Definitions of vegetarian and vegan (Canada)

There are no specific legal regulations for vegan and vegetarian foods in Canada. Section 5(1) of the Food and Drugs Act states that “No person shall label, package, treat, process, sell or advertise any food in a manner that is false, misleading or deceptive or is likely to create an erroneous impression regarding its character, value, quantity, compo-sition, merit or safety.” As such, it is important food labels and advertisement are accurate when represented as ve-gan or vegetarian. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), takes the position that the term “vegetarian” is acceptable for any of the following vegetarian diets: - lacto-ovo (or ovo-lacto)-vegetarian - permits plant foods plus dairy and egg - lacto-vegetarian - permits plant foods plus dairy, no eggs - ovo-vegetarian - permits plant foods plus eggs, no dairy The CFIA takes the position that “vegan” foods are made from only plant-based ingredients. However, the CFIA also recognizes that there are several definitions of “vegan”. As such, when making a claim, additional criteria can be ap-plied.

This is general information rather than legal advice and is current as of 30 May 2024. We recommend you contact a specialised food lawyer for legal advice for your particular circumstances to support commercial decisions which could impact your product or business.

Lewis Retik

Gowling WLG