Whether you’re stepping up your workouts, hoping to build muscle or simply looking to get more protein into your vegan diet, you might be considering whey protein powder. But drop the scoop and *whey-t* just a minute: is whey protein vegan?
The short answer is a big old nope. Whey protein isn’t vegan-friendly… and that’s just the whey it is! But let’s take a closer look at exactly why whey protein isn’t suitable for vegans and, most importantly, what you could use as a vegan muscle-building protein alternative.
How is whey protein made?
Whey is a naturally-occurring protein in milk. Milk contains two key types of protein: whey, which makes up around 20%, and casein, which makes up the other 80%.
Whey is actually the thin, watery part of milk. Ever opened a yoghurt and noticed a watery substance floating on top of the yoghurt itself? That’s whey!
During the cheese-making-process, enzymes are used to separate the fatty parts of milk (casein) from the liquids (whey). The fatty parts (casein) are then used as the base product for cheese. The liquid parts (whey) used to be considered a waste product, but are now used to make whey protein powder.
The liquid whey is then typically filtered to remove fats and carbohydrates (lactose) and then spray-dried to make whey protein powder. Whey protein contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source. It’s also a ‘fast-acting’ protein, which means it is digested and absorbed extremely efficiently by the body.
Is whey protein vegan?
No, whey protein is not vegan. Whey protein is derived from milk, making it a dairy (animal-derived) product. If you have any sort of allergy or intolerance to dairy products, or follow a strict vegan diet, you should not consume anything that contains whey protein.
So where can vegans get their protein?
Whey protein might be off the cards, but there are loads of vegan-friendly protein options available to you.
Your vegan protein go-to should be real, whole food protein foods. Getting the majority of your protein intake from natural whole food foods (rather than powders) means that you’ll be gaining a wide range of other essential nutrients, from fibre to natural fats, which all contribute to your progress and recovery.
Try to include 1 or 2 servings of the following protein foods with every meal:
- Kidney beans
- Pinto beans
- Edamame beans
Read our guide to vegan protein sources for more vegan whole foods protein know-how.
What about vegan protein powders?
If you lead a very busy lifestyle or are following a very high-protein diet, it can be hard to reach your protein quota through vegan whole foods alone. At this stage, a protein powder could be the answer to all your protein woes!
Whey protein powder isn’t an option, but vegan protein powders are the perfect alternative. Typically made from soy, rice, pea, hemp or seed proteins, they offer a quick and convenient way to top up your vegan protein intake. To find out more about the pros and cons of each type of vegan protein powder, read our vegan protein powder guide.
Do bear in mind that many vegan protein powders contain large amounts of gums, flavourings, sweeteners and require synthetic vitamins and minerals that aren’t good for your long-term health. Instead, try Purition Vegan as a whey protein alternative.
Purition is different, it’s made from 100% whole foods—seeds, nuts and a combination of European grown plant protein and absolutely nothing artificial. Just like whey protein powder, it contains all nine essential amino acids, providing a complete protein source for muscle-building power.
Thanks to its 100% wholefood ingredients, Purition Vegan contains a great mix of macro and micronutrients, including protein, and can be used daily for a protein-packed breakfast or lunch or just as a workout-fuelling snack… whichever is most convenient for you and your vegan lifestyle.
Try Purition as a…
- Vegan protein shake: Blend 40g with 150–200ml nut milk
- Vegan protein smoothie bowl: Blend 40g with 100ml nut milk, 2tbsp vegan yoghurt and ice, pour into a bowl and top with fruit and nuts
- Vegan protein pancakes: Check out our go-to vegan protein pancake recipe
- Vegan protein porridge: Read our complete guide on how to make protein porridge