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I am working on a menu website project, one of the requirements is to have an icon for Vegetarian and an icon for Vegan. During my research I couldn't find any sort of definitive answer as to 'XXX is the best way to represent Vegetarian'. Is there a standard way of conveying vegan and vegetarian as separate icons (Not logos)?

Additional Specs: The icons will be used in a variety of sizes from 150x150px to 24x24px. Here's an example of the current icon set I am working with:

I have made Vt and Vg as placeholders, but after some feedback V and V+ have become another option/route.

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    I think Vt and Vg are better than V and V+, it's just more clear which is which. – Petar Vasilev Mar 30 '17 at 1:57
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    @Zanna I'm actually voting to leave open based on the same premise. Graphic Design will formulate professional opinions from fellow graphic designers. Vegetarianism will state the opinions of the target audience. Both are usually combined for a good design. I'm speaking as someone with limited experience in the matter, though, so it'd be better for OP to step up and clarify. – Ramon Melo Mar 30 '17 at 11:53
  • @RamonMelo hmmm it's a good point scratches head – Zanna Mar 30 '17 at 11:56
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    I think V and V+ are a bit obscure and make it sounds like Vegans are some special ellite. If anything it should be V- and V :) – ecc Mar 30 '17 at 14:52
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    Anecdotally, as a Vegetarian, I've never seen any universally understood sign either (even at Vegan restaurants that serve Vegetarian food as well). The most common though is just a V for Vegetarian. If it's specifically Vegan, they'll make something else up, perhaps V+. In any case, it's always best that no matter what icons/logos you go with, put at the bottom of your menu V is Vegetarian, V+ is Vegan. Without that, just expect to get the waiters to get asked pretty often what's the difference (or your web team to get emails) asking to clarify what's what. – BruceWayne Mar 30 '17 at 17:59
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As for a standard way, I am not aware of there being any that is agreed upon by everyone, but from my experience, vegetarian V is usually written as a plain V in green (or with green background) and vegan V is usually written with a leaf sprouting from one or both of the arms of said letter.

Vegetarian society logo:

Vegetarian society logo

Vegan society logo:

enter image description here

And vegan labels as well:

enter image description here

Then again, the difference and implication is rather subtle and there is a lot of false positives amongst all of the existing logos so this is far from universal.

Based on this, the V and V+ icons may be a better suit. The one problem I see with those is the eye of the beholder: Is V vegan and V+ vegetarian because Vegetarians eat what vegans + some other things or is V vegetarian and V+ vegan because vegans are further away on the V spectrum?

If possible, a legend could be used to teach your audience the exact meaning. If that is not possible, maybe surrounding one V with clearly vegan food (like carrots and stuff) and the other V with clearly non-vegan stuff as well (like carrots AND milk carton) may be what you are looking for.

Good luck with your website and if you manage to solve this problem, I would be interested in hearing how.

  • Be careful using logos that might belong to NGOs and be subject to rules regarding their usage. – rackandboneman Mar 31 '17 at 15:40
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There is no standard way.

Leon and other restaurants I have seen use V for vegetarian and Ve for vegan, while Planet Organic and others use V and V+. I have also seen the V embellished with a leaf for vegan, although a leafy V might be used for vegetarian as well.

Product packaging, where it indicates vegetarian or vegan suitability always does so in words - while there are trademarks with various designs (such as the official UK Vegetarian and Vegan Society logos in Alexander Rossa's answer) (which obviously can only be used with authorisation) - there is no universally recognized symbol and the terms must be explicitly specified to avoid ambiguity.

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Nice question and project @Jobokai :)

In your design, I prefer Vt and Vg - easy to understand and remember.

If it helps at all, I came across this vector design on 123RF: enter image description here

Hope this helps.

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    I love this one, actually. – ecc Mar 31 '17 at 13:18
  • As an occasional front end developer, I think this icon set is intuitive and easy to understand. My vote is for the carrot and milk carton, not Vg/Vt. – amagnasco Mar 31 '17 at 13:33
  • Icons which use an abbreviated textual representation are really logos and come with the same problems (language and script barriers)... and add confusion since abbrevations could be ambigous in some languages - eg, "Vt" could be misread as "veganist" by the dutch. – rackandboneman Mar 31 '17 at 15:45
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The European Vegetarian Union has put forward two labels, which have already been taken up by many continental European brands. From my personal experience, these labels seem to be the most common ones in Germany and Austria at the moment. The "vegan sunflower" mentioned in another answer is a close second.

One downside of the label is that it uses the same symbol for vegan and vegetarian products, separating the two only by the word "VEGAN" or "VEGETARIAN", respectively.

European Vegetarian Union Vegan label European Vegetarian Union Vegetarian label

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Usually when I see a leaf I assume vegetarian. I would not trust an obscure icon to mean "Vegan" in normal circumstances, i.e., a restaurant that sells meat and marks some meals with a leaf icon.

One option that you didn't mention was that you could use the "leafy V" icon to mean vegan and have no icon for vegetarian. When a meal contains eggs, you use both the "leafy V" and the egg. When it contains cheese or milk you add an icon that represents such.

Beef steak 15€

Fungi Pizza 🌿🥛 12€

Tortilla de patatas 🌿🥛🍳 8€

Season salad 🌿 7€

This way, it will be automatically clear to vegans that the "leafy v" means pure vegetarian. From what I know, vegetarians will not refuse a vegan meal, so they should not be upset.

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    "From what I know, vegetarians will not refuse a vegan meal, so they should not be upset." While you are right, OP did state that one of the requirements is to have an icon for Vegetarian and an icon for Vegan. That's technical lingo for the client is demanding this in order for me to get paid. – Ramon Melo Mar 30 '17 at 11:57
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    @RamonMelo You are correct. I am unable to tell the client that we can only use one icon, they specifically requested one for each. – Jobokai Mar 30 '17 at 12:37
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    @RamonMelo Fair enough. I'm a frontend developer and I can understand that sometimes what I think is best is not negotiable with the client at all. – ecc Mar 30 '17 at 14:48
  • @RamonMelo That's true, but sometimes clients don't know what they want and we need to tell them. I think it's worth a shot sometimes. – ecc Mar 30 '17 at 14:49
  • "From what I know, vegetarians will not refuse a vegan meal, so they should not be upset." ... nor should ANYBODY that isn't an obligate carnivore :) – rackandboneman Mar 31 '17 at 15:41

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