Are Vaccines Vegan?

Are Vaccines Vegan? What Are They Made Of and How Are They Produced?

by Mindy Goorchenko

For the family concerned about eliminating animal products from its lifestyle, vaccines must be taken into consideration, as each of them contains a variety of animal products and are created using both human and animal tissues. It is my hope that you will research this decision in depth before giving birth and taking your child to the pediatrician. Today, children are vaccinated as early as 24 hours of age unless their parents take action and assert their rights by signing an exemption. What follows here is a description of the production and ingredients of vaccines and some helpful links to aid you in your quest for information.

Vaccines contain either bacteriatoxoids, or live, weakened, killed, or mutated strains of viruses in a chemical solution. This injection, according to the vaccine manufacturers, causes the body to form a temporary or lifelong immunity to the disease. Just as a person who contracts chicken pox rarely contracts it a second time, vaccine theory rests on the concept that exposing the body to an antigen, or “bug,” causes the body to remember it the next time it comes around and to fight it off more effectively. For instance, by receiving a measles vaccine, a child will not be impacted by the measles virus if the child comes into contact with it in the future. More and more parents are starting to question the impact these substances have on the whole of a child’s health and immunity, since controversy exists about whether vaccines actually accomplish what the manufacturers claim.

Scientists depend upon animal tissue to produce the viral strains found in vaccines. The Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, for instance, contains live strains of each of these three viruses. Scientists grow the viruses on chick embryo cells, and then add them to a concoction which includes other animal products such as gelatin, human albumin (a protein manufactured by the liver), and fetal bovine serum (blood extracted from fetal calves and separated from the cells and clotting factors). A more potentially controversial ingredient in several vaccines is human fetal tissue. Several strains of viruses used in vaccines, such as the varicella, or chicken pox vaccine, originated as cultures on human fetal tissue obtained through voluntary abortions in the 1960s. The varicella virus used in the vaccine is cultured on numerous animal tissues, including embryonic guinea pig cells, human diploid cells, and human embryonic lung cells. The vaccine, as a result, contains residual components of these cells. Human fetal tissue, according to the Center for Disease Control, has the advantage in the world of science of dividing more rapidly than other cells, as well as being “safer” than other animal cells-regardless of the fact that monkey, chicken, pig, guinea pig, and other animal cells are used in the manufacture of vaccines also.

Obviously, these ingredients are not in accordance with a vegan lifestyle. Still, many parents might question whether it might be worthwhile to suspend one’s lifestyle choices for the sake of health in their children. “If a vaccine can prevent my child from dying from some major illness,” a parent might be thinking, “isn’t it worth it to inject him or her with a vaccine, in spite of these ingredients?”

If you are concerned about these issues and wish to learn more, I encourage you to ask your pediatrician for package inserts of any and all vaccines you have questions about. Most pediatricians do not provide these routinely to their clients, and he or she may get rather defensive when you ask. However, your questions serve to remind the doctor of his or her responsibility to disclose any dangerous ingredients or potential side effects of the injection. For instance, many vaccines contain neomycin, an antibiotic, which may provoke an allergic response in your child. Other extremely toxic ingredients, such as formaldehyde, aluminum, and thimerosal (a form of mercury), can be found in several vaccines and have become a source of controversy and research. Please refer to the resources below for more information about these ingredients.

I highly recommend conducting your own research about the subject, rather than relying on your pediatrician for accurate and unbiased information regarding vaccines. Pediatricians are trained to vaccinate children and have a large stake in the process, even if they have your child’s best intentions at heart. If you have a problem securing package inserts, consult the Physicians’ Desk Reference, a book containing the product information of drugs approved by the FDA for human use. This book costs a small fortune, so unless you can find a current edition at the library, I suggest registering at and utilizing their free “DrugInfo” section for product information about any given vaccine or medication.

A simple book search using the keyword “vaccines” at is a great place to start to learn more about vaccinations.

My personal favorites are Neil Z. Miller’s book, “Vaccines-Are They Really Safe and Effective?” and Tim O’Shea’s “The Sanctity of Human Blood: Vaccination I$ Not Immunization.”

Dr. Tim O’Shea’s site,, provides a wealth of information surrounding vaccines and health. You can also find a schedule there of his day-long seminars surrounding vaccines and safety.

Ironically, the FDA’s website played the largest role in encouraging me not to vaccinate my children. Visit for information about how vaccine safety is researched and not researched and how a pharmaceutical company achieves their goal of marketing their products to parents and children.

For more information on fetal bovine serum and how it is obtained, please visit

Mindy Goorchenko lives with her husband Alex and their four unvaccinated children, Noah, Wolfgang, Psalm, and Zoya. She can be contacted via their, a resource for childbirth educators and parents.


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