A lot of drugs you get without prescription in a pharmacy contain lactose and gelatine. Often there are other options that contain the same active ingredient, but have different fillers (i.e. titanium dioxide instead of lactose).

What non-vegan ingredients typically occur in medicines like aspirine, paracetamol and ibuprofen? How can they be avoided?

  • 1
    Would going through safety tests on animals make medicines non-vegan or is it only the ingredients in the medicines themselves you're interested in?
    – Robert Longson
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 12:28
  • @RobertLongson, only the ingredients. Although it's an excellent question which medicines can be developed without animal testing.
    – Turion
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 20:38

1 Answer 1


Avoid colorants at all costs, many (if not most of them) are tested on animals. It's perfectly fine to use blandly colored drugs, it won't affect their effectiveness.

Other than those:

  • Gelatin: used in capsules, it's made of animal collagen.

  • Beeswax: usually a filler.

  • Stearic acid (and its derived stearates): it's a fatty acid fairly uncommon in vegetal sources. Most soaps are made with it. It might be extracted from cocoa, though, so it's not necessarily non-vegan.

  • Palmitic acid (and its derived palmitates): similar to stearic acid, but a lot safer because it can be extracted from soy and sunflower, which are a lot more prominent in agribusiness than cocoa.

  • Egg shells: also a filler.

  • Egg phosphatide: lubricant extracted from egg yolks.

  • Shellac: it's a resin produced by an Asian bug, used as a conservant. While the resin itself is excreted by the insects, the extraction process harms their natural habitat and inevitably kills many of them.

  • "the extraction process harms their natural habitat and inevitably kills many of them. ". Cultivation of many vegetables kills much more insects. Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 14:01
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    @DarioOO I agree, but the alternative to vegetables would be meat, which is far more harmful, while shellac could be easily replaced in medicines with synthetic alternatives.
    – Ramon Melo
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 14:26
  • Great list! Can you give some sources or the ingredient lists of typical drugs that contain the mentioned ingredients?
    – Turion
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 20:41
  • 1
    Thanks, @Turion. This is the content for another question, but I'll whip it up a short list here: [Ritalin] has magnesium stearate and gelatin; Tylenol has stearic acid; Canesten Gel has gelatin, sorbitan stearate and palmitate; Diprivan has actual egg yolk extract (I'll edit into the answer); Omeprazole has both gelatin and shellac. I hope it helps!
    – Ramon Melo
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 2:14
  • @DarioOO, organic farming can, to some extent, create habitat for animals. It's mainly the conventional (i.e. the style developed 100 years ago) farming that harms them.
    – Turion
    Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 8:26

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