The simple short answers to those 2 questions are, yes, vegan protein is better for human consumption in so many ways that it boggles the mind. And as for how much you need, that will be determined by a great many factors. The RDI for protein is 56 grams for males and 46 grams for females, but that doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story which we will cover below.
In this article we will cover all the top questions asked about vegan and plant-based proteins all over the internet that no one else is really answering.
Be sure to at least scan each and every one of the sub-headlines because you’ll be amazed at some of the questions that you might also have once you hear them too.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.
What Is Vegan Protein Vs Regular Protein?
What people would term as regular protein are those such as eggs, meat, fish, fowl and dairy. These are thought of as being your traditional animal proteins.
Vegan proteins are those that come exclusively from plant sources and contain no animal products or byproducts of any kind. Furthermore, they must also not be tested on animals or sold in animal based or derived packaging.
There are a few questions as to whether honey is vegan or not and the answer is no. Millions of bees had to be used and then disposed of to create honey, so technically honey is not vegan.
The other one getting a lot of attention is:
Can Vegans Eat Shellfish?
The answer would be no. They are living creatures that can feel pain. They may not be sentient in a way that we yet understand, but they are living, reproducing creatures and as such would not be vegan protein sources.
What Is Plant Based Protein?
Plant based is a term that was coined to soften the vegan movement for the ears of the masses. It’s a term that we are actually not in favor of and here’s why.
The term vegan is pretty cut and dried as we discussed above. However, the term plant-based is pretty wishy washy.
It could be construed to mean, based from plants. Based from is not the same as saying only from. So, if someone says they are eating a plant-based diet, this leaves room for other items as based could mean a simple majority.
In fact, this is what has happened. Many use this term to define themselves only to then say, ‘yeah, I only eat meat and fish like once a week’ or something similar.
Vegan means vegan. You don’t eat anything that has an animal origin.
So, it’s up to you to decide what you are and want to be, once you do, please describe yourself properly.
Is Plant Based Protein Different Than Animal Protein?
No, so long as it is a complete protein then your body treats them basically the same. We say basically because vegan proteins don’t contain cholesterol that impacts your cardiovascular system potentially causing heart failure.
Then of course most plant proteins don’t actually need to be cooked either, which gives them a much higher bioavailability than proteins that are damaged by the heat of cooking.
One of the things that many people don’t understand is that all protein originally comes from plants.
Humans and other animals can enzymatically break down proteins into free form amino acids and amino acid chains which can be donated to what we term as the nitrogen pool but is still just a pool of amino acids.
Only plants can synthesize the amino acids from the nitrogen itself using photosynthesis. Humans and most animals cannot do this on their own.
This proves that we don’t create the amino acids we simply recombine them, meaning that all protein is originally created by plants.
So, if all protein is originally created by plants, how could plant protein be inferior? Short answer, it’s NOT!
Are Vegan Protein Powders As Effective As Whey Protein?
Yes, they can be just as effective as whey. There are vegan formulas of rice, oat and pea protein that are specifically formulated to go head-to-head with whey’s amino acid profile.
As such they deliver an identical experience in muscle building without the animal protein causing or exacerbating joint degeneration and pain.
Is Vegan Protein Powder Healthier Than Whey Protein Powder?
Undoubtedly yes. As we discussed above animal proteins can cause or exacerbate joint degeneration and or pain, while plant derived proteins, so long as not acidically processed do not cause or exacerbate such issues.
Then you have the challenges that; if the animal was sick with mad cow, swine flu and more you could have that transferred to you.
If the animal was being fed large doses of antibiotics or steroids these can transfer to you.
With egg protein you risk salmonella, with dairy proteins such as whey you risk soured milk, mold, mad cow, steroids and more.
With properly processed plant protein, you don’t risk much at all.
Can Vegan Or Plant Based Protein Powders Cause Acne?
Yes and no. That’s like asking of you can drown drinking too much water, yes you could but it would take a lot of effort to do it.
You may have to test and see if you have any sort of allergy to a specific protein like maybe you have a soy allergy?
Once that’s out of the way, then you causing acne from consuming a vegan protein would mean that A). You were taking in huge amounts that would not be recommended by the company selling it on their label. B). Your digestion is incredibly slow, and the protein is fermenting inside of you.
You’d have to be taking pretty large doses for this to happen, but it could.
The slower transitory times of the protein could cause fermentation which could cause both gas and acne.
Can Vegan Or Plant Based Protein Powders Cause Diarrhea?
Sure. Some people are very sensitive to new things being added into their diets. However, once they become accustomed to them this generally subsides rather quickly. If not, then discontinue use immediately if not sooner.
One of the main culprits with vegan proteins causing diarrhea is that they typically contain quite a bit of fiber. It’s this fiber that can cause issues for some people until they get used to the extra fiber in their diets.
Once they do, many actually report improved digestion and stool consistency.
Can Vegan Or Plant Based Protein Powders Cause Constipation?
It’s possible depending on what other ingredients are being put into the product other than just pure plant protein.
In most cases you’d tend to see just the opposite and see bouts of diarrhea if anything. Generally, plant proteins are going to be higher in fiber than animal based products and so constipation is generally not the issue, normally it’s the other way around.
However, to much protein of any kind can be constipating. So, look at your total daily protein intake and see if that might just be the culprit.
Can Vegan Or Plant Based Protein Powders Cause Stomach Pain?
Most anything new to your system can cause stomach pain if you’re not used to it. Vegan (plant-based) proteins typically have more fiber in them than do their animals counterparts, so, this extra fiber can possibly irritate some people with sensitive systems until they become accustomed to it.
If the pain persists after a reasonable adjustment period, then discontinue the use of that product until you can determine what the heck is going on.
Can Vegan Or Plant Based Protein Powders Cause Bloating?
Yes, it can. You have what is called a microbiome inside you at this very moment. Lots of good and bad bacteria fighting for dominance and hopefully the good guys win.
When you take in a lot more plant fiber than you’re used to, the microbiome has to adjust. In this case it could actually be the good bacteria that are adjusting to the extra fiber. We have bacteria that feed off of fiber and when there is not enough, they have a hard time keeping their numbers up.
Once you start supplying them with adequate amounts of fiber (food) they propagate and bring their numbers back up. This can add volume to the stool for a time which can be seen as bloating.
Of course, if this is causing severe discomfort or super smelly embarrassing gas, either discontinue the product or cut way back on your usage until you’ve given your intestinal flora time to compensate.
Can Vegan Protein Cause Weight Gain?
Yes and no. As we spoke of above in the section on bloating, it’s possible to have a bit of bloating until you adjust to the fiber content. Then of course if you add in a novel source of calories without adjusting your caloric expenditure then yes, you’ll gain weight.
However, that doesn’t matter whether you ate vegan protein or chocolate chip cookies, if you consume more than you burn off, you will typically gain weight.
Then, if you also happen to be training really hard in the attempt to put on more muscle, then that could also slowly contribute to the weight gain.
Especially if you’re rebounding. This is when you used weight say 20 or 30 pounds more and it was all lean tissue. You lost that muscle via restrictive dieting or some other means.
You now add enough protein and overall calories to your diet along with the proper stimulus and bam, you gain that muscle back in record time due to something called muscle memory or muscle engrams.
Casey Viator regained over 30 pounds of muscle in under a month in an experiment conducted by Aurther Jones of Nautilus fame. Casey had abstained from all training for about 2 years if memory serves me. He had a medical condition that he needed to heal.
Aurther retrained him and the results were astounding to say the least.
Can Vegan Proteins Build Muscle?
Absolutely. In fact, because they don’t cause the damage that other proteins cause, they typically are responsible for faster recovery times which means that they can actually help build more muscle than traditional animal proteins.
Just so long as you’re eating enough of a variety of vegan proteins throughout the day so that you’re combining them into complete proteins over time you shouldn’t have any challenges at all.
Is Plant Based Protein Good For Your Hair?
Yes. In fact, it can be quite a bit better than animal proteins and here’s why. Animal proteins unless raised organically are going to contain steroids. It is well known in the bodybuilding community that roids caused hair loss.
They will also contain antibiotics approved for use in animals, but not in humans. There are some indications that these may play a role in hair loss although findings are inconclusive at this time and merit further study.
Ingesting animal proteins causes inflammation, this is well documented, and peer reviewed in numerous publications. Inflammation is known to be one of the ‘root’ causes of hair loss (pun intended).
If the plant-based proteins that you consume all throughout the day combine to contain adequate amounts of the amino acid L – Cysteine which is beneficial for hair growth, then you should be fine.
This will be the case in most any vegan diet that is not missing nutrients or lacking in total protein requirements.
Can You Put Vegan Protein In Your Coffee?
Yes, you can. If your protein powder will dissolve into your coffee, then be our guest. One way to do it would be to dissolve it into a very small amount of water and then pour that into your coffee and stir it in.
This should work out pretty well.
We had a chocolate flavored vegan protein that did so well over oatmeal that it was insane to eat. Every breakfast was a treat.
It did pretty well blending itself into coffee as well, although it sucked when you blended it into tea.
You’ll just have to experiment with your vegan protein and see what you like it to be mixed with.