When it comes to working out what’s vegan and what isn’t, a lot of the focus is on food products. However, veganism isn’t just a diet – it’s a lifestyle.
That means, if you’re a vegan, you probably also want to check other everyday purchases – from makeup to art supplies- for animal-derived ingredients.
Crayola is one of the biggest names in the art supply industry, and the company’s most popular product is the famous Crayola markers, which many of us will have used in school.
On the surface, everything about Crayola’s products seems totally innocent, from the bright colors to the fun designs. But here’s the big question: are Crayola markers vegan?
We’re going to be investigating the vegan-friendliness (or not) of Crayola’s products in today’s guide.
How Are Crayola Markers Made?
As with anything else, whether it’s food, carpet cleaner, or colorful markers, the best way to determine whether something is vegan is to look at what it’s made of, and how it’s made.
There are 5 main components to every Crayola marker: the plastic barrel, the cap, the cotton filament, the plastic nib, and the water-based dye that gives the markers their vivid colors.
As far as the external construction of Crayola markers goes, there’s no problem when it comes to vegan-friendliness. The barrel, nib, filament, and cap do not contain any animal products or byproducts. Sadly, though, the same can’t be said for the dye.
Crayola uses a variety of animal-derived products to stabilize the colors in the dye and ensure color consistency across all of their product ranges. These include animal fat, gelatin (which is made from the bones of cows) and shellac (made from lac bug secretions).
Now, it’s important to note that not all vegans feel exactly the same way about the use of animal byproducts, especially in non-food items.
For some vegans, the fact that Crayola itself as a company does not carry out the slaughter of animals is enough, especially considering that the company often doesn’t pay for these products since they’re considered slaughterhouse waste.
All the same, many vegans will want to boycott Crayola’s products because obtaining these animal products from slaughterhouses, even if they don’t pay for them, is still supporting the industry.
When you think about it, Crayola is making the slaughterhouse’s job easier by helping them to get rid of unwanted byproducts, which would cost them money to dispose of themselves.
So, while Crayola may not be as obviously incompatible with the vegan lifestyle as, say, the meat industry itself, it’s still at odds with the values of most vegans.
Are There Animal Fats In Crayola Markers?
It can be difficult to tell whether specific Crayola products, including the markers, contain animal products because the company has always been vague about the exact ingredients used in their dyes.
However, what Crayola has disclosed is that there is an ingredient called stearic acid in the dye.
If you look up stearic acid online, you might feel reassured by the information that this substance can be extracted from vegetable sources. However, the hard reality is that Crayola most likely does not use vegetable-derived stearic acid in its markers.
Not only is it (unfortunately) cheaper to get stearic acid from animal fats (usually beef fat), the fact that Crayola has admitted that their markers contain animal products, it’s very likely that animal-derived stearic acid is present in Crayola’s marker dye.
What About The Crayons?
So, we know that Crayola’s markers contain animal-derived ingredients and are, therefore, not vegan. But what about the crayons manufactured by Crayola?
Unfortunately, Crayola’s crayons are not vegan-friendly because they are made from wax obtained from animal byproducts and some of the pigments are also made from animal products.
Crayola’s crayons are made using a combination of three different types of wax: paraffin, carnauba, and beeswax. There’s also a pigment involved to give the crayons their bright rainbow colors.
Carnauba wax is a type of oil made from the carnauba palm tree. It sets into a wax with a thick consistency. You’ll also find this type of wax used in car waxes and some paints. Since carnauba wax is made from a palm tree, it’s suitable for vegans.
Paraffin wax is also vegan-friendly because it’s synthetic and made entirely from hydrocarbons. It’s a typical ingredient in cosmetic products and candles.
So far, so good. However, the problem comes with the use of beeswax in Crayola’s crayons. Beeswax, of course, is an animal byproduct since it’s produced by bees.
Although there is some contention in the vegan community about whether products like beeswax and honey are really problematic since it’s possible to farm bees without causing direct physical harm, most vegans are opposed to the use of these substances in any products, food or otherwise.
That’s because the commercial farming of these insects is inherently exploitative to bee colonies since it relies on the human perspective that other animals are here to provide for us, which is something that many vegans take issue with.
Additionally, when bee farming is done on a large scale, it can be quite harmful to the farmed bees as well as neighboring bee populations.
Large-scale bee farming involves harvesting wax by disturbing the hives that the bees make to protect themselves and their colony. This process can result in accidentally killing the bees, especially when pesticides and fungicides are used.
Keeping large numbers of honeybees in one area also has a detrimental effect on the wider bee population because it creates competition for resources.
Therefore, even though beeswax may seem relatively harmless from an ethical perspective compared to the meat industry, for example, it’s still not compatible with vegan ideology.
Are Crayola Products Tested On Animals?
Since Crayola uses animal byproducts to make its markers and crayons, many vegans are naturally concerned that the company might also test on animals.
However, Crayola does not test its products on animals, so that’s one thing to be thankful for, especially given how many companies do test on animals to some extent.
Are Crayola Markers And Crayons Toxic?
Now that we have established that neither the markers nor the crayons manufactured by Crayola are vegan-friendly, let’s get onto another important issue that parents are worried about when it comes to the art supplies they let their kids use: toxicity.
Since children are notorious for putting things in their mouths, parents are rightly concerned when it comes to the ingredients in things like markers, pencils and crayons.
Luckily, Crayola has also considered this, which is why Crayola markers and crayons are non-toxic. There are no harmful chemicals in the Crayola markers, which is partly why these markers are so popular compared to other potentially toxic markers made for adults.
The crayons are also non-toxic, hence why they’re so commonly supplied in schools and daycares, because there’s no risk of children harming themselves if they ingest any of the substances in the crayons.
Should I Give My Child Crayola Markers And Crayons?
Here’s what we now know about Crayola markers and crayons: they’re not vegan because they contain animal byproducts like animal fat and beeswax, but they are non-toxic and they’re not tested on animals.
Bearing all of this in mind, should you, as a parent, give your child Crayola art supplies?
Ultimately, whether you’re vegan or not, this is entirely up to you. Crayola markers and crayons are affordable and non-toxic, so if you can’t afford to give your child more expensive vegan markers, you shouldn’t feel bad about that.
If you can afford other, vegan-friendly art supplies, though, buying these instead will be more in alignment with your vegan lifestyle. We’ll be recommending some good-quality vegan marker and crayon alternatives below.
When it comes to the supplies that your kids use at school, things get a little more complicated.
If the supplies are purchased by your child’s teacher, you don’t need to worry about funding the animal slaughter industry with your dollar, so there’s really no problem with your kids using Crayola markers and crayons in this situation.
With that being said, many schools are under financial stress right now, and this has resulted in teachers requesting that parents donate supplies. If you can’t afford to buy more expensive, vegan art supplies, this could cause a moral dilemma.
In this situation, we would recommend trying to contribute by donating different items such as pencils or erasers. If that’s not an option, don’t blow your budget on products you can’t afford.
The point of veganism isn’t to do everything perfectly, but to try your best for the sake of the animals and the planet.
Remember that no matter how strong your beliefs about veganism are, you can’t micromanage your child’s school life or become so obsessed with avoiding any trace of animal products that you damage your own mental health.
Vegan Marker Alternatives To Crayola
If you’re looking for good vegan alternatives to Crayola markers, you have a few options to choose from. However, we have two personal favorites that we recommend, which are:
Admittedly, Copic markers are not the best replacement for Crayola markers if you’re on a budget because they are quite expensive. However, if you can afford to buy these markers instead of Crayola, you’ll get great-quality markers that are suitable for vegans.
It’s important to remember that these markers are not designed for children, though. These are a good upgrade to Crayola markers for teenagers or adults who are interested in art. They’re alcohol based and high-quality, so they’re not a good choice for kids.
If you’re specifically looking for vegan, child-friendly markers, Faber-Castell’s markers are a great option.
Not only are these markers vegan and non-toxic, but they’re also quite affordable. They are specifically designed for kids so they can withstand wear and tear.
Crayon Alternatives That Are Vegan
When it comes to replacing Crayola crayons with a vegan alternative, we have one clear favorite:
The Azafran Organic Pencil Crayons are plant-based and made from natural waxes and pigments, so they’re vegan and safe for your kids. Additionally, these vegan crayons are hypoallergenic, which means they’re suitable for children with allergies and sensitive skin.
Crayola markers are not vegan because they contain animal fat as well as other animal byproducts like insect secretions and gelatine. The crayons aren’t vegan either because they are made with beeswax.
However, Crayola does not test its products on animals, and both the markers and crayons are non-toxic, so it does tick some animal welfare and wellness boxes despite not being suitable for vegans.
If you’re vegan, we recommend considering some vegan, non-toxic art supplies to replace Crayola markers and crayons in your household, provided that you can afford to do so. If you can’t, don’t worry – when it comes to veganism, all we can do is our best.