Vivisection is the practice of cutting into or using invasive techniques on live animals. It is used in medical research, product testing for cosmetics and cleaning products, in education, the military, and in agriculture.
Some of the worst horrors perpetrated on this earth are inflicted on non-humans in the name of research. Not only is this unethical and horrific; it is poor science (Beauchamp et al, 2015).
When you choose personal care and cleaning products that are vegan friendly, you play your role in boycotting vivisection. When you choose not to eat animal foods you also choose not to participate in animal agricultural research. For more information on vegan friendly products, please consult our Products Guide and the resources of other groups.
EU Ban on Animal Testing
Because of widespread public opinion and campaigning by charities, experimenting on animals for procuring data for cosmetic product approval is now banned in the EU, including for ingredients which are used exclusively in cosmetics (but not for ingredients that are used in other products). In addition, the UK has banned the testing of household products on animals, but not the ingredients used in household products. These are not complete bans. Testing of chemicals on animals is still permitted to assess risks to workers and to obtain environmental data.
Most people imagine that animal research is necessary for the alleviation of human disease related suffering. But a significant amount of animal research is entirely frivolous in nature. Even if animal research is of benefit to humans, we have a moral responsibility to develop animal free research methods because other animals value their lives, just as we do. They are sentient and they share our capacity to suffer. Animal research, by its very definition and legislative power, legalises the deliberate breeding of other animals, to inflict pain on them, and kill them for human ends.
Reliability and Validity
It is not best practice to extrapolate the results of experiments on other species to humans. It is also not always valid to extrapolate the findings of disease induction in members of a non-human species, to human development of the same diseases Members of other species do not get many of the diseases that humans are subject to. These diseases and conditions are artificially induced in laboratory animals to mimic human disease thereby ignoring the causal pathways that could lead to better prevention and treatment in humans.
Moreover, treatments that appear to be helpful in members of other species are not always safe or helpful to humans. People die every year from the effects of drugs sold to alleviate suffering and disease which have been tested on non-humans without iatrogenic effects.
“The history of cancer research has been the history of curing cancer in the mouse. We have cured mice of cancer for decades and it simply didn’t work in human beings.” Dr. Richard Klausner, former director of the US National Cancer Institute
Licence holders have a vested interest in having proposed projects involving animal research passed. Their salaries and careers depend upon it. Moreover, they are not obliged to release information on studies that fail to produce predicted results. A recent analysis by the British Medical Journal cited a “systematic failure” to faithfully report the results of animal tests in order to secure funding and permission for human trials.
 Cohen D. (2017) Oxford vaccine study highlights pick and mix approach to preclinical research. BMJ;360:j5845.
Most people believe that it is wrong to inflict harm on other animals for frivolous reasons, but they believe it is acceptable to torture other animals for the benefit of humans. This stems from the speciesist belief that the interests of other animals are of less importance than the potential benefits to humans. Go Vegan World does not support the use of other animals in experimentation for any purpose, as the interest of another animal to be free from torture, not to be used as an object for human ends, and not to be killed, should not be disregarded in favour of human interests.
Living Vegan: When Drugs are Necessary & Unavoidable
The definition of veganism states that we avoid the use of other animals where possible and practicable. Medical treatment including drugs and medical procedures, are currently tested on other animals. Many people have no choice but to take medicines prescribed for them although those medicines have been tested on other animals. Go Vegan World is campaigning for an end to all use of animals for experimentation, including for medical purposes.
However, medicines often also contain animal ingredients such as gelatine, lanolin, and lactose. You can research the ingredients yourself at Health Products Regulatory websites. In some cases your GP or Pharmacist should be able to source a drug for you that is free of such ingredients.
Ireland: Health Products Regulatory Authority
UK Elelectronic Medicines Compendium (eMC)
It is imperative that we support the development of animal free research to secure a future where our right to care for our own health does not conflict with the rights of other animals to their lives.
Landmark Ruling for Tortured Laboratory Animals
A medical scientist asserted that it was misleading to say that we torture animals for research, because “scientific” research is regulated in the UK. However, Go Vegan World provided the ASA with evidence of the millions of animals who are tortured for research in the UK every year, even according to official statistics and legislative definitions.
In a landmark ruling, the ASA agreed with Go Vegan World that there was sufficient evidence to support their use of the word “torture”.
Commenting on the finding, Sandra Higgins, Director of Go Vegan World, stated
“Animal experimentation is the stuff of nightmares. We should not support it, any more than we should support killing other animals for food or any other use.
It is worth remembering that every animal used in research is bred to be used and then killed. To the animal who had one life and whose only life has been taken from them, they have lost everything. Using other animals as research objects constitutes institutionalised killing, despite the fact that death is no doubt a mercy for the individuals who are deemed to have reached the end of their usefulness to research.
This independent, legal finding substantiating our ad, is hugely significant for animals used in laboratories and for the rights of all animals used as objects for human ends.”
You can read the full finding and link to Go Vegan World’s submission to the ASA here.
Landmark Ruling for Tortured Laboratory Animals
Rowley, J and Bolton, B (2018) Vegan Rights in the UK: Promoting Animal Liberation Using Vegan Rights (unpublished)
Abolitionist Approach: The Necessity of Veganism
Abolitionist Approach: The Moral Justification of Vivisection
Animal Free Research UK (formerly the Dr Hadwen Trust)
Irish Anti-Vivisection Society
British Union of Anti-Vivisectionists (BUAV)
New England Anti-Vivisection Society (NEAVS)
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine:
Disadvantages of Animal Testing
Further information is available on the following pages:
They All Had Eyes: Confessions of a Vivisectionist
(Warning: disturbing content)
The animals we use in research, entertainment, for companionship, and for clothing, suffer just as horribly as farmed animals. There is no shortage of evidence on the ways in which we torture them.
None of it is necessary. None of it is justifiable. You can stop paying for it by going vegan.
Don’t ask me why I am vegan; do the research and ask yourself why you are not.