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?