Vegan live cultures - which OptiBac supplements are suitable for vegans?

Following a vegan diet is becoming increasingly popular, and according to a survey commissioned by the Vegan Society the number of vegans in the UK has quadrupled in five years, between 2015-20191. By the end of 2019, there were 600,000 vegans living in the UK, as compared to just 150,000 in 20141. The steepest ever rise in numbers was seen in 2018, with almost half (42%)of conversions to veganism occurring in just that one calendar year. Motivations behind the decision to follow a vegan diet are varied, but include concerns about health, animal cruelty, and the environment.

vegan/vegetarian symbol

Which OptiBac supplements are vegan?

For those following a vegan diet and lifestyle, you will be happy to hear that the following live cultures supplements in our range are vegan:

Shop all our vegan supplements.

The rest of the OptiBac range may contain tiny traces of dairy, as some of our live culture strains (such as Bifidobacterium infantis Rosell-33 in ‘For babies & children’) are cultured on a basis of organic dairy & soy before being extracted. For this reason, the rest of the range is not suitable for those that are strictly adhering to a vegan diet.

A note about For your cholesterol: the live cultures in this product are dairy-free, however the omega-3 capsules are not suitable for vegans. Many vegan customers do still purchase this supplement, however. They might take the live cultures capsules themselves each day, and give the non-vegan omega-3 capsules to a friend or loved one so as not to waste them.

Why isn’t the whole range vegan?

Many people often wonder why some live cultures supplements are classed as vegan whilst others are not. The answer to this question is that live cultures can only be classed as vegan when they are fermented (or grown) on a medium that does not contain any dairy. A dairy-free growth medium eliminates any risk that the end product will contain traces of dairy/animal products, which are avoided in a vegan diet. 

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.

All of our certified vegan supplements have been grown on a medium that does not contain dairy. 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 friendly bacteria just do not grow well on a medium that does not contain any dairy. Just like you or I have our favourite foods, so too do bacteria! 

The below chart shows which products in the OptiBac range are certified vegan:

allergen chart

Find out more about how a vegan diet impacts your gut over in the Probiotics Learning Lab. 

References:

  1. The Vegan Society. 2020. Statistics. [online] Available at: https://www.vegansociety.com/news/media/statistics [Accessed 8 April 2020].

This article was last updated on 8th April 2020.

Author:  Kathy Wheddon, Nutritional Therapist DipION.