Is Creatine Vegan And Vegetarian?

December 18, 2023

Creatine is one of the most effective supplements on the market, but it is also found in foods like chicken, beef, pork, and eggs. So, does this mean that vegans and vegetarians need to exclude creatine supplements altogether?

Supplemental creatine powder is vegan and made from chemical compounds called sarcosine and cyanamide. However, the capsule form of creatine contains gelatine and is therefore not vegan.

You might be surprised to learn that creatine can be especially beneficial for vegans or vegetarians.

Is All Creatine Vegan?

Creatine is naturally found in animal products like chicken, beef, eggs, and pork [8]. However, creatine supplement powder is synthesized from sarcosine and cyanamide and does not contain animal by-products, meaning it is “vegan-friendly” [9, 10].

However, when creatine is in capsule form, the product is likely not vegan because the capsules are often made from gelatine, which contains animal by-products [7].

Benefits Of Creatine For Vegans And Vegetarians

Benefits Of Creatine For Vegans

The body naturally produces about 1 gram of creatine per day using the amino acids arginine, glycine, and methionine, which are found in protein-containing products and in higher amounts in meats [1].

An additional 1 gram of creatine is typically obtained from food for those who eat meat. However, vegan and vegetarian athletes may have lower creatine stores due to their reduced meat intake.

People who follow a vegetarian diet often experience a significant decrease in their dietary intake of creatine, with only minimal contributions from egg and dairy products.

However, if you follow a vegan diet, you will get almost no creatine from food [2]. Vegans and vegetarians also have lower blood, plasma, red blood cells, and muscle creatine, but not brain creatine [2, 3, 4, 5].

A deficiency in vitamin B12, which is prevalent among vegetarians, is associated with a decline in methionine production, potentially resulting in reduced production of creatine in the body [6].

In a recent systematic review [7] of 11 articles about creatine and vegetarians, researchers found that taking creatine supplements can boost muscle and overall health in people who don’t eat meat.

The study showed that creatine supplementation increased the levels of certain substances in muscles, blood, and cells, often more so in vegetarians than in meat-eaters.

If you are vegan or vegetarian, taking creatine can hold many benefits, such as enhanced muscle mass, improved strength and endurance, and even positive effects on brain functions like memory and intelligence.

However, according to the systematic review [7], regarding exercise performance, the results are a bit mixed—some studies suggested creatine might be more beneficial for vegetarians.

In contrast, others didn’t show a significant difference compared to meat-eaters.

So, if you’re a vegan vegetarian looking to enhance your physical and cognitive performance, creatine supplements could be worth considering based on the positive findings of multiple studies.

Various factors can influence the effectiveness of creatine supplementation. One factor is how much creatine is stored in your muscles and how long you have been vegan/vegetarian [2, 7].

If you have been vegetarian or vegan for longer than 6 weeks, your creatine stores are likely to be lower [3]. If you are strictly vegan, where overall creatine stores tend to be lower, creatine supplementation can prove particularly beneficial.

Moreover, individuals who have embraced a vegetarian lifestyle for an extended period, surpassing six weeks, could also find creatine supplementation advantageous.

Research suggests that this duration serves as the washout time for creatine supplementation among vegetarians, making it a potentially useful strategy for those committed to a plant-based diet in the long term.

Is Vegan Creatine Effective?

Technically, as discussed above, all powdered forms of creatine are vegan.

Numerous studies have looked at the efficacy of creatine, and the International Society of Sports Nutrition has concluded that: “Creatine monohydrate is the most effective ergogenic nutritional supplement currently available to athletes with the intent of increasing high-intensity exercise capacity and lean body mass during training.”

Not only is creatine one of the best supplements available, but it may even be more important for vegans and vegetarians to consume.

Creatine Dosages For Vegans

The most rapid way to boost muscle creatine stores is by taking approximately 0.3 g/kg/day of creatine monohydrate for 5–7 days, followed by a maintenance dose of 3–5 g/day to sustain elevated levels.

Alternatively, starting with smaller daily amounts (e.g., 3–5 g/day) will gradually increase muscle creatine stores over a 3–4 week period, but the initial performance benefits of this supplementation method are less well-established [8].


Supplemental creatine powder is vegan and can be an excellent supplement for vegan or vegetarian athletes and may be even more beneficial for vegans than their meat-eating counterparts. However, it’s important to know that creatine capsules are not vegan because they contain gelatine.


  1. Barr, S.I., & Rideout, C.A. (2004). Nutritional considerations for vegetarian athletes. *Nutrition, 20*(7-8), 696-703.
  2. Delanghe, J., et al. (1989). Normal reference values for creatine, creatinine, and carnitine are lower in vegetarians. *Clinical Chemistry, 35*(8), 1802-1803.
  3. Lukaszuk, J.M., et al. (2002). Effect of creatine supplementation and a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet on muscle creatine concentration. *International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 12*(3), 336-348.
  4. Burke, D.G., et al. (2003). Effect of creatine and weight training on muscle creatine and performance in vegetarians. *Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 35*(11), 1946-1955.
  5. Solis, M.Y., et al. (2014). Brain creatine depletion in vegetarians? A cross-sectional 1H-magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) study. *British Journal of Nutrition, 111*(7), 1272-1274.
  6. Mahmood, L. (2014). The metabolic processes of folic acid and Vitamin B12 deficiency. *Journal of Health Research and Reviews (In Developing Countries), 1*(1), 5-9.
  7. Kaviani, M., Shaw, K., & Chilibeck, P.D. (2020). Benefits of Creatine Supplementation for Vegetarians Compared to Omnivorous Athletes: A Systematic Review. *International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17*(9).
  8. Kreider, R.B., et al. (2017). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: safety and efficacy of creatine supplementation in exercise, sport, and medicine. *Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14*, 18.
  9. Han, C.H., & Sillerud, L.O. (1986). Synthesis of [guanidino-13C] creatine and measurement of the creatine phosphokinase reaction in vitro by 13C NMR spectroscopy. *Magnetic Resonance in Medicine, 3*(4), 626-633.
  10. Benzi, G., & Ceci, A. (2001). Creatine as nutritional supplementation and medicinal product. *Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 41*(1), 1.
About the Author

Hanli is a Registered Dietitian with a special interest in sports nutrition. She has a Master's degree and is currently a PhD candidate focusing on adolescent athlete nutrition. She has published research in the Obesity Reviews journal and is a research coordinator at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa.

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