The Vegan Society is calling for more action to protect vegans rights when it comes to taking medicines.
Our key asks are for: -
- Government to find out what animal-free alternatives to prescription products already exist, and to bring them in across the board.
- Guidance for medical professionals about seeking consent when using animal based medicines.
- Guidance for manufacturers to improve labelling, to include ingredients of animal origin, similar to the labelling of food.
In 2017, we co-ordinated a letter to the then Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Veganism and Vegetarianism.
Read more about the background to this campaign and the letter.
We are now seeking further opportunities to pursue our requests.
Did you know?
Almost 75% of the most commonly prescribed medicines in the UK contain animal-derived products.
“Vegans are careful to avoid the use and consumption of animals, or animal-derived ingredients, however, most would be surprised to find out that many common medicines are not vegan. Whilst we do not advise anyone to avoid taking medication it is undoubtedly an unfair situation as taking them is not in line with their beliefs. It is important for health professionals to help vegans make well-informed decisions about medication and vaccination.”
“I'm a 39 year-old type-1 diabetic vegan. As with most years, I declined the flu vaccine because of the animal products, as I consider it unnecessary (unlike my insulin). I did have flu this year, and it wasn't too bad. If there was an animal-free version, I would take it.”
“I've been vegan for two years, I have had the flu jab in the past but in recent years have decided not to due to the use of eggs in the culture. Separately I'm on medication for colitis and asked the hospital if there was a vegan alternative - they were fantastic and changed my medication straight away.”
Our definition of veganism recognises that it is not always possible and practicable to avoid animal use, and this is particularly relevant to medical situations. Unfortunately, vegans may have no alternative to accepting vaccines that are produced using animal products. We do our best, bearing in mind that looking after our health and that of others enables us to be effective advocates for veganism.
What can you do?
Contact the medicine manufacturer. If you have had an issue with a specific medicine, write to the manufacturer and tell them why they should have a manufacturing policy that is more inclusive of vegans. To make this easier we made a template letter which you can download.
Share your experiences. Are you reluctantly taking medicines with animal ingredients, or are you avoiding taking medication all together (not something we would recommend)? Perhaps you have a success story to share, where your GP or pharmacist has sourced animal free medication? Let us know by emailing: campaigns[at]vegansociety[dot]com
Contact your MP. If this issue is important to you, let your MP know. They can, in turn, write to the Health Secretary and increase the pressure. Find and contact your MP.
- We've received a response to our letter from the Department of Health.