If you are a fitness enthusiast and a gym rat, I’m pretty sure you have heard of the names of many different kinds of protein powders and supplements like “whey protein” being thrown around in the fitness industry.
For vegans who are fitness enthusiasts and wonder whether whey protein is vegan or not, well to address this, the answer is a big fat NO!
What’s Whey Protein?
According to Mayo Clinic, whey protein is one of the main proteins found in dairy products. A byproduct of the cheese-making process.
Whey protein is a combination of proteins that have been isolated from whey. If you are not familiar with what whey is, just try picturing that liquid that you see on top when you open a yogurt container. That’s whey!
Is There Dairy In Whey Protein?
The answer is YES because whey is the liquid component of milk that gets separated during the production of cheese. When it comes to the composition of milk, it is mainly composed of two types of protein: casein (80%) and whey (20%).
(According to Dr.T. Colin Campbell, casein is actually a carcinogen. For more information, check out nutritionstudies.org.)
One of the most popular (if not the most popular) forms of whey protein is whey powder. For this to be produced, the liquid whey is filtered and the following are removed:
There are two types of whey powder. If you are aiming to get whey protein concentrate, the whey is micro-filtrated. On the other hand, if it’s whey protein isolate, the whey has to be ultra-filtrated.
After the ultra-filtration process, there will be zero grams of the following in whey protein isolates:
For the whey to truly turn into powder form, it goes through a spray drying process. Once done, it can be used as a supplement or used in the production of protein-filled products.
Is Whey Protein From Animals? Is Whey Protein Plant- Based?
Yes, whey protein is from animals, so NO is it not plant-based! Whey protein is highly processed because it is just left over when animal milk coagulates, the solids are removed, it is strained, spray dried and destroyed in extreme high heat.
Concentrates of whey protein contain a significant level of fat and cholesterol.
What’s worse, according to Dr. Paul Hrkal, whey and other animal protein consumption enhances IGF-1 (Insulin-like growth factor-1) levels in the blood and high levels of IGF-1 may cause cancer growth.
According to Dr. Michael Greger, animal protein consumption seems to boost IGF-1 levels while plant protein consumption may not really have the same effect.
For more information on how animal protein consumption can trigger the release of the cancer-promoting growth hormone IGF-1, check out NutritionFactsOrg.
What’s Whey Protein For?
Many people consume whey protein because they want to increase strength, promote the growth of lean muscle mass, and improve muscle protein synthesis immensely.
Just because animal-based proteins are complete sources of amino acids for muscle building doesn’t mean they are optimal for your health.
According to plantproof.com, Methionine (the sulfur-containing amino acids found in huge amounts in animal products) is one of the amino acids the body utilizes to produce homocysteine in the liver.
Homocysteine is extremely reactive in the body and it’s a known risk factor for heart attack, blood clots in the veins, dementia, stroke, depression, and more.
In addition, a study found that people consuming huge amounts of animal protein have 23 times the risk of death from diabetes and 5 times the risk of death from cancer.
By eating a varied, balanced plant-based diet, you will be able to get every single essential amino acid. Even some plants such as, soy, hemp, pea, brown rice, pumpkin and quinoa provide all 9 essential amino acids.
As a matter of fact, plant protein is better than animal protein for building muscle. For more information on why plant protein is more beneficial, check out riseofthevegan.com.
Also, if you want to find out why whey protein is bad for your health and the planet, check out plantbasednews.org for more information. Some of the reasons are: whey protein can trigger acne, it is harsh on the digestive system, and it can cause cancer and hair loss.
If the reason why you are looking to consume more protein is to lose weight on a vegan diet, I invite you to read my step-by-step guide on how to lose weight on a vegan diet, Just Click Here.
BONUS: To learn more about the difference of vegan protein and whey protein, check out the video below!
Are There Any Plant-Based Alternatives?
Since whey protein comes from dairy, which is a no-no for vegans, are there any plant-based alternatives? Well, the good news is that there are actually several alternatives! To find out what these are, hang tight and I’ll tell you all about it!
- Soy Protein
Soy protein is derived from soybeans. Soybeans are legumes that have high levels of protein and low levels of fat.
Soy protein contains the right amount of non-essential and essential amino acids that can contribute to the body’s overall health.
- Brown Rice Protein
As a vegan and gluten-free alternative to whey protein, it is a great source of amino acids or also known as the building blocks of protein.
Brown rice protein is fast becoming a popular protein alternative for some fitness buffs like athletes and bodybuilders. One study showed that brown rice protein resulted in the changes to muscle strength, recovery and body composition.
- Hemp Protein
Another vegan alternative that you can use comes from hemp. When people usually hear the word hemp, they might automatically think of marijuana. Don’t worry, guys! There are no addictive properties to this one!
Hemp contains high levels of vegan protein. It contains all the nine essential amino acids. Apart from that, it also contains minerals, healthy fats, and fiber.
Hemp protein powder can be a substitute for whey protein especially for athletic vegans as it can be a good source of additional protein.
- Pea Protein
Perhaps one of the most popular options for vegans and vegetarians alike is Pea Protein. Pea Protein comes from yellow split pea which is categorized as a legume. It is known to be rich in all amino acids except for one.
In one study, it was concluded that those who consumed the same amount of Pea Protein had the same muscle thickness increases as those who consumed the same amount of whey protein.
- Mixed Plant Protein Blends
To make sure you get all the amino acids your body needs, you should also check protein powders that combine different sources of plant proteins. The following protein sources are usually combined with two or more of each other:
- Brown rice
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
When different plant proteins are combined together, this allows the fusion of all the essential amino acids in one protein product.
Also, remember that you can get more than enough protein from the food you eat. You don’t really need to consume protein powders. To learn about all the vegan foods with the most protein content, I recommend you read my blog post “You Need To See This Vegan Protein Sources Chart! Got Enough Protein?”.
If you are looking for more protein sources in your life, whey protein is not an option for vegans. However, there are several good plant-based alternatives to choose from, just check out the list above!
Once you find the one that suits your taste and needs the most, make sure you pair it with a vitamin, mineral, and nutrient filled diet!
For fellow vegans out there, do you have a favorite protein source? And how do you usually incorporate it into your daily lifestyle? Let us know down below! Or better yet, go ahead and share this post with your friends on your socials!