. In wax paper, crayons, margarines, paints, rubber, lubricants, etc. In candles, soaps, lipsticks, shaving creams, other cosmetics. Chemicals (e.g., PCB) can be in animal tallow.

Derivatives: Sodium Tallowate, Tallow Acid, Tallow Amide, Tallow Amine, Talloweth-6, Tallow Glycerides, Tallow Imidazoline.

Alternatives: vegetable tallow, Japan tallow, paraffin and/or ceresin (see alternatives to Beeswax for all three). Paraffin is usually from petroleum, wood, coal, or shale oil.

Tallow Acid

(See Tallow.)

Tallow Amide

(See Tallow.)

Tallow Amine

(See Tallow.)


(See Tallow.)

Tallow Glycerides

(See Tallow.)

Tallow Imidazoline

(See Tallow.)

Triterpene Alcohols

(See Lanolin.)

Turtle Oil/Sea Turtle Oil

From the muscles and genitals of giant sea turtles. In soap, skin creams, nail creams, other cosmetics.

Alternatives: vegetable emollients (see alternatives to Animal Fats and Oils).


Amino acid hydrolyzed from casein. Used in cosmetics and creams.

Derivative: Glucose Tyrosinase.


Excreted from urine and other bodily fluids. In deodorants, ammoniated dentifrices, mouthwashes, hair colorings, hand creams, lotions, shampoos, etc. Used to “brown” baked goods, such as pretzels.

Derivatives: Imidazolidinyl Urea, Uric Acid.

Alternatives: synthetics.

Uric Acid

(See Urea.)

Vitamin A

Can come from fish liver oil (e.g., shark liver oil), egg yolk, butter, lemongrass, wheat germ oil, carotene in carrots, and synthetics. It is an aliphatic alcohol. In cosmetics, creams, perfumes, hair dyes, etc. In vitamins, supplements.

Alternatives: carrots, other vegetables, synthetics.

Vitamin B-Complex Factor

(See Panthenol.)

Vitamin B Factor

(See Biotin.)

Vitamin B-12

Usually animal source. Some vegetarian B-12 vitamins are in a stomach base.

Alternatives: some vegetarian B-12-fortified yeasts and analogs available. Plant algae discovered containing B-12, now in supplement form (spirulina). Some nutritionist caution that fortified foods or supplements are essential.

Vitamin D/Ergocalciferol/Vitamin D-2/Ergosterol. Provitamin D-2/Calciferol/Vitamin D-3

Vitamin D can come from fish liver oil, milk, egg yolk, etc. Vitamin D-2 can come from animal fats or plant sterols. Vitamin D-3 is always from an animal source. All the D vitamins can be in creams, lotions, other cosmetics, vitamin tablets, etc.

Alternatives: plant and mineral sources, synthetics, completely vegetarian vitamins, exposure of skin to sunshine. Many other vitamins can come from animal sources.

Examples: choline, biotin, inositol, riboflavin, etc.

Vitamin H

(See Biotin.)


Glossy, hard substance that is soft when hot. From animals and plants. In lipsticks, depilatories, hair straighteners. Alternatives: vegetable waxes.


A serum from milk. Usually in cakes, cookies, candies, and breads. In cheese-making. Alternatives: soybean whey.


From sheep. Used in clothing. Ram lambs and old “wool” sheep are slaughtered for their meat. Sheep are transported without food or water, in extreme heat and cold. Legs are broken, eyes injured, etc.

Sheep are bred to be unnaturally woolly, also unnaturally wrinkly, which causes them to get insect infestations around the tail areas. The farmer’s solution to this is the painful cutting away of the flesh around the tail (called “mulesing”). “Inferior” sheep are killed.

When shearing the sheep, they are pinned down violently and sheared roughly. Their skin is cut up. Every year, hundreds of thousands of shorn sheep die from exposure to cold. Natural predators of sheep (wolves, coyotes, eagles, etc.) are poisoned, trapped, and shot.

In the U.S., overgrazing of cattle and sheep is turning more than 150 million acres of land to desert. “Natural” wool production uses enormous amounts of resources and energy (to breed, raise, feed, shear, transport, slaughter, etc., the sheep).

Derivatives: Lanolin, Wool Wax, Wool Fat.

Alternatives: cotton, cotton flannel, synthetic fibers, ramie, etc.

Wool Fat

(See Lanolin.)

Wool Wax

(See Lanolin.)


Buyukmihci, Nermin. “John Cardillo’s List of Animal Products and Their Alternatives.”

Cosmetic Ingredients Glossary: A Basic Guide to Natural Body Care Products. Petaluma, Clif.: Feather River Co., 1988.

Mason, Jim, and Peter Singer. Animal Factories. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1980.

Ruesch, Hans. Slaughter of the Innocent. New York: Civitas, 1983.

Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation. New York: Random House, 1990.

Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. Springfield, Mass.: Merriam-Webster Inc., 1981.

Winter, Ruth. A Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients. New York: Crown, Publishing Group, 1994.

Winter, Ruth. A Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives. New York: Crown Publishing, Group, 1994.

Exclusions, Omissions, and Considerations

Please note, however, that it is not all-inclusive. There are thousands of technical and patented names for ingredient variations. Furthermore, many ingredients known by one name can be of animal, vegetable, or synthetic origin. If you have a question regarding an ingredient in a product, call the manufacturer. Good sources of additional information are the Consumer’s Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients, the Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives, or an unabridged dictionary. All of these are available at most libraries.

Adding to the confusion over whether or not an ingredient is of animal origin is the fact that many companies have removed the word “animal” from their ingredient labels to avoid putting off consumers. For example, rather than use the term “hydrolyzed animal protein,” companies may use another term such as “hydrolyzed collagen.” Simple for them, but frustrating for the caring consumer.

Animal ingredients are used not because they are better than vegetable-derived or synthetic ingredients but rather because they are generally cheaper. Today’s slaughterhouses must dispose of the byproducts of the slaughter of billions of animals every year and have found an easy and profitable solution in selling them to food and cosmetics manufacturers.

Animal ingredients come from every industry that uses animals: meat, fur, wool, dairy, egg, and fishing, as well as industries such as horse racing and rodeo, which send unwanted animals to slaughter. Contact PETA for our factsheets to learn more about the animals who suffer at the han

Rendering plants process the bodies of millions of tons of dead animals every year, transforming decaying flesh and bones into profitable animal ingredients. The pri-mary source of rendered animals is slaughterhouses, which provide the “inedible” parts of all animals killed for food. The bodies of companion animals who are euth-anized in animal shelters wind up at rendering plants, too. One small plant in Quebec renders 10 tons of dogs and cats a week, a sobering reminder of the horri-ble dog and cat overpopulation problem with which shelters must cope

Some animal ingredients do not wind up in the final product but are used in the manufacturing process. For example, in the production of some refined sugars, bone char is used to whiten the sugar; in some wines and beers, isinglass (from the swim bladders of fish) is used as a “clearing” agent

Kosher symbols and markings also add to the confusion and are not reliable indicators on which vegans or vegetarians should base their purchasing decisions. This issue is complex, but the “K” or “Kosher” symbols basically mean that the food manufacturing process was overseen by a rabbi, who theoretically ensures that it meets Hebrew dietary laws.

The food also may not contain both dairy products and meat, but it may contain one or the other. “P” or “Parve” means the product contains no meat or dairy products but may contain fish or eggs. “D,” as in “Kosher D,” means that the product either contains dairy or was made with dairy machinery.

For example, a chocolate and peanut candy may be marked “Kosher D” even if it doesn’t contain dairy because the non-dairy chocolate was manufactured on machinery that also made milk chocolate. For questions regarding other symbols, please contact the Orthodox Union (212-563-4000) or other Jewish organizations or publications

Thousands of products on store shelves have labels that are hard to decipher. It’s nearly impossible to be perfectly vegan, but it’s getting easier to avoid products with animal ingredients. Our list will give you a good working knowledge of the most common animal-derived ingredients and their alternatives, allowing you to make deci-sions that will save animals’ lives.