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Difference Between Vegan and Whey Protein

The popularity of protein powders has risen in the recent past. And since people have different dietary preferences and restrictions, manufacturers are forced to provide both plant-based alternatives and animal-derived protein powders. There is a wide variety of protein powders in the market. For instance, you will never miss vegan and whey protein in the stores, at least in most locations. But how do these two differ? Which protein powder is ideal for a certain group of people? Let’s discuss this below. 

What is Vegan Protein?

Vegan protein is a protein that is derived from plants. It can also be referred to as plant-based protein. It is lactose-free, vegan and vegetarian-friendly. Most vegan proteins are derived from different types of plants such as hemp, pea, soy and brown rice

While they are marketed as the best protein supplements for lactose-intolerant persons, they may contain gluten and soy. Some can even cause cramping and bloating for persons suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. While the cost of proteins depends on the manufacturer and brand, you may find that vegan protein is more expensive since they have specialized qualities. 

Vegan proteins are effective at building muscle provided they contain similar protein amounts and BCAAs per serving. However, supplementation with other animal-based proteins is vital to get the recommended protein content per day. 

What is Whey Protein?

This is a protein that is derived from whey, a by-product of cheese making. Once collected, fat, water, carbohydrates and other non-protein components are removed. The remaining product is then dried into a powder which is then used as a protein supplement. 

Whey contains large amounts of lactose since it’s derived from cow’s milk. As such, it is not ideal for people who are lactose-intolerant. However, whey protein is a complete protein. This is because sit contains all the nine essential amino acids. It also contains BCAAs which are vital for building muscle. 

The presence of lactose makes whey protein difficult for lactose intolerant people to consume as it can cause digestion issues such as bloating and stomach upset. 

Similarities between Vegan and Whey protein

  • Both are great sources of protein
  • Both promote muscle growth
  • Both can aid in weight loss

Differences between Vegan and Whey protein


Vegan protein is derived from plants. On the other hand, whey protein is derived from cow’s milk. 

Dietary restrictions

Vegan protein is ideal for lactose-intolerant persons and those who do not want to consume animal products. On the other hand, whey protein is not lactose or vegan-friendly. 

Protein content

Vegan protein does not have all the recommended protein content. On the other hand, whey protein is a complete protein since it contains all 9 essential amino acids

Calorie content

Vegan protein has fewer calories compared to whey protein. 

Ease of digestion

Vegan protein has no lactose, making it easier to digest. On the other hand, whey protein contains lactose, making it harder to digest. 

Calcium content

Vegan protein contains lower amounts of calcium. On the other hand, whey protein contains higher amounts of calcium. 


Whey protein is more expensive compared to whey protein. 

Vegan vs. Whey protein: Comparison Table

Summary between Vegan vs. Whey protein

Vegan protein is derived from plants. It is ideal for lactose-intolerant persons and those who do not want to consume animal products. However, it does not have all the recommended protein content. On the other hand, whey protein is derived from cow’s milk. It is not lactose or vegan-friendly. However, it is a complete protein since it contains all 9 essential amino acids.


Is whey or vegan protein better?

Whether to choose whey or vegan protein depends on preference and dietary restrictions. Whey protein is better for persons who are not lactose intolerant while vegan protein is better for people who are lactose intolerant. 

Can you build muscle with vegan protein powder?

Yes. You can build muscle with vegan protein powder. Although it’s not a complete protein, it contains BCAAs, although fewer than whey protein. 

Is vegan protein powder good for you?

Yes. Vegan protein is a great source of protein. 

Which is better whey protein or regular protein?

Regular protein is better. However, if you opt to take whey protein, you should supplement it with regular protein. 

Is plant protein bad for kidneys?

No. Plant protein is not bad for kidneys. In fact, vegan protein has been associated with reduced mortality in patients suffering from chronic kidney disease

Can vegans drink whey protein?

No. Whey protein is not vegan-friendly since it contains allergens such as lactose. 

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References :

[0]The Art of Losing It!. Brian Bellinkoff publishers. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=F9Sbfkbw6BcC&pg=PA191&dq=Difference+between+Vegan+and+Whey+protein&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi6xZj_nN3yAhX56eAKHe1CDWAQ6AEwAHoECAoQAg#v=onepage&q=Difference%20between%20Vegan%20and%20Whey%20protein&f=false

[1]Neil Frost. ABS for Life - The No.1 Solution on How to Get Six Pack ABS. SPN Fitness, 2008. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=cbWx9tXB2OkC&pg=PA236&dq=Difference+between+Vegan+and+Whey+protein&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi6xZj_nN3yAhX56eAKHe1CDWAQ6AEwB3oECAIQAg#v=onepage&q=Difference%20between%20Vegan%20and%20Whey%20protein&f=false

[2]Lawrence Robert & Lawrence Ruth. Breastfeeding: A Guide for the Medical Professional. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2021. https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=uwkqEAAAQBAJ&pg=PA115&dq=Difference+between+Vegan+and+Whey+protein&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwi6xZj_nN3yAhX56eAKHe1CDWAQ6AEwBnoECAgQAg#v=onepage&q=Difference%20between%20Vegan%20and%20Whey%20protein&f=false

[3]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:ON_Gold_Standard.jpg

[4]Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vegan-logo-veggies.svg

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