One of the most common questions that we receive from fellow vegans who workout to make gains is: Is whey protein vegan? The short answer is no. But, for some reason, whey protein has seemingly always been the most common protein supplement in the fitness industry. This leads to a very common follow up: What proteins are vegan? We’ll dive into both of those questions in this article.
I’m going to make the assumption that you probably know all about the importance of protein. But, just to refresh… Your body relies on protein to help build and repair tissues throughout your body. It is essentially the building block that allows your body to build and maintain muscle mass. Protein is also what’s known as a macronutrient. Meaning, your body needs a significant amount of it – very often. Your body is unable to store protein, which is important because this means you have to supply your body with protein continuously – unlike fats and carbs.
First, Is Whey Protein Vegan?
There are some people out there who believe that whey protein is vegan. But, don’t count us among those people! We are firm believers that whey protein isn’t vegan. And here’s why…
Whey is a by-product that derives from cow’s milk. One of the main reasons we chose the vegan lifestyle was to avoid harming animals. Thus, we avoid foods that are created using animals or any of their by-products.
Some People Make an Exception…
People have different reasons for going vegan. And because of this, there are different types of vegans. Some vegans loosely interpret the meaning of ‘animal byproduct’. Which leads to ongoing debates like this is whey protein vegan and whether or not honey is vegan.
However, the overwhelming reason that people choose to go vegan is because they are concerned for animals. And, since whey is a byproduct of cows, most vegans tend to agree that whey isn’t vegan. Cows endure suffering to create milk. They’re impregnated as frequently as possible solely for the purpose of lactating to produce milk. Then, the cows offspring is hauled away from its mother upon their birth. And when the cows are no longer able to produce milk, they’re often killed for meat.
The Alternatives to Whey Protein
Vegans need to consume proteins that are plant-based. And there are several choices for plant-based proteins; such as hemp, pea and chia protein. Although less common than whey, these products offer the same benefits when it comes to building and maintaining muscle mass.
Plant-Based Proteins Becoming More Popular
As I said earlier, whey protein has been the most popular protein supplement forever. But, that is starting to chance as plant-based proteins become increasingly popular.
Research continues to show that there is no difference in animal-based proteins and plant-based proteins when it comes to building and maintaining muscle mass. But, plant-based proteins offer significant advantages when compared to whey. First plant-based proteins typically contain fewer calories than whey – which is ideal for building lean muscle mass. Second, plant-based proteins are much more digestion-friendly than animal-based proteins. Many people struggle to digest whey protein and suffer side effects such as bloating and fatigue. Whereas, plant-based proteins are easily digestible because they don’t contain any additives or chemicals.
Lastly, research does show that plant-based proteins are significantly better when it comes to sustainability. It takes an enormous amount of land and energy to create animal-based proteins like whey. This has lead to an increase in pollution and a decrease in forestation. These are two significant roadblocks to a sustainable world.
The Advantage of Plant-Proteins
There is a false belief that it’s harder to build muscle with plant-based proteins. But, one could argue that plant-based proteins actually make it easier to build and maintain muscle. The ability to easily digest plant-based proteins makes it easier for your body to absorb the nutrient and receive the full benefit.
There’s one good way to do this and this would be to go vegan. Why vegan? If you go vegan then you’re going to be consuming a lot of whole foods that are going to be loaded with protein. We’re talking about protein from natural sources. This is what’s required for fast recovery of muscle tissue as well as numerous other biological purposes.
You don’t have to rely entirely on whole foods consumption though. You can also decide to supplement protein requirements. One of the best forms of this is whey protein. The question is whether or not it’s vegan, because anything that wouldn’t coincide with the vegan lifestyle clearly isn’t going to be an option. Let’s get into this.
Is Whey Protein Vegan? Decide for Yourself!
Only you can decide on whether or not you truly believe whether whey protein is vegan or not.