Vegan vs. Whey Protein: What You Need to Know

When deciding which type of protein powder to choose, there are a lot of factors to contemplate. Things like flavor, mix-ability, cost, and nutritional content overwhelm the decision and must be clarified. If you follow a particular diet, things get more complicated trying to find compliant ingredients.

To make things easier, let’s break down the differences between two of the most popular options, vegan and whey protein. By the end, you’ll better understand which prospect meets your needs. Let’s get started.

Sources of Vegan and Whey Protein

Vegan protein powder is plant-based, making all its ingredients vegan and vegetarian-friendly. Plants are an excellent source of vegan protein powders and make it much easier to ensure that you’re getting enough in your diet. Peas, hemp, soy, brown rice, quinoa, and pumpkin seeds are vegan-friendly protein options. Several of these vegan protein products are available on the market and processed and packaged as powders or supplements.

On the other hand, whey protein powder is derived from milk and found in the liquid fraction of milk separated during cheese production. The liquid is dried and processed to create whey protein powder or isolate and used in dietary supplements, shakes, and recipes.

Differences Between Vegan and Whey Protein

Amino Acids, Fibers, and Minerals

There are some critical differences between vegan and whey protein regarding amino acids, fibers, and minerals. Vegan protein tends to be higher in fiber and minerals, while whey protein is higher in essential amino acids. The complete profile of amino acids in whey protein elicits better muscle development and increased immune support.


Vegan protein is generally easier to digest than whey protein. Whey protein contains lactose which poses a problem for people with digestive issues. Since vegan proteins are plant-based, they are easier to digest and contain fewer allergens. These attributes make them a better option for those with digestive sensitivities. For that reason, some vegan meal replacements are better suited for users with digestion issues.

Performance Comparison

Vegan and whey proteins are effective when it comes to building muscle. However, whey protein is known for its high content of essential amino acids, which are critical for muscle growth and repair. Vegan protein is a good option for supporting overall health and wellness rather than just muscle building.

Cost Comparison

Regarding cost, vegan protein powder is typically more expensive than whey. However, the price varies depending on the brand, quality of ingredients, and product size. The Owyn Vegan Protein, which we’ve previously reviewed, costs just below $3 per serving, while whey protein, on average, prices anywhere from $0.50 to $1.50 per serving.

Comparison of Drawbacks and Side Effects

One major drawback of whey protein powder is the higher rate of allergic reactions than vegan protein. This problem stems from whey protein deriving from milk and causing allergic reactions in people with lactose sensitivities or milk allergies. Vegan protein, on the other hand, has a much lower rate of allergic reactions and is a safer option for those with dietary restrictions or sensitivities.

Effectiveness in Weight Loss

Both vegan and whey protein are effective in weight loss, but the key is to choose a high-quality product that is part of a balanced diet and exercise plan. Vegan protein is a good option for those looking to reduce calorie and saturated fat intake, while whey protein is helpful for those looking to build muscle and support weight loss efforts.

Taste and Mixability

Taste and mixability are essential for protein powders, as unpleasant tastes or clumps result in unhappy customers. Whey protein is known for its creamy, smooth texture and rich flavor, while vegan protein powders can vary widely in taste and mixability. Some vegan protein powders are known for their chalky texture and bland flavor, while others taste great and mix quickly. Reading product reviews will guide you and help you pick the best option.


When deciding between vegan and whey protein powders, buyers should consider their nutritional needs, environmental impact, sustainability, taste and mixability, personal ethics, beliefs, and budget. 

In simple terms, if you’re looking purely for a muscle-building protein, whey is considered superior. However, if you have digestion issues and are concerned about environmental and animal cruelty issues, then you should definitely consider a vegan protein.

As always, before adding anything new to your diet, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian.