Have you recently experienced gas, indigestion, or bloating?
If so, then you may need to start adding digestive enzymes to your diet. These naturally-occurring proteins help break down the food you consume, which can improve digestion, stomach pain, flatulence, and other digestion-related problems.
Not all digestive enzymes are plant-based, though, and many contain animal-derived ingredients.
Below, I’ll share some of the best vegan digestive enzymes that I’ve tried and recommended to friends, so you can fix your gut for good!
Before you run to the store and grab the first bottle of digestive enzymes you see on the shelf, you should know that not all digestive enzymes are vegan.
Enzymes are naturally occurring proteins that are produced by both plants and animals.
For example, a cow’s stomach is packed full of digestive enzymes which it uses to help break down the massive amounts of grass it eats every day. When cows are slaughtered by the commercial meat industry, company’s try to extract as much money as they can from the animal’s remains.
- Bones are used to make bone char (used to filter sugar)
- Fat is used to create stearic acid (used in markers and food products)
- Digestive enzymes are extracted from the cow’s gut to make supplements
That’s right – many of the digestive enzyme supplements on the market are enzymes taken from another animal’s stomach. It’s not just cows, either; pigs are often exploited for their enzymes as well.
Thankfully, there are plenty of plant-based digestive enzymes that are just as effective. Many of these enzymes are found in carnivorous plants that consume small insects and need enzymes to digest their prey.
Although they may sound like a high-end product, most digestive enzymes are actually affordable supplements that cost about as much as a vegan multivitamin.
Although I don’t take them as often as I did when I first went vegan, I still supplement with digestive enzymes before a large meal or when I’m feeling bloated or experiencing indigestion. That being said, here are some of the most effective vegan digestive enzymes that I’ve tried during my vegan journey.
1. Mary Ruth’s Vegan Digestive Enzymes (link)
If you’re looking for a comprehensive product that’s affordable, 100% plant-based, and effective, then you can’t go wrong with Mary Ruth’s Vegan Digestive Enzymes.
Each bottle contains a two-month supply (if you’re supplementing daily), and is packed full of enzymes, along with other essential vitamins that aid in the digestive process.
Mary Ruth’s Digestive Enzymes contain an enzyme blend designed to help your body digest proteins, carbs, fiber, fat, and lactose. Each capsule also includes the anti-gas enzyme alpha-galactosidase, which can help reduce flatulence and uncomfortable bloating in your stomach.
Some of the major recognizable enzymes in Mary Ruth’s include:
How’s that for a long list?
In addition to these, each enzyme-packed capsule also includes enzyme-enhancing vitamins and minerals, including:
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12 (from plant-based sources)
These vitamins and minerals work alongside the vegan digestive enzymes to facilitate smoother digestion and nutrient absorption by your body. The B vitamins, in particular, can also boost your energy levels, which means that you won’t feel quite as tired after eating a large meal (perfect for the holiday season!).
In addition to the company’s standard blend, Mary Ruth’s also offers other plant-based enzyme supplements, designed to target specific gut health issues.
- Affordable price point
- Two months supply in every bottle
- Full-spectrum blend of digestive enzymes to break down proteins, fats, carbs, fiber, and lactose
- Added vitamins and minerals designed to improve digestion
2. Garden of Life Dr Formulated Digestive Enzymes (link)
If swallowing pills and capsules doesn’t sound appealing to you, then Garden of Life’s Digestive Enzymes are a great alternative. These chewy, tropical-flavored gelatin-free gummies go down easy and don’t need to be chugged down with a glass of water.
This supplement was designed by Dr. David Perlmutter – a fellow of the American College of Nutrition, best-selling author, and gut health expert.
The most appealing thing about Garden of Life’s digestive enzymes is that they’re packed full of all-natural, organic, plants.
The plant-based enzymes included in this supplement are lactase, cellulase, protease, aspergillopepsin, pectinase, papain, lipase, bromelain, phytase, xylanase, beta-glucanase, hemicellulase, and peptidase.
Additionally, it includes all-natural plant extracts from apples, carrots, acai, parsley, blackberries, ginger, brussel sprouts, and more. These all-natural plant extracts are ancient remedies that have been used for centuries to help cure indigestion.
When paired with the proprietary plant-based enzyme blend, the result is one of the most balanced and all-natural vegan enzymes on the market.
- Chewable gummies (tropical flavor)
- Gelatin-free gummies
- Contains 13 plant-based digestive enzymes
- Contains over 15 superfood extracts
- Doctor formulated
- Made in the US
- No artificial additives
3. Naturelo Full-Spectrum Digestive Enzymes (link)
Naturelo is a well-known brand in the vegan community that focuses on providing high-quality, plant-based supplements to vegans and vegetarians alike.
It contains over 15 plant-based enzymes, including amylase, invertase, xylanase, beta glucanase, cellulase, phytase, acid protease, and others. It also includes alpha galactosidase to help with gassiness.
Although it doesn’t contain as many natural plant extracts as the Garden of Life supplement I mentioned above, each serving contains 250mg of raw ginger extract. Ginger is an excellent prebiotic that aids with digestion and can provide your body with a natural energy boost.
Like the company’s other products, this full-spectrum digestive enzyme is free of common allergens like soy, wheat, shellfish, dairy, and nuts.
- Contains 15 vegan digestive enzymes
- Contains raw ginger extract
- Allergen-free capsules
- Third-party lab tested (results available on request)
4. Global Healing Veganzyme (link)
Veganzyme by Global Healing contains an incredibly high concentration of 20 different plant-based enzymes, including lactase, protease, cellulase, alpha galactosidase, amylase, glucoamylase, serrapeptase, beta glucanase, nattokinase, maltase, hemicellulase, xylanase, bromelain, pectinase, phytase, papain, glucose oxidase, invertase, catalase, and lipase.
Each bottle contains a 60-dose supply, so it’s good for two months if you’re taking it daily. It’s additive-free, allergen-free, and the vegetable-based capsules come in a pretty glass jar.
The main drawback of this product is the price point.
Although it’s an effective product, it’s nearly double the price of some of the other vegan digestive enzymes I mentioned above. Additionally, it doesn’t include any other added vitamins and minerals.
Of course, this could be a good thing if you’re already taking other vitamin and mineral supplements. It’s not uncommon for people to “overdose” on certain vitamins and minerals if they’re consuming multiple supplements that all contain vitamins and minerals.
So, if you’re looking for a pure enzyme supplement without any other added ingredients, this is it.
- Contains 20 plant-based digestive enzymes
- Each bottle contains 60 servings
- Only contains enzymes – no other added vitamins or minerals
5. Transparent Labs Prebiotic Greens (link)
If you’re not looking for a strict digestive enzyme supplement and prefer something that’s a bit more natural, then Transparent Labs’ Prebiotic Greens is a product worth looking into. It’s a powdered mix that contains prebiotic vegetables and aquatic greens, including:
- Green banana
- Acacia fiber
- Jerusalem artichoke fiber
- Chicory root
All of these act as prebiotics in the gut, paving the way for smooth digestion and encouraging the development of a healthy gut biome.
I recently purchased a small tub of this powder to mix in with my breakfast smoothies. It’s given me noticeably smoother digestion, and it tastes really good when mixed in with my vegan protein powder.
- All-natural plant-based supplement
- Powder mixes well with smoothies or juice
- Contains prebiotics that aid with digestion
- Doesn’t taste bad
6. Beano Anti-Gas Supplement (link)
Beano is, perhaps, one of the most popular digestive enzymes on the market. This product was first developed and released to the market as an over-the-counter pill that could help prevent the bloating and flatulence caused by consuming beans (hence the name “Beano”).
Beans are known for causing gassiness and bloating, as their skins contain fibers that are often difficult for our body to break down. Taking a Beano capsule 30 minutes before consuming beans can dramatically reduce the discomfort.
In addition to beans, Beano can also help your body digest other plant-based fibers found in hard-to-digest vegetables.
The main active ingredient in beano is alpha galactosidase, which several of the other enzymes mentioned above also contain.
Personally, I’d suggest going with one of the more comprehensive digestive enzymes that include the full-spectrum of vegan enzymes.
However, the nice thing about Beano is that it’s widely available and can be found in pretty much any pharmacy or supermarket. So, it’s a good name to remember if you ever find yourself in an “emergency” situation.
- Helps your body digest beans
- Helps your body digest plant fibers
- Primary enzyme is alpha galactosidase
- Available in most supermarkets and pharmacies
- Inexpensive and affordable
If you’re new to digestive enzymes, then you may be wondering how they work.
The truth is that your stomach body already produces many of its own natural digestive enzymes.
Your small intestine, stomach, and pancreas are primarily responsible for producing enzymes that help break down your food, making it easier to digest, and allowing your body to absorb more nutrients from the food you eat.
The only problem is that our body’s don’t always produce everything we need to digest our food. Sometimes, as we get older, our body simply doesn’t produce enough of these enzymes.
Digestive issues can also come about due to a dramatic dietary change, such as switching to a plant-based diet. Our body often becomes accustomed to producing a particular set of enzymes designed to digest the food we consume most frequently.
When you change up your diet, your body often requires an adjustment period to get used to the new foods you’re fueling it with.
For example, when I first went plant-based, my stomach felt very acidic and I experienced a lot of gassiness due to the larger amount of beans and leafy greens I was consuming.
My body naturally adapted after a few months, but taking digestive enzymes helped to ease the transition and helped me stay on track with my new diet.
Not sure if enzymes are right for you? Some of the main benefits of consuming digestive enzymes include:
- Better Nutrient Absorption: Even if you aren’t experiencing pain, bloating, or gassiness, digestive enzymes can help your body absorb nutrients more efficiently, allowing you to extract the maximum value from the food you eat.
- Can Reduce Acidity & Inflammation: If you’ve been experiencing acid stomach after meals, digestive enzymes can reduce pain and discomfort by breaking down inflammatory compounds before they cause damage to your stomach lining.
- Can Reduce Gas & Bloating: Tired of stinking up the room? Excessive gas is caused when your body fails to digest sugars and fibers. These fibers then ferment in your intestine, releasing gasses, which can cause discomfort and flatulence.
I’ll admit, it can be hard to keep track of all the scientific jargon when it comes to digestive enzymes. Many of them are a mouthful and are rather difficult to pronounce.
However, I did a bit of research on each of the major digestive enzymes produced by our body, so you can skip the science textbook.
This little enzyme is like a Pac-Man for carbohydrates! It chomps down on starch and breaks it into smaller bits for easier digestion. It works alongside maltase and sucrase, two other plant-based enzymes that aid in carbohydrate and sugar digestion.
This enzyme helps your body process simple and complex carbs alike. It works alongside sucrase to break down sugars that you consume in the form of glucose and sucrose.
This enzyme helps your body break down lactose (a sugar found in milk) into simpler sugars that are easier to digest.
This enzyme helps your body process heavy fats, breaking down fats into smaller pieces that are easier for your body to use as energy.
This enzyme helps to break down simple sugars, carbs, and starches, turning them into a form that your body can use for quick energy.
These enzymes are like tiny construction workers, breaking down proteins into smaller pieces so that your body can easily use them for building and repairing tissues.
Out of all of the digestive enzymes I tried, my go-to favorite is Garden of Life’s Digestive Enzymes. I like the fact that this enzyme contains a high concentration of plant-based digestive enzymes and real superfood extracts.
Plus, it’s doctor-formulated and affordably-priced, which are just two more great reasons to trust it.
Looking for something to help you power through your next workout?
Keep on reading to see my list of the best vegan pre-workout supplements!