What's the Deal with Animal-Free?

Updated: Aug 26


If you've been following our posts or browsing our website, you've probably noticed that we often use the term "animal-free" vs. "vegan." But why?


We believe that calling a pharmaceutical, supplement, or cosmetic product "vegan" can be misleading. Due to current regulations and safety standards for new medications, animal-testing is often used (but not required) in the development of medications, supplements and cosmetics.


Since veganism is "a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose," we feel the terminology animal-free is the most accurate for medications and supplements since some part of these compounds were testing on animals at one time.


What about my medication that's "certified vegan"?


It's important to check the details of your product's certifications...it may not be as vegan as you think! Certification from Vegan Action includes the following requirement:


"Testing on animals after the year 2000 on individual ingredients or on final product will not be accepted. The definition of ‘no-animal testing’ is defined as no use of animals (live or deceased) for any type of research purposes whatsoever to include feed or nutrition trials, toxicity testing, or animal tests or trials "as required by law" and not being tested by another company or independent contractor."


We absolutely support these guidelines, but setting a time limit on animal testing means that there are likely Certified Vegan products that have been tested on animals at some point.


Why do we point this out? Not to throw shade on Vegan Action (in fact, see how you can support them!), but to emphasize that it is truly difficult to call a medication or supplement 100% vegan.


But what about "Certified Animal-Free"?


VeganMed labels our certified products as “Certified Animal-Free.” These medications, supplements, and cosmetics contain no animal-derived ingredients. Our certification sets the highest quality standard in the industry as it (1) provides independent verification of the individual ingredients in a product and (2) incorporates lab testing of the product where appropriate. Our certification program addresses the needs of not just vegans, but many other social and religious cultures like vegetarianism, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and also those that embrace an animal cruelty-free world.


There is a Need For Animal Ingredients Disclosure!


People have a right to know if their medicines contain animal ingredients (Mehta, 2019). Individual ethical, spiritual, and dietary needs should be properly recognized and addressed in respect to all goods and services, including those offered by the pharmaceutical and medical sectors. Even the American Medical Association has released an entire policy regarding better labeling of animal-derived ingredients.

84% of patients reported not knowing that several medications contained ingredients derived from animal sources

Many drugs contain animal ingredients and need better, clearer labeling. In a study of 100 patients, 84% reported not knowing that several medications contained ingredients derived from animal sources. Nearly 63% of the patients wanted their physicians, and 35% of the patients wanted their providers (pharmacists, nurses) to notify them when using such medications. (Sattar, 2004).


What's the Good News?


Alternatives exist for many animal-derived ingredients! In addition, healthcare providers are increasingly incorporating awareness around animal-free drugs in their medical practice. (Tatham, 2014)


Our VeganMed team is a group of pharmacists and professionals that believe in supporting clearer product labeling and promoting companies that make a conscious effort to avoid using animal-derived ingredients. We identify products that may be animal-free and contact the manufacturer directly to verify the origin of all ingredients used. The products that pass the test are featured on our online marketplace!


How can you join our Animal-Free Army and support our mission?

  1. Subscribe to our webpage to get the latest updates on animal-free medications and news

  2. Follow us on social media (see the buttons at the top of the page!)

  3. Take our survey to add another voice to the animal-free army

  4. Learn more about animal-free medications and animal-derived ingredients on our blog

Together, we can #goanimalfree and eliminate our reliance on animals for medications and supplements for good.


Additional Reading:

1. Reker, Daniel, et al. "“Inactive” ingredients in oral medications." Science translational medicine 11.483 (2019): eaau6753.

2. Rivera, Kara, and Kristen N. Gardner. "Managing requests for gluten-, lactose-, and animal-free medications." Current Psychiatry 16.10 (2017): 47-48.

3. Tatham, Kate C., and Kinesh P. Patel. "Suitability of common drugs for patients who avoid animal products." Bmj 348 (2014): g401.

Disclaimer:  The product and/or medical information provided on VeganMed is of a general nature and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or product.

Looking for certified and verified animal-free products?

Browse animal-free products on our online marketplace!

Want to learn more?

Check out VeganMed's Animal Ingredients list!

Thank you for your awareness and concern for animal-derived ingredients!

If you have any further questions about ingredients in your medicines and supplements, feel free to reach out to the VeganMed team!


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