Before they can be prescribed, medications (including vaccines) have to pass safety tests, which are routinely carried out on non-human animals. Animal products may be used in the manufacture of medications and feature in the end product but this is not always the case.
As far as is possible and practicable
The definition of veganism recognises that it is not always possible or practicable to avoid animal use in a non-vegan world. Sometimes, you may have no alternative to medication manufactured using animal products. Even if other medications are available, they may be less effective, have more side effects or be unsuitable for your healthcare needs. While it can be upsetting to compromise our vegan beliefs, we encourage vegans to look after their health and that of others, enabling them to be effective advocates for veganism.
Looking after our health enables us to be effective advocates for veganism.
Talking to your prescriber or pharmacist
Your local healthcare team is in the best position to help you work out your options and make a well-informed decision about what is best for your health. Helpful information for you and your prescriber or pharmacist is available in this blog written by a pharmacist – ‘Is my medication vegan?’.
Never stop taking prescribed medications without talking to your doctor.
Jeanette Rowley, Chair of The Vegan Society’s International Rights Network, says
If there is a medication suitable for your healthcare and vegan needs you can request this, and it should be prescribed if there is no reasonable ground for refusing to do so. Grounds for refusal could include limited accessibility and unreasonably high costs. However, if suitable medications can be sourced and supplied without imposing an unreasonable burden then vegans should not experience any difficulty obtaining them.
Concerns about medications were raised with politicians during the first meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Vegetarianism and Veganism and discussions continue.
Charities like Animal Free Research UK are supporting the development of techniques and procedures to replace the use of non-human animals in biomedical research.