Is whey suitable for vegetarians? In a nutshell the answer is yes. But of course if you are a vegan or strict vegetarian then whey is not a part of your diet.
Whey is a by-product of making cheese. It comes from milk. I mentioned whey briefly in my post about what vegans cannot eat and use and whey and casein got a small mention.
A simple explanation of whey can be found by looking at the dictionary definition from Oxford Dictionaries for whey: the watery part of milk that remains after the formation of curds.
Curds if you were wondering is a soft almost cheesy substance that forms when milk coagulates and is used as the basis of cheese. As an aside, the curd is also the word to use when speaking of the edible head of the cauliflower.
Whey as most of you probably know is most commonly used by athletes, bodybuilders and weekend warriors as a protein supplement.
This is terrific marketing for the dairy agribusinesses who have found a way to use almost all of the cow except for the moo. What to do with all that whey when you’re making cheese. Ah ha, we’ll sell it as a great protein supplement and so everyone gets duped on the benefits of whey protein as the best protein supplement for athletes.
I have a few problems with this line of thinking. Firstly, we know that dairy is not good for humans. This should be obvious as cow’s milk is meant for baby calves. It is not even meant for adult cows and bulls, let alone human infants and adults.
So why would be think that ingesting whey would be any better which is a concentrated form of milk protein. In fact, the problem with animal proteins would be concentrated in a concentrated form of that protein like whey would it not?
Animal proteins and milk proteins specifically contribute to a bunch of health issues including osteoporosis, diabetes, obesity, auto immune diseases etc. The problem is that unlike plant proteins, animal proteins including milk are seen as alien invaders to the body and will often cause an immune response similar to the body trying to protect itself from viruses and bacteria. Milk is also fool of hormones, viruses (BLV – Bovine Leukemia Virus and bacteria from contamentations). It is not a healthy product at all.
We also suffer from too much protein generally in North America and this taxes our kidneys and causes additional bone loss.
For bodybuilders out there, unless you are taking illegal supplements like steroids, it is very difficult to build more than a pound or two or legit fat free muscle mass per month. As such your expected extra protein needs are minuscule and supplementing with whey powder or other protein needs is excessive.
If you’re interested to see how much muscle you can gain and perhaps what is your upper limit for fat free mass as a natural bodybuilder you can check out this tool which has been developed based on scientific research. Gaining muscle is a very slow process when you’re doing it naturally and as a vegan we should be all about natural healthy foods.
So although whey is suitable for vegetarians or perhaps best said as allowable for vegetarians it is not health or necessary and I’d go so far as to say harmful with long term use.
Just stay away from whey… okay? 😉