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How Can Vegetarians and Vegans Get More Collagen?

There’s not doubting it – the push towards a plant based diet has never been as popular as it is now. And it’s hardly surprising when you see how terrible and unsustainable the commercial meat market is. If buying your meat from supermarkets was your only option, you’d have to seriously think twice about wanting to support that industry.

Eating meat from reputable butchers who grass feed and finish their meat and allow all fowl to free roam is hopefully the way of the future and these gourmet butchers are definitely on the rise as we customers get more savvy with our ethical dollars. For some, the death of an animal will never be acceptable but for many others meat is a desirable food source and as long as they are supporting small, sustainable meat producers then they’re happy (I fall into this second category by the way).

It’s relatively easy for meat eaters to get a wide range of nutrients from their diet, but if you’ve removed meat and meat products then it may pose more of a challenge. Unfortunately, a lot of plant based eaters don’t substitute these products with appropriate alternatives however with the age of Google, it’s now a lot easier to do your research (although it may be biased depending on what sites you’re looking at).

The only thing I can talk about with any authority is sources of collagen. This is a nutrient that is found in our body and is produced in abundance until we are in our early 20s. After that, our production drops significantly and our body keeps it for is in our joints and around our organs (our body isn’t really concerned if our skin looks aged, damn it!!!). So, how do we get more collagen into our body to improve our skin?

Well, there’s two ways.

Firstly, controlled trauma to the skin. This is best done via skin needling. During wound healing, excess collagen is produced so that healing occurs quickly and effectively. When we skin needle, we create this trauma. Be aware though, there is a fine line between producing collagen and pushing too hard and producing collagenase (the enzyme that BREAKS DOWN collagen….not what we want!!) so it’s imperative that you have your skin needling done by a licensed professional.

Secondly, you can ingest collagen in powdered form. These are very popular now and can have quite a good result as long as you remember a couple of things…firstly, collagen powders are only effective if they come from an animal source. As at this time, there has been no proven benefit of any “vegan” collagen. Bovine is still the best, but marine collagen (from fish, not plants) is also effective. The molecule size also needs to come into play as it has to go through the gut lining to be shared out to the cells. The body (as a general rule) needs small molecule sizes of everything so that it can uptake a wide range of nutrients. Large molecular sizes cannot penetrate in our bodies – either from the inside or the outside.

So, if you’re plant based and can’t take animal collagen – are there any other options for you? Yes. And it’s basic science.

The Beauty Chef makes a tonic called (funnily enough) Collagen. It does NOT contain actual collagen as The Beauty Chef is a vegan range. Instead, it contains a diverse range of pre- and probiotics to improve gut health. The thought being that if your gut is in great health, the collagen you DO produce will be top notch. So my suggestion would be – take Collagen tonic daily and have a course of 6 skin needling sessions. You’ll be producing your own collagen (the best option), you’ll be improving your skin health, you’ll be improving your gut health and as a by-product, the collagen you will be producing will be in the best condition that it can be… you the best skin you can possibly have.