Can Collagen Be Vegan? Let’s Find Out!
This post contains affiliate links which means we receive a small commission if you decide to make a purchase. Click here to learn more about our affiliate policy.
You may have heard about the discovery of what many believe is the 'fountain of youth' we've all been looking for--collagen supplementation. However, collagen supplements are primarily sourced from the unused parts of animals and fish. If you're a vegetarian, don't eat meat and/or fish, can collagen be vegan?
Truthfully, there is no such thing as a vegan collagen supplement that is made likeits non-vegan, animal-derived supplement counterpart. However, what you can easily get today is what is known as a plant based vegan collagen builder.
In this article, we're going to explore that and more, so let's get started!
Exactly what is collagen?
Let's start with understanding what human collagen is (animals too!).
First, you may not be aware, but collagen protein is a large, long, strong and flexible amino acid chain.
Not only that, but it's also the is the most abundant protein in the human body.
It holds together and supports the skin, connective tissue, arteries, cartilage, muscles and bones in your body. It even appears in your eye!
In fact, in Greek, collagen translates to 'glue'.
Not only does is it the scaffolding that holds everything together, collagen is also a very important part of the wound healing process. Without the rush of collagen in the healing process, our skin would remain open and vulnerable to toxins.
Unfortunately, as you approach your 30s, collagen production begins to slow down to the tune of approximately 1% per year--even faster during and after menopause. When your body's collagen production slows down more than new collagen is created, you experience a collagen deficiency.
What does collagen deficiency look like?
You will recognize collagen deficiency through the typical signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, 'crepey', sagging skin, joint pain, cranky gut and smaller muscles--just to name a few.
As you can see, human collagen is very important to your body in many different ways.
What are collagen fibers made of?
Although we talked about what collagen protein is, you may be wondering what collagen is made of.
All proteins, including collagen, start with the building blocks of essential and non-essential amino acids.
Most notably, the type of protein we're talking about in this article has a high concentration of non-essential amino acids of proline, glycine and hydroxyproline.
Don't be confused--'non-essential' amino acids are just as important to your overall health as essential amino acids. In fact, non-essential amino acids support tissue growth and repair, immune function, red blood cell formation and hormone synthesis.
Another cool fact is that the amino acid sequence of collagen is unique in the world. There is nowhere else, including plants, where this specific sequence can be found.
Once the body assembles these required amino acids, you'll also need vitamin C, zinc and copper complete the collagen synthesis process.
Are collagen peptides vegan?
The truth is collagen peptides are not vegan. This is because they are derived from animals, typically from bovine (cow/cattle) and marine (fish) sources.
However, there is hope on the horizon! Modern scientists are experimenting with creating a collagen protein substitute in the lab.
Once this becomes commercially available, instead of using collagen peptides from animals, you can get a collagen booster which helps your body preserve the collagen you do have and help your body create new protein.
Alternative vegan sources of collagen?
As we mentioned, there is no true vegan collagen powder that commercially available.
However, there is good news on the horizon for those who want a true vegan collagen powder.
With the recent development of 'manufactured, plant-based foods', researchers are pursuing the possibility of creating a human collagen protein in a lab.
Although there's forward movement in research labs to re-create a collagen protein, there still needs more testing before it becomes widely available in the marketplace.
Benefits of lab- and plant-based collagen protein
After a true vegan collagen supplement becomes more widely and commercially available, you can expect these important benefits:
Making a collagen protein in the lab environment can create the scale needed to reduce the cost for consumers.
Less risk of allergies
One of the side effects of animal-sourced collagen protein is allergies. A vegan collagen supplement can help reduce the risk of those allergies.
With lab-created collagen, the risk of illnesses transmitted from animals goes away.
Availability for medical procedures
Another benefit of lab-produced (vs. animal-derived) collagen is that it can be used during medical procedures. For example, it can be used for:
- encouraging skin and tissue growth
- supporting faster and more complete wound healing
Beauty and body enhancer
Just like animal collagen, vegan collagen protein holds the promise that it can provide anti-aging beauty benefits like less wrinkles and fine lines, improved scar and acne healing, lightening of age spots and more.
Not only that, but it might also be able to help support joint, heart, muscle, bone and gut health.
How do vegans get more collagen?
As we mentioned, researchers have been working hard to create non-animal-sourced collagen protein.
Despite those efforts, these lab-created products aren't widely available for consumers.
Are there other options to help your body create new collagen and protect what your body already has?
Yes, here are a list of options for you to incorporate into your daily routine:
Plant based collagen builder supplements
Today, you can buy supplements that use a different approach to increase and protein collagen in the user's body.
For example, there are products that are made with a a blend of nutrients that are designed to boost your body's natural collagen production. They also can help increase elastin, keratin and hyaluronic acid.
Or, vegan collagen powder that protects the integrity of the collagen protein already in your body.
With this in mind, you can also do a lot to protect and boost collagen production by eating the right foods, keeping stress low, don't smoke, eat well, drink lots of water and get enough sleep.
Eat foods high in amino acids and vitamin C
Eating plant based foods high in all three amino acids in collagen (glycine, proline and hydroxyproline) and foods that are a source of vitamin C can help your body produce new collagen naturally.
Here are some foods that you'll want to eat often:
- soy products: tempeh, tofu, and soy protein
- black beans
- kidney beans
- many other legumes
- seeds, especially pumpkin, squash, sunflower, and chia
- nuts, pistachio, peanut, and cashew
- Broccoli, papaya, kiwi fruit, citrus fruits, kale and red peppers
Amino acid supplement
In addition, you can take the same amino acids in collagen (and vitamin C) in the form of supplements to help create new protein.
Biotin, a B vitamin, is another alternative to taking animal collagen supplements and it can support healthy skin, hair and nails.
To get more biotin, you can take it as a supplement or through eating more foods like nuts, seeds, and avocados.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It appears almost everywhere and is especially abundant in the skin, cartilage, tendons, gut, arteries and nails.
Currently, collagen peptide supplements are derived from animals and fish. Because of that, it leaves vegetarians and vegans without a way to supplement their body with this important protein.
Recently, researchers have experimented with different ways to re-create this exact protein in a lab, but aren't quite there yet for wide distribution to the masses.
Alternatively, if you prefer not to use animal collagen, there are nutrient-based supplements that are easily available. They are vegan collagen boosters that encourage the body to make new collagen and protect the collagen you already have.
Now you know you don't have to sit on the sidelines if you want to retain your youthful beauty and glow as you gracefully age.
Actually, it's easy to find collagen boosting, vegan supplements to help your body promote collagen creation--choose a quality product and watch the results!