There’s no such thing as a Vegan approved medicine. Certainly not in the UK or the USA where by law all drugs must be tested on animals before they can be approved for use on humans (or even tested on humans). I’m sure this is the same in most countries
Three out of every four prescription medications contain non vegan ingredients and it’s really hard discover what these are, and even harder to find vegan alternatives.
Given that 51% of vegans make the choice out of concern for animal welfare, and that athletes are bigger users of medication than average this is a pretty big issue.
If you’ve chosen a plant free diet for health reasons (and this is generally about 17% of people who choose this route) it’s less of a problem. It’s still a good thing to understand what’s going into your body though
The three areas of concern for vegans taking medication are:
The Active ingredients – The things that make the drug work.
The Inactive Ingredients (excipients) – The fillers and casings that make drugs possible to consume and that enhance the effect of the active ingredients.
Animal Testing – The way we prove drugs are effective and safe for humans.
As a Vegan you have three main options to consider
Find Vegan Alternatives to Your Medication
As I mentioned this is very difficult, because although there are numerous website that list the ingredients in great detail none of them (so far as I can tell) mention veganism.
You can do your own research and you should definitely ask your Doctor/Physician or Pharmacist.
Better health means less reliance on drugs
The good news is that as your vegan diet improves your health you may find you need less medication.
In my case after 8 months of veganism and cycling 40km a day I was able to give up 4 of my 6 daily medications and hope to give up the last two within the next few months. (DO NOT do this without consulting your Doctor/Pharmacist).
You could try Homeopathy. This is a medical system based on the belief that the body can cure itself. Practitioners use tiny amounts of natural substances, like plants and minerals. They believe these stimulate the healing process.
It’s common in many European countries, but not so popular in the United States.
I cannot stress too strongly how important it is that you discuss any of these options with your Doctor/Physicians before making any decisions.
How can I find out if your Medications are Vegan
You need to do the research. There doesn’t seem to be any single source of this information.
My number one advice is to discuss it with your health professional. Your Doctor or Physician and your Pharmacist.
Beyond that you could take a look at these resources which I find very useful even though there is little solid data on the suitability of drugs and drug ingredients for vegans
Resources for Research on Vegan Medication
The UK Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has details of all approved drugs (called Public Assessment Reports), and in many cases includes information on whether the excipients contain animal or human material and whether or not they are GMO
The U S Food and Drug Administration site offers extensive information but nothing on vegan suitability. It’s a good starting point for your research
Here are two more good sites for general information on drugs and ingredients, again nothing specific for vegans
This is very good List of commonly used medical Ingredients and their sources (animal or plant based.
Here’s a good article from the British Medical Journal (BMJ) that explains the issue of packaging and fillers and has a list of vegan ingredients
And finally a good book called veganissiomo that lists 2,500 commonly used ingredients and whether they are vegan or not.