Vegans Use Animal-Tested Medicine

One of the parts of human life that reasonably cannot be avoided is our health. We all have times where we need to go to visit our GP, a clinic, or A&E at the hospital. Even vegans.

Something that I have been asked a couple of times is what vegans do when it comes to taking medicine. Medicines are tested on animals. There are no two ways about it. Just like medical research into treatments for diseases. Generally, the idea of veganism is to avoid the harm to and exploitation of animals and so us vegans usually avoid products that have been tested on animals. This is certainly applicable when it comes to something such as a beauty product. Vegans do not buy shampoo that has been tested on animals. Medicine is a little bit different to shampoo though. I don’t think the rules apply in quite the same way.

Sometimes, tablets may contain gelatin or lactose. These ingredients are animal products. As such, it is unfortunate that sometimes a vegan person will receive a prescription with medicine containing these ingredients. Occasionally, there will be an alternative version of this medicine which does not contain gelatin or lactose and so it is always useful to ask your doctor if this is a possibility. Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case. In this circumstance, I personally would just take the medicine containing gelatin or lactose and would urge others to do the same. This is not a simple case of pleasure-seeking. We do not want to be ill. We certainly do not want to die.

Veganism is about reducing harm to and exploitation of animals to the most reasonable extent possible. I personally don’t think it is reasonable to choose to avoid medicine or medical care that is required to keep you healthy and/or alive. I wouldn’t expect a vegan to turn down treatment for cancer because cancer research involves animal testing. Perhaps this is not the opinion of every single vegan and I certainly don’t speak for the community as a whole. However, as far as I am concerned, my life matters too. Human lives matter too. It is not a case of choosing whether or not to eat bacon for breakfast when you could readily have something else to eat. It is not a flippant decision. It is unpleasant and even upsetting to consider the extent to which animals are exploited in human medical research, but there are times when we really do need to put ourselves first.

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