Vegan perspective: Medication could contain animal by product

When Allison Parks first became a vegan it took her ten minutes to read one food label while shopping. 
“It used to be a hassle to read labels [] when I first became a vegan because I had no idea what I was looking for,” the Flagler College junior said. “But now that I know what to look out for it’s actually quite fun. Vegans find humor in the oddest things.”
It’s been over four years since Parks has made the switch from meat eater to eating animal free products. This means not eating any fish, honey, milk, or eggs in addition to meats.

But it’s not just food that Parks has to check the labels on. Many medications have animal products in them, namely gelatin. Gelatin is used as an excipient, or coating agent, in medicines and for making medication thicker. In other words, it’s what encapsulates the capsule or forms the pill into a solid as opposed to a powder. Gelatin comes from the bones and skins in animals.

“I don’t think there should be any animal products in medication. Especially in today’s culture there are cheaper, more ethical options for everything,” Parks said. “There is absolutely no need to use and exploit animals the way we do.”

Parks says she is aware that there are animal products in medicine and always checks every label. But in a new study published in the BMJ Postgraduate Medical Journal, less than a quarter of its 500 participants with dietary restrictions such as veganism specifically asked the doctor or pharmacist about the composition of a pill they were prescribed.

This is a stark contrast to the 43.2% of the study population that “would prefer not to take animal product-containing medication, even if no alternative were available.”

So is it the doctor’s responsibility to inform patients of the ingredients of a medication or the patient’s responsibility to check the label?

“I think the doctor should let the patient know because a lot of the time, like in my case, I would have never guessed that there would be animal products in medication. I only found out when someone told me, I wasn’t actively seeking the information. The doctor should always keep their patients informed about what exactly they’re putting in their bodies,” Parks said.



Filed under Feature, Features, Fitness, Food, Health, News, Science

2 responses to “Vegan perspective: Medication could contain animal by product

  1. bb

    I think if you are going to choose a specific lifestyle such as veganism, it is more your responsibility to research what you are putting into your body. The doctor may not always know that there are animal byproducts in a medication but your pharmacist should. The opportunity to question your pharmacist when a prescription is being filled is always available and he/she can suggest an alternative medication at that time if needed.

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