There are many different kinds of protein powder – the most popular types – casein and whey – are made from dairy products so are not suitable for vegans. There are other protein powders such as soy and pea protein, that are suitable for vegans and that are still good ways to get the extra protein that you need in your diet.
There are a few things that you should be aware of if you’re taking vegan protein powder, though. Firstly, the body can readily digest whey protein and takes a little longer to digest casein (which is why so many people like to take it overnight as a ‘slow release’ protein source). Just as a quick tip, if you research The Vegan Life’s cookbook recommendations you will find a lot of information about vegan protein sources.
Pea protein is considered a little less bio-available, but it’s still a good protein source, and as long as you aren’t an endurance athlete you’re unlikely to run into any difficulties using it.
Soy protein is something that a lot of bodybuilders shy away from, though, because soy is classed as an estrogenic – which means that if you ingest it in great quantity it will contribute to increased estrogen levels. This is the female sex hormone, and it’s not useful for bodybuilders and strength athletes, who want as much testosterone in their bloodstream as possible.
Small quantities of soy aren’t likely to have much impact on you, but large quantities could have an impact on competitive sporting performance.
Pea protein tends to be a more popular choice among vegan athletes that need to take in huge quantities of protein to sustain their levels of training. You can find a list of supplements here which are worth considering.
Most proteins will have synthetic flavorings in them – it’s important that vegans read the label because not all E-numbers are suitable for a vegan to take in. Make sure that the protein is suitable for vegans, not just for vegetarians!