Vegan vs. Dairy-Free Protein Shakes

If you’re trying to cut down on dairy, you may be wondering if you can still enjoy protein shakes. And you most certainly can! Although traditional protein shakes use whey protein, which contains lactose, there are several delicious dairy-free protein shakes available.

As you explore dairy-free proteins for your shakes, you’ll likely notice that there’s a lot of overlap between dairy-free proteins and vegan proteins. However, there is an important distinction.

In short, all vegan proteins are dairy-free. However, not all dairy-free proteins are completely vegan — just like a square is a rectangle, but not all rectangles are squares. Understanding this distinction will help ensure that you choose the right protein type for your dairy-free protein shakes.

Read on to learn more about vegan vs. dairy-free protein shakes and how to choose the right type of protein for your health needs and preferences. 

What Is Dairy-Free Protein?

Dairy-free protein is any protein that is not derived from the milk of any animal. It thereby avoids products such as whey, cheese, yogurt, and cream. However, dairy-free protein sources may still contain other animal-based products like meat, eggs, or fish.

Avoiding dairy is especially important for those with lactose intolerance, but people may choose to maintain a dairy-free diet for other health or ethical reasons.

If you’re making your own dairy-free protein shakes, try adding protein sources like nut butters, chia or pumpkin seeds, or dairy-free protein powder. However, you’ll want to read the labels carefully because specifications like “dairy-free,” “lactose-free,” and “non-dairy” can all have slightly different meanings. 

Non-dairy products, for example, may actually still contain trace amounts of milk or milk derivatives (lactose potentially included), and lactose-free products may still contain milk — just without the lactose. Your specific reasons for avoiding dairy will inform whether you need your products to be completely dairy-free or not.  

What Is Vegan Protein?

Like dairy-free proteins, vegan proteins contain no animal products or byproducts whatsoever — milk products included.

Outstanding Foods: Vegan vs. Dairy-Free Protein Shakes

Additionally, vegan products have generally not been tested on animals or produced using animal labor. This means that if a protein mix contains honey, a bee-produced product, it’s not vegan.

Vegan protein shakes are often very similar to dairy-free protein shakes. Ingredients like seeds, nuts, soy, and pea protein (as found in our Outstanding Puffs!) are entirely plant-based and usually vegan — but you should always double-check if it’s important to  you to eat strictly vegan foods. 

Usually, vegan products are labeled as such, making them easy to pick out.

Dairy-Free Protein Shakes vs. Vegan Protein Shakes

In general, choosing vegan ingredients helps ensure that your protein shakes are also dairy-free. Checking for a certified vegan label can be much easier than doing extra research to ensure that no milk or milk derivatives have been used in the ingredients of your dairy-free protein shakes. 

Additionally, choosing vegan protein options also ensures that no animal extortion has taken place to produce those ingredients, making it a much more ethical choice. 

Healthier Protein Sources for a Healthier You

Using vegan protein sources in your dairy-free protein shakes is a great way to both keep dairy out of your diet and avoid other animal products and byproducts. And even if you don’t want to go completely vegan just yet, incorporating more plant-based proteins into your diet is an excellent first step to healthier eating.

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