While the question is pretty clear and simple the answer is not so simple. Antibiotics are sort of vegan, sort of not vegan, but ultimately something a vegan shouldn’t stress about or feel guilty about taking for various reasons.
Before we dive into it I’ll simply state something: If you’re or someone in your care is very sick and antibiotics may help them, take them. While they’re questionably vegan for reasons we’ll cover below, they’re not necessarily non-vegan and taking them doesn’t contribute to animal cruelty or abuse.
The Case for Antibiotics being Non-Vegan:
Trolls will often claim they aren’t vegan because they contain bacteria; but that’s absolute nonsense. Alright, yes, they contain bacteria; but veganism isn’t about not harming bacteria. It’s about not harming animals and other sentient beings, of which bacteria is definitely not included.
As for Vegans, the primary worry is if they contain gelatin or other non-vegan ingredients or were tested on animals. While most antibiotics do not contain gelatin or other non-vegan ingredients certain ones may, although it’s extremely rare. If they’re in a capsule like we pictured above they shouldn’t contain any gelatin as those types are generally derived from plants such as corn or soybean.
As for animal testing, unfortunately all antibiotics to be legally sold must have been tested on animals at some point in their development. However, generally the animal testing of antibiotics has stopped, and thus further harm to animals is no longer needlessly being done regarding them.
The Case for Antibiotics being Vegan-Friendly:
A weaker argument for antibiotics being vegan-friendly is that antibiotics may have been tested on animals in the past, they generally aren’t anymore, so the harm is already done and buying it doesn’t harm animals more.
While this is true, it’s not a good argument. It’s not a justification for buying or using antibiotics.
However, what is an excuse/justification/reason is that veganism is “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
That’s the definition of veganism.
So why is it an argument for antibiotics being vegan? Well, it’s not reasonable or practicable to not take antibiotics that may save your life before an illness gets significantly worse and potentially life-threatening. So despite antibiotics being tested on animals in the past it’s still vegan.
What Antibiotics are vegan?
While pretty much all antibiotics are vegan we’ll list the most popular active-ingredients — the antibiotics part, which are vegan.
Those are the 7 most popular vegan antibiotics you’ll encounter, but all antibiotics should be vegan. Ideally buy the generic version, as the brand-names profit less and they’re the ones that pay for or personally conduct animal-testing.