Organic protein includes any source of dietary protein, whether in whole-food or supplement form, that is organically grown or raised. To be certified as organic, it generally must be produced in chemical-free soil without the assistance of pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, or artificial additives. Often, organic protein refers to organic protein powders that can be mixed with water or milk to form a shake, blended into smoothies, or added to oatmeal or other foods. Types of protein powders include whey protein, which is derived from milk, soy protein, hemp protein, and other vegetarian protein sources like pea protein.
As a dietary supplement, organic protein may be recommended for a variety of reasons, whether to add protein to a vegetarian diet, to recover after a surgery or injury, or to support the building of muscle mass. Vegetarians and vegans, individuals whose diets are lacking in animal protein, may be advised to supplement with a plant-based protein powder like hemp or soy protein to make up this deficit. Those who lift weights, even if they only desire an increase in muscle tone, can benefit from the consumption of a protein shake immediately post-workout, as it promotes the repairing of muscle cells damaged during the exercise session. In fact, anyone who needs to build or repair bodily tissues may potentially benefit from protein supplementation.
The most widely available form of protein powder is whey protein, which contains a type of protein that is released as a by-product when milk is made into cheese. Whey protein isolate, the form typically found in protein powder, is touted for its ability to be broken down very quickly during digestion, making it more readily available for use by the body. For whey to be considered an organic protein, not only must the milk be organic — coming from cows that are raised without the use of antibiotics, hormones, or other chemicals — but the processes used to make the cheese must be performed organically as well.
An alternative form of organic protein that has become popular with vegetarians is hemp powder. Made from the seeds of the cannabis plant, which already tends to be organically raised, hemp is said to contain almost all of the essential amino acids that the body needs from dietary protein sources. This may help to address some of the nutritional deficits of the vegetarian diet, which may be lacking in certain amino acids that are typically only available in animal foods.
Another type of organic protein is soy protein powder, which is derived from soybeans, one of the world’s most widely grown agricultural products. The soybeans from which the powder is derived must of course be grown organically to be considered an organic protein. As they can be produced fairly cheaply they may be a less expensive form of protein powder for vegetarians. Soy protein, however, contains fewer amino acids than hemp protein and cannot be digested as easily.