"Garden of life" uses animal derived vitamin D in products they call "vegan." When I emailed them about it, they said I was mistaken, it's vegan because they feed the animal derived vitamin D to yeast, then they put the yeast into the product, so it's fine and I shouldn't worry about it. Then they quoted the Vegan Society definition and underlined the "as far as possible and practical" part. That is the only company I remember by name, because their products are still featured in the health food store I go to.
Yeah, Garden of Life sucks. I don't think anyone has spent as much time as I have arguing with them over the issue where their "vegan" D3 is technically anything but vegan (my usual analogy is that it's akin to saying you need to kill a cow to create a veggie burger). They're a lost cause, it's all a marketing gimmick that is trying to pull the wool over they eyes of the vegan community (couldn't resist using that line here
). There's a big difference to me between making up a b.s. system like they have to justify why vegans should take it, but then again, they're out to make money and have had some legal battles over false claims in the past. Expect that one day, they're going to back down on the "vegan" claim, and for those that don't know, they've said they're eventually putting the "vegan" D3 into their other protein powders and vitamin blends, so eventually, expect that what actual vegan items they have will probably be gone completely.
And, as far as wanting government regulations on labeling, I want it to be similar to the "kosher" labeling. Depending which rabbi you ask, you will get different explanations of what is and is not kosher. Some rabbis will allow things that are not expressly written because they meet the requirements while others will not allow anything that is not listed by name. But, kosher is protected by law, vegan is not.
But, the difference being that we'd need to classify veganism as a religion to gain the same rights, which I don't see happening any time. And, if veganism were considered religion, I honestly don't think I'd call myself a vegan any longer (still live it, just not go by that name). Not to mention, any certifying agency would need to be comprised of vegans who all shared the same concept of what were the certifying policies and conditions and could not be tainted by outside input or hands. That's where this gets far too complicated for considering that we'll ever have some sort of legal protection. Unfortunately, Kosher doesn't always mean much, either. Emes had a rabbi come in for kosher certification on their products, and when the crash came where it was revealed that Emes was using fish gelatin in their supposedly vegan gel substitutes, the rabbi revealed that he basically walked in, took a check, and walked out, never doing any checking to even see if the quality control and ingredients labeling were accurate and had zero concern for knowing what was really in the items. One more reason to have distrust in certifying agencies, even those who are claiming to be doing it for people based on a religious standpoint.
As far as animal byproducts being used as processing agents, those products are not suitable because they provide a revenue stream for slaughterhouses. They are called "byproducts" for a reason. It is a product that is made as a result of the production of some other product. It would be called waste if they couldn't use it for something. It makes exploiting animals just that little bit more profitable, thus helping to sustain the animal exploitation business.
True, but the argument I have gotten from so many others who see things like bone char sugar as a grey area they don't worry about, their point often has been this - there are so many things we make concessions on daily that are non-essential but technically vegan (and sometimes, things we know are probably non-vegan we still use), they don't necessarily feel that some things that an end-product vegan item needs in order to be manufactured are their greatest concern.
One person I was discussing this with told me something to the effect of, "I wear vegan material shoes that probably have bone-based glues in them (New Balance). I know that when I shop at Whole Foods, part of the money I give them is going back to purchase meat/dairy/eggs, and that not everything in their store is vegan and they require non-vegan things to operate in order to provide me with what I need. I know my car I drive has animal-based ingredients in the components, and while I could take the bus, it's not my mission to be 100% pure to avoid EVERYTHING that I could just to feel better about myself." And I could understand where he was coming from - his world involved doing what he could to consciously make decisions that he attributed to directly reducing suffering, and his thought was that if he wanted to eat a pack of Sweet Tarts from time to time, it didn't make him any less vegan than the next person. I can neither prove him right or wrong, but when I heard this notion a long time ago, it did make me think about how many vegans out there do pick and choose what to be aware of for avoiding and where they will occasionally play on the grey area things to suit their wants at a given time. Since we can never be 100% pure, we each have to draw our own lines, and supporting a product that might use bone char in the filtration of their sugar, how is it so truly different from giving in to something else that's not a 100% necessity for living, but is something you really want to have/use/consume/etc. such as a vehicle that's not necessary, items that are non-essential that may have required stearic acid to make rubber/plastics, etc.?
Again, I'm not trying to justify that position by any means, but am simply trying to share for argument's sake the mindset that I'm coming across more and more as time goes on. I always enjoy hearing how people view this issue, since it's always got lots of room to debate on.