The Vegan Tattoo

Would you like to have a vegan tattoo, wondering which tattoo inks are vegan ?

(Unfortunately, not all inks are vegan, yet.)

This article is several years old. It will be updated when I find the time. Meanwhile, you can ask the Vegan Society for more up-to-date information.

What is ink, anyway ?

Ink is a suspension of dissolvents, binders and pigments - the latter of which can be derived from animal sources.

Especially China Ink (for drawing, artistic writing and calligraphy) and tattoo ink often do contain animal materials, even today.

Animal components may be:

  • Shellac made from the lac of lice - a substance produced by a special kind of lice called Kerria lacca
  • Burnt animal bones used as a pigment, often in colors with the name 
    "bone black".
  • Strangely enough, green ink often contains "Indigotin 1", a pigment or color made from sour Indigotin - which stems from a special kind of slug, who are killed for Indigotin in particular.
    (Concerning the green color of many things: even some producers of wasabi paste add animal-based indigotin to their product.)
  • The Glycerine in the dissolvent may be animal-based. This is not a must, but can be the case. In Germany, where I live, it's completely untransparent whether you're consuming animal- or plant-based glycerine ... or a blend of both.

  • Don't panic

    There's no reason to be frustrated, however. Vegan tattoos are demanded by more and more people around the globe and they're absolutely doable.

    You're on your way when you can either find a tattoo artist who has one of the following inks - or when you buy the ink yourself and offer it to the artist of your choice.

    The following inks are vegan according to the British Vegan Society (

    ✿ Classic Colour Systems

    ✿ Dermaglo

    ✿ Electric Ink

    ✿ Eternal Inks

    ✿ Intenze

    ✿ SilverBack Ink

    ✿ Skin Candy – Bloodline & Skin Candy tones

    ✿ Stable Colour

    ✿ Waverly Color

    One big thank you to the British ! Considering that, according to estimations, there are about 150.000 vegans in Britain and 600.000 vegans in Germany, our British friends are much more progressive than we are.

    I know of vegan British tattoo inks, vegan British wall paint, but no German ones... Kind of sad, isn't it ? I hope some German tattoo artists read this and change something about it. You're lucky if you live in the U.S. or the U.K. because many things are much more easily available to you ;-). 

    With the following inks further research won't hurt because the Vegan Society doesn't list them as vegan (yet?).

    ✿ Pelikan black - vegan

    ✿ Starbrite - all but "black" are vegan

    ✿ Unique (Permapro)

    My list may not be complete, but it's a start, eh ? You're warmly invited to contact me in case you know more than I do. It will help fellow vegans !

    What about tattoo artists ?

    Question: "How do I find an artist who knows what she or he is doing (that is: what colors they're using) and doesn't give me crap for being vegan ?"

    Sadly, this sometimes is a tough question. Everyone has their own opinion and often, people just don't know enough about veganism and may say things like "Vegans can't stand the needle, anyway".

    There is also the sterotype that vegan colors fade sooner. 

    Well, this depends on the color and the brand alone, not the 
    "being vegan" parts.

    Especially synthetic pigments usually do not fade out sooner. Green color that's based on animal Indigotin or red color that's based on Cochenille (also from Lice) for example, usually fade out sooner than inks that contain mineral oxides as pigments.

    Why? Because metal oxides are oxidized already, whereas animal pigments can decompose more easily. So animal colors aren't all that great.

    It's time to rethink all these stereotypes. There are billions of non-vegan tattoos in the world and they all fade out after a couple of years, just like vegan tattoos.

    Your skin is yours. You have all the right in the world to demand a vegan tattoo. Not everyone wants the burnt bones (or other parts of innocent beings who were not given a choice) under their skin.

    We're all born with a skin, aren't we ? We hope that all animals will one day be given the right to keep their own skin.

    A good artist should respect that. If she or he doesn't - well, there are many both non-vegan and vegan tattoo artists who do indeed respect their customers' wishes.

    Someone will give you exactly what you want.