Wondering if there’s such a thing as vegan collagen?
Is it as good as animal collagen?
How can you increase it naturally through your diet?
Grab a cup of herbal tea and get ready to learn the answers of all those questions and more!
What’s the deal with collagen, anyway?
Spend five seconds browsing the health trends on Pinterest, and you’ll come across thousands of different posts on the benefits of collagen.
It’s all the rage right now, but is it a trend that’s even worth checking out? Turns out, it just might be.
Before I even think about jumping on a health bandwagon, I see what science has to say over on Science Daily (it gathers up all the studies in one super convenient spot).
A few highlights regarding the benefits of collagen include:
- Improved gum health.
- Faster wound healing
- Help for damaged hearts
- Helps prevent bone loss.
- Even helps with stress incontinence!
Other natural health aficionados and experts claim it also helps keep your skin and hair looking healthier, relieves anxiety, and more.
Sounds great, right? Ready to go buy a bottle and give it a try? Hold your horses, there, my vegan (and even my vegetarian) pals! Most collagen on the market comes from animal sources.
Even worse, it comes from the cartilage of those animals, after they’ve been slaughtered.
For those who have an ethical reason to avoid animal products, typical collagen- like the creatures that it comes from- is off the menu.
Don’t look so glum. You’re not completely out of the loop when it comes to experiencing the benefits of this health trend. See, there actually is vegan collagen! Well, sort of.
Let’s learn more about it and see if it’s a good option for you.
Now is a good time to mention that this post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we earn a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Complete Guide to Vegan Collagen
Given the gruesome origins of regular collagen, it makes sense that science would find a way to create a vegan version for the increasing number of people that abstain from animal products.
The key phrase- and one that may be a bit of a turnoff for naturalists- is “science would find a way.”
See, collagen in the strictest sense doesn’t come in a vegan form. Like I said above, it’s found in the cartilage. Plants don’t exactly have bones, ergo no cartilage.
So, no, you won’t find a magical vegan collagen source just chilling in a forest waiting for you to come along and pick it.
Scientists did find a way to grow it using yeast and bacteria combined with human genes.
It sounds a lot freakier than it is, but I know a lot of people aren’t really fond of genetically modified foods or supplements.
Bottom line, though, if you want to use a collagen supplement without harming animals, you’ll have to accept something created in a laboratory.
What about seaweed collagen?
As someone with very specific ethics regarding eating animals, I was super excited to learn that “seaweed collagen” existed.
“Great,” I thought. “I can get it that way without hurting animals.”
Unfortunately, I didn’t read the small print. See, which this form of collagen doesn’t involve animals slaughtered in a factory, it does have animal-based collagen in it.
In this case, it comes from fish who die natural deaths in the ocean. The collagen settles into the seaweed.
Now, this could still be a good alternative for some, as the process occurs naturally and with no human intervention.
However, if you’ve sworn off all animal products and by-products regardless as to how they came to exist, seaweed or “marine kelp” collagen isn’t for you.
You’re back to science-based vegan alternatives.
Vegan collagen vs animal collagen
Is vegan collagen as good as animal collagen? In terms of health benefits, the jury is still out.
Remember, vegan collagen is still relatively new, so there aren’t a ton of long-term studies.
However, in other respects, it may actually be even better than the “real” deal.
As Healthline points out, vegan collagen has some advantages to consider.
For one thing, it has a lower risk of causing allergies, since it’s not derived from animal sources.
Also, vegan collagen grown in a laboratory setting may actually be safer than the stuff harvested from hormone and chemical-riddled animal bones.
Plus, in the future, vegan collagen may even cost less than the regular stuff, since yeast is super duper easy to grow.
What if you decide that you’re just not comfortable taking something created in a lab? Don’t worry, you’re not out of the collagen game just yet!
How to get collagen from vegetarian diet
Right now, even if you did decide you’re comfortable taken something grown in a lab, vegan collagen isn’t exactly easy to come by.
In fact, I only found one legit brand that I’d recommend, and it’s not cheap. It’s made by Algenist.
- Plant-Based Collagen - Vegan collagen is a new, innovative technology created by binding together plant protein fibers resulting in amino acids that structurally mimic collagen that provides a function similar to animal-derived collagen.*
- Patented Anti-Aging Breakthrough - Our exclusive star ingredient, Alguronic Acid from algae, is proven to visibly minimize appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as boost benefits of other active ingredients.*
- 13,000 Microalgae Oil Beads Per Bottle - Naturally sourced and sustainably produced, rich in Omega 3, 6 and 9, and a natural source of Vitamin E. Microalgae hydrates, nourishes, and visibly restores skin's radiance.*
- Visible Transformation in 10 Days - In a consumer study, 91% of participants said it helps restore bounce, resilience and suppleness to the skin after 10 days, and 87% experienced exceptional softness, radiance, and a youthful glow**
- Clean and Hypoallergenic - Dermatologist tested, non-comedogenic, and suitable for all skin types. Contains no parabens, mineral oil, Phthalates, Formaldehyde, Paraffins or sulfates.
Sure, at first glance it looks like Amazon is loaded with options, but read closer and you’ll see that most are collagen builders, not actually collagen supplements.
That’s not entirely bad, though. Remember, collagen comes from the cartilage of animals, and we humans happen to be animals, too.
So, let’s talk about how to build our own collagen, either naturally or with the help of those aforementioned builders.
How can vegans increase collagen?
It’s actually fairly easy to increase your collagen without resorting to supplements. It’s also super tasty, too! Some of the best foods include:
- Oranges and other citrus fruits– naturally boost collagen and have antioxidants to fight free radicals.
- Soybeans- just go easy on it, as too much soy can royally mess with your estrogen and even impact your fertility.
- Black beans- also, kidney beans, and pretty much all types of beans.
- Seeds- especially pumpkin, sunflower or chia seeds
- Nuts– especially cashews, peanuts and pistachio nuts.
- Leafy greens- particularly bitter veggies, like kale and spinach.
Orange foods rich in beta-carotene (which becomes Vitamin A) are great, too, because they help slow down the loss of the collagen that you do have already.
Of course, if you don’t feel like your diet is balanced enough to help increase collagen, you can always try a supplement. Garden of Life makes one that customers rave about.
- Silica supplement: Mykind vegan collagen hair supplement helps build the body's own natural production of collagen with collagen co nutrients such as silica for beautiful hair, skin and nails
- Youthful glow: Our collagen supplement helps restore and maintain youthful levels of collagen, keratin and elastin.No Magnesium Stearate
- Polyphenols: Our plant sourced collagen builder includes High Polyphenolic Pomegranate to support skin health and protect against UV damage
- Beauty boosting biotin: 1,500 milligrams whole food biotin from organic sesbania and antioxidants from organic pomegranate, turmeric, amla, green and rooibos tea support healthy skin, teeth and bones
- Organic vitamin: Our collagen pills are certified USDA organic, non GMO project verified, vegan certified, gluten free certified, kosher made (Star K)
Bottom line, yes, vegan collagen exists and yes, it’s as good as the animal-based kind but it comes with caveats. It’s hard to find, expensive (for now), and made in a lab.
So, boosting your own natural supply may be your best bet for now.
Have you ever tried actual vegan collagen (and not just “boosters”)? Share your thoughts below!