Vegan Protein: Pros and Cons
When it comes to quick and easy protein sources, protein powder is arguably the standard. While we have broken down the types of protein powders before, in this article we will hone in on vegan-friendly protein options.
What is Veganism?
Vegans abstain from consuming any animal products, period. What that means is that they don’t consume meat (obviously), fish, eggs, or dairy. Vegans rely solely on plants as their protein source. Their main sources of protein are soy, seitan (derived from gluten), legumes, ancient grains (like spelt), hempseed, and peas. Vegan protein powders will usually be a combination of derivatives of these protein sources.
How Is Vegan Protein Different?
For starters, it’s vegan - obviously, and therefore contains no animal by-products whatsoever. Since vegan proteins are derived from plant-based sources, you’ll find your typical vegan powder to be a blend from various sources, to create a complete protein and amino acid (9 in total) nutritional profile. Vegan proteins will also offer up a much different texture and flavor than your average whey-style protein.
What’s the Difference between Vegan and Vegetarian?
Vegetarians are typically not eliminating dairy or eggs from their diets - therefore, they can use pretty much any type of protein powder out there. They may choose to go with a vegan variety, but they don’t have to. On that note, vegans should be extra-cautious in selecting their proteins, as some proteins labeled vegetarian or vegan may contain milk-derived ingredients, such a probiotics.
Vegan Protein Pros
For starters, vegan proteins offer up not only protein, but also some valuable nutrients that you can’t get from whey or eggs. They are typically easier to digest, and are better tolerated by the average person than milk or egg-based proteins. Many adults for example cannot tolerate milk and dairy well, but have no issues with fruits or veggies. Not only will Vegan proteins usually contain fiber, but many vegan protein sources (such as chia and hemp, for example) will also provide good-for-you omega fatty acids.
Vegan Protein Cons
With vegan protein powders, not only will you have fewer options out there in the market, but you will also often be paying more for your tub. Additionally - there is the taste and texture issue. Vegan proteins as a whole tend to be grittier, harder to mix to smooth, and just generally don’t taste as good as their non-vegan counterparts. As with everything though, taste and texture preferences are a highly personal thing, and you can’t discount vegan proteins in blended smoothies, and in baking/cooking applications.
Not to be discounted, Vegan protein is a legitimate quick and easy protein source, whether you’re omnivorous, vegetarian, or vegan. Offering up a myriad of benefits other than protein, you should consider at least giving a vegan blend a try.