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Do Vegans Take Prescription Medication?

Updated: Aug 9, 2020

Every life matters, may that be human or animal, and we should not have to sacrifice either. It is no surprise that we use animal ingredients in medicines, but, as a result, many people refuse to take life-saving medications. We investigated this further to better understand people’s opinions about animal ingredients in medications. Below is the initial analysis of our market research. Want to add your voice? Click here to join our study! (and thanks to those who have participated)

A graph showing the numbers who would take a a non-vegan medicine that was life-saving. 96.4% would take the medicine while 3.6% would not.

Survey Says...

As seen from the graph, 3.6% of respondents refuse to take an animal-derived drug that would be considered crucial for survival, such as an EpiPen for fatal allergic reactions. It saddens us that this answer is not zero; nobody should be in a situation where they cannot take a life-saving medication because manufacturers chose to use animal-derived ingredients. Interestingly, 20.7% of respondents elected to not take an important cholesterol-lowering drug, such as Lipitor (atorvastatin) simply because it had animal-derived ingredients. Learn more about medications like atorvastatin on our blog "Is My Medication Vegan?"

In another survey of 500 participants, 43.2% of respondents elected to not take a product with animal ingredients, even with no alternates available(1). This can easily turn into a very serious healthcare issue.

A graph showing the people who would take a medicine for optimal health that was NOT vegan. 79.3% would take the medicine but 20.7% would not.

Why are we so concerned?

Statins are ranked number 1 out of the “Big Six Heart Medications,” according to the Cleveland Clinic. Statins lower the levels of cholesterol in the blood, especially low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Studies show that statins decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease by 24-37% (4).

Additionally, 40-75% of patients above 65 years old struggle with medication adherence (5). Combining non-adherence with a relatively high percent of people not willing to take medications with animal-derived ingredients creates an incredible motivator for the medical community and pharmaceutical companies to manufacture medications that are animal-free!

Between our data and the other research studies, there is clearly a net value for pharmaceutical companies and ingredient manufacturers to "Go Animal Free" and work towards eliminating animal-derived ingredients from their products.

Replacing animal-derived products for animal-free alternatives is not as hard as you would think. For example, a common inactive ingredient, magnesium stearate, used as a lubricant in tablets and capsules, can be from a plant or animal source (palm oil or animal fats). We simply need to encourage the use of plant-based magnesium stearate and promote better labeling so that consumers can choose the plant-based option (7).

How do we solve the problem?

We can create more awareness about animal-derived ingredients in our medications and supplements and solve this issue by:

  1. Empowering patients to ask for animal-free the way, only 20.5% of vegetarians are asking (4)

  2. Educating physicians that certain medications can be made animal-free from compounding pharmacies (6)

  3. Engaging with the pharmaceutical industry to eliminate the use of animal-derived ingredients

What can you do TODAY to help?

We need your support and participation to build a community that fights for animal-free medications and supplements. You can join our cause in the following ways (for best results, do them all!)

  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

With simple fixes, we believe that we CAN reinvent day-to-day medications to help vegans, vegetarians, and individuals with dietary restrictions comfortably use potentially life-saving medications.


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?

Want to learn more?

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!



  1. Warburton H, Payne M, Payne S. The problems of gelatine and prescribing urologically specific medication to a diverse population in the UK. An initial study. British Journal of Medical and Surgical Urology. 2010;3(2):52-58. doi:10.1016/j.bjmsu.2009.10.005

  2. The Big 6 Heart Medications. Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. Published 2019. Accessed September 24, 2019.

  3. Stein D, Devaraj S, Balis D, Adams-Huet B, Jialal I. Effect of Statin Therapy on Remnant Lipoprotein Cholesterol Levels in Patients With Combined Hyperlipidemia. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2001;21(12):2026-2031. doi:10.1161/hq1201.100259

  4. Stroes E. Statins and LDL‐cholesterol lowering: an overview. Curr Med Res Opin. 2005;21(sup6):S9-S16. doi:10.1185/030079905x59102

  5. Salzman C. Medicine compliance in the elderly. J Clin Psych. 1995;56(suppl 1):18-22.

  6. Warburton H, Payne M, Payne S. The problems of gelatine and prescribing urologically specific medication to a diverse population in the UK. An initial study. British Journal of Medical and Surgical Urology. 2010;3(2):52-58. doi:10.1016/j.bjmsu.2009.10.005

  7. Everything You Should Know About Magnesium Stearate. Healthline. Published 2019. Accessed September 2, 2019

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1 Comment

Aydan Fullbuster
Aydan Fullbuster
Feb 06, 2020

Wow! That's so crazy! You don't think of the lack of vegan medications as a barrier. It's so important to have viable options of LIFE-SAVING medications for everyone!

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