Which Optibac Probiotics are best for vegans and vegetarians?

All of our probiotic products are suitable for vegetarians and are approved by the Vegetarian Society. The majority of our supplements are suitable for vegans too.

Following a vegan diet is becoming increasingly popular, there are currently 1.5 million1 people in the UK and around 9.7 million2 in the US who class themselves as vegan, with these numbers on the incline. Vegans and vegetarians look set to make up a quarter of the British population in 2025; motivations behind the decision to follow a vegan or vegetarian diet are varied but include concerns about health, animal cruelty, and the environment.

In this article we will look at:

Vegetarian society vegan approved

Which Optibac Probiotics supplements are vegan?

All our products are suitable for vegetarians, the below products are suitable for vegans and will be labelled as vegan:

Shop all our vegan probiotic supplements.

The rest of the Optibac Probiotics range may contain tiny traces of dairy, as some of our probiotic strains are cultured on a base of organic dairy & soy before being extracted. Although these products do not contain dairy as an ingredient, they are not suitable for those that are strictly adhering to a vegan diet. Read more about this here: Which Optibac Probiotics are lactose & dairy free?

What are vegan probiotics?

Probiotics can only be classed as vegan when they are fermented (or grown) on a medium that does not contain any animal derived ingredients, typically dairy in the fermentation of probiotics. Whilst none of the dairy growing medium will be added to the end product, the fact that the bacteria have been grown on a dairy ‘substrate’ means that we cannot rule out possible trace amounts in the finished product. 

If you want a purely vegan probiotic supplement, choose supplements labelled as veganAll our certified vegan supplements have been grown on a medium that does not contain dairy or other animal-derived ingredients. These supplements have the ‘vegan approved’ certification from the Vegetarian Society and do not use or contain any other animal products. 

Some may wonder why we don’t always use a dairy-free growing medium for all our supplements, to enable our whole range to be vegan. Whilst this may sound simple, the fact is that some strains of probiotics just do not grow well on a medium that does not contain any dairy. Just like you or I have our favourite foods, so do bacteria! But we still have one of the best ranges of vegan supplements.

Which are the best vegan friendly probiotic strains?

There has been some debate as to whether the microbiome of vegans is different to those who eat animal products3, and therefore will they need specific strains of friendly bacteria. Find out more about how a vegan or vegetarian diet impacts your gut over in the Probiotics Learning Lab. Certainly a healthy vegan diet will be typically full of natural plant fibres and natural vegan fermented foods, and these will naturally encourage, or contain, strains of bacteria which like to ferment plant-based foods.

But when it comes to choosing a vegan supplement, the answer is simple: the best probiotic strains for vegans are the ones which have been researched for their individual needs, especially if they have health concerns. Read more about how different strains have different properties. Thankfully, there are numerous highly researched vegan strains so it is easy the one which suts your needs best. For those concerned about whether vegan probiotics are as effective, be reassured that in fact some of the world's most researched probiotic strains are classed as vegan, including friendly yeast Saccharomyces boulardii, and Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM®, the most researched strain of L.acidophilus in the world. 

How do vegans get probiotics from their diet?

There are many ways for vegans to incorporate probiotic bacteria in their diets, including consuming plant-based fermented foods and drinks as mentioned above. Those trying out a plant-based diet for the first time may experience changes in their digestion as the good bacteria flourish, one study found that men, in particular, can break wind up to 7 times more per day4! These probiotic-rich foods are easily accessible nowadays and offer global benefits, so it's great to include some in your diet if you are vegan. Check out our list of some of the best below. 

7 of the best vegan fermented foods

It's highly recommended to eat a broad and varied diet if you are vegan, and you should definitely include a variety of natural fermented foods in your diet. However, be aware that it is not easy to find out which strains, or even species, of probiotics you may be eating or drinking when you consume fermented foods and drinks, or the number of billions. You may wish to read more about this topic in our Probiotics Learning Lab article: Fermented Foods vs. Probiotics. Therefore, if you are vegan and suffer from a particular symptom or health concern, it still makes sense to take a probiotic supplement containing strains that are the most appropriate for your needs, where the research is available.

Optibac Probiotics supplements are fine to consume alongside the following delicious natural foods:

  1. Sauerkraut - delicious fermented cabbage, crunchy and tangy
  2. Kimchi - an Asian version of sauerkraut, which is sour and sometimes quite spicy
  3. Pickles - the above are examples of traditional pickled foods, but you can pickle pretty much any vegetable! Try making your own - to contain friendly bacteria however, they should be made with brine5 and not vinegar
  4. Raw apple cider vinegar - not to be confused with normal vinegar, apple cider vinegar containing 'the mother' is full of natural enzymes and friendly bacteria6
  5. Yoghurt - even though it's typically made with milk, we can't leave this old favourite out as there are so many yummy vegan versions around, made with non-dairy milks such as soya, almond or coconut milk
  6. Tempeh - tofu's fermented cousin, this fermented soy bean food is much denser and more satisfying, but just as easy to flavour with your favourite spices
  7. Kombucha - as long as it's made with natural cane sugar and not honey, this delicious, slightly sparkling, slightly alcoholic drink is a delicious addition to your vegan diet

References

  1. Finder. 2021. Online. Available at: https://www.finder.com/uk/uk-diet-trends [Accessed 30 September 30 2021]
  2. Vegannews US. 2021. Online Available at: https://vegannews.press/2020/03/06/vegan-america-study/ [Accessed 30 September 30 2021]
  3. Glick-Bauer, M., & Yeh, M.-C. (2014). The Health Advantage of a Vegan Diet: Exploring the Gut Microbiota Connection. Nutrients, 6(11), 4822–4838. http://doi.org/10.3390/nu6114822
  4. Barber, Claudia, et al (2021) "Differential Effects of Western and Mediterranean-Type Diets on Gut Microbiota: A Metagenomics and Metabolomics Approach" Nutrients 13, no. 8: 2638.
  5. Ragul K, Kandasamy S, Devi PB, Shetty PH. Evaluation of functional properties of potential probiotic isolates from fermented brine pickle. Food Chem. 2020 May 1;311:126057. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2019.126057. Epub 2019 Dec 14. PMID: 31869636.
  6. Cousin, F. J., Le Guellec, R., Schlusselhuber, M., Dalmasso, M., Laplace, J. M., & Cretenet, M. (2017). Microorganisms in Fermented Apple Beverages: Current Knowledge and Future Directions. Microorganisms, 5(3), 39. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms5030039

This FAQ was answered by: Camilla Gray, Nutritional Therapist DipCNM.