We get our daily dietary creatine from various foods like poultry, red meat, and fish. But for people who have adopted a vegan diet, getting your creatine from these sources are an obvious no-go.
Regardless of the diet you follow, creatine supplementation is beneficial as you’ll never be able to maximize your creatine stores and the benefits through diet alone.
But for vegans, a very valid question arises; “is creatine vegan?”. Can vegans turn to creatine supplementation without going against their diet principles?
Let’s quickly answer your question and then explore in more detail whether supplementing with creatine is vegan friendly..
- Yes, synthetic creatine monohydrate powder is vegan by default. The manufacturing process is done in a vegan-friendly manner using two amino acids.
- Look out for creatine capsules that use bovine to cap the powder.
- Look out for vegan certified creatine (but AVOID marketing hype around “vegan creatine”. Almost all creatine monohydrate powder is vegan by default).
- Supplement stacks that contain creatine may not necessarily include all vegan-friendly ingredients.
- Check ingredient lists to be absolutely sure.
Is Creatine Vegan?
Yes, creatine is vegan-friendly. But not all creatine supplements are vegan.
Most creatine supplements come in either powder or capsule form. Between the two, only the powder form is usually guaranteed to be vegan.
While it’s fair to assume that because creatine is usually acquired naturally from meat products, that the supplement form wouldn’t be vegan, the supplement manufacturing process is very much vegan.
Powdered creatine supplements are usually made with sarcosine and cyanamide and don’t contain any animal products.
So, if you’re looking for vegan creatine supplementation, we recommend taking powdered creatine monohydrate.
Of course, this only applies to pure creatine powder as a single ingredient.
You can even mix the creatine monohydrate with your vegan protein powder and make a powerful shake.
PRO TIP: Before buying your creatine supplements, always check the product label to see if it has a vegan certification. Go through the ingredients list with a fine-toothed comb. It may still be vegan diet friendly.
What Makes Creatine Not Vegan-Friendly? Things to Look Out For
Some forms of creatine supplements are made using animal products and aren’t vegan-friendly, namely creatine capsules (though, some are. We explain a bit further down).
An ingredient to watch out for in the capsules is bovine gelatin, which is collagen derived from animal products.
Although bovine gelatin is a natural ingredient that is safe to ingest, you wouldn’t want to find this in the list of ingredients of your vegan creatine supplement.
Bovine gelatin is typically made from the collagen of either a pig or cow.
This doesn’t mean all creatine supplementation in capsule or pill form aren’t vegan friendly (there are vegan/vegetarian capsules), but what it does mean is that you need to look out for a vegan certificate or go through the ingredients list.
Also, if you’re buying a supplement that has creatine mixed in (pre-workout or protein, for example), it may contain animal by-products mixed in with the supplemental creatine.
This type of creatine supplement is obviously not for you if you’re committed to being 100% vegan. Always check the label.
We wouldn’t recommend creatine in capsule form anyway, due to the much higher cost per dose.
What to Look For When Buying a Vegan Creatine Supplement
- Avoid marketing hype around “vegan creatine”. Almost all creatine monohydrate powder is manufactured with a vegan-friendly process, and is vegan by default.
- Look for a Vegan certified label. If you don’t see one, go through the ingredients list to be sure.
- If you’re going for capsules, be sure that the capsules aren’t made from bovine and are vegan-friendly.
Should Vegans Take Creatine?
Yes, vegans should take creatine. While Creatine is a non-essential supplement for the body, there are huge benefits to supplementing it.
It contains three amino acids that are naturally produced by our liver and kidneys to promote muscle and brain function, but our bodies don’t produce enough for peak athletic performance at maximum intensities.
While creatine is commonly found in everyday food like meat and fish, for someone who is vegan (or even on a vegetarian diet), their creatine levels may be low because of their diet.
People with low creatine levels may suffer from lower muscle mass and even chronic liver disease, making creatine for vegans and vegetarians especially important for optimal health.
Creatinine, the waste product of creatine has even been shown in a lab setting (5) to fight disease by stopping the growth of bacteria, (though more evidence is needed in humans).
Luckily, you can easily take a vegan creatine supplement to help you out. Most of the time, creatine is vegan.
For many years, bodybuilders and even vegan athletes have turned to take creatine supplementation. It’s a great way to boost anyone’s athletic performance.
Benefits of Creatine Supplementation For Vegans
Whether you’re a vegan or not, creatine supplementation can help you and your aesthetic or athletic goals.
There isn’t necessarily any evidence that there is MORE benefit to taking creatine for vegetarians and vegans over people who follow an omnivorous diet (1), but there is evidence that it benefits almost everyone!
A creatine supplement can help increase muscle creatine stores stored in the skeletal muscle, helping them to contract during maximal intensity exercise, thus improving athletic performance, and increasing lean body mass (both directly and indirectly).
If you’re not yet convinced why you need to drink creatine supplements, we’ve listed some of the key benefits below.
Better Memory and Brain Function
People who have adopted a plant-based diet may have a higher propensity to suffer from short-term memory loss.
Luckily, it has been scientifically proven that having a steady and healthy level of creatine helps in a person’s cognitive function.
Studies show that there is a significant improvement in the short-term memory of a person.
That being said, keeping a healthy daily maintenance dose of vegan creatine is ideal for people who want to keep their minds sharp.
Fight Against Alzheimer’s and PARKINSON’S
Studies are even looking at how a creatine supplement can help people with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
So far, research shows that drinking a creatine supplement can help people who are more likely to have Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s in their later years.
More Muscle Energy
Bodybuilders know the benefits of creatine for giving our muscles that bit of extra energy.
During a workout, our muscles energy stores, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), get depleted.
When this happens, creatine supplements can help replace the lost ATP quicker to give your muscles more energy and help them contract.
This translates to better and longer performance at the gym and shorter recovery time after intense training.
Not only can creatine supplements boost your muscle energy, but they can also help increase creatine stores and promote new muscle growth .
This is why even non-vegans take synthetic creatine supplements to boost their workout.
High-Intensity Exercise Performance
For athletes dealing with repetitive high-intensity workouts, endurance is always important.
Drinking a protein powder isn’t always enough, and many turn to drinking creatine supplements. This has become sports nutrition 101 for many and for good reason.
One benefit of most creatine supplements is they can give many athletes an extra energy boost and power at the tail end of maximum intensity bouts of exercise.
Not only that, but it also helps athletes resist muscle fatigue and improves recovery time.
Helps Lower Blood Sugar
Several research points to the idea that a healthy level of creatine can aid in lowering a person’s blood sugar.
This is ideal for people at risk of developing diabetes or who are already experiencing diabetes.
Do Vegans Have Low Creatine Levels?
Yes. People with vegan diets will have a lower level of creatine than meat eaters, though this isn’t significant for athletic performance in either diet group.
Unlike meat eaters, vegans and vegetarians don’t ingest the same amount of creatine through nutrition due to a lack of creatine rich foods.
You’ll hardly find creatine in plant-based foods. As a result, vegans supplement creatine to avoid experiencing problems like the following:
- Lower muscle creatine stores
- Poor muscle contraction
- Slow muscle recovery
But again, everyone stands to benefit from creatine, vegans included.
What Food Sources Can Vegans Get Creatine From?
Unfortunately, there is no vegan food that naturally has an abundance of creatine (but this even rings true for meat eaters – you’d have to consume A LOT of meat to have an effect).
This is why many vegans supplement creatine.
Some foods will contain insignificant amounts including:
- Nuts and seeds
but this isn’t enough to see the benefits of supplementing with creatine powder or caps.
This is why several vegans experience low levels of creatine.
Although creatine is naturally produced by our body, meats and fish boost creatine production, but not to any large degree in meat eaters either.
But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost for vegans. Supplementing with creatine will give you the benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s answer some of the most important questions related to the question, “is creatine vegan”, we always get from other people or see online.
Are Creatine Supplements Cruelty-Free?
Yes. Supplemental, synthetic creatine, is generally cruelty-free.
It’s not something you need to worry about when looking for creatine products, unless you’re going for the capsule form of creatine.
Vegan-friendly creatine is usually made up of sarcosine and cyanamide, an amino acid and organic compound.
But because most creatine supplements are cruelty-free and vegan-friendly doesn’t mean you can buy all of them.
There may still be some products that use animal by-products or mix them into a supplement stack.
This is especially true for creatine supplements that come in capsule form.
As a rule, always check if there is a vegan certification or vegan label. Check the packaging for the ingredients list to be absolutely sure.
What Are the Different Kinds of Creatine?
There are many types of creatine but only really one that you need to know about: Creatine monohydrate.
You may see more fancy and expensive creatine types like creatine HCL, Creatine Ethyl Ester, Kre-Alkalyn and the like, but the majority of sports nutrition studies have been done on regular Monohydrate.
To date, no other form of creatine has been found to be superior.
Let’s examine the key differences between HCL, which is one of the effective alternatives, and why monohydrate is almost always still the best option for you.
Our livers and kidneys naturally produce creatine. It combines three amino acids that our body needs for muscle and brain function and is stored in our skeletal muscles.
Vegan bodybuilders and gym enthusiasts in general commonly incorporate creatine monohydrate supplementation into their nutrition plans.
It’s one of the best ways to improve resistance training at high-intensity exercise capacities, and enhance performance.
You can do what’s known as a LOADING PHASE to more quickly saturate the muscle and reap the benefits of ingesting this type of creatine.
The loading phase increases creatine in your muscle stores more quickly.
In general, 5 grams grams of creatine powder is enough, every day.
But during the loading phase, you’ll consume 20 grams of supplemental creatine, split into 4 to 5 doses (but not really necessary) every day for 5-7 days.
Doing this helps increase muscle creatine levels and see the benefits of creatine sooner. This phase isn’t necessary and you’ll see results without it a few weeks later.
Creatine HCL may also be a good vegan creatine supplement.
The point of taking creatine HCL is supposed to be so that it isn’t as overwhelming as creatine monohydrate to take because you supposedly don’t need to drink as large a dose.
If that’s the case, shouldn’t creatine HCL be better? Well, not necessarily.
It produces similar (2) results but is usually far more expensive and…tastes like s**t.
No, really. It’s truly awful and bitter. This is a dealbreaker for mixing it into your preferred liquid to drink, where as standard creatine powder is tasteless.
Though, one study (3) puts its solubility in liquid at 30-38 times greater than standard monohydrate.
If chalkiness and sediment at the bottom of your glass bothers you, then maybe try creatine HCL.
Although creatine HCL isn’t anything new, more extensive and detailed studies have been done on creatine monohydrate powder than this one. Stick with monohydrate.
Side Effects – Is Creatine Safe?
Overall, supplemental creatine is deemed safe (4) to drink and has many benefits. It’s one of the most studied supplements of all time and is ideal for anyone who would benefit from increased creatine stores, such as vegans!
However, do note that there are some minor side effects some people experience that you need to be aware of before you start chugging your creatine drink.
Most people don’t get these
Several people who drink supplemental creatine report that they experience weight gain.
This shouldn’t be a deal breaker for many people because the weight increase is either A) wanted! and/or B) of high quality. Creatine draws water into the muscles, making them look fuller and perform better.
The same goes for people who intend to gain weight, such as bodybuilders, and those who are consciously trying to build size and strength.
The only people this would bother would be athletes trying to make a certain weight for sports.
Otherwise, don’t be worried about the scales going up. Especially if you’re using it while trying to drop body fat.
Creatine can not make you fat since it contains no calories, nor does it have an effect on hormones.
Drinking supplemental creatine means more water is stored in your muscle. As above, this should be a non-issue to some people.
But again, for athletes trying to stick to a specific weight category, this may be a concern. Otherwise, water retention in the muscles shouldn’t be a cause for concern and, in fact, makes your muscles appear fuller.
Liver or Kidney Function
For anyone suffering from liver or kidney disease, they should consult with a doctor before taking supplemental creatine.
Adding creatine supplements to their diet may pose more of a risk.
We always recommend seeing a physician and asking whether creatine supplements are safe for you.
Healthy individuals may be concerned to see their creatinine (creatine waste product) levels increasing with creatine use but this is a normal occurrence with creatine use and shouldn’t worry you.
Do double check with your Doctor though that this is the case.
Upset Stomach and Musculoskeletal Injury
Some people claim to have experienced either musculoskeletal injury or an upset stomach from drinking supplemental creatine.
Is there any evidence behind such claims? To date, there is none.
Although several people attribute the side effects of drinking creatine, there is not enough data and scientific evidence to show the correlation between the two.
Gastric discomfort could be due to taking high doses (during loading) or for another reason. Maybe try micronized vs creatine monohydrate in this case.
Should you be worried? We don’t think so. But if it persists, creatine may not be for you. Just be sure there aren’t other factors at play.
Is creatine one of the most studied supplements in the world and deemed safe? Yes!
Observe the proper dosing protocols, and always consult your physician if you have any concerns.
The more creatine you ingest doesn’t always mean better.
If you’re doing a creatine loading phase (20 grams a day for 5 days), then that’s usually the only time you need to take more than 5 grams daily.
So, Is Creatine Vegan? Conclusion
Consider taking vegan creatine supplements if you’ve always wanted to improve your muscle performance during high-intensity exercise. Vegans supplement creatine with fantastic results.
Generally, creatine is vegan and does wonders to help you build muscle mass, improve athletic performance in close to maximum intensity exercises and help increase creatine stores in your body.
Your vegan diet doesn’t have to get in the way of your body goals – drink your powdered creatine or take vegan creatine capsules and you’ll be good to go.
Plant-based eaters and vegetarian subjects will be happy to know there are a bunch of vegan-friendly creatine supplementation out there!
We hope you this article answered all of your questions and alleviated any fears.
Let us know in the comments section below what vegan creatine you drink or take and how it benefited you.
(1) Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Apr 27;17(9):3041. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17093041. Benefits of Creatine Supplementation for Vegetarians Compared to Omnivorous Athletes: A Systematic Review
(2) Is creatine hydrochloride better than creatine monohydrate for the improvement of physical performance and hormonal changes in young trained men? Science & Sports, Volume 35, Issue 5, 2020, Pages e135-e141, ISSN 0765-1597, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scispo.2019.07.013.
(3) J Diet Suppl. 2010 Sep;7(3):240-52. doi: 10.3109/19390211.2010.491507.
Physicochemical characterization of creatine N-methylguanidinium salts
(4) Front Nutr. 2018; 5: 115. Published online 2018 Nov 28. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2018.00115 .PMCID: PMC6279854. PMID: 30547033. Safety of Creatine Supplementation in Active Adolescents and Youth: A Brief Review
(5) McDonald, T., Drescher, K., Weber, A. et al. Creatinine inhibits bacterial replication. J Antibiot 65, 153–156 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/ja.2011.131