Is Whey Vegan and Is It Better for You Than Vegan Protein?

In a protein-obsessed culture like ours, many people turn to protein supplements to increase their protein intake for muscle growth. Whey protein is a popular choice, as it’s often associated with muscle-building. Those also following a plant-based might also wonder, “But is whey vegan?” 

If you’re following a vegan diet you should know that whey is NOT considered vegan. Read on to learn why it isn’t considered vegan and for some healthier plant-based alternatives. 

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Is Whey Vegan?

Whey and casein protein are the two primary sources of protein in dairy products. Whey is a byproduct of cheese production.

It’s a favorite source of protein for those looking to increase muscle mass because it contains substantial amounts of amino acids, which help the body perform and aid in muscle recovery.

Because it contains dairy (an animal byproduct), whey isn’t considered vegan.


Is Whey Vegetarian?

While whey protein is not vegan because it contains dairy, it is considered vegetarian for those who still consume dairy products.


Whey Protein vs. Plant Protein: Which is Better?

If you’re a vegan, the choice is obvious. A plant protein supplement rather than one containing any animal ingredient is right for you.

If you’re a vegetarian who still consumes dairy, here are a few things to consider when weighing the pros and cons of whey versus plant-based proteins:

  • The quality of the product matters, so read the label. Each product needs to be evaluated individually in order to make an informed decision. Any product, plant-based or not, that contains a lot of fillers and ingredients you don’t know is usually not great. Our rule of thumb:  the fewer ingredients the better!
  • Lactose can be difficult to digest. Since whey protein is a dairy by-product, it’s harder for your body to digest.
  • Remember the planet. Vegetarianism and veganism usually aren’t just about food. Many vegans and vegetarians adopt a plant-based lifestyle as a way to help heal our planet.

woman drinking protein shake

How Can I Tell If The Protein Powder I Use Is a Good One?

Just because something is labeled “vegan” or “plant-based” doesn’t mean it’s healthy. A few ingredients you should avoid are:

  • Artificial ingredients (including flavors, colors, and sweeteners)
  • Added sugars
  • Gluten
  • GMOs
  • Thickeners and gums
  • Oils
  • Fillers

We always say, the fewer ingredients the better!


Vegan Alternatives to Whey Protein

If you’re looking for a great vegan protein source to scoop into your next protein shake you’re in luck, because there are a wide range plant-based protein powders.


4 Vegan Alternative Protein Powders

1. Pea Protein

pea protein supplement is Nuzest Clean Protein because it has so few ingredients. Their smooth vanilla powder contains:

  • Pea Protein Isolate
  • Natural Vanilla Flavor
  • Thaumatin (a natural sweetener)

Additionally, their products are tested regularly to ensure that they are safe from allergenic substances and heavy metals. When they say “Clean,” they mean it!

15% Discount with Code ZEN
Nuzest Clean Lean Protein
  • 100% vegan
  • No artificial flavors, colorings, or fillings
  • Made from pea protein
  • Enter Coupon Code "Zen" for 15% off your purchase
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2. Soy Protein

While soy certainly has its share of controversy, it can be a great vegan alternative to whey. For example, one scoop of this soy protein powder from Bob’s Red Mill has 17 grams of protein!


3. Rice Protein

When most people think of rice they think of carbs, but rice can be a great vegan protein supplement. One serving of this brown rice protein powder has 25 grams of protein per serving.

Naked Rice - Organic Brown Rice Protein Powder – Vegan Protein Powder (5 lbs.)
  • GMO-Free
  • Gluten-Free & Soy Free
  • Plant-Based Protein
  • No Artificial Ingredients
  • 76 Servings
Buy on Amazon!


4. Hemp Protein

In our article about 7 of The Healthiest Seeds You Can Eat, hemp seeds definitely made our list, not only as a protein source but also a great source of Omega 3 and Omega 6.

I add hemp seeds to most of my smoothies but, you can also use a hemp protein powder such as this one from Manitoba.

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Yeah!
  • Organic Max Protein Powder
  • 20g protein
  • 4.5g Omegas 3&6 per Serving
  • Keto-Friendly
  • Preservative Free
  • Non-GMO
Buy on Amazon!

So, while the answer to, “Is Whey Vegan?” is no, the good news is, there are still plenty of plant-based protein alternatives to choose from!




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