Whey Protein – Is it Suitable for Vegans?

Close up of a bag of Free Soul vegan protein powder

Is whey protein vegan? What can vegans do to increase their protein intake? The Free Soul team weighs in on some whey protein FAQs for those on a vegan diet.

Looking to up your protein intake on a vegan diet?

You may have come across whey protein supplements and wonder if they’re vegan. You may even be wondering whether vegans can have protein powder at all.

Luckily for you, we have the answers.

One of our most asked questions here at Free Soul is, ‘Is whey protein vegan?’ In short; no, it’s not. Why? Unfortunately, Whey Protein is made from cow’s milk, meaning it contains animal products and therefore isn’t suitable for vegans. It is, however, suitable for vegetarians.

Is whey protein vegan?

No, whey protein is not vegan. Whey is derived from cow's milk during the cheese-making process. While it qualifies as vegetarian, it doesn't adhere to vegan standards that exclude all animal-derived products. 

For those seeking vegan protein sources, alternatives such as pea, hemp, or rice protein are recommended, hint hint, we have a version for you!

We always recommend carefully checking product labels to ensure they align with your dietary requirements.

Can Vegans Have Protein Powder?

Whilst whey isn’t a vegan-friendly protein powder, there are alternatives out there suitable for those who follow plant-based diets. These include powders made using pea protein and hemp protein.

At Free Soul, our Vegan Protein Blend is a complete, plant-based protein blend formulated using quality pea protein isolate and white hemp protein. It’s a vegan-friendly protein powder that can be mixed with water (or your fave plant-based milk) and contains no animal or dairy products at all.

Plus, as our vegan protein powders have been created with the needs of women in mind, we then blend an additional number of key nutrients, vitamins and minerals to support hormone balance, mood and energy.

In short, products that utilise whey protein aren’t vegan, but alternatives like pea and hemp mean vegans can still easily supplement protein into their diet.

If you’re looking to boost the amount of plant-based protein in your diet, why not give our vegan protein powder or vegan protein bars a go, for a hassle-free way to increase your protein intake & improve your wellbeing!

What is Whey Protein Powder?

Protein-rich foods include chicken, fish, eggs and cheese (amongst many others) - many of which, as you’ve probably realised, aren’t necessarily vegan-friendly.

Whey Protein powder serves the same purpose as these protein-rich foods, it’s just easier, quicker and sometimes cheaper to consume.

It’s made from whey (the liquid part of cow’s milk that is separated during the production of cheese), which is isolated as it passes through a number of processing steps to form the powder many of us enjoy in our protein shakes.

But, if vegans can’t have whey protein powder, can they have protein powder at all?

What is whey protein made from?

Whey protein is made from, you guessed it, whey – basically the watery part of milk that separates during the cheese-making process. 

The whey is then processed and dried out to turn into the whey protein powder you might use in shakes or smoothies. It's a favourite among fitness folks and anyone needing a protein boost because it's high in protein (obviously), but it's also rich in essential amino acids and it's pretty easy for your body to absorb. 

Just remember, while it's a great choice for those following a vegetarian diet, it's not vegan because it comes from milk.

Why is whey protein vegetarian?

Whey protein is vegetarian because it comes from milk, which is an animal byproduct, not the animal itself. 

Now, there are two types of proteins in milk: casein and whey. When cheese is made, milk gets separated into these two proteins, with the whey protein part becoming a liquid. This liquid is then processed into a powder, and there you have it: whey protein powder!

It's important to remember that while whey protein is vegetarian, it's not vegan. Vegan diets avoid all animal products and byproducts, which includes dairy.

Vegan alternatives to whey protein

If you're living the vegan life and need a protein boost, whey protein won't make the cut since it's a dairy product. But don't worry, there's a bunch of plant-based protein powders ready to step up.

Pea protein is a great choice. It's made from yellow peas, and it's packed with all the essential amino acids your body needs. Plus, it's easy on the stomach.

Then there's soy protein, made from ground soybeans. It's a complete protein, just like whey, meaning it has all the essential amino acids.

Hemp protein, from hemp seeds, is another cool option. It's not only high in protein, but also full of fibre and healthy fats.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Is whey protein vegetarian?

Yes, whey protein is indeed vegetarian. Whey protein is derived from milk, a byproduct of the cheese-making process, making it suitable for most vegetarians who include dairy in their diets. 

However, it's crucial to note that while it's vegetarian, it's not vegan. Vegans, who avoid all animal products and byproducts, would not consume whey protein. 

For those who don't consume animal products, there are many plant-based protein alternatives available, like pea, soy, or hemp protein.

Is whey protein vegan?

No, whey protein is not vegan. Whey is a byproduct of the cheese-making process and comes from milk, which is an animal product. Vegans avoid all animal products and byproducts, including dairy. 

Therefore, whey protein doesn't align with a vegan diet. However, there are plenty of plant-based alternatives that are vegan-friendly, such as pea protein, soy protein, or hemp protein.

What are the best vegetarian protein sources?

There are plenty of excellent vegetarian protein sources. Legumes like lentils, chickpeas, and black beans are protein-packed. Quinoa and buckwheat are grains that are also complete proteins. 

Nuts and seeds, including almonds and chia seeds, provide good amounts of protein. 

Eggs and dairy products like Greek yoghurt and cheese are high in protein for vegetarians who consume them. Soy products, such as tofu and tempeh, and seitan, made from gluten, are also high in protein.

Plant-based protein powders, such as our vegan protein blend, can also be used for a protein boost.