Vegan protein powders are an increasingly popular method for vegans and the sustainability-minded to get the protein they require. It’s no surprise that the plant-based protein market has risen to over 11 billion dollars. However, with so many vegan protein powders available, it becomes tricky to find the right product for your unique needs. We made this guide to showcase the best vegan protein powders you can buy and to help you decide which product is right for you.
Buying Guide for Vegan Protein Powder
Why buy vegan protein powder?
Adding protein powder to your diet is one of the most effective ways to easily increase the amount of protein you consume. However, most protein powders, such as whey protein, contain animal products and are thus unfit for a vegan diet. Thankfully for vegans who require a protein supplement, there are plenty of great vegan protein powders on the market to choose from. These will aid in recovery after intense workouts, promote muscle growth, and can even serve as a handy meal replacement for those undertaking a weight loss journey.
What should you look for in vegan protein powder?
- Protein Content and Source: Considering a vegan protein powder’s total protein content per serving will help you reach your dietary goals and likely add muscle, but this won’t tell the whole story about a product’s effectiveness. A product’s protein source is equally important since not all proteins are absorbed as quickly or effectively. When shopping for a vegan protein supplement, keep an eye out for proteins sourced from sprouts, hemp, and brown rice since these sources feature great bioavailability. Peas and pumpkins are also great vegan protein sources, but soy protein should largely be avoided.
- Added Ingredients: Many protein powders include ingredients such as creatine and other workout supplements that will aid in muscle performance and recovery. However, before utilizing such products, it’s best to read up on what they do and how they’re sourced. While there are vegan-friendly creatine options available that are not sourced from animal products, BCAAs should typically be avoided. For most, finding a product that features fewer ingredients is preferable to one with a bunch of artificial flavors and additives.
- Flavor: Let’s face it, protein powder will never be part of a gourmet meal. However, if you choose a product that passes the taste test, you will be more likely to use it regularly and thereby benefit greatly from its use versus a product that has amazing dietary potential and a rancid taste. For this reason, we only selected items for this guide that are known for having a variety of likable flavors.
Is it worth it to find an organic, non-GMO protein powder?
While this factor may be more important to some people than others, purchasing organic, non-GMO products is a great way to support brands that take environmental issues just as seriously as animal welfare. Additionally, purchasing products made without the use of fertilizers and pesticides is known to have proven health benefits that are hard to pass up.
Our Picks for the Best Vegan Protein Powders
Pros: While this product might seem pricey at first glance, its 76 servings per container is almost double what other products offer for a similar price. It also packs an impressive amount of protein per serving, given how low its carbohydrate, sodium, and sugar content is. This is also a great option for those who struggle digesting certain protein powders since it’s so easy on the stomach.
Cons: If you’re shopping around for an unflavored vegan protein powder, taste is probably not your greatest concern. So, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that mixing this protein powder with almond milk doesn’t produce the taste of a delicious milkshake. However, while this product’s flavor isn’t its strong suit, it’s fairly easy to make palatable if you mix in some peanut butter and other dominant flavors.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for clean, GMO-free protein without unnecessary additives and flavorings, NAKED PEA is the real deal. If you’re picky about taste, it may be worthwhile to read some reviews to see how others doctor this protein powder up with their favorite healthy ingredients. However, if you’re more concerned with nutritional content than satisfying your taste buds, this product is a no-brainer.
Pros: This offering from Orgain is easy to mix and even easier to drink, thanks to its understated chocolate flavor that is neither too sweet nor bland. As a budget-friendly post-workout drink, this vegan protein powder definitely impresses thanks to its relatively high protein content and minimal carbs. It’s also one of the few affordable sugar-free options that doesn’t have to be doctored up too much to be drinkable, making it an excellent budget-savvy choice.
Cons: While this is still one of the best affordable vegan protein powders out there in terms of price per ounce, it only contains around 20 servings per container. Thus, you’ll have to repurchase this product more often than some other products. Also, those keeping an eye on their sodium intake will want to take note of its 290 milligrams of sodium, which isn’t an obscene amount but something to consider.
Bottom Line: At this price point, vegan protein powders tend to falter both in terms of taste and nutritional content, but this luckily isn’t the case for this product. Due to Orgain’s clean ingredients, it makes an excellent meal replacement as well as a post-workout beverage. It also mixes well without unpleasant grittiness and tastes surprisingly delicious, making it a great pick.
Pros: Featuring a fairly robust offering of vitamins and minerals as well as a formula that fills you up better than other vegan meal replacements, Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal has a lot to offer. This is especially true given how effective it is at staving off hunger despite its low carbohydrate content. Additionally, this meal replacement tastes pretty good on its own when mixed with water, so you won’t have to defeat the purpose of replacing a meal by adding in sugary mixers like bananas and peanut butter.
Cons: This is definitely not the easiest mixing protein powder on the market, so those who are married to the glass and spoon approach are in for a gritty consistency. However, this issue can be fixed (somewhat) by mixing with a shaker bottle or entirely if you employ an actual blender.
Bottom Line: For those undertaking a weight loss journey or simply too busy to eat a nutritious vegan lunch on busy workdays, this is a great product to help you make it to dinner time. While it’s not the most pleasant consistency-wise, it has you covered in terms of nutritional value and taste, which is much more important when regularly used as a meal replacement.
Pros: If you’re seeking a vegan protein powder that can be used effectively as a post-workout shake or meal replacement option, this will be by far your most delicious option, especially for chocolate lovers. It also packs in a fair amount of vitamins (including lots of Vitamin E) and is filling enough to satiate your hunger for a while if you need to skip a meal. However, it’s also easy to digest and won’t leave you feeling bloated after a full serving.
Cons: This protein powder has a higher calorie count than most, which is why it excels as a meal replacement but should be closely scrutinized if it’s a serious part of your weight loss plans. If you do plan to use it after a workout with a full meal on the horizon, it can serve as a tasty part of your bulking routine, but dieters should be cautious.
Bottom Line: While many calorie counters will be turned away, KOS Organic Plant Protein has a lot to offer in terms of clean ingredients and an unbeatable taste. Let’s face it, plant-based protein options are not known for tasting good, and this fact alone has been enough to make many people give up on vegan protein powders. If this describes you, this product might just get you back on the bandwagon.
Pros: If an overactive metabolism is holding you back from your fitness goals, this product’s high-protein, high-calorie formula is just what the doctor ordered. At 42 grams of protein and 720 calories per two-scoop serving, the IRONVEGAN Gainer is an incredible option for bulking whether you are a vegan or not. Additionally, its vanilla flavor has a rich, earthy quality that you won’t have to struggle to drink in the slightest.
Cons: If you abide by the recommended two-scoop servings, you are sure to go through a bag of this fairly quickly, making it a pretty expensive option at its price point. Additionally, it has a good deal more sodium than many other vegan protein powders.
Bottom Line: If you’re buying a protein supplement for bulking, it will usually leave something to be desired in terms of overall nutrition if you read the nutrition facts carefully. So, if you’re attempting to limit your sodium intake, it would be wise to scrutinize your overall diet before purchasing this product. However, those seeking to gain weight and muscle mass will have a hard time finding a better option than this.
Picking out protein powder isn’t a simple matter, and vegan protein powders are no exception. However, if you take an inventory of your lifestyle, nutrition goals, fitness goals, and other needs, finding the right protein solution for your life shouldn’t be too hard. Even if you have to compromise in one way or another, remember that you can make up for it by maximizing your workouts and by prioritizing a healthy diet.