Nausea and vomiting are among the most common symptoms encountered in medicine as either symptoms of disease or side effects of treatments. Developing novel anti-emetics and identifying emetic liability in novel chemical entities rely on models that can recreate the complexity of these multi-system reflexes. Animal models (especially the ferret and dog) are the current gold standard; however, the selection of appropriate models is still a matter of debate, especially when studying the subjective human sensation of nausea. Furthermore, these studies are associated with animal suffering. Here, following a recent workshop held to review the utility of animal models in nausea and vomiting research, we discuss the limitations of some of the current models in the context of basic research, anti-emetic development and emetic liability detection. We provide suggestions for how these limitations may be overcome using non-animal alternatives, including greater use of human volunteers, in silico and in vitro techniques and lower organisms.