blonde, fair-skinned woman walking along the sandy dunes of a beach in a bikini top and jean shorts, tattoos covering her back

Vegan-Friendly Tattoos: What You Need to Know

For those who have chosen the Vegan Lifestyle, it’s about far more than just the foods that you eat. It’s about living a lifestyle that avoids cruelty to and exploitation of animals for any purpose in our lives. This includes food, clothing, recreation and more. For those who identify with the Alternative culture, an important talk of conversation that has recently been gathering attention is the tattoo industry and the availability of vegan-friendly tattoos.

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Whether you are brand new to the vegan lifestyle, or you’ve been practicing these morals for years, there is also something new to learn. That being said, if this is the first time you’ve stopped to consider the fact that not all tattoos are vegan-friendly, know that you’re not alone!

Ingredients that may be found in tattoo inks include gelatin (a binding agent, from hooves), glycerin (a stabilizer, from animal fat), bone char (to increase pigment) or insect parts.

The good news is that many of the higher-quality inks on the market today are vegan-friendly, but there are still some that contain animal-derived ingredients. In addition to the ink itself, you should also consider the equipment and aftercare options being used including (but not limited to) stencil papers, aftercare soaps and tattoo balms.

Being vegan doesn’t mean that you can’t rock that ink!

How do you go about ensuring that you can embrace your alternative style while staying true to your moral beliefs? It’s actually quite simple – You simply need to do a little research and communicate openly with the tattoo artist(s) that you are considering.

There has been a rise of veganism in our society today, and with that comes an increased demand for vegan-friendly products and services. When it comes to body art, this has led to tattoo artists and tattoo shops specializing in vegan-friendly tattooing. These artists are dedicated to focusing on every step of the process, carefully scrutinizing every product they use.

If you have a tattoo artist that you already know and love, now is the time to kick off the open communication by asking the important questions. If you feel as though you aren’t getting a straight answer, or your tattoo artist appears to be annoyed by your inquiries, it may be time to move on and find a new artist. You want to find someone that is willing to work with you to ensure that it is a great experience for ALL involved!

There are some concerns that have been raised regarding the quality of vegan-friendly tattoo inks and whether they are able to stand up to the test of time. The good news is that there is NO conclusive proof that plant-based inks fade faster than the conventional variety. The longevity of your tattoo will depend largely on the quality of work completed by your tattoo artist and the aftercare choices that you make.

For more information about this, check out my article: ’10 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid After Getting A New Tattoo’.

Looking for some guidance on Vegan-Friendly tattoo ink brands? Here are some great brands worthy of checking out:

blonde, fair-skinned woman walking along the sandy dunes of a beach in a bikini top and jean shorts, tattoos covering her back with the title vegan-friendly tattoos what you need to know

Do you know of a tattoo shop known for providing Vegan-Friendly tattoos? Is there a specific artist that you would recommend? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

36 thoughts on “Vegan-Friendly Tattoos: What You Need to Know”

  1. This is the year I get a tattoo! I’ve been saying that for 10 years but this year I am going through with it. I honestly had never heard of tattoos going against vegan practices but after reading your post it makes total sense. I’m not sure why an artist wouldn’t want to abide by a request and open up an entirely new market for themselves. I guess that’s the sales/marketing person in me.

    1. I have never understood when an artist won’t at least entertain the conversation. Unfortunately, as with any other industry, you’ll always come across the few that are so set in their ways that they aren’t interested in hearing about anything else. For me, this is a red flag. Why? I start to wonder if they are equally as closed minded when it comes to updated information and products including not only improved dyes, but also aftercare products. The industry is growing and changing, and artists need to be open to growth as well!

  2. There’s some great information here. I’d never actually thought about the fact that the ink used could have parts derived from animals.

    1. It’s something that I will admit that I was completely oblivious to when I got my first 4 tattoos. Having come across this information and familiarized myself with the details, though, I will definitely be taking into consideration when making decisions moving forward!

  3. This is a completely new learning for me. I never knew the tattoos could ever harm animals. If someone practices being Vegan, yes they need to go the whole way. Quite educative post for me. Thanks.

    1. I think there are a lot of things in life that we don’t realize have an impact in that way. As our society continues to grow and evolve, we are also becoming more aware – I love that with awareness has come a shift in the industry to allow for vegan-friendly options.

  4. Okay, now this is something that I would never had known had I not stumbled upon your site. Though we are not vegan, we are vegetarian and I always like to shop cruelty free. We don’t wear leather but it would have never occurred to me that there could be animal products in tattoos. I do have one tattoo that I got about 10 years ago and it was not necessarily because I’m a fan of tattoos. Actually i kind of hate them. However, I wanted to cover up a scar that really bugged me and I saw this as a viable way to accomplish this task. I live in an area where tattoo artists line the streets and my 15-year-old often talks about getting a tattoo. Now i know what to look out for. Thanks!

    1. It sounds like you live a very similar lifestyle to ours in many ways – I’m a vegetarian, not vegan, but we also take steps to ensure that we’re purchasing cruelty free whenever possible. I have a few tattoos, and I can guarantee that most, if not all, of them are not using vegan dyes simply because I wasn’t aware at the time. However, as I get more moving forward, I will be MUCH more aware of where I am going and who I am working with to take this into consideration!

    1. I am super impressed with how much information the creators of Vegan Tattoo Studios were able to put together, so that it’s available to anyone and everyone with the click of a button!

    1. It’s so great to see that a wide variety of industries are recognizing that ‘we’ve always done it that way’ is no excuse for not stepping back and reassessing your products and procedures. Sure, we’ve always used non-vegan tattoo inks but, as we discover great alternatives to many of the ingredients that are causing concern, it’s a great opportunity to grow and evolve!

    1. The world of vegan-friendly tattoos has grown A LOT in the last few years. Where it was once a challenge to find someone that could guarantee they were taking the time necessary to ensure their products all fit the bill, today there are whole tattoo parlors dedicated to it. It’s great to see!

  5. I had never thought of tattoos using animal products! I’m a vegetarian, not vegan yet but getting there. I’m gonna keep this information in mind when I plan to get a tattoo.

    1. It’s honestly something that hadn’t crossed my mind until just recently – I’m a vegetarian that tries to focus on living cruelty-free, I just never considered the ink in my tattoos before (and I have several)

  6. Melanie williams

    Wow this is the first time I have heard of vegan tattoos. It is surprising how much animal products people actually use xx

    1. I think there are a lot of products that we often overlook or simply don’t consider – the hidden offenders

    1. Me neither, and I have multiple. I hope that by sharing this, it will help spread the word to those who would want to know. Sometimes the sneakiest things have animal products without us even realizing it.

  7. This is really interesting to read, Britt! I actually never knew tattoo ink could contain animal products, that is quite eye-opening. It’s good to know that there are vegan options available, thanks for sharing! <3 xx

    Bexa |

    1. If you’d asked me a year ago, I didn’t either. I was so blown away when I started reading into it and researching it that I HAD TO share it here for everyone. I was sure that there were others that were as unaware as I was.

  8. I’m not vegan, but have been trying out some vegan recipes lately, just for a change of pace. A good friend of mine is vegan, and there are so many things I don’t even think of as to containing animal products in them. Thankfully he reads ingredient lists religiously when we are shopping together, because I never do. Which tattoo ink isn’t something I had ever considered as having animal products in it either. It’s ink, not food, which is why I never even thought about it. It is actually kind of amazing how many things have animal products in them, and we don’t even think about it. But now I’m actually curious if my tattoo artist uses vegan-friendly ink. If he does, it could be a good marketing technique to advertise that too, and really open up some doors for new clients.

    1. It’s not something that had crossed my mind until recently either, which is why I couldn’t help but share once I started to dig into it! I’m not vegan, I’m a vegetarian, but I try to adopt a cruelty-free lifestyle wherever possible. In making that choice, I find myself constantly discovering new industries that never would have crossed my mind as containing animal products. Food and cosmetics are the most discussed, but it’s important to continue the conversation past that.

  9. I remember reading a lot in different vegan groups about vegan tattoos and despite not wanting a tattoo I really want to learn all about this because I want to just know.

    1. I’m not vegan, but I do find it genuinely interesting to learn about where we may be consuming or using animal-based products. I also do try to make changes in my life to minimize this (albeit I will be the first to admit that I have not completely). I’m sure I still have a lot to learn!

  10. This was such a great post! I had never though about vegan tattoo ink, but that makes so much sense. Especially considering what the beauty community has been putting in makeup all of these years! (Yuck!) I’m definitely going to do my research before I get my next tattoo (whenever that is), to make sure I can find a tattoo place that uses vegan ink. I’d love it if something that’s going to be on my body forever won’t have caused harmed to any living creature!

    Emily |

    1. As the industry has become more aware of this, I find it’s much easier to find an artist that uses vegan-friendly products! It’s great to see the word getting out and our society making a shift in the right direction, isn’t it?

  11. I had honestly never thought about tattoo ink not being vegan safe! I don’t have a tattoo yet, but will definitely be considering things more after reading this.

    1. It’s a point that many people overlook! I’ll be honest, I had no idea when I got my first tattoo. I also don’t know if vegan tattoos were as readily available back when I got my first piece.

  12. I didn’t know there were vegan friendly tattoos. Although I don’t know much about tattoos because I don’t have any. I am too much of a chicken lol

    1. It was definitely surprising for me when I learned and I already had my first 2 at that point! I’m more aware of who I’m working with and what products they are using now (I’m up to 4 now)

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