Veggies taking in animal produce without their knowledge due to medication
Many vegetarians may not be aware that some drugs prescribed by doctors or used in hospitals contain animal products.
A study published in the Postgraduate Medical Journal found that many medicines use gelatine, which is made from the bones and skin of animals.
It suggests that 25 per cent of people prescribed such drugs are not aware of this and it could be to the detriment of their beliefs.
The ABPI, which represents the UK pharmaceutical industry, has said that this highlights the need for clearer labelling, but stressed that already European Union legislation requires all ingredients to be set out in the documentation which comes with the medication.
A spokesman said: "Patients are able to check if a product contains a material which may cause them concern. If patients are unsure if an ingredient is derived from animals they can seek the advice of their pharmacist or contact the company manufacturing the product.
"There is a general trend for manufacturers to move away from the use of animal derivatives in medicines but there remain occasions where the nature of the product, or quality or safety issues, preclude the effective use of non-animal-derived ingredients."
Ingredients from animal parts do not make up the key part of most drugs but are used to help other substances together or to thicken liquids.
An investigation carried out by the Manchester Royal Infirmary found that 40 per cent of 500 patients questioned do not consume animal produce in their normal lives because they are vegetarian or because their religion forbids it.
Out of the remaining 200, 49 were found to be taking drugs made with gelatine despite their wishes.
Liz O'Neill, spokeswomen for The Vegetarian Society, said: "This is a complex area with no overnight solutions, but the Vegetarian Society believes that everyone has a right to know what they are consuming."