We have a sizable and growing collection of questions that explore the fringes of veganism. All of these questions have one thing in common: they're about products that have been contaminated or adulterated in a way that would cause some vegans to see them as impure, but there is no tag to describe that connection.

The community previously decided on meta that questions about what is/isn't vegetarian or vegan should not be allowed on this site, but it appears that consensus never carried through into practice because many of these questions were left open. As long as we are permitting them on the site, I think we should also try to provide them with structure. Even people who perceive these questions as low value could stand to benefit from introducing appropriate tags, because then they could be excluded from view.

Currently all of these questions are tagged with , but for many questions that is the only tag that has been used. A few are also tagged with , but that tag has no guidance and the phrase "animal by-products" actually means different things in North America and Europe. I think we should come up with guidance on how to tag these questions going forward (and retroactively).

What tag(s) would you use to group these questions?

Here is a non-exhaustive list of questions that explore the edges of veganism, grouped together roughly based on the means of adulteration specified by the best answer.

Accidental contamination

These questions are about products that are supposed to be vegan, but may have inadvertently come in contact with animal products at some point. Any adulteration, if it occurs at all, is not required and does not fundamentally change the product. In practice this is generally not an ethical concern for vegans, but it may affect people who are vegan for health or allergy reasons.

Non-vegan processes

These questions are about products where animal parts temporarily come in contact and are later removed, such as catalysts and filtering agents. Very little (if any) animal remains are left in the final product. Bone char is a common example here. This is not generally a concern for people with allergies, but some vegans may have an ethical concern.

Specific ingredients

The asker is wondering whether specific ingredients are of animal origin. These can be hard because some animal-derived chemicals can also be synthesized industrially without the use of animals.

Unknown composition

The asker is unfamiliar with the composition of the product. Animal products may (or may not) be present as a functional ingredient or a trace ingredient.

Non-food products

2 Answers 2


Tags should be able to be consistently applied, and always mean approximately the same thing.

I think has too many possible meanings and should be burned. Any substance that could be considered an "animal by product" should reasonably be able to have its own tag. These tags can be used where available or created as necessary.

More to the point, I do not think the concept of "animal by products" really expresses the range of concerns or questions about whether something is vegan or not. There are, as your long lists suggest, a wide variety of factors that cause people to wonder whether something is vegan. Not all of those relate to by-products of animal husbandry. Additionally, some issues relating to such products are not about the concern as to whether something is vegan.

A tag would be too vaguely named to be applicable consistently. People may apply it in any situation where some substance is present in small quantities, such as when asking about vitamins or minerals.

If we need a tag for questions about whether something is vegan or not, I suggest something people will easily understand the meaning of and apply consistently, such as .

But I am not convinced that this diverse group of questions need a collating tag.


Here's another suggestion with a less negative connotation. I believe this encompasses the entire class of questions in a way that is non-judgemental and easy to read.

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