What Should Vegans Look For In Their Medication?

What Should Vegans Look For In Their Medication?

How can you tell if your medication is vegan friendly?

Deciding to become vegan is a big choice, which is why many people research everything they need to know about all things veganism before they take the plunge.

One of the things you may consider if you’re a vegan or vegan-to-be is your medication, and whether or not you can take your usual remedies when you’re following a vegan diet.

Well, today we’re going to shed a little light on the situation, so you can make the best choices for you and your body.

What is a vegan diet?

A vegan diet is when you avoid using or eating any products which are derived from animals.

For example, vegans don’t eat meat or any foods that come from animals, such as milk, eggs, or honey.

Vegans will often avoid wearing clothes made out of animal products, such as wool, and will avoid cosmetics which are tested on animals and use ingredients which come from animals.

What is the difference between vegans and vegetarians?

The difference between vegans and vegetarians is that most vegetarians eat products which come from animals, such as eggs and dairy products.

However, this can differ from person to person, as some vegetarians choose to avoid eggs but still eat dairy, or the other way around.

If you have a friend who is a vegetarian or vegan and you’re not sure what they choose to eat, just ask them!

A friendly, open conversation can go a long way when it comes to understanding vegan or vegetarian lifestyles, and your friend isn't going to bite your head off - they're vegan after all!

Is my medication vegan?

More medications are using vegan ingredients in this day and age, and that’s a wonderful thing!

However, whether or not you view your medication as vegan may differ from person to person as even if your medication uses vegan ingredients, you may not personally consider it vegan because of animal testing.

All medications which are licensed in the UK are tested on animals before they are deemed safe for humans.

This kind of testing is often necessary for a product to obtain a license, which sadly means that it’s unavoidable.

You should keep this in mind when using any medication, as although the ingredients in your medication may be vegan, animal testing is currently a sad fact of life that may affect how you personally view medication as a whole.

What should I do if my medication isn’t vegan?

If your medication isn’t vegan and your doctor or pharmacist can’t recommend a vegan alternative, then the best thing you can do is take the medication your body needs.

If your doctor prescribes you a medication, you should absolutely take it as they suggest, even if there is no vegan alternative.

Sometimes, veganism isn’t just black and white and exceptions have to be made for the good of your own health.

I know that this may not be what some of you want to hear, but until the pharmaceutical industry becomes more vegan friendly as a whole, there’s not much else we can say.

This doesn’t make you a “bad vegan” (whatever that means) if you take the medication you need, it simply means that you’re taking responsibility for your own health and caring for yourself properly, and that’s a good thing in the grand scheme of it all.

Is there a list of Vegan friendly medications?

Fortunately, the list of medications which use vegan ingredients is growing and The Vegan Society has a great list of over the counter medications that can be used for a variety of ailments.

However, you should always remember that lists of ingredients in medication change all the time, so the only way to be absolutely sure that a medication is vegan is to ask your doctor or pharmacist or speak directly to the manufacturer.

You should also seek medical advice before taking any medication if necessary, a medical professional is the only person who can give you advice on which medications to take and why, so you should trust them over anything you can read on the internet.

With that warning in mind, let’s look at some ailments and which vegan friendly medications are available at the time of writing.

Vegan cold medicine

Cold medicines which use vegan ingredients are easier to find than you might think!

For starters, Beechams Flu-Plus and Cold and Flu hot drinks use vegan ingredients, and their Max Strength Sore Throat Relief Blackberry Lozenges are vegan friendly too!

Beechams Flu Plus Caplets also use vegan friendly ingredients, which is good news in cold and flu season.

Other popular options include Day Nurse and Night Nurse liquids and Olbas Oil, which is a popular herbal remedy for congestion.

Vegan cough medicine

Our vegan cough medicine of choice has a name that should have told us it would be plant friendly in the first place – Buttercup!

Yes, the ingredients in Buttercup Syrup are vegan friendly as it uses herbal ingredients to soothe your cough, based on traditional use.

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Buttercup Original Cough Syrup - 200ml

Vegan headache medication

If you’ve got a headache or are looking for vegan friendly pain relief, you’ll be glad to know that there are lots of different options for you!

One of our favourites is Veganin, which are co-codamol tablets designed using vegan ingredients and with vegans in mind.

UPDATE: We've just recieved information from the manufacturer of Veganin to tell us that it actually IS NOT vegan friendly!


Veganin now contains gelatin of bovine originin, which is not vegan. Just goes to show that you should always look into the ingredients of your medication!

Other great alternatives include Panadol Extra and Panadol ActiFast, which are paracetamol-based painkillers, and Solpadeine Plus, Solpadeine Max, and Sopladeine soluble headache tablets, which contain codeine and paracetamol.

If you’re looking for pain relief medication for your little one, lots of Calpol medicines use vegan friendly ingredients.

This includes Calpol Infant Suspension and its sugar free version, Calpol Six Plus Suspension and sugar free, and Calpol Six Plus Fast Melts.

However, make sure to consult your doctor or pharmacist before giving your child any medication so you can be sure it’s safe for them.


Vegan allergy medicine

When looking to write this article one thing I discovered was how difficult it can be to find vegan friendly allergy medication!

I gotta hand it to you, my vegan friends, you do not have things easy! But after a little digging and a call to the manufacturer I managed to find out that Clarityn Syrup is currently vegan friendly!

However, remember that you should always check the ingredients list and speak to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medication, to make sure that this product is absolutely right for you, even if it does happen to be vegan.


Which ingredients should I look for in my medication?

If you’re choosing a medication and aren’t sure whether the product you want to use has vegan friendly ingredients, the best thing you can do is to ask your doctor, pharmacist, or the manufacturer for advice.

However, there are a couple of common ingredients you can look out for that are derived from animals and will tell you pretty quickly whether or not you’ve got a vegan friendly product on your hands. These are:

  • Lactose, which is derived from milk
  • Gelatin (E441), which is derived from animal tissues
  • Lanolin (E913), which is extracted from sheep’s wool
  • Glycocholic acid, which is bile acid derived from mammals

If you see any of those ingredients on your list, then your product doesn’t use vegan friendly ingredients.

There are also a few more ingredients you should be aware of, as they can be derived from animals or plants, and will need a little more investigation…

  • Stearic acid, which can be derived from fats from animal or plant sources
  • Magnesium stearate, which is produced using stearic acid
  • Lactic acid, which can be manufactured from animal or plant sources

If you see any of those in your list of ingredients, then you best bet is to ring the manufacturer of your medication.

They’ll be able to let you know whether the ingredient was derived from animals or plants.

However, remember that you should not change any medication you are taking without seeking advice from your doctor or pharmacist first, even if the ingredients do not turn out to be vegan.

Now you know all there is to know about medication and what you can do to make sure your medications are as vegan friendly as possible.

Remember, you should always check the ingredients of your medication with your doctor, pharmacist or the product’s manufacturer before you use it to be sure that the current formulation uses vegan ingredients, even if the product has been vegan in the past.

And always check with your doctor or Chemist 4 U pharmacist if you need medical advice or aren’t sure whether a medicine is right for you, they’re the ones with the medical know-how after all!


Laura Henderson - Medical Content Writer
James O'Loan - CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist
James O'Loan , CEO & Superintendent Pharmacist on 21 September 2021
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