Is Whey Protein Vegetarian?
Typically vegetarians struggle with making sure that they get enough protein in their diets. The primary source of proteins are found in meats like chicken, beef, and fish. Since vegetarians do not eat meat, they have to find other ways to receive protein in foods such as nuts, eggs, and milk that vegetarians have used to help get protein in their diets. The problem with products like eggs and milk is that sometimes vegetarians still consider them to be meat source that should not be consumed. However, many have found a solution to this through whey protein.
How Whey Protein is Made
Whey protein itself is a protein that is derived from milk during the process of making cheese. When the milk is taken to a cheese-making facility, the curds (used for the production of cheese) are separated from the whey liquid. The whey liquid is then taken to a dehydrator where the protein enzymes are separated from the liquid, and turned into a powder that is somewhere between 25 and 89 percent protein. This kind of protein is called whey protein concentrate, and is something that vegetarians can use to supplement protein in their diets.
However, whey protein concentrate does not satisfy the criteria of many vegans. This is because there is still a large percentage of the whey protein concentrate that contains lactose (milk) leftover from the dehydration process. Since vegans can’t supplement with whey protein concentrate, they tend to take either whey protein isolate or hydrolysate.
Whey Protein Isolate
The determination for vegans between these two is determined by how strict a vegan is with their allowance on milk percentages in products. If a vegan is a little more relaxed in their standards of milk consumption, the whey isolate is a cheaper option that does contain a little bit of lactose from its microfiltration process.
Whey Protein Hydrolysate
However, if a vegan is very strict, they will instead supplement their diet with whey protein hydrolysate. This is the most expensive and highest quality form of whey protein that goes through a special microfiltration process that takes out all the milk of the whey, and basically turns it into pure protein. In fact, the process is so thorough, that the whey is given a strong acidic base that makes it taste bitter. The acidic taste is one of the reasons why hydrolysate is not very popular with most whey protein consumers.
In general, all whey proteins are very vegetarian friendly and considered to be excellent protein supplements for their diets. When it comes down to it, only vegans would need to be concerned about whether or not whey protein concentrate or isolate will fit their criteria. For the most part, vegans can fall back on hydrolysate as a protein supplement, which is known to be acceptable for even the strictest of vegan dieters.
Supplementing Whey Protein in One's Diet
As a vegetarian or a vegan, it is highly recommended one supplement their diet with some form of whey protein. A lack of protein in their diet is one of the biggest threats that vegetarians and vegans face regarding serious heath consequences. This can be avoided this by taking a whey protein shake or supplement that will help ensure they get all the protein their body needs.