Animal Ingredients Used In Supplements (that will surprise you!)

Animal Ingredients Used In Supplements (that will surprise you!)

The Use Of Animal Products in the Supplement Industry

Did you know that at least 50% of all supplement products contain at least one animal-derived ingredient!? We know, it’s shocking. Many of these products that are labeled “natural” “organic” and “healthy” actually have the opposite impact on the planet. What might be considered healthy for us is not always healthy for the animals we share our planet with. We recently dove deep into the planetary impact of the supplement industry and our studies revealed some staggering findings. 

Because many common supplements utilize animal-derived ingredients, an estimated 14.4 million pigs, 3.6 million cows, and 244.1 thousand sheep are slaughtered each year to produce ingredients for the US supplement market. While synthesized vitamins are widely used due to their lower cost, there are still a high number of common supplement ingredients that are often derived from animal byproducts. 

Let’s dive a little deeper…

The 5 Most Common Animal-Derived Ingredients Found in Supplements

A variety of animal-derived ingredients are used in many different kinds of supplements but there are 5 prominent ones that are stealthily scattered across the supplement aisle. Keep an eye out for these animal ingredients used in supplements and also know that we make it easy for you to avoid them with our Multivitamin for Vegans; a comprehensive, animal-friendly and vegan approved supplement that allows you to nourish your cells and your body without compromising  your values!

Magnesium stearate

Magnesium stearate is a common "filler ingredient" that can be used as a binder to keep ingredients from sticking to the machines that manufacture pills. It is typically made from cows, pigs, and sheep.

The impact on the planet/animals: Because certain forms of magnesium stearate require extraction from a variety of animals, countless animals are harmed year after year to provide consumers with this compound. What’s worse is that even though magnesium stearate can be found in plant-based sources, sourcing from animals is still a common practice! This means that animals are kept in confinement and put through unethical procedures to procure an ingredient that could be found elsewhere! Talk about senselessness.


Gelatin is another common filler that is often used in softgels or to create capsules. It is made from processing animal byproducts. Animal byproduct examples include the fat, bones, and  tendons from cows, pigs, and sheep.  Gelatin is found in numerous products in addition to supplements such as capsules, cosmetics, ointments, and various foods.

The impact on the planet/animals: Gelatin is a direct byproduct of an industry that drives mass exploitation of animals; the animal agriculture industry. In many cases, gelatin processing plants get their raw materials from nearby slaughterhouses. In other instances, gelatin producers operate their own slaughterhouses to source animal byproducts directly. Either which way, gelatin is a direct product of a loss of animal life!

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is commonly derived from sheep's wool, otherwise known as lanolin.  Although Vitamin D can be synthetically derived in a lab, 'natural' Vitamin D is sourced directly from sheep's wool.

The impact on the planet/animals: While shearing its wool does not directly kill a sheep, it contributes to an industry that unnecessarily exploits, harms, and slaughters them. Many people might assume that lanolin is  cruelty free because it comes from the wool of sheep, however, this is not always the case. Often, lanolin is sourced from sheep that have been slaughtered for meat and thus, lanolin is a by-product of the meat industry.


Omega-3s typically come from fish oil - this is such a common practice that Omega-3 supplements are often referred to as "fish oil" supplements. Of all the animals exploited for the supplement industry, fish make up the largest proportion of the animals killed to produce supplements. They're most often used to produce Omega-3s, specifically EPA/DHA, supplements. EPA/DHA from fish is generally harvested from small species of fish such as anchovies, capelin, and sand eels. However, larger species and other small species are also used in many cases.

The impact on the planet/animals: The processes used to harvest fish to create oils have prominent, negative impacts on marine environments because the massive amounts of fish that are extracted disrupt food chains and throw off the ocean’s balance. In addition to being destructive, the use of fish to derive Omega-3s is incredibly inefficient and wasteful. The average number of fish that is needed to make one bottle of fish-derived Omega-3 is roughly 100 fish!

Bee pollen and propolis

Bee pollen is a ball of flower pollen that has been packed by honeybees to be used as a food source for their  hive. Propolis (otherwise known as “bee glue”) is an adhesive-like compound made from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources to seal the hive. Both of these substances are utilized in both topical and oral supplements.

The impact on the planet/animals: The extraction process for both pollen and propolis is disruptive to the hive ecosystem. Although the hive may still maintain its integrity and structure during the extraction process, we’re believers that nature is best when left alone and in peace!

The Importance of Ethical & Animal-Free Supplements for Vegans

From our study surrounding the impact of the supplement industry, it’s become clear that the industry is in need of revisioning. At Terraseed, we envision a future where we can all nourish and protect ourselves without impacting other species' ability to thrive. We find hope in the novel technologies, processes, and ingredients that allow us to create an ethical and animal ingredient-free food system that includes vegan friendly supplements. If you’ve chosen a planet-friendly diet, we encourage you to dig deep into the things you choose to buy and consume to ensure you’re avoiding the many hidden animal products in food, supplements, and cosmetics. Keep an eye out for ingredients like these that cause harm to the animals and planet that provide them so that you can choose compassion over killing in every purchase!

Do you want to help us expose these hidden ingredients and save animal lives? Sign our petition to demand the FDA require animal-derived ingredients to be disclosed on supplement facts labels! Learn more here.

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