Debate: Should Vegans Vaccinate Their Children?

We pick out some popular debates in the vegan world and tackle them head-on. This debate looks at whether vegans should use vaccinations.


Should vegans vaccinate their children?

For many parents, the risks of the disease they are vaccinating against outweigh other concerns. Mother of one, Ruth Brown, says: “There is a lot of scare-mongering about vaccines and autism, resulting from an old report. But evidence has, time and time again, dismissed the causal link between these jabs and autism, and I would like to see people catching onto this, because I feel they are putting not only their own children at risk, but others too.

“As a vegan, I understand the argument against using medicine as it has been tested on animals, but here, I feel I have to approach the bigger picture. In everything I have control over, I make compassionate choices, I never eat, wear, or am entertained by animals. I am very careful to only use cruelty-free products, and I research companies and their affiliate organisations before buying anything from them.

“When it comes to vaccines and medicines, unfortunately, these have been tested on animals, and may even contain animal-derived ingredients. But there is no alternative cruelty-free option, and in this case, I have to consider the health of my child. Veganism is about making the best choices, and doing the absolute best I can – after all, it is impossible to be perfect.”

She feels the vast majority of bad reactions to the injections tend to be short-lived, meaning the benefits – freedom from diseases such as polio –are key in making the decision.

“Seeing children get preventable diseases is heart-breaking,” she explains. “It’s time to educate people about the reality of these jabs, rather than relying on the media hysteria of the past. Lots of parents are making potential life and death decisions, because understandably, they have been misinformed.”


There are a range of reasons why some vegan parents choose not to immunise their children, with some fears about the potential health risks caused by vaccines.

According to Lily Thirk: “I have two children, and I have never vaccinated either of them, and neither has suffered from ill health because of it. The biggest concern for me was that these injections could actually harm my kids, and I just can’t take that risk. I’ve read about a link between certain vaccines – especially the MMR (measles, mumps and rubella jab) and autism.” [a 1998 paper published in medical journal The Lancet made the claims, but was later discredited].

This paper, by Andrew Wakefield, is often cited in the case against vaccination, despite the fact it was later undermined. Media at the time picked up on the paper, and reported it widely, which is one of the reasons the fear generated by the piece continues to affect some parents. At the time of the report, there was a sharp drop in the number of children being injected with the vaccine, with one medical journal later commenting that the report was the most ‘damaging medical hoax of the last 100 years’.

But for Lily, this is not the only reason to avoid the vaccinations. She says: “As a vegan, I avoid using animals, and that includes medicine – which has been tested on animals – and medications which actually contain animal parts of their secretions.

“I also look at vaccines as the product of a huge pharmaceutical industry that favours profit over health. I have seen children suffer some terrible reactions to being vaccinated – they are being injected with toxic chemicals after all – but I have yet to see any problems with my non-vaccinated children.”



We have presented you with two sides of the argument, but what do you think?

Have your say below…



The lifestyle magazine written by vegans for vegans.