Whey protein vs Vegan protein combinatie rijst brown rice pea erwten soja spiermassa spieren voeding
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Whey protein vs Vegan protein

Florian Fermin
Florian Fermin

Distrifood sums it up nicely with the title of their article “The unstoppable rise of protein”. In this article you can read that the turnover of protein shakes increases by tens of millions every year. Where this product used to be only for the real fanatics, it is now normal to drink a shake after exercise. It's an easy way to get protein quickly and help your muscles recover. There are so many different protein shakes out there, but the big battle is now between the old established whey protein and the new emerging vegan protein (in many different shapes and sizes). This article explores both titans and ends with a more in-depth look at the vegan protein, as there are many different forms of this and it is sometimes unclear which one to choose. Let's start with the battle whey protien vs vegan protien.

Whey protein

These proteins come from cheese and this is a very complete protein form, as it contains all 9 amino acids (if you want to know more about this read here). Whey protein comes in different shapes and sizes, namely concentrate, isolate and hydrolyzate. Where concentrate is the cheapest and least pure form, about 80% proteins and the rest carbohydrates, fats and fibers, the other two are a lot purer. Isolate has an average of 85% proteins and a lot less carbohydrates than concentrate. Hydrolyzate is even purer and can be absorbed directly in the intestines, making this the only whey protein that lactose intolerant people can also drink.

Of course, no product is without possible disadvantages, including whey protien. I think skin problems are the most mentioned disadvantage. This is because the proteins increase your insulin in your skin and thus produce extra testosterone. This causes troubled skin. I have also seen someone take too many testosterone boosters and his skin was also covered in pimples. Several studies have also been written about digestive problems, adverse effects on the kidneys and lactose intolerance after taking whey protein supplements for a long time. There is nothing unequivocal about this yet.

What also interests me are the effects on the environment and on animals. In terms of the environment, you are probably already aware that keeping cows costs an enormous amount of water (almost 800 liters of water for 1 kilo of whey protein) and land. These animals also emit a lot of CO2. In addition, it is also necessary for the cow to be pregnant in order to make the milk needed for the whey protein. When the cow has given birth, in most cases the calf is removed 24 hours after its birth. These calves are also often slaughtered at a young age. On the other hand, whey is a residual product of cheese. So as long as we continue to eat cheese in the amount we do now, it makes little difference to those animals whether we continue to drink whey protein.

Vegan protein

Then to the second form of protien, plant based protien. These can be obtained from different plants. When the plant has been dried and finely ground, the proteins are separated from the rest as much as possible. What kind of possible plant-based protiens are we talking about? The most popular are soy and pea protein shakes. Where soy protein has the highest amount of protein (90%), pea protein is better for the environment and has 80% protein. Hemp protien is also a very healthy form of protein powders, as it is also good for your heart and immune system in addition to muscle recovery. In addition, rice and pumpkin protien powder are also popular.

Now for the disadvantages of vegan protien powders. While whey protein contains a high dose of all amino acids, this is not the case with most vegan proteins. Often the vegan protiens are lower in the amino acids Leucine (and sometimes Lysine), which is why I add Leucine as a separate supplement to my vegan protein. The vegan protiens also contain less BCAAs and minerals.


This is the battle of whey protein vs vegan protein. Actually, I can keep it very short. When you do it purely for the functional, Whey protein is the easiest variant. When you start working with the vegan protiens, you have to think a little longer about combining different protiens and it often tastes less good. But if you're concerned with the environment and animal welfare, you may find that it's worth the extra effort. If you want tasty vegan protien recipes, see here.