Scientists have developed techniques to use genetically engineered microorganisms, such as yeast, to make “vegan collagen.” However, products containing this substance are not widely available to consumers.
People who follow a vegan diet take a comprehensive and strict approach to a plant-based diet and do not eat any animal products. Veganism can extend beyond diet alone and become more of a lifestyle. Vegans may steer clear of animal-based products, such as leather shoes and horsehair brushes. They may also opt for vegan cosmetics, which the manufacturers have not tested on animals.
People may become vegan to benefit their health, reduce their impact on the environment, or address moral concerns. Some individuals may make this decision for a combination of reasons. Being vegan is not always easy, but vegan substitutes are available for many foods and supplements that usually contain animal products.
Collagen is a major component of connective tissue and the most common protein in the animal kingdom, which makes it problematic for vegans, despite its popularity as a supplement.
Scientists have found that oral collagen supplements provide the following benefits to the skin:
- improved hydration
- enhanced elasticity
- reduced roughness
- better density
Research has also linked collagen supplements with the following benefits:
- improved cardiovascular performance
- joint repair
- boosting lean muscle strength
- shortening recovery time after strenuous workouts
- reduced pain, swelling, and stiffness for people with rheumatoid arthritis
As naturally occurring collagen comes from animals, people following a strict vegan lifestyle cannot use it. Scientists have, therefore, developed techniques to use genetically engineered microorganisms such as yeast to make recombinant human collagen, which people could describe as vegan collagen. However, products containing this substance are not yet widely available to consumers.
The potential benefits of vegan collagen, or collagen made from microorganisms, include greater consistency across batches and reduced chances of allergic reactions.
Although vegan collagen itself is not widely available, people can purchase several vegan collagen-boosting products. The manufacturers of these products claim that they help vegans manufacture collagen and provide the reported benefits of this protein. These benefits include:
- improving skin health
- supporting muscle and joint health
- strengthening the cardiovascular system
It is important to note that scientists have not yet verified that vegan collagen-boosting supplements have these effects.
Collagen is a key ingredient in cosmetics and skin creams, and experts expect this biomolecule to be worth more than $6.63 billion by 2025. However, it is important to note that genetically engineered collagen, or vegan collagen, is still expensive. Manufacturers are producing it in relatively small amounts, and its use is primarily limited to medical settings.
There are currently no vegan collagen supplements available to consumers. Only the self-proclaimed collagen-boosting vegan products are commercially available at present. These products supposedly enhance the body’s ability to produce collagen, but there is a lack of scientific research to support their use.
The body makes collagen on its own, but it does so by combining amino acids, vitamin C, zinc, copper, and other nutrients. Vegans who struggle to maintain a high enough intake of certain nutrients may find supplements helpful. However, those following a vegan diet should still take care to balance their intake of necessary nutrients and not rely too heavily on supplements.
In fact, advocates for veganism maintain that there is little scientific evidence to suggest that collagen supplements are necessary for vegans. They point out that increasing the amount of protein in the diet can help vegans meet their nutritional needs. High protein vegan foods include:
- legumes, such as beans and lentils
- soy products, including tofu
- nuts and seeds
One of the greatest risks of vegan collagen is truth in advertising because products that manufacturers claim to be “vegan collagen” are more likely to be products that can only boost the body’s collagen production.
The manufacturers of these products do not have to provide evidence of their safety and effectiveness, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not approve collagen supplements.
For this reason, people should always seek the advice of a healthcare professional before starting to take a supplement.
Collagen is the most common protein in the animal world, and initial scientific studies suggest that it has potential benefits for the skin, the musculoskeletal system, and the cardiovascular system.
However, people who follow a vegan diet and do not consume any animal-based products cannot use collagen made through conventional processes.
A form of vegan collagen, made from bioengineered microorganisms, is available, but its use has not yet extended beyond medical settings.
Vegan collagen boosters may help the body increase the amount of collagen that it makes, although science has not proved this claim.
Vegans looking to strengthen their collagen production may prefer to do so by optimizing their diet.