Steph Coelho is a freelance writer with a passion for storytelling and a talent for turning complex information into compelling content. With nearly a decade of experience in writing and editing, Steph has a diverse portfolio of work that spans across multiple industries, including health and wellness. When she's not writing, Steph can be found out hiking or trying out new recipes in the kitchen.

What do you think of when you hear the word collagen? If beef and fish come to mind, that's probably because most of today's collagen supplements come from animal and marine sources. But supplementing with animal sources isn’t the only way to boost collagen — there are vegan options too! 

Curious about the types of collagen and the differences between vegan and animal collagen — and which one may be a better pick for nourishing your skin? Let’s dive into it.

What is Collagen?

Before we can compare "plant-based" collagen and animal collagen, it’s crucial to understand this protein and what it does for your body.

Collagen has a triple helix structure and is mostly made up of amino acids, including hydroxyproline, glycine, and proline. 

Your bones, cartilage, connective tissue, tendons, and skin all contain collagen, which helps provide strength and elasticity to tissues. Think of collagen like the springs of a mattress. It’s made up of long, thin fibrils, some of which are tougher than titanium. Collagen is also incredibly flexible. 

And collagen isn’t just a strong and supportive sidekick. It also plays an essential role in wound repair and communication between cells.

Animal-based foods like beef and bone broth are the natural sources of collagen, but many other foods contain the building blocks that can help your body with natural collagen production. 

Think of collagen like the springs of a mattress. It’s made up of long, thin fibrils, some of which are tougher than titanium.

Foods rich in amino acids that make up collagen include:

  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Beans, nuts, seeds
  • Mushrooms

Your body also needs other nutrients like Zinc and Vitamin C to produce collagen, which you can get from food sources like:

  • Leafy greens
  • Bell peppers 
  • Broccoli and cabbage
  • Citrus fruits
  • Berries
  • Tomatoes
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Whole grains

What Can Cause Collagen to Decline?

Over time, your body naturally produces less collagen, which is partly why your skin’s appearance changes so much over the years, losing elasticity and plumpness. Less Lower collagen levels often can lead to more fine lines. And this isn’t something that starts in your 60s. Your body may start to produce less collagen once you hit your 20s, so kickstarting collagen production early can help you take charge of your skin health. 

Lifestyle factors, like smoking, drinking, and getting too much sun, can further contribute to hindered collagen production. High-stress levels, inflammation, and eating large amounts of refined sugars can also impact your body’s ability to make collagen — and negatively influence your skin health. 

To combat collagen loss, it’s wise to adopt healthy lifestyle habits and consuming whole-food, nutrient-rich foods. Also, research suggests that ingesting collagen is a good way to make up for this decline in production. Studies show that when you eat collagen, those collagen peptides will go where they’re needed, stimulating collagen production and improving tissue and skin health.

Your body starts to produce less collagen once you hit your 20s, so kickstarting collagen production early can help you take charge of your skin health.

What’s the Difference Between Vegan vs Animal Collagen?

Animal collagen supplements come from different parts of animals that contain collagen, including connective tissue, bone, and cartilage. Collagen is extracted by boiling these animal parts until they break down into gooey gelatin and eventually into collagen peptides.

Because collagen is a protein only naturally found in animal products, there’s no "plant-based" source of collagen. 

That said, collagen-boosting supplements don’t have to contain actual collagen to work wonders for your skin and hair. Most vegan collagen supplements are chock full of collagen-building block ingredients — like Vitamin C, Calcium, Zinc, Copper, and Vitamin D. These vitamins and minerals help the body make more collagen by stimulating fibroblast activity. Fibroblasts are essential for the production of collagen.

They might also include elements known to rev up your body’s collagen production, like Hyaluronic Acid, which helps your skin retain moisture and delivers nourishment to the collagen already present in your skin.

Collagen Protect®  is a vegan collagen powder and skin supplement to help protect and preserve your natural collagen.

Cons of Animal Collagen

Even if you’re not vegan, here are a few things to consider when opting for  animal collagen sources:

  • You need more than collagen for collagen synthesis.  Animal collagen sources alone won’t do much to replenish decreasing collagen levels. Your body also needs building blocks like amino acids, vitamins, and minerals to produce more collagen.
  • Choose products from reputable retailers. When you eat animal collagen, you’re also eating everything those animals ate down the food chain, including heavy metals like lead. The most sustainable, ethical, and environmentally friendly source of animal collagen comes from grass-fed livestock. 

Animal-based sources are less environmentally friendly than plant-based ones. .  Raising animals for food and by-products takes a heavy toll on the environment. Emissions from livestock make up a significant portion of global greenhouse gas production. Ultimately, a vegan collagen-boosting supplement is a greener choice.

Pros of Vegan Collagen

Plant-based collagen-promoting supplements provide the necessary ingredients for your body to produce more collagen naturally. They also:

  • Tend to be more affordable than animal derived collagen products
  • Are less likely to contain contaminants
  • Often contain traceable, sustainably sourced ingredients with a minimal eco-footprint

Does Vegan Collagen Work? 

If you’re wondering if vegan collagen works, you’re not alone. Your body can make collagen out of key nutrients either from plant-based food sources or a vegan supplement. Of course, getting all those essential nutrients from diet alone can be tricky. That’s where vegan collagensupplementation comes in, filling in the gaps to help support collagen synthesis. 

Evidence suggests that plant-based collagen boosters containing various vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin A, Biotin, and Silica, can help improve skin and hair health, and support your overall health, too. 

Here’s a quick rundown of what the research says about these ingredients for skin health:

  • Vitamin C. Not having enough Vitamin C can hinder collagen formation. One 2018 study found that Vitamin C may help increase collagen synthesis and lower oxidative stress, which can impact collagen production. 
  • Biotin. Not having enough Biotin can impact the look of your skin and hair. Fixing a deficiency may help boost hydration and improve hair and skin health. 
  • Vitamin A. Vitamin A has well-known skin regeneration abilities and plays a vital role in wound healing and collagen synthesis, according to research
  • Silica. Your body needs silica to produce new collagen, but while your body is capable of naturally producing silica, levels decline as you age. 
  • Hyaluronic Acid. Like with collagen, age and environmental factors can cause declining HA levels. Research shows that HA may help protect collagen and support its production. 

You can find Hyaluronic Acid in both Collagen Protect® and Plump Jelly®, which work together to preserve collagen and hydrate from the inside out and outside in. Collagen Protect® is a vegan collagen powder supplement to increase skin moisture, support a healthy skin barrier, and help protect collagen. Plump Jelly® is a Hyaluronic Acid face serum for hydration, elasticity, and bounce. 
If you’re interested in learning more about collagen, the best time to take collagen, and how to use collagen powder, check out our blog for additional content!