Health and medicine
Animal-free medications and contraceptives
Guidance on how to identify medicines which are free from animal ingredients
The website www.medicines.org.uk contains information on medicines prescribed in the UK, including ingredients lists.
Your pharmacist may also be able to advise you if specific medications contain animal ingredients.
Medicines will have been tested on animals. Animal tests are legally required before medicinal products can be licenced for use. The regulatory regieme is unlikely to change until alternative testing methods are considered to be sufficiently developed.
We do not advise you to stop taking medication or prescribed drugs for vegan reasons without consulting your GP.
If you wish to seek advice from a health professional about your diet, speak to a Registered Dietitian. Your GP will be able to refer you to one.
The website www.freelancedietitians.org, run by a specialist group of the British Dietetic Association, has details of freelance Registered Dietitians in the UK who specialise in vegetarian and vegan diets. In the search form on their website, select "vegetarian and vegan diets" from the drop down list "areas of interest" or "clinical expertise".
Vitamin and mineral supplements
Our multivitamins and minerals page has a list of companies which sell vegan vitamin and mineral supplements.
Vegans in hospitals and care homes
Our vegans in hospitals and care homes page has advice on how to prepare for a hospital visit.
Your GP may be able to refer you to an complementary healthcare practitioner. There is a list of practitioners in the NHS Directory of Complementary and Alternative Practitioners. This site also provides information for the public about complementary medicine on the NHS.
Animals will have been involved in the production of vaccines at some stage. Most vaccines are cultured in fertilised chicken eggs and the few which use alternative methods are typically cultured in cells of mammalian origin. In the case of the HINI (swine flu) vaccine, the main vaccine used in the UK (Pandemrix) is produced using eggs, while the non-egg version used in the UK (Celvapan, intended solely for egg allergy sufferers) is produced using cell lines from cells originally taken from a monkey (Vero cells). All vaccines will have been tested on animals during their development to provide the legally required safety information, and some vaccines use animal tests to provide safety information for individual batches.
Soya and health
Soya and health - poison or panacea?
An article by Sandra Hood, Dietitian
"Summary: Soya is a good source of protein and can reduce cholesterol levels. Other claimed effects, both positive and negative, remain controversial and unproven. We all know that diet and lifestyle impact on our health and that it is unlikely that any one food is the panacea of all health and disease. A balanced vegan diet, with or without soya, will always be preferable to one based on animal foods for a multitude of reasons – nutritional, ethical and ecological." Read the full article
Prostate cancer and diet
Prostate cancer and diet update (pdf)
An article by Dr Philip Bickley, published in The Vegan magazine (Winter 09)