Vegan Sore Throat Lozenges and Cough Drops Options

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A little while back I had a bad cold and I was in desperate need of throat lozenges. I prefer them over cough medicine.

But when I went to a local pharmacy, I found out that many popular cough drops are not vegan.

As a result, I’ve put together this page to help you quickly find a vegan option so that you don’t have to waste time reading the ingredients in a store.

Common Non-Vegan Ingredients to Watch Out for In Throat Lozenges

I’ll go over which of the most popular lozenges are and aren’t vegan in a second, but first, here are the main ingredients to look out for if you’re looking at ingredients labels yourself:

  • Artificial colors: These will always be listed as a color followed by a number (e.g., blue no. 1, red no. 40, yellow no. 5). Some vegans are okay with these, while others are not due to extensive animal testing around them. Here’s a detailed post on whether or not artificial colors are veganMake your own choice.
  • Honey: Not vegan of course.
  • Magnesium stearate: Usually made from pork, but can be made from vegetables. You need to contact the company to find out, or look for vegetarian label or something to indicate the source.
  • Glycerin: Can come from either animal or plant sources. You need to contact the manufacturer to find out if not specified.

Are Halls Throat Lozenges Vegan?

If you consider artificial colors vegan-friendly, then almost all Halls would be vegan.

If you’re a fairly strict vegan who avoids artificial colors, you wouldn’t consider most Halls to be vegan.

Here’s a summary table of potential non-vegan ingredients in each flavor:

FlavorPotential non-vegan ingredients
Cherry Flavor MentholBlue #2, red #40
Extra Strong Menthol Flavor DropsBlue #1
Honey Lemon Flavor Cough DropsHoney
Ice Peppermint Flavor Cough DropsBlue #1
Menthol-Lyptus Flavor Cough DropsBlue #1, red #40
Mint Bliss Flavor Cough DropsBlue #1, yellow #5
Orange Flavor Cough DropsRed #40, yellow #5
Strawberry Flavor Cough DropsRed #40
Tropical Fruit Flavor Cough DropsRed #40
Sugar Free Assorted Mint Flavors Cough DropsBlue #1
Sugar Free Black Cherry Flavor Cough DropsBlue #1, red #40
Sugar Free Citrus Blend Flavor Cough Drops 
Sugar Free Honey Berry Flavor Cough DropsBlue #1, red #40
Sugar Free Honey Lemon Flavor Cough DropsGlycerin
Sugar Free Mountain Menthol Flavor Cough DropsBlue #1, red #40
Cherry Flavor Cough Drops with Soothing Syrup CenterBlue #2, red #40
Honey Lemon Cough Drops with Soothing Syrup CenterHoney, glycerin

If you’re a strict vegan, then only the Sugar Free Citrus Blend Flavor Cough Drops would be vegan friendly.

If you’re okay with artificial colors, just avoid the ones with honey, there aren’t too many.

Finally, a couple have glycerin in the ingredients, which could be from plants or animals. I contacted Halls asking for clarification, but only received a generic “we don’t know for sure either way”. So the glycerin could be from plants, but I’d avoid it to be safe.

Are Halls Soothers Vegan?

I hadn’t heard of these before doing research for this post, it seems they are primarily a U.K. product, although you can get them on Amazon and a few other stores in other countries.

All flavors except Honey and Lemon appear to be vegan with no controversy.

FlavorPotential Non-Vegan Ingredients
Soothers Blackcurrant 
Soothers Cherry 
Soothers Honey And LemonHoney, Yellow #5
Soothers Peach And Raspberry 
Soothers Strawberry 

While most flavors have either glycerol or lecithin in them, 2 ingredients which can come from either plant or animal sources, all those products also state that they are “suitable for vegetarians.”

This is a clear indicator that the glycerol and lecithin come from plant sources (the lecithin is even specified as sunflower lecithin).

Are Ricola Cough Drops Vegan?

ricola

Ricola seems like the best option for vegans that I’ve found so far.

All their products are made in Switzerland, so even though there’s sugar in most of the flavors, you don’t need to worry about bone char (that’s almost entirely a North America thing).

The only thing you need to watch out for is the honey.

FlavorPotential non-vegan ingredients
Original 
LemonMint 
Honey HerbHoney
Cherry HoneyHoney
Sugar Free Swiss Cherry 
Honey Lemon with EchinaceaHoney
Mixed Berry 
Green Tea with Echinacea 
Cool Relief Icy Menthol 
Cool Relief Lemon FrostHoney

In total, 6 of the 10 flavors are vegan-friendly for sure, which isn’t bad.

Are Vicks Vapodrops Vegan?

Vapodrops are Vicks’ main product for sore throats.

There are 2 main flavors according to Vicks’ website, both of which may be vegan.

FlavorPotential Non-Vegan Ingredients
MentholCaramel
CherryBlue #1, Red #40

The menthol flavor is probably vegan, but I can’t say for sure. Some caramel is vegan, and some is not.

As far as cherry goes, it once again comes down to if you’re okay with artificial colors or not. 

Refer to my notes near the top of this page about artificial colors and animal testing if you’re not sure why some vegans avoid them.

Are Fisherman’s Friends Cough Drops Vegan?

In one word: Yes!

Here are the 3 main flavors and ingredients in them:

FlavorIngredients
OriginalCapsicum, dextrin, eucalyptus oil, natural licorice, sugar, tragacanth
CherryAcesulfame K, cherry flavor, herbal flavor, magnesium stearate, sorbitol, sucralose
Refreshing MintMagnesium stearate, peppermint flavor, sorbitol, sucralose

The only potential non-vegan ingredient is the magnesium stearate in both the cherry and mint flavors.

According to Fisherman’s Friend’s FAQs however, all their cough drops are suitable for both vegans and vegetarians, which means they almost certainly use a plant-based magnesium stearate.

If you want to be 100% sure, just stick to the original flavor, which is easy to find (here’s a link to it on Amazon), but I’d feel fine with any personally.

Are Strepsils Vegan?

strepsils

Strepsils are made in the U.K., which is probably why they use a different assortment of artificial colors.

Other than “indigo carmine” (which is blue #2), most of the colorings used in different flavors are much less common than the main ones used in animal testing (i.e. blue #1, red #40, yellow #5).

Nonetheless, all the ones below are still tested on animals (or at least were in the past). Still better than the worst offenders, but personally I would avoid. Make your own call here.

FlavorPotential non-vegan ingredients
OriginalPonceau 4R edicol (E124), Carmoisine edicol (E122)
Honey and LemonHoney, Quinoline Yellow (E104)
BlackcurrentCarmoisine Edicol (E122), Patent Blue V (E131)
Orange with Vitamin CSunset yellow FCF (E110), Ponceau 4R (E124)
Strawberry Sugar FreeAnthocyanins (organic dyes)
Lemon and Herb Sugar FreeQuinoline Yellow WS (E104)
Menthol A EukalyptusIndigo carmine (i.e. Blue #2)
Cool Lozenges 
Strepsils PlusQuinoline yellow (E104), Indigo carmine (E132)
Sore Throat & Blocked NoseIndigo carmine (E132)

The only flavor of Strepsils that is clearly vegan is “cool lozenges,” which don’t have any artificial colors in them.

All the other flavors have artificial colors (or anthocyanins in the case of strawberry), which you may or may not be okay with.

Are Luden’s Throat Drops Vegan?

Finally, Luden’s is also fairly popular.

They have a wide range of flavors, some vegan, some not. So let’s break them down.

FlavorPotential non-vegan ingredients
Original MentholCaramel color (probably okay)
Wild cherryBlue #2, red #40
Honey LicoriceGlycerin, honey
WatermelonRed #40
Green AppleBlue #1, yellow #5
Strawberry-BananaBlue #2, red #40, yellow #6
Wild HoneyCaramel color (probably okay), honey
Honey LemonYellow #5, honey
Wild BerryBlue #1, blue #2, red #40
Black CherryBlue #1, red #40
Kiwi-StrawberryBlue #1, yellow #5
Blue RaspberryBlue #1

So if you’re okay with artificial colors, you have a lot of options.

If you’re not, the only option is the original one. Caramel color can be non-vegan (milk ingredients), but it usually is vegan friendly.

Summary: Look for These Vegan Throat Lozenges and Cough Drops

From the context of a vegan who wants a clearly vegan option, Fisherman’s Friends is your best choice, as all their flavors are vegan friendly.

Otherwise, you’ll need to specifically track down Hall’s Sugar Free Citrus Blend Flavor Cough Drops or the Original Menthol Luden’s flavor.

There’s going to be differences of opinion on something like this, but you should have all the information you need here to make your own decision.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.

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