Are there any non-vegan components of consumer electronics? For example, any adhesive that may be used in the case.

I own an older laptop, and would be interested in the results.

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    I don't personally consume laptops on a general basis, but I don't think so xD – RaviRavioli Dec 13 '17 at 21:09
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    At some level, if you did deep enough, you will find trace animal products, it is impossible to completely eliminate them. See - veganclub.net/talk/electronic-devices-use-animal-fat.html for a reasonable discussion on what can sometimes become a heated debate. I like the comment "EVERYTHING you own involves aniaml products or animals died so you can have it." . So the question then becomes how far are you willing to go to minimize the exploitation of animals. Everyone draws the line somewhere and Vegans make conscious decisions and efforts to minimize exploitation of animals. – Panther Jan 11 '18 at 15:42
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    With regard to electronic components themselves, depending on the device, it is the plastics (casings, buttons, screen protectors) that are non-vegan (or to state the obvious something like leather cases to hold them). – Panther Jan 11 '18 at 15:45

I did a bit of research and I found that computers are generally not vegan, and it seems to be true since I didn't see anything saying the opposite and most of what I saw was written by Vegans in wonder (not haters trying to ... - you know the drill).

Unfortunately, I did not find their sources to see what specifically uses animal products (so I won't refer every blog post I found), except from this site which article is based on the book Veganissimo A to Z: A Comprehensive Guide to Identifying and Avoiding Ingredients of Animal Origin in Everyday Products, whose name explains what it lists. I did not read the book so I can't say how reliable it is, however the reviews seem good.

This article lists 10 products that are thought to be vegan but that aren't necessarily. In these we can find in electronic products :

  • LCD screens that "may be based on cholesterol taken from animals" ;
  • Batteries in which "Gelatin is used in metal processing to improve metal's structure, such as cadmium in batteries"
  • Glue, but not sure about this one, because the article talks about it only for the book industry (and as discussed on this topic (Book manufacturing – what to look out for?) it seems barely used for this purpose nowadays).

I also found that most plastic (every electronic boards are made of plastic) manufacturers use animal-derived agents "to improve material properties and/or to aid in processing of raw polymers". Not every plastics though, and it seems that (if your question is about getting a new computer, and without wanting to enter a Mac vs. PC discussion) Apple are 'trying their best to be as vegan-friendly as possible' since Steve Jobs was vegetarian, but I couldn't find any reliable statement from them on their current position on the subject (and the vegan - as well as the other - posts I found never talked about 100 % vegan products)

One thing that is however true for most electronics circuits is that the rare-earth elements extraction process exploits at least humans (to which we can add deforestation that kills many animals, and electronic manufacturing that often exploit humans as well), which in my vision of veganism is not vegan (EDIT it might be considered out of the vegan 'fight', but many people defend human rights before being vegan, and when they become vegan they include many of these ethic considerations in their vegan thinking, so up to you to see if this matches your definition of veganism).

a reflection that I took apart from the main answer, because maybe a little off-topic :

But what you should keep in mind is the benefits (not economically, but in your vegan/vegetarian point of view) that you can achieve using a computer or other electronic devices, with regards to what it costs. Not buying useless/unnecessary stuff for a start, making your computer and/or phone last as long as you can, and when you need something trying to find it second-hand (in the limits of what is possible), to minimize your negative impact while not reducing your positive impact.

  • Could you perhaps try to find some more concrete information? Your last paragraph seems not really appropriate to me. I mean, it's nice advice, and I agree with it, but I don't think it really belongs in an answer to this question – Zanna Dec 27 '17 at 14:03
  • Should I just delete the last paragraph ? (I'm pretty new on this kind of SE, so I don't really know when to add some "less objective" statements, although I have read threads about subjectivity on the META). And about specific informations I'll gladly update the answer if I find other sources, but for now this is what I found and I though it sufficient to make an answer. – N. Cornet Dec 27 '17 at 14:14
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    You know, today I am not very sure of myself. If it feels right to you, do leave it. But it would definitely improve your answer to add some examples of what is not vegan (ie comes from or uses animals) in electronics. I totally agree that it's relevant that humans are exploited in the extraction of rare earth metals, but readers will want to know about products from non-human animals. If there is some information like this in the external link, then add that info here in blockquote form, instead of the commentary on the link (actually that link isn't very good... hmm) – Zanna Dec 27 '17 at 14:20
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    I updated to distinguish the last paragraph from the rest, and added content from more specific sources. – N. Cornet Dec 27 '17 at 15:50
  • The battery stuff is interesting, given batteries are sometimes treated as disposables/consumables instead of durable goods... – rackandboneman Jan 8 '18 at 11:11

As someone who designed electronics when I worked I feel qualified to answer this question but instead of citing specific cases must agree with the previous answer about the importance of your definition of vegan. I try to be my version of vegan but it is not about the well being of animals it is about the well being of my body and it's longevity and health related to what i feed it. If you look far enough into the processes of most electronics you will find animal material. I think ethically second hand goods adds an 'abstraction layer' and removes your involvement in a morally dubious behaviour to a degree. Playing reductio ad absurdum, which was my nick name from my wife when we first met, any of us reviving medical treatment are complicit in the nazis abominations as we got much useful information after the war from their experiments. Is it more of a crime to let the information go to waste? I have absorbed deadly quantities of chemicals during my time working with electronics from lead and mercury vapour to solvents you aren't allowed in a room with now without a gas hood. The phone industry is constantly being criticised for its human rights violations but the majority of us happily carry one prioritising our necessity of being 'normal' over the 'hysterical' media and it's stories of immoral child labour.

Believe what you are comfortable believing and make your choices. I believe most people are trying their hardest to improve most lives without reducing their own. That is good enough for me to at least buy second hand products. I try to buy most of my products from charity (thrift) shops.

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