Vegan whey protein sounds like an oxymoron — after all, whey protein comes from cows.
Enter Perfect Day, a Berkeley based biotech company that may transform the food landscape. The product I’m most excited about is their Vegan Whey, an entirely animal-free product. Their vegan whey is made via flora fermentation, and can generate proteins identical to cow’s whey. Now, vegans can explore even more dietary combinations and can have access to the nutritional benefits of whey.
The cherry on top? Their vegan whey protein is lactose free!
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How Animal-Free Whey Is Created
Perfect Day has created their brand of vegan whey through precision fermentation using microflora. The process begins by inserting the DNA sequence for making cow whey protein into the microflora. These flora are then put into a tank filled with water, nutrients, and sugar. They begin fermenting, and are able to make a pure animal protein — completely animal free. The protein is then seperated from the microflora; filtered, purified, and dried. The end result in a pure protein that can be used to make milk, cheese, yogurt, or anything else1.
The Nutritional Benefits of Vegan Whey Protein Powder
Despite the fact that cow’s whey is unethical to produce, its nutritional value leaves little room for debate. So what makes whey so nutritious?
For starters, whey has a great nutrition composition. One 25.2g serving of vegan whey contains 90 calories, 20 grams of protein, and 3 grams of carbs. That alone is impressive, but what really makes whey stand out is the fact that is has 4.7 grams of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). In particular, whey has very high leucine content (roughly 2.2g), which has been proven to be the most important amino acids for protein synthesis2.
These nutrition facts are the reasons why whey has never been de-throned as the protein powder of choice in the weightlifting community. The only other plant protein with comparable effects is pea protein, arguably the gold standard for vegan protein.
The two differ slightly in their benefits, with whey having slightly higher absorption rates whilst pea is more satiating. Yet now vegans can choose between whey, pea, both; or any combination of plant protein powders without harming animals or the planet.
Where Can You Buy Vegan Whey?
Perfect Day has partnered with a whole host of brands that sell their whey protein in different forms. The two places you can currently purchase whey protein are from MyProtein (look for animal-less whey protein) and Natreve’s MOOLESS brand. You can also also buy animal-free dairy ice cream with Brave Robot!
Both protein powder brands are available on amazon, just make sure you buy the one that says “animal-free.”
You can find Brave Robot’s animal-free dairy ice cream in locals stores using their zipcode search engine. Popular chains include Ralphs and Kroger, and they recently launched an awesome collaboration with Coolhaus to sell animal-free dairy ice cream sandwiches nationwide.
Why Vegan Whey? Ethics and Environment
Some reading this may be confused about the need for vegan whey, after all, regular whey is a vegetarian product — so shouldn’t that be good enough?
Unfortunately, the reality is that the treatment of dairy cows is one of the most unethical practices we perpetuate— arguably worse than the lives of beef cattle that are mercilessly slaughtered. And that’s a pretty high bar to beat.
In order to get milk and whey protein from dairy cows, they must be lactating. Once a dairy cow reaches the age of two, they are forcibly inseminated. Their child is then taken away, causing serious trauma to the mother, and the cow is relentlessly milked until their lactation period ends. Then, the cycle begins anew. Over and over again, until they can no longer lactate, at which point they are sent to the slaughterhouse3.
Vegan Whey completely changes this, and allows us to reap the nutrition and taste benefits of whey products without supporting a system of cruelty.
In addition, animal-free whey protein is so much better for the environment. The process of creating microflora whey uses up to 99% less water and 97% fewer emissions4 when compared to whey derived from animal agriculture.
Cows and Cattle are a leading cause of environmental degradation5, so a switch to vegan whey would go a long way towards preserving more natural resources and staving off climate change.
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Nathan loves to learn and share. A lifelong vegan, he spends his time working towards the goal of a cruelty-free world. He graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.S in economics, and wants to inspire conscious consumption in the food industry.
You can find him obsessing over volleyball, his dog, and his girlfriend’s cats in San Francisco