“Is Propylene Glycol Vegan? Exploring its Origins and Impact on Plant-Based Lifestyles”

By bobbreich@gmail.com •  Updated: 11/24/23 •  4 min read

Is Propylene Glycol Vegan? Exploring its Origins and Impact on Plant-Based Lifestyles


The use of propylene glycol in various products has become increasingly prevalent in recent years. At the same time, there has been a growing popularity of veganism and plant-based lifestyles. This raises the question: Is propylene glycol vegan-friendly? In this blog post, we will dive into the origins of propylene glycol, explore its extraction methods, discuss vegan-friendly alternatives, analyze its impact on plant-based lifestyles, and examine certifications and labeling that can help identify whether a product contains propylene glycol or not.

What is Propylene Glycol?

Propylene glycol is a synthetic compound that belongs to the alcohol family. It is clear, odorless, and viscous. Commonly used as a solvent or vehicle for other substances, it has a wide range of applications. Some examples include personal care products (such as lotions and creams), pharmaceuticals (as a carrier for drugs), food additives (to retain moisture), and even antifreeze.

Origins of Propylene Glycol

Propylene glycol can be derived from several sources such as petroleum or vegetable oils. The most common method of production involves the hydration of propylene oxide with water. This raises questions about whether these sources align with vegan principles.

While petroleum-derived propylene glycol may not be considered vegan due to its association with non-vegan practices such as animal testing or use in animal-based industries, vegetable oil-derived propylene glycol may be seen as more aligned with plant-based values.

Extraction Methods

The extraction methods used for obtaining propylene glycol vary depending on the source. For petroleum-derived propylene glycol, it goes through extensive refining processes involving distillation and purification. On the other hand, vegetable oil-derived propylene glycol can be obtained through processes like transesterification or hydrolysis.

When examining whether these extraction methods are compatible with vegan ideals, it is important to consider the environmental impact and potential harm caused by these processes. Further research is necessary to determine the specific details of each extraction method and its implications for veganism.

Vegan-friendly Alternatives to Propylene Glycol

For individuals following a vegan lifestyle, there are alternative ingredients that can be considered in place of propylene glycol. Some examples include vegetable glycerin, glyceryl stearate, or sorbitol. These alternatives offer similar functions and properties without raising concerns about animal-derived sources.

However, it is essential to note that there may be drawbacks associated with the use of these substitutes. For instance, some alternatives might have limited availability or higher production costs. Additionally, they might not provide the same desired results as propylene glycol in terms of texture or stability.

The Impact on Plant-Based Lifestyles

Propylene glycol can be found in various plant-based products such as plant-based milks, dessert mixes, salad dressings, and baked goods. Its presence or absence in these products can affect overall vegan choices. Some individuals may choose to avoid products containing propylene glycol due to ethical concerns or personal preferences. Others may prioritize convenience and accessibility over strict adherence to avoiding this ingredient.

Certifications & Labelling

To identify if a product contains propylene glycol or not, there are certifications and labeling options that can help guide consumers. Labels such as Vegan Society or PETA certifications indicate that a product meets specific standards for being vegan-friendly. Additionally, reading product labels carefully will provide information on whether propylene glycol is listed as an ingredient.


In conclusion, determining whether propylene glycol is considered vegan-friendly depends on various factors including the source of derivation and individual values within the vegan community. While petroleum-derived propylene glycol may raise concerns due to its association with non-vegan practices, vegetable oil-derived propylene glycol may be seen as a more aligned option. Vegan-friendly alternatives are available, but they may come with their own drawbacks. Ultimately, individuals following a plant-based lifestyle should carefully read labels and seek certifications to make informed choices about the products they consume.