COVID-19 Vaccines and Veganism
As the vaccine roll-out program continues, we’ve had enquiries from our supporters asking what is in the vaccine, whether you can still have the vaccine if you are an ethical vegan and whether the vaccine will have been tested on animals.
Here are some of the most common questions:
Will all the vaccines have been tested on animals?
Yes. Sadly, companies that make vaccines and medicine, must, by law, test these on animals, before they can be given to people. Animal Aid has, since its inception, campaigned against all animal experiments as they are both cruel and unreliable. This is still the case and so we continue to campaign for the use of new, innovative human-relevant technologies, instead of outdated animal experiments.
As the vaccine is tested on animals, as an ethical vegan, should I refuse to have it?
No. We would not want to encourage anyone to put their health at risk by boycotting medicines, including vaccines. Our policy is to encourage people to follow the medical advice that they are given, which would include being vaccinated, when advised. While we strongly encourage people to choose cruelty-free food, clothing and other products, sadly there are currently no cruelty-free versions of medicines.
Ethical vegans want an end to animal exploitation and by keeping well, you are more likely to be able to campaign on behalf of the animals and to help secure real change. One thing which does need to happen is for legal change so that animals do not need to be used in such tests in the future. To find out more about our work against all animal experiments, please order a digital ‘End Animal Experiments’ pack.
Are there any ingredients in the vaccines which make it unsuitable for vegans?
None of the vaccines currently being offered in the UK, the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford/AstraZeneca or Janssen1 contain any ingredients that have come from animals, such as lactose or gelatine. However, a material used in the early stage of manufacturing the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine contains a ‘component that is derived from’ cow’s milk.2 Whilst new vaccines will be available in the future, it is possible that some of these may contain animal-derived ingredients. You should be able to check the ingredients of any new vaccine either with the manufacturer or with your doctor.
1) ‘The MHRA can confirm that COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen does not contain any components of animal origin.’
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regulatory-approval-of-covid-19-vaccine-janssen – accessed 2021-09-07
2) ‘A material used in the early stage of the manufacturing process of COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine BNT162b2 contains a component that is derived from bovine milk.’ https://www.nottsapc.nhs.uk/media/1642/covidvaccinefaqspfizer.pdf – accessed 2021-09-07