Is Pen Ink Vegan?

When it comes to adhering to vegan principles, there is more involved than just what you eat and wear. Everything you use must comply with the rule that there are no animal products involved in the making of it – even something as simple as a pen. So, for those who need to know, is pen ink vegan-friendly?

There are many brands of pens that make their products comply with vegan principles so that they don’t include any animal products in their ink. However, there are some brands of pen ink that are not vegan-friendly.

In this article, we will discover what companies make vegan pen ink and which pen inks also claim to be cruelty-free. Additionally, we will cover what ingredients included in pen ink would cause it not to be vegan friendly and what kinds of pen ink are naturally classified as vegan.

Who Makes Vegan Pen Ink?

There are many companies that make pens with pen ink that is vegan either by design or by default. These brands include Papermate, Pilot, Parker, Uni-Ball, Sakura Micron, and Zebra. If you prefer to use fountain pens, Blackstone, Royal Talens and Faber-Castell also make vegan-friendly pen ink.

In fact, some of the pen brands that are consciously vegan also promote their products as eco-friendly, made from recycled materials, and cruelty-free such as Pilot’s pens. The next time you’re surfing the net or at the store looking to resupply your pens that are vegan-friendly check out these brands that check out with the vegan community.

What Ingredients in Pen Ink Would Not Make It Vegan?

Not many pen inks have ingredients that would preclude them from being vegan, but when you get into the realm of fancy pen inks and various colors, there could be some questionable territory. Some higher quality inks are mixed with waxes to help ensure that they don’t bleed. Sometimes these wax additives come from bees, which would make them not vegan.

Regular pen ink is usually not an issue but for those who prefer fountain pens, you need to read the ingredients list closely. Some fountain pen ink is thickened with petroleum which technically is derived from the fossilized remains of dinosaurs. Colors other than black may also use animal products such as sepia which can be made with dried cuttlefish or ground shellac from bugs.

For those who delve into the really fancy pen inks such as those used in calligraphy, India and Chinese inks can also contain bug shellac. Additionally, scarlet-colored pen inks may contain another bug product called cochineal.  

Is Vegan Pen Ink Also Cruelty-Free?

Vegan pen ink doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s cruelty-free but the two usually go hand in hand. Most pen ink brands that consciously manufacture vegan pen ink also ensure that their products are not tested on animals as well. Those that seem to be vegan friendly based on their list of ingredients but do not advertise to be cruelty-free may not be.

Bic and Scotch 3M pens are not labeled as cruelty-free because they do test their pen ink on animals. On the other hand, Staedtler and Pilot advertise to be cruelty-free so for vegans who are extra attentive to the products they purchase, consider checking for both vegan ingredients and cruelty-free tested pens.

What Types of Pen Ink Are Classified As Vegan?

Gel pen ink is usually vegan. However, the only ingredients to be found in gen pen ink are water and a plant biproduct.

Some fountain pen inks can be vegan, although others may contain additives derived from bugs or cuttlefish. Ballpoint pen ink is also a toss-up. The ink is oil-based and contains oleic acid to help the ink flow smoothly from the pen. Oleic acid can be derived from plant or animal sources so if you need to be cognizant of your pen ink’s ingredients, contact the manufacturer for clarification.

What Is the Best Vegan Ink Pen to Purchase?

Unsurprisingly, the most popular vegan ink pens are gel pens manufactured by Pilot. Their FriXion and G2 retractable gel pens are top sellers. The company boasts both vegan ingredients in their pen ink as well as no testing on animals ever. What’s even better is that they are not expensive. Not only can you find them on Amazon but also in most office supply stores.

Most vegan connoisseurs recommend Pilot’s pens and even the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) lists Pilot as one of the brands they suggest if you’re looking to buy a pen that doesn’t contribute to the harm of animals.

Check out Pilot’s FriXion gel pens here:

Pilot, FriXion Clicker Erasable Gel Pens, Fine Point 0.7 mm, Pack of 10, Assorted Colors
  • Stress-Free Writing: Write, erase and rewrite repeatedly without damaging your documents; Unique vibrant and...
  • Convenient Design: An innovative mechanism allows you to retract the pen tip with a single click; The soft rubberized...
  • Versatile: Perfect for everyday writing tasks such as taking notes and jotting down grocery lists; Works great for...
  • Refillable & Quick Drying: Save money by refilling your pen with Pilot FriXion refills (sold separately); Quick drying...
  • Power to the Pen: Express yourself effortlessly with Pilot's line of innovative writing tools, including gel ink,...

Check out Pilot’s G2 retractable gel pens here:

Pilot, G2 Premium Gel Roller Pens, Fine Point 0.7 mm, Assorted Colors, Pack of 10
  • Smooth & Long-lasting: Enjoy a smooth writing experience thanks to the gel ink that glides effortlessly across paper; G2...
  • Comfortable Grip: A contoured rubber grip provides ergonomic support, making long writing projects easier
  • Versatile: Perfect for everyday writing tasks such as taking notes and jotting down grocery lists; The G2 tip delivers...
  • Refillable & Quick Drying: Save money and reduce waste by reusing and refilling your retractable pen with Pilot G2...
  • Power to the Pen: Express yourself effortlessly with Pilot's line of innovative writing tools, including gel ink,...


Sometimes it can be hard to keep track of everything you use when you’re trying to make sure that you are living a vegan life to the best of your ability.

When it comes to pen ink, there are plenty of vegan-friendly options to help you stick by your principles. It’s always a good idea to check the list of ingredients in the pen ink before using it.

Pilot, Papermate, and Uni-Ball are common brands of pens whose ink is vegan friendly. In fact, Pilot makes some of the most popular vegan-friendly gel pens on the market. Gel pens in general are also vegan friendly.

However, there are some brands and types of pens to avoid if you’re looking for vegan options. Some ballpoint pens and fountain pen inks can be made with animal oils, cuttlefish, or bug products. Likewise, there are brands such as Bic and 3M that test their products on animals so they are not considered cruelty-free.

Most consciously vegan pen ink products will also be cruelty-free. The next time you need a pen, you don’t need to go to a specialty store. Just pop down to an office supply shop and pick up a pack of Pilot pens.

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