Is Muscle Milk Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

September 29, 2023

Identifying whether Muscle Milk is vegan or not can be a challenging endeavor. These days lots of things are called “milk” when they contain no dairy at all. So you’re right to be unsure.

Processed food ingredients often contain a litany of unidentifiable ingredients that the layperson couldn’t possibly begin to dissect.

This article aims to shed light on the truth and support you, our conscious reader, in your compassionate vegan journey.

Is Muscle Milk Vegan?

No, Muscle Milk is not vegan.

Muscle Milk contains several ingredients derived from animals, including calcium and sodium caseinate, whey protein isolate and/or concentrate, and milk protein isolate and/or concentrate. These ingredients are derived from cow’s milk, making them non-vegan.

Is Muscle Milk Cruelty-Free?

No, Muscle Milk is not cruelty-free.

Not only is the dairy industry notorious for its cruel treatment of cows and their babies, but this product also contains ingredients derived from genetically engineered crops, particularly soy lecithin, which comes from soybeans, one of the most common GMO crops in the world. GMOs are tested on animals to ensure their safety for human consumption.

What Is Muscle Milk Made Of?

Muscle Milk, a popular protein shake, boasts a variety of ingredients. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Calcium caseinate and sodium caseinate
  • Whey protein isolates and/or whey protein concentrate
  • Milk protein isolates and/or concentrate
  • Whey peptides
  • L-glutamine
  • Taurine
  • Lactoferrin
  • Maltodextrin
  • Sunflower oil
  • Medium chain triglycerides
  • Canola oil
  • Soluble corn fiber
  • L-Carnitine
  • Alkalized cocoa powder
  • Natural and artificial flavors
  • Vitamin mineral blend
  • Fructooligosaccharides
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Potassium Iodide
  • Potassium chloride
  • Cellulose gum
  • Salt
  • Acesulfame potassium
  • Xanthan gum
  • Carrageenan
  • Sucralose
  • Soy lecithin

Calcium and Sodium Caseinate

Derived from milk, these ingredients act as a source of protein. They are not vegan because they come from animal sources.

Whey Protein Isolates and/or Concentrate

Whey protein is a milk derivative, serving as a primary protein source in Muscle Milk. It’s not vegan.

Milk Protein Isolates and/or Concentrate

Another milk derivative, this ingredient boosts protein content but is not vegan.

Whey Peptides

Whey peptides are smaller chains of amino acids derived from the hydrolysis of whey proteins. Like other whey derivatives, they come from milk and are not vegan.


L-glutamine is an amino acid that plays a crucial role in muscle recovery. It can be derived from both plant and animal sources, but in supplements, it’s typically synthesized and is considered vegan.


Taurine is an amino acid often found in meat and fish. However, the taurine used in supplements is usually synthetically produced, making it vegan friendly. However, it’s important to keep in mind that synthetically produced ingredients are tested on animals.


Lactoferrin is a protein found in cow’s milk and human milk. It’s known for its immune-boosting properties. Since it’s derived from milk, it’s not vegan.


Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate produced from starch, often from corn, rice, or potatoes. It’s vegan because it’s derived from plants.

Sunflower Oil

Extracted from sunflower seeds, this oil provides essential fatty acids. It’s vegan and plant-based.

Medium Chain Triglycerides

Often derived from coconut or palm oil, medium chain triglycerides provide energy. They are vegan.

Canola Oil

Canola oil is a vegetable oil derived from the seeds of the canola plant. It’s vegan and plant based, but it’s also often GMO.

Soluble Corn Fiber

This is a type of dietary fiber derived from corn. It’s vegan and plant based.


L-carnitine is an amino acid that plays a role in energy production. While it’s found in animal products, the version used in supplements is typically synthetic and is considered vegan.

Alkalized Cocoa Powder

This is cocoa powder that has been treated with an alkalizing agent to reduce its acidity. It’s derived from the cocoa bean and is vegan.

Natural and Artificial Flavors

These flavors can be derived from both plant and animal sources. Without specific details from the manufacturer, it’s hard to determine their vegan status. However, artificial flavors are tested on animals.

Vitamin Mineral Blend

This is a mix of various vitamins and minerals. The vegan status would depend on the specific vitamins and minerals included and their sources.


Derived from plant sources like fruits and vegetables, they are considered vegan.

Crystalline Fructose

This is a type of sugar derived from fruits. It’s vegan.

Potassium Iodide and Potassium Chloride

Both are mineral salts used for their nutritional value or as stabilizers. They are inorganic compounds and are vegan.

Cellulose Gum

Derived from plant cell walls, cellulose gum is a thickening agent. It’s vegan.


Salt is a mineral and is vegan.

Acesulfame Potassium

Acesulfame potassium is an artificial sweetener that’s synthesized and is considered vegan.

Xanthan Gum

Produced by fermenting sugars using a specific bacterium, xanthan gum is a thickening agent and is vegan.


Derived from red seaweed, carrageenan is used as a thickening and stabilizing agent. It’s vegan.


An artificial sweetener, sucralose is synthesized and is vegan.

Soy Lecithin

Soy lecithin is derived from soybeans and is used as an emulsifier. It’s vegan and plant based but GMO.

Vegan Alternatives to Muscle Milk

For those seeking vegan protein supplements, there’s no shortage of alternatives to Muscle Milk. Here are some categories and specific products to consider:

  • Plant-Based Protein Shakes: These shakes use proteins derived from plants, often pea protein. Try organic vegan options from OWYN Plant-Based Protein Shakes or Ripple Vegan Protein Shake, although the sugar in that last example might be processed with bone char.
  • Vegan Protein Powders: These are powders you can mix into your own shakes. Try Vega Sport Premium Protein and Orgain Organic Protein, both completely vegan.
  • Whole-food protein sources: Certain natural foods are rich in protein, including lentils, chickpeas, and quinoa.


Muscle Milk, while popular among fitness enthusiasts, is not suitable for those adhering to a vegan lifestyle due to its milk-derived ingredients.

However, the market offers a plethora of vegan alternative brands that align with ethical and dietary preferences.

Making informed food choices not only benefits our health but also contributes positively to the well-being of our planet and its inhabitants.