A sore throat can be such an annoying ailment, often leaving you unable to swallow or speak without pain. One of the most common natural sore throat remedies is honey and lemon, and you’ll find that many throat lozenges also contain these ingredients.
As honey is made by bees, it obviously isn’t suitable for vegans. But it’s not just the honey-flavoured throat sweets that vegans should avoid. Many other throat lozenges also have hidden animal-derived ingredients. What’s more, throat sweets are sometimes tested on animals.
In this guide to the best vegan sore throat remedies, we’ll discuss whether popular throat lozenges like Strepsil and Halls Soothers are vegan-friendly. We’ll then look at some other vegan sore throat remedies that you may wish to try.
Are throat lozenges vegan?
Throat sweets are very rarely labelled as vegan, even if they do not contain any animal ingredients. This is because virtually all prescription and over-the-counter medicines have to undergo animal testing as well as human testing to gain a product license in the UK.
Most vegans accept that it’s sometimes necessary to take essential medication that has been tested on animals and/or contains animal-derived ingredients if no alternative is available.
The definition of veganism according to The Vegan Society is “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”.
By this definition, if it’s ‘possible and practicable’ to avoid animal ingredients and animal testing, then we should do so. If the only medication to cure our ills is one that contains animal ingredients or has been tested on animals, then according to The Vegan Society, it’s okay to take it.
A sore throat is certainly annoying, but it’s not life-threatening. For minor ailments like sore throats, it’s up to each individual to decide what treatment they are most comfortable with.
When it comes to sore throat remedies, vegans have three options:
- Accept that throat lozenges may be tested on animals and choose ones with no animal ingredients
- Seek out throat sweets that are cruelty-free and have not been tested on animals
- Avoid medicated throat lozenges and opt for natural remedies instead
In this article, we’ll consider which popular brands of throat lozenges have animal ingredients and have been tested on animals. I’ll then go on to suggest some natural sore throat remedies that are 100% vegan.
What animal ingredients are in throat lozenges?
Some animal ingredients to look out for in throat lozenges are:
- Honey – Made by bees
- Lactose – Derived from milk
- Gelatin – Made from animal bones, tendons and ligaments
- Lanolin – Extracted from sheep’s wool
- Glycocholic acid – Made from stomach bile
- Stearic acid – Fat which may come from either plant or animal sources
- Magnesium stearate – Contains stearic acid
- Lactic acid – May be made using either plant or animal sources
- E numbers – Colours, preservatives, flavours, sweeteners and other additives that may be of animal origin or tested on animals.
- Sugar – Not a problem in the UK, but in the US sugar is sometimes made with bone char
When it comes to artificial colours, some vegans may choose to avoid these altogether because they have historically been tested on animals. The problem with that is that artificial colours are present in so many foods that they can be very difficult to avoid.
Many vegans choose to consume artificial colours because they believe that avoiding particular e numbers won’t have much, if any, impact on future harm to animals. It’s impossible to be 100% vegan, so when it comes to veganism, it’s up to each person to choose where to draw the line.
If you’re a relatively new vegan, it’s a good idea to focus on the areas where your lifestyle changes can have the biggest impact first.
Are Strepsils vegan?
Most Strepsils are vegan-friendly as they do not contain any animal-derived ingredients. The exception is honey and lemon Strepsils as honey is not suitable for vegans. Vegans should also be aware that Strepsils may have been tested on animals.
The only animal-derived ingredient in Strepsils is honey. This is only found in the Strepsils that say ‘Honey & Lemon’ on the front, so it’s easy to avoid without studying the labelling too hard.
I contacted the Strepsils manufacturer, Reckitt Benckiser, to ask if Stepsils have been tested on animals or not. They commented with the following…
“As our products must comply with the regulations in countries where they are marketed, we may be requested on limited occasions to support the safety or efficacy of certain ingredients and/or products.”Strepsil Consumer Relations
They also directed me towards the RB Global Policy Statement on Animal Testing.
While the Stepsils manufacturer didn’t explicitly state that Strepsils have been tested on animals, we can assume that they have, or at least that the ingredients have.
Most Strepsils contain artificial colours that have been tested on animals. In the UK, the only variety of Stepsils with no artificial colours is Strepsils Menthol lozenges.
Strepsils Original Lozenges
2,4-Dichlorobenzyl alcohol, 1.2mg Amylmetacresol 0.6mg, Star Anise oil, Peppermint oil, Menthol natural or menthol synthetic, Tartaric acid, Ponceau 4R edicol (E124), Carmoisine edicol (E122), Liquid Sucrose, Liquid Glucose Syrup, Water. [Source]
Strepsil Sore Throat & Cough Lozenges
2,4-Dichlorobenzyl alcohol 1.2mg, Amylmetacresol 0.6mg, Levomenthol 8.0mg, Liquid sucrose, Liquid glucose, Sulphur Dioxide (E220), Tartaric acid, Eucalyptus oil (containing d-Limonene), Indigo carmine (E132). [Source]
Strepsils Sore Throat & Blocked Nose Lozenges
2,4-Dichlorobenzyl alcohol 1.2mg, Amylmetacresol 0.6mg, Levomenthol 8.0mg, Liquid sucrose, Liquid glucose, Sulphur Dioxide (E220), Tartaric acid, Eucalyptus oil (containing
d-Limonene), Indigo carmine (E132). [Souce]
Strepsils Orange with Vitamin C Lozenges
2,4-Dichlorobenzyl alcohol 1.2mg, Amylmetacresol 0.6mg, Vitamin C 100mg (Ascorbic acid / Sodium ascorbate), Methol, Tartaric acid, Orange flavour, Propylene glycol, Sunset yellow (E110), Ponceau 4R (E124), Liquid glucose, Liquid sucrose. [Source]
Strepsils Menthol Lozenges
2,4-Dichlorobenzyl alcohol 1.2mg, Amylmetacresol 0.6mg, Xylitol, cool mint sensation flavour (contains propylene glycol), Levomenthol, Spearmint, Eucalyptus Oil, Liquid Sucrose, Liquid Glucose (containing wheat starch (containing Gluten) and Sulphites – Sulphur Dioxide (E220)), fragrance allergens – Benzyl Alcohol, Cinnamyl Alcohol, Citral, Citranellol, d-Limonene, Eugenol and Linalool. [Source]
Strepsils Extra Triple Action Blackcurrant Lozenges
Hexylresorcinol 2.4mg, Liquid sucrose, Liquid glucose, Blackcurrant flavour (containing
propylene glycol), Levomenthol, Carmoisine Edicol (E122), Patent Blue V (E131). [Source]
Strepsils Extra Triple Action Cherry Lozenges
Hexylresorcinol 2.4mg, Liquid sucrose, Liquid glucose, sulphur dioxide (E220), Cherry Flavour (containing Benzoic acid (E210) and benzoates, Propylene glycol (E1520), citronellol and geraniol), Propylene glycol (E1520), Levomenthol, Carmoisine Edicol (E122). [Source]
Strepsils Strawberry Sugar Free Lozenges
2,4-Dichlorobenzyl alcohol 1.2mg, Amylmetacresol 0.6mg, Strawberry Flavour (containing propylene glycol, fragrance allergen Benzyl Alcohol), Anthocyanins (E163), Saccharin sodium (E954), Tartaric acid, Isomalt (E953), Maltitol syrup (E965). [Source]
Strepsils Sore Throat Pain Relief Honey & Lemon
Hexylresorcinol 2.4mg, Liquid sucrose, Liquid glucose, propylene glycol, Honey and Lemon flavour. [Source]
Strepsils Honey & Lemon Lozenges
2,4-Dichlorobenzyl alcohol 1.2mg, Amylmetacresol 0.6mg, Honey, Tartaric Acid, Peppermint Oil (containing d-Limonene), Terpeneless Lemon Oil (containing Citral, d-Limonene, Geraniol and Linalool), Quinoline Yellow, Liquid Sucrose, Liquid Glucose (containing Sulphites – Sulphur Dioxide (E220) and wheat starch (containing gluten)), Potable Water. [Source]
Can vegans have Strepsils?
If you avoid the honey-flavoured Strepsils, then the other flavours are all vegan by ingredient. However, the use of animal testing is a concern, so you may wish to try another brand of throat sweet that hasn’t been tested on animals instead of Strepsils.
Do Strepsils contain paracetamol?
Strepsils throat lozenges do not contain paracetamol.
Are Halls Soothers vegan?
Halls Soothers are labelled as suitable for vegetarians and most flavours of Halls Soothers are also vegan-friendly. Vegans should avoid Honey and Lemon flavour Soothers, but the other flavours do not contain any animal-derived ingredients.
Although Halls Soothers are sold as a sore throat relief product in the UK, they do not contain antibacterial or antiviral active ingredients. In some hot countries, Halls are used as refreshing sweets rather than medication. They are not, therefore, subject to the same animal testing requirements as some other over-the-counter medications like Strepsils.
Halls Soothers are manufactured by Mondelez International, the makers of Cadbury chocolate amongst other brands. Mondelez International states that the company does not test on animals or contract with external institutions to conduct animal testing on products or ingredients. [Source]
If you’re concerned about artificial colours in throat lozenges, you should know that Blackcurrant Halls Soothers and Peach & Raspberry Halls Soothers contain the artificial colours E129 and E132. These colours have been tested on animals as you can see in these studies.
However, Strawberry Halls Soothers and Cherry Halls Soothers are coloured with paprika, which is a natural food colouring that has not been tested on animals.
Halls Soothers contain lactic acid – an ingredient that may be of plant or animal origin. Most of the lactic acid that’s added to food comes from beet sugar or corn starch and is suitable for vegans.
The lactic acid that’s in Halls Soothers is also plant-based. We know that it doesn’t come from meat because Soothers are labelled as vegetarian. And we know that it doesn’t come from milk because milk is an allergen that would require bold labelling on the packaging.
Halls Soothers Ingredients:
Halls Soothers Blackcurrant
Glucose syrup, Sugar, Glucose-fructose syrup, Glycerol, Concentrated blackcurrant juice, Lactic acid, Citric acid, Flavourings, Acidity regulators (Sodium lactate, Potassium citrate), Menthol, Eucalyptus Oil, Colours (E129, E132), Emulsifier (Soya lecithin). [Source]
Halls Soothers Peach & Raspberry
Glucose syrup, Sugar, Glucose-fructose syrup, Glycerol, Lactic acid, Citric acid, Flavourings, Concentrated peach juice, Concentrated raspberry juice, Acidity regulators (Sodium lactate, Potassium citrate), Menthol, Colours (Beta-carotene, E129, E133), Eucalyptus Oil. [Source]
Halls Soothers Strawberry
Glucose Syrup, Sugar, Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Stabiliser (Glycerol), Acids (Lactic Acid, Citric Acid), Flavourings, Concentrated Strawberry Juice (0.2 %), Concentrated Beetroot Juice, Acidity Regulators (E325, E332), Colour (Paprika Extract), Emulsifier (Sunflower Lecithin). [Source]
Halls Soothers Cherry
Glucose Syrup, Sugar, Glucose-Fructose Syrup, Stabiliser (Glycerol), Acids (Lactic Acid, Citric Acid), Concentrated Cherry Juice (0.4 %), Flavourings, Concentrated Black Carrot Juice, Acidity Regulators (E325, E332), Colour (Paprika Extract), Emulsifier (Sunflower Lecithin). [Source]
Halls Soothers Honey & Lemon
Sugar, glucose syrup, glucose-fructose syrup, honey (5%), stabiliser (glycerol), acids (lactic acid, citric acid), concentrated lemon juice (0.5%)*, flavourings, acidity regulators (E325, E332), colour, (carotenes), emulsifier (sunflower lecithin). [Source]
Can vegans have Halls Soothers?
The cherry and the strawberry flavours of Halls Soothers are vegan-friendly as they do not have any animal-derived ingredients and have not been tested on animals. The only potential issue here is potential cross-contamination with non-vegan products in the factory.
Vegans will certainly wish to avoid the honey and lemon flavoured Soothers and the strictest vegans may also wish to avoid the blackcurrant and peach and raspberry flavours due to the inclusion of artificial colours that have been tested on animals.
Are Covonia lozenges vegan?
Covonia Medicated Sore Throat Lozenges are suitable for vegans and vegetarians. Both the lemon flavour and the menthol flavour Covonia lozenges are free from animal ingredients and are not tested on animals.
Covonia lozenges are also free from artificial colours. These popular throat sweets are labelled as suitable for vegans which means that there is no risk of cross-contamination with non-vegan products. [Source]
Covonia Throat Lozenges Ingredients:
Covonia Throat Lozenges Menthol Flavour
Chlorhexidine dihydrochloride 5mg, lidocaine hydrochloride monohydrate 1mg, sorbitol (E420),
magnesium stearate, anhydrous citric acid (E330), levomenthol. [Source]
Covonia Throat Lozenges Lemon Flavour
Chlorhexidine dihydrochloride 5mg, lidocaine hydrochloride monohydrate 1mg, sorbitol (E420),
magnesium stearate, aspartame (E951), lemon flavour, acesulfame K (E950). [Source]
Can vegans have Covonia lozenges?
Covonia Medicated Sore Throat Lozenges are one of the best vegan-friendly remedies for sore throats. Unlike most throat sweets, Covonia lozenges are labelled as suitable for vegans.
Covonia is also listed as a recommended brand for cough and cold remedies according to EthicalConsumer.org.
The Best Vegan Alternatives to Honey for a Sore Throat
Sore throats can be caused by all sorts of things including colds, flu, allergies, smoke, an injury, gastro reflux or just talking too much.
It’s important to think about the root cause of your sore throat when choosing a remedy, as some sore throat remedies will work better for some types of throat pain than others.
Here are some of the best vegan sore throat remedies to try…
1. Vegan throat lozenges
Many throat lozenges are not vegan friendly. However, Covonia Medicated Sore Throat Lozenges are labelled as suitable for vegans so you can take and rest assured that no animals have been harmed to make them.
Breathing in steam is a natural way to relieve the pain of a sore throat. The best way to inhale steam is to carefully pour boiling water into a bowl, place a towel over your head and the bowl and breathe deeply for 30 seconds. Taking a hot steamy shower or spending time in a steam room may also help.
3. Warm drinks
Hot drinks like tea, coffee, hot water or fruit cordial can all be soothing to a sore throat. However, vegans should avoid hot Vimto as this drink is no longer vegan-friendly since animal-derived vitamin D was added to the ingredients.
4. Salt water
Salt has naturally antibacterial properties and so gargling with salty water may kill some of the mouth and throat bacteria that can cause sore throats. Some bacteria, however, are tolerant to salt so this may not work in all cases.
Echinacea is a vegan-friendly natural remedy that’s believed to help combat respiratory tract infections and boost the immune system.
Sore throats are often caused by being generally run down. If your sore throat is accompanied by tiredness, headache or irritability then the best cure may be a decent night’s sleep. Get yourself to bed early and you may feel much better in the morning.
If your throat pain is severe and does not get better after a few days then it could be caused by a bacterial infection. Sometimes, the only way to cure this is with antibiotics so be sure to book an appointment with your doctor.
Some over-the-counter throat lozenges are not suitable for vegans as they contain animal ingredients like honey. Even if no animal ingredients are listed, throat lozenges or their ingredients may have been tested on animals.
If you’re suffering from a sore throat and are vegan you should go for vegan throat lozenges such as Covonia Medicated Sore Throat Lozenges.
You may also wish to try some natural sore throat remedies such a drinking hot water, inhaling steam or gargling with salt water.