I chuckled when I saw this news, knowing what it would mean when people found out what Otsuka is- a pharmaceutical company. That was going to anger people.
Pharmaceutical companies test on animals. Testing on animals is not vegan. Ergo, if Dayia is owned by a company that tests on animals, Daiya is no longer vegan. Right?
I submit, not so fast.
Full disclosure: I prescribe medications made by Otsuka. Right now, that only accounts for a handful of prescriptions that I write, but previously I prescribed a medication made by them on a fairly regular basis, because it was one of only two medications FDA approved for a condition that I treat. They don’t pay me to prescribe them. I don’t get gifts or trips or other extravagances. I have taken a dinner from them once (a bowl of quinoa and vegetables!), a pretzel once, and I might on occasion again, but that is the extent of my financial relationship with them.
But back to the not so fast.
The official definition of “veganism,” as coined by Donald Watson, the founder of the Vegan Society 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.”
Case closed, right? It says all exploitation!
Here’s the thing: it also says “as far as it is possible and practicable.”
I think most of us vegans recognize that there are some places where we can’t absolutely exclude animal products, unless perhaps we live off the grid. Tires, glues and fertilizers all may contain animal products, and those are some things that are pretty well involved in the infrastructure of modern society in a first world country.
We accept that, because if we live by a stricter definition, we can’t function, unless we are in all but the most remote part of off the grid: cutting our own timber, hauling it on wagons we made our selves with no rubber tires, finding heirloom seeds from somewhere that never used an animal fertilizer- there might be someone out there doing it, but it’s almost impossible for everyone.
I could go on, but I don’t want this to become an essay about how vegans are hypocrites. When people say things about how many field mice are killed the the vegetable fields are toiled, we rationally point this out, that veganism is about when it is practicable and possible.
Why can’t we accept this with pharmaceuticals?
I know that there is a sect of vegans out there that don’t believe that medication is ever necessary, but I don’t believe that represents the majority. I think that the majority understand that sometimes you need a medication. And I would sincerely hope that any vegan who is compassionate enough to love animals understands that mental illness- the type of illness that about half of Otsuka’s drugs treat– is just as real an illness as any other.
Despite what we may believe about the necessity of animal testing, no drug in the US can be FDA approved without animal testing. They cannot move on to human trials with out animal trials; that is a fact.
I, for one, hope that there will come a day where pharmaceutical companies can rely on non-animal models before going to human trials and bypassing animal trials.
Wouldn’t it be awesome if a pharmaceutical company that bought a vegan foods company heard that message from vegans, instead of boycotts?
Just a thought.