Surprise! Most Medication Isn't Vegan
As I have written before, there is a spectrum for most things we do based on what we believe, and medication is no exception. So what do you do when the medication isn't vegan or cruelty-free, or you don't know whether it is? I can tell you where I fall on that spectrum, for myself and for my baby, and I'm sure many people will feel differently. And that's OK! Our number one priority is the health and safety of our baby, like anyone else, so there are certain things we are willing to bend on. We do what we can but we won't reject certain medications or products just because they aren't vegan or cruelty-free. And when I say they're not vegan, I mean that they do not contain any animal ingredients. I recognize that something that is tested on animals ultimately isn't vegan.
Just as everyone is different with how strictly they practice their religion, the same goes for how strictly they adhere to their morals. I realize that medication I take has been tested on animals and might even contain animal-derived ingredients, like gelatin, egg, or lactose. These ingredients are used in vaccines to preserve or stabilize them. Or, like the flu vaccine, they could be grown in hen eggs or on animal cell lines. And that goes for other products, not just medications. (Not skin care or cosmetics or anything like that; I would not purchase something that contains animal ingredients or has been tested on animals for the sake of vanity.) For example, I'm sure my contact lenses have been tested on animals, but I don't know of any brand that hasn't been. I have tried several brands of contact lenses, and I have decided to stick with the ones I have, especially since my eyes have gotten progressively worse over the years. It sucks to know what I'm doing, but it's something I cannot change at this point. I have also taken antibiotics that I'm sure aren't "kosher." But I still take them. Again, it sucks, but here we are. You’ll find plenty of arguments for and against vaccines anyway, but there are even discussions online about whether you’re actually vegan if you’re pro-vaccine. (I mean, there are debates online about whether you're vegan if you procreate, so...) For us, the benefit of vaccines far outweighs the alternative.
I didn't know if things would change for me--as far as what I'd be OK with--when I had my baby girl, but the same applies for my baby, with her medication and products we use on her. Almost even more so. Like the rest of my world, this changed the moment I saw her face. I'm not willing to mess around with her health, and I know my husband wouldn't either. This goes for anything she puts in her mouth as well as anything that goes on her skin or in her hair, that can be absorbed into her cute, perfect, untainted body. One great example was when we were in the hospital. I mentioned in a previous post that we had to stay in the hospital a couple extra days for testing because she was running a fever. Well, they needed her hydrated for a couple of the tests, and the saline drip almost didn't cut it. So they told me we'd have to give her formula if we couldn't get her hydrated enough. And they really discouraged me from giving her soy formula, even though I had some with me and I explained my hesitation. They acknowledged that there's nothing wrong with soy formula but most of the data out there is for dairy formula, because that's what's most widely available, so that's just their go-to recommendation. The thought of giving her dairy truly nauseated me. I had knots in my stomach and I cried about it. But my husband gently insisted that we do it if we needed to, just in this instance. And he compared it to vaccines. We're pro-vaccine, even though they're not vegan. Thankfully, that crisis was averted, but the concept remains: we would have given her something not vegan for the sake of her health and safety in that instance. I can't impress upon you enough how badly I didn't want to do it, but I accepted that I might have to.
Since then, we have already had to give her infant Tylenol as well as some cough syrup. Our nurse recommended Zarbee's and it happens to be vegan! But I MAY have still given it to her even if it had, say, honey instead of agave. I will do my best to find a vegan alternative if I can, but I know I won't always be able to. However, the reality is that medications, even if they don't contain any animal ingredients, were at one point tested on animals. It is inevitable because, by law, at least in the U.S., medications have to be tested on animals. That's where we are in 2018. And, personally, I have decided to just go with it rather than fight it. I understand that the vegan police might come for me, and that's OK. Many parents include essential oils in their daily wellness routines, and even to treat ailments. We are not currently those parents, primarily because we do not know much about them. and we've both experienced the effectiveness of Western medicine. I would certainly like to learn more about them and to utilize them more, but I don't want to wing it when it comes to my daughter. Either way, we are making small strides toward a more plant-based and cruelty-free world. I’d like to think that someday that will be the norm. even though I likely won’t see it in my lifetime. Perhaps my daughter will. I’m happy we’re taking small steps in the right direction though.
Another example of an exception we've made is formula. There is currently no vegan formula in the United States. There's one in France, but it's just too much of a pain to import. We’ve all been on a midnight run to the store for diapers or formula, not realizing we need to restock until we are completely out, and, since I don’t have a private jet to fly me to France and back, this was an exception I was willing to make. The soy formulas here come pretty close as the only non-vegan ingredient is the D3, which is made of lanolin (a substance extracted from sheep's wool). The one we use is Earth's Best, and we're fans! We recently started using Boudreaux's Butt Paste because it came highly recommended for diaper rash, so I first used a sample I received and then immediately went online to see if it was vegan-friendly. From what I was able to find, it is! (I could be wrong, but it appears to be.) However, I know Desitin was the go-to diaper cream, at least when I was growing up. Desitin is not vegan, so I won't use it and I know I can easily find a substitute. On the other hand, if my baby had terrible diaper rash and that happened to be THE diaper cream people recommended, I would probably use it. By the way, if you are curious whether a product is vegan or cruelty-free, there are two apps you can download. The first is "Is it Vegan" and the other is "Cruelty Cutter." Both give you the option to scan an item or enter the barcode manually to determine whether the item is vegan or cruelty-free, respectively.
What do you all do? Where do you draw the line?