Vegetarian and vegan symbolism

Multiple symbols have been developed to represent vegetarianism and veganism. Several are used on food packaging, including voluntary labels such as the Vegan Society trademark or the V-Label (with support of the European Vegetarian Union[1][2]) as well as the vegetarian and non-vegetarian marks mandated by the Indian government.[3] Symbols may also be used by members of the vegetarian and vegan communities to represent their identities, and in the course of animal rights activism.

Vegetarian symbols

Indian vegetarian mark

The green dot symbol (top-left) identifies lacto-vegetarian food, and the redish-brown triangle symbol (top-right) identifies non-vegetarian food.

Packaged food and toothpaste[4] products sold in India are required to be labelled with a mandatory mark in order to be distinguished between lacto-vegetarian and non-vegetarian.[3][5][6][7][8] The symbol is in effect following the Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Act of 2006, and received a mandatory status after the framing of the respective regulations (Food Safety and Standards (Packaging and Labelling) Regulation) in 2011.[3] According to the law, vegetarian food should be identified by a green symbol and non-vegetarian food with a brown symbol. They are defined as:

"Vegetarian food must have a symbol of a green color-filled circle inside a square with a green outline prominently displayed on the package, contrasting against the background on the principal display panel, in close proximity to name or brand name of the food."

"Non-vegetarian food (any food which contains whole or part of any animal including birds, marine animals, eggs, or products of any animal origin as an ingredient, excluding honey, milk or milk products), must have a symbol of a brown color-filled circle inside a square with a brown outline prominently displayed on the package, contrasting against the background on the principal display panel, in close proximity to the name or brand name of the food."[9]

In 2021, FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India) adopted a new symbol for non-vegetarian food items due to concerns that the combination of the old symbols were difficult for people with colour blindness to distinguish. The new symbol is that of a brown color-filled triangle inside a square with a brown outline.[10][11]

In September 2021, the FSSAI announced adoption of the new vegan symbol.[12][13]


The V-Label, a V with a leaf, originated with the European Vegetarian Union. The V-Label is a standardised international vegan and vegetarian label supported by the EVU with the aim of easy identification of vegan and vegetarian products and services.[14]

Vegan symbols

Vegan Trademark

The Vegan Trademark, with its iconic sunflower, is an internationally recognised standard from The Vegan Society (who coined the term 'vegan'). It certifies products with the aim of easy identification of vegan products. Launched in 1990, it was the first vegan verification scheme.

Enclosed V

The enclosed v (modeled after the enclosed A symbol) is a popular vegan symbol, especially on social networks where it is represented by the Ⓥ symbol of the Enclosed Alphanumerics Unicode block. This lowercase "V" inside a circle is not used to label products as vegan nor should be relied upon to determine if a product is vegan. A kosher organization (Vaad Hoeir of St. Louis) owns and uses a US trademark (certification mark) consisting of an uppercase V inside a circle.[15]

Seedling emoji

On internet forums and social networks, the seedling emoji 🌱 is sometimes used to symbolize veganism or vegan products.[15]

Veganarchy symbol

The Veganarchy symbol, first introduced in print in Brian A. Dominick's Animal Liberation and Social Revolution pamphlet in 1995, combines the Circle-V with the Circle-A of anarchist symbolism.[16]

Vegan flag

The vegan flag[17] was designed by a network group of graphic designers and activists from several countries. The group was opened by Gad Hakimi, a vegan activist and designer from Israel.[18][19][20] who intended it to be a civil flag to represent veganism. The flag consists of three blue and green triangles forming the letter V, the first letter in the word "vegan".

Originally, some members of the group suggested that animals should be featured on the flag, with red colours featuring prominently to symbolize the blood of slaughtered animals.[21] However, the group eventually chose to make the flag about human–animal equality, not about animals themselves.[22] Inspired by the LGBT rainbow flag, the flag was created in hopes of uniting animal rights organizations and activists. The colours white, green, and blue were chosen to represent the natural habitats of animals: sky, land, and sea. The letter V stands for Vegan, and is an inverted pyramid intended to symbolize the ability to do the impossible.[23]


The international V-Label supported by the European Vegetarian Union is an internationally recognised and protected trademark for the labelling of vegetarian and vegan products.

See also


  1. Yacoubou, Jeanne (2006). "Vegetarian Certifications on Food Labels: What Do They Mean?". Vegetarian Journal. 17 (3): 25. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  2. Basas, Carrie Griffin (2011). ""V" is for Vegetarian: FDA-Mandated Vegetarian Food Labeling". Utah Law Review. 4: 1275. doi:10.2139/ssrn.1434040. S2CID 167037999.
  3. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. 'Food Safety and standards (Packaging and Labelling) regulations, 2011.'
  4. "Search results".
  5. Greendotter. 'Dots'.
  6. The Hindu. '6 months imprisonment to papad maker, sellers.'
  7. Indian Express. 'See brown logo on non-veg biscuits.'
  8. National Institute of Open Schooling. 'Wise Buying.'
  9. "GAIN Report Number: IN2045 : ndia amends labeling requirements for imported food" (PDF). Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  10. "FSSAI's Labeling Updates: What's New, What's Changed and What's Next [2022 Edition] | Artwork Flow". Retrieved 2022-06-17.
  11. Editor, P360 (2021-01-13). "Why FSSAI Has Changed The Logo For Non-Vegetarian Foods?". Packaging 360. Retrieved 2022-06-17. {{cite web}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  12. "FSSAI Introduces Vegan Logo for Food Products in India".
  13. Devaiah, B. P. Darshan (23 September 2021). "FSSAI's new vegan logo was made in 20 minutes, here's the young mind who conceptualised it". The New Indian Express. Bengaluru: Express Publications. Retrieved 1 October 2021.
  14. "The history of the V-Label › V-Label". V-Label. 2018-11-06. Retrieved 2020-10-19.
  15. "Vegan Symbol". The Vegan Feed. Retrieved 28 June 2017.
  16. Dominick, Brian. Animal Liberation and Social Revolution: A vegan perspective on anarchism or an anarchist perspective on veganism, Critical Mess Media, 1995.
  17. "The vegan flag website".
  18. "Graphic Design Team Unveils Veganism's First Ever Official Flag". Plant Based News. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  19. "New Flag Launches to Unite Vegans Across the Globe". Veg News. 16 July 2017.
  20. "Team Of Designers Launch New International Vegan Flag". Veggie Savvy. 11 July 2017. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
  21. "The Vegan Flag: A Symbol of Unity or a Point of Conflict?". LIVEKINDLY. 16 July 2017. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
  22. "The International vegan flag has launched". Vegan Food & Living. 10 July 2017. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
  23. Pinto, Goel (24 June 2017). "Designing the flag of veganism". "Gam Ken Tarbut" on Israeli television (in Hebrew). Minutes: 0:32-0:40: KAN Culture. Archived from the original on 29 July 2017. Retrieved 28 July 2017. The idea is a upside-down pyramid, to show that we can do the impossible. (min 0:37:55){{cite news}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
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