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Can Collagen Be Vegan? Everything You Need To Know About Vegan Collagen

Written by Shelby Torrese

Reviewed by Liz Brown

Ever wondered if collagen can be vegan? Discover everything you need to know about vegan collagen and what science says about it…

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Collagen is everywhere these days. It’s in beauty products, health and workout supplements, even coffee. What so many people are dying to know, though— Is collagen vegan? And if not, is there such a thing as vegan collagen or vegetarian collagen?

The short answer is no, but there are some food sources that can trigger our bodies to boost our own collagen supply, and act as a plant based collagen. While these are not as efficient as animal-sourced collagen, they are a great option for anyone who is trying to maintain a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Article At A Glance

  • What is collagen?
  • Where does collagen come from?
  • Plant-based foods that boost collagen production
  • Vegan vs animal collagen
Type 2 collagen

What Is Collagen?

The beauty world is rampant with collagen, but what is collagen? Collagen is a major protein in the body that makes up almost a third of our body’s overall protein supply. It plays an essential role in maintaining the structure and strength of our connective tissues. This includes our bones, skin, and cartilage. [1]

A loss or decrease in collagen production leads to a loss of elasticity, causing skin to sag, joints to wither down, and a variety of other side effects associated with aging. So, to counteract the natural breakdown of collagen, collagen peptide supplements can be used to boost our own collagen levels! [2] The most effective sources of collagen are animal-sourced, and obviously cannot claim to be vegan collagen.

Where Does Collagen Come From? (Collagen Sources)

The most popular collagen sources are from bovine (cow), marine (fish), and fowl (chicken) sources, so inherently they are not vegan collagen sources. Below is a rundown of popular animal-sourced collagens and their benefits.

Bovine collagen (cow)

You’ve probably heard some buzz about bone broth and how it boosts collagen. That’s because bovine collagen delivers your body a healthy dose of Types I and III collagen. Benefits of bovine collagen include [2]:

  • Improves joint cartilage
  • Strengthens bones
  • Accelerates wound healing
  • Improves metabolism

Marine collagen (fish)

Known as the beauty collagen, marine collagen is one of the highest quality collagens because it increases the level of Type I collagen which results in [3]:

  • Stronger hair
  • Healthier nails
  • Glowing skin
  • Erased wrinkles

Fowl collagen (chicken)

Fowl collagen is usually included in collagen supplements because it has such a strong nutritional profile. Fowl collagen contains Type II collagen, which [4]:

  • Promotes lubricated, mobile joints
  • Supports flexibility
  • Supports a healthy weight
  • Prevents physical signs of aging

Is There A Plant-Based Collagen Source?

To summarize the whole vegetarian collagen question: Collagen itself is not found in plants, only in animals, so it is impossible to get collagen from plant-based foods. While some foods can help our body to produce more collagen, they themselves do not directly provide collagen to the body like animal sources do.

For anyone who is set on using plant based collagen, I’ve compiled a list of foods that can help your body create collagen, but again, they do not contain collagen on their own. They make your body work a bit harder to create its own supply, and is the closest you’ll get to a vegan collagen option (for now!).

marine collagen

Plant-Based Foods That Boost Collagen Production

1. Soy foods 

Vegan foods like tempeh, soybeans, soy milk, soy protein powder, and tofu can kind of act as vegan collagen because they boost collagen production due to their high level of genistein. Soy foods also contain specific enzymes that break down the elasticity of the skin. However, because soy is one of the most genetically modified crops, it’s not something you want to eat as a part of your everyday diet. [5]

2. Nuts & seeds

Eating a variety of nuts in your diet, like cashews, peanuts, and pistachios, can help boost collagen levels. Same goes for seeds, including sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and chia seeds. Certain types of seeds contain the necessary ingredients to boost collagen and are a great source of healthy fat and plant-based protein.

3. Leafy greens

If you’re looking for a plant based collagen source, simply opt for leafy greens! Powerhouses like spinach, kale, and swiss chard are chock full of antioxidant ingredients that help your body boost collagen production and reverse the signs of aging. For example, chlorophyll protects the body against free-radical damage, which can interrupt collagen production. [6]

4. Berries

Berries are excellent plant sources to improve skin health, though they are not necessarily vegan collagen. When your diet is high in berries and vitamin C, you’re supporting the stimulation of collagen. An added bonus is that berries contain a high number of antioxidants to help protect your skin from sun damage. [6]

Vegan Collagen vs Animal-Sourced Collagen

In theory, vegan collagen and vegetarian collagen sounds great. Unfortunately, vegan collagen doesn’t deliver actual collagen into the body the same way animal-sourced collagen does. Once our body can no longer create a surplus of its own collagen, animal-sourced collagen is the way to go.

Animal-based collagens that are hydrolyzed, meaning the collagen has been broken down in order to be better absorbed into the bloodstream, will always exceed the benefits of plant based collagen sources.

The best hydrolyzed collagen peptides, and my personal favorite, is SkinnyFit Super Youth collagen because it contains five different types of collagen from four unique sources. The collagen found in Super Youth work together to reverse the physical signs of aging, and allow  our bodies to age beautifully. It contains bovine collagen, marine collagen, chicken collagen, and eggshell membrane collagen. The varying types of collagen found in different sources work together to provide maximum benefits (and maximum results!). 

The Bottom Line: Can Collagen Be Vegan?

The bottom line is that collagen cannot be vegan. Collagen is an animal byproduct and while certain vegetables can boost the body’s ability to produce collagen, it cannot provide the body directly with a collagen source. Vegan collagen cannot offer what traditional collagen can. If you’re looking for an animal-sourced collagen to supplement your diet, try SkinnyFit Super Youth collagen. Taking Super Youth regularly improves skin elasticity, supports the connective tissue of organs, and helps to repair and maintain the body.

Mentioned In This Post

SkinnyFit Unflavored Collagen

Look and feel younger with Super Youth Multi-Collagen Peptides! This versatile collagen powder includes 5 collagen types from 4 natural sources to restore youthfulness from the inside out.

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About The Author

Shelby Torrese

Nutrition, Movement & Meditation Coach

Shelby Torrese is a wellness enthusiast (and matcha fanatic!) from Miami, FL. She attributes her love of movement to her mom, a personal trainer, and her love of food to her dad, a farmer. She studied creative writing in college while getting her yoga certification, and went on to pursue fitness and nutrition in grad school. Her go-to advice is, “Balance,” and she is a firm believer that the ocean can cure just about everything.

  • Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher
  • NASM Certified Nutrition Coach
  • M.S. in Human Performance


Reviewed By

Liz Brown

Fitness & Nutrition Expert (CPT., FNS.)

Liz is a health & wellness expert, writer, and editor with over a decade of experience in the fitness & nutrition industry. She emphasizes research and simplifies complex topics to help make healthy living simple and sustainable. When she isn't researching and writing, she's sharing delicious recipes, easy DIYs, and home decor tips on her blog and social media.

More from Liz, visit: Personal Blog, TikTok, Instagram


  • NASM Certified Personal Trainer(since 2012)
  • NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist (since 2014)
  • Credentialed Coach Practitioner, Coach Training Academy
  • B.A. Liberal Studies (Health & Nutrition Sciences)
  • A.A. Liberal Arts (STEM)

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