Best Vegan Protein Powders Reviewed
Everybody needs protein in their diet. It is one of the three main macronutrients our bodies need to survive and thrive. That said, it can sometimes be difficult for someone following a plant-based diet to get all of the protein that they need in a day. This is where supplementation comes in handy. There are a ton of vegan protein powders on the market, so how can you possibly know which one is the best for your particular needs? We’ve taken the guesswork out of this problem for you by creating this top ten list of the best options on the market today. We’ve read countless ingredient lists, nutrition labels and product descriptions in order to bring you the ten powders listed below. Keep reading to see which powder is the tastiest and more nutritional for your diet!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 5 hrs of research
10 Top Vegan Protein Powders
1. Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Plant
Needs to be stirred often
Optimum Nutrition is one of the biggest brand names in the world of supplements for athletes. Whether you’re looking for multivitamins to round out your nutrition, casein powder to help you build muscles while you sleep or a pre-workout to provide you with the energy you need to get through your tough workout, Optimum Nutrition has your back.
Their Gold Standard 100% Plant protein is certainly no exception to this rule. This product packs a punch with a whopping 24 grams of plant-based protein per scoop thanks to a unique blend of organic pea, rice, and sacha inchi protein. “What the heck is sacha inchi?” you may be asking yourself. It is a shrub plant that grows mostly in Peru. It’s not only rich in protein but in the healthy fats, your body needs to improve brain function. It can help to control cholesterol levels, improve the immune support your body offers you and help with joint paint! Not only is this powder vegan, organic and non-GMO, but Optimum Nutrition has ensured that they used no sweeteners or colors in the production of their powders.
Available in berry, vanilla or chocolate flavors, this powder is not only delicious in taste but it provides a complete essential amino acid profile that you can feel good about putting into your body.
2. Tone It Up Organic
Not as cost-effective
Made from a blend of pea protein and pumpkin seed proteins, the second option on our list from Tone It Up is a great addition to add to your daily repertoire. Don’t feel held back by resorting to tossing a scoop into your smoothie every day, this powder is so versatile it can be added into protein muffins or energy balls without leaving an unfortunate aftertaste.
Available in chocolate, vanilla or coconut, this product packs a punch of 15 grams of protein per serving. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, GMO-free and organic! This option truly something you can feel good about feeding your body.
A bonus feature of this product is that it comes from the girls at Tone It Up, a fitness brand aimed at helping women become healthier and fitter versions of themselves through their workout guides and nutrition advice.
3. Orgain Organic
Source of clean protein
Easy to mix
Rich and creamy
If you’re looking for a protein powder to not only boost your protein intake for the day but to also give you a healthy dose of fiber, the Orgain Organic might be just the right option for you. This product provides 21 grams of protein and 7 grams of dietary fiber to really help boost your overall health. Fiber is a great addition because it can help with maintaining a healthy body weight and can even help to lower the chance that you’ll get diabetes or heart disease.
This powder gets its huge dose of plant-based protein from a unique blend of pea and brown rice proteins and organic chia seeds. With just 150 calories, 3 net carbs and 0 grams of sugar per serving, Orgain is one of the best protein supplements for vegans on the market.
It comes in a few different and unique flavors including peanut butter, fudge and cookies, and cream and is something you can feel good about putting in your body because it’s gluten and soy free. In addition to that, it’s also carrageenan-free and contains absolutely no artificial ingredients whatsoever.
Great ingredient profile
Does contain nuts
Available in vanilla or chocolate flavors, this option from KOS is comprised of five different sources of protein included pea, flaxseed, quinoa and pumpkin and chia seeds. Not only are you getting a product packed full of ingredients you can pronounce, but you’re getting a whopping 20 grams of protein and a whole host of other nutritional benefits.
What other nutritional benefits, you ask? Well, let’s take a closer look at the protein sources. Peas are a complete source of protein that can aid in building muscles and burning unwanted fat. Flaxseed protein will provide you with the essential omega-3s that you need to help maintain your weight and eye health. Quinoa protein packs a punch by providing a complete protein source with fiber, iron, and manganese to boost your health. Pumpkin seed protein provides vitamins, antioxidants, immune-boosting properties and can even help with your sleep! Phew!
We really dug that the manufacturer, KOS, provides a 90-day guarantee for their products. If you find that you don’t completely love their powder, you can return it!
Source of fiber
One serving is two scoops
If you’re searching for something that really packs a nutritional punch, then you might want to keep ready about this product from Naturade. VeganSmart is packed with 22 different vitamins and minerals that are not only going to help you feel better and be healthier but will also aid in your cell function and workout recovery.
This nutrition shake provides 20 grams of protein in 2 scoops as well as a whopping 6 grams of dietary fiber. Also on the ingredient list is apricot, raspberry, pineapple, cabbage, beetroot and so much more. It comes in four flavor options: chocolate, vanilla, chai or wild berry.
Do you suffer from digestive and stomach issues? No worries there. VeganSmart has 150 milligrams of ActivAloe, a prebiotic that will help you to grow beneficial intestinal flora, aiding in your digestive health and nutrient absorption.
6. Vega Sport
Big protein punch
Helps repair muscles
Vega might just be one of the most recognizable brand names on the market when it comes to vegan athletic supplements. With a whole host of other protein powders and nutrition bars in their arsenal, Vega could very well be your one stop shop for all things vegan supplements.
What makes the Vega Sport protein unique is that it provides a whopping 30 grams of protein per serving. Included in each serving is 5 grams of branched chain amino acids and 5 grams of glutamine. Both BCAAs and glutamine are essential in helping you recover after your strenuous workouts. It’s available in four flavor options including vanilla, chocolate, berry or mocha.
If you fancy yourself a bit of an athlete or even just someone who hits the gym on a regular basis, this option from Vega should be something to seriously consider. Aside from providing BCAAs and glutamine to help post-workout, it also contains sport-specific ingredients included to further help you recover. These include tart cherry which has been shown to help reduce inflammation after high-intensity workouts and turmeric extract which has been shown to help reduce muscle damage post-workout.
7. Amazing Grass Amazing Protein Grow
Affordable price tag
Provides energy boost
Flavors may not be the best
Though the name of this product is a mouthful, we think you’ll be happy to learn a little more about it. Amazing Grass, the company behind this item, markets it as the plant-based answer to all of your collagen needs. Collagen is the most abundant protein that we have in our bodies and it is found in places like your muscles, bones, and tendons. There are a lot of benefits to supplementing with collagen such as strengthening bones, improving skin health and helping with joint pain.
This powder provides 15 grams of plant-based protein in every scoop. It also is a great source of vitamin C and vitamin B complex. Other ingredients you’re going to see on the nutrition label for this product are holy basil, acerola cherries and guava. Holy Basil is known for helping with inflammation and with its antioxidant properties, it can help with stress and anxiety too. Acerola cherries are very rich in vitamin C and naturally are an immunity booster. Guava is extremely rich in vitamin C and has been shown to be beneficial for the skin.
There are eight different flavor options available – berry, chocolate rose, vanilla, kale chocolate, kale honey roasted peanut or kale vanilla.
8. Garden of Life Sport
Only two flavors
Doesn’t smell good
With “Sports” right in the name of this product, you know right away that it was designed with the athlete or gym workout enthusiast in mind. This powder from Garden of Life is available in chocolate or vanilla flavors and provides a whopping 30 grams of protein per scoop. Also in each school, you will find five grams of branched-chain amino acids and also five grams of glutamine to help with post-workout recovery.
Not only is this product full of protein, but it also provides users with faster recovery time thanks to its blend of natural ingredients like tart cherries, apples, turmeric, and blueberries. You will also be happy to find that this powder has 2 billion CFU probiotics that have been selected to be included because of the way they are able to support the immune system of athletes.
If you’re hesitant to eat something that isn’t grown in your garden or found in the produce section of your grocery store, you will be happy to find that Garden of Life really stands by their products by getting them certified. This powder is USDA Organic certified which means nothing in it was grown with prohibited. It’s also Non-GMO verified and certified by NSF which means there are no banned substances for athletes in the powder at all.
9. Peak Performance
Good customer service
No after taste
Maybe too sweet
Taking the second last spot on our top ten list is this item from Peak Performance. Available in chocolate and vanilla flavors, this option provides users with a very diverse mix of plant protein amino acids that are full of the antioxidants, fiber and healthy fats that you need to build muscles and stay healthy.
Unlike some of the other vegan protein powders on the market that are chock full of grains and rice (which don’t provide the best quality of plant-based protein or a complete amino acid profile), this option from Peak Performance uses only high-quality organic pea and hemp proteins to boost its overall nutritional value. The company doesn’t use any additional sugar in the production of this protein as the sugar that is in it comes naturally from the inclusion of monk fruit in the ingredient list.
Some plant-based protein powders have a funky consistency that only really is palatable once you blend it into a smoothie. This option from Peak Performance, however, is designed to be a protein-packed replacement for flour, too. Get creative in the kitchen and try updating your favorite recipes and baked goodies with this powder!
Not overly sweet
No artificail ingredients
Chocolate flavor may be spicy
Available in chocolate, vanilla or unflavored options, this powder from MRM is a great choice for someone who wants to add a nice dose of protein to their meal with the added bonus of a whole host of superfoods as well.
This powder has a unique blend of antioxidants that come a number of different fruits and vegetables like blueberries, broccoli, grapes and spinach that will give a boost to your overall health. It also contains the healthy omega fatty acids, fiber and all of the essential amino acids you need to not only feel great in your day-to-day life but perform better in the gym, too. Thanks to the digestive enzymes that MRM has equipped this powder with, those who have sensitive stomachs should find that they have no problem at all digesting this powder.
A great feature of this product is that it doesn't contain any added milk, egg, soy, peanut, tree nut or gluten ingredients, making it a great option not only for vegans but for people with specific dietary needs.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
It goes without saying, everybody’s taste buds are different so we can’t necessarily recommend a product to you based on flavor alone. We might love the chocolate flavor but you’re more of a vanilla person. Instead of rating each product on how we liked the flavors, we instead took a look at the availability of different flavors.
Some brands had more flavor options to choose from, with some flavors scoring higher than others in terms of deliciousness. Vanilla and chocolate are pretty standard flavors available across the board no matter which brand name you’re choosing. We like seeing manufacturers branch out a bit and try different flavors outside of the norm too, though. Outside the box flavors, you will see from products in our buying guide include mocha, coconut, kale, chai, and berry.
Just as with anything, though, not all flavors are created equally. If you choose to purchase a powder and you love its consistency but aren’t sold on the flavor, you may need to do some trial and error testing to find the best flavor from that brand for your particular tastes.
When we're talking about the "product purity" of the items on our list, we're actually referring to the taste and texture. Both the way the powder tastes and how it feels in your mouth are driving forces in whether or not you'll like the powder in the first place at all.
It probably goes without saying that the taste of these protein powders played a big part in our decision-making process. We didn’t want to include any options in our buying guide that we felt we had to choke down or ones that had weird textures. The problem with vegan powders is that they sometimes have a chalky texture or a strange aftertaste that is hard to mask, no matter how much fruit you’re putting in your smoothies. We thoroughly tested each of the products that you see on the top ten list above to ensure that we’re providing our readers with the best tasting options that are on the market.
The ingredients used in the formulation of these powders was another consideration we took into account as we decided which product should and shouldn’t make the list. There are plenty of sources where companies are able to get plant-based protein from. Let’s take a look at some of the most common you’re going to see in our buying guide.
Pea Protein. This is made by isolating the protein that is found in ground yellow peas. It has all nine of the essential amino acids that humans need to find from outside sources as our bodies are incapable of creating it. Pea protein is a fantastic source of BCAAs which comes in handy when you’re hitting the gym and trying to build muscle.
Pumpkin Seed Protein. Pumpkin seeds are a great source of magnesium, potassium, and calcium. It is typically very easy to digest and is also a great source of protein, Vitamin 5 and plant sterols, a substance that is naturally occurring in vegetables, grains, and fruits.
Sunflower Seed Protein. This is made from raw sunflower seeds, which are naturally a great source of protein and healthy fats. Sunflower seeds contain all of the essential amino acids as well as a hefty dose of other non-essential amino acids like glutamic acid and arginine. Supplementing with arginine has been shown to help increase blood flow, improve blood pressure and help to increase lean mass.
Hemp Protein. This powder is made by grinding hemp seeds into a powder. It provides all nine of the essential amino acids your body needs as well as a hefty dose of fiber and the good fats. Hemp protein is typically easier to digest than some of the other plant-based protein options out there because your body is able to use almost all of the amino acids in this type of powder to repair and maintain bodily functions. Hemp seeds are a very good source of minerals like magnesium, calcium, and iron, as well as antioxidants like lignanamides. Opting for a hemp protein powder will give you a great dose of those minerals and antioxidants.
Rice Protein. This is made by taking out the rice proteins from sprouted brown rice. Studies have shown that this type of protein is just an effective as whey when users were supplementing for muscle protein synthesis. Rice protein is much less likely to make you bloated or gassy, however. It can also help to stave off spikes in blood sugar and is high in B-vitamins as well as fiber.
Aside from the powders on our list obviously needing a protein source in order to provide protein, the products above are also full of other ingredients that will help to boost your overall health. Some of the common ones you will see are chia seeds, quinoa, tart cherry, monk fruit extract, bromelain, and digestive enzyme blends. Chia seeds are high in fiber, protein and the healthy fats you need to include in your diet. They’re full of antioxidants and have been proven to help aid in weight loss. Quinoa is a plant-based protein source that is basically a seed that we eat like a grain. It’s high in fiber, full of all of the essential amino acids and will help you to keep your blood sugar levels in control. Tart cherry has been proven to help with inflammation and pain from arthritis. It’s full of antioxidants that can reduce pain levels, take away muscle soreness and help to boost strength. Monk fruit extract has anti-inflammatory properties and can help promote stable blood sugar levels. Bromelain comes from the stem and fruit of the pineapple plant. It has been used for centuries to help treat certain illnesses in areas of the world like South America. Bromelain has been shown to be anti-inflammatory which can help people who suffer from ailments like asthma or osteoarthritis.
As you can see, literally every ingredient that these powders are made from has a whole host of health benefits attached to it. If you’re really curious, we recommend Googling the ingredients in the powder you’re considering to see just what else it can provide you with (aside from a hefty dose of protein, of course)!
We wanted to include powders in our buying guide that are not only delicious when used in fruit smoothies, but for other purposes as well. As delicious as smoothies are, they can get boring fast if you drink them every day. You may find that certain products work really well in other uses aside from protein shakes. Vegan powders can be added to peanut butter, chia seeds, oats and maple syrup for a delicious vegan-friendly energy ball. The powders can be used to boost the protein content of baked goods like muffins or sweet treats like pancakes, too. There are whole websites devoted to cooking and baking with vegan protein powder so we recommend scouring the internet to see which speak to you. You can check our Sources at the bottom of our buying guide for some of our favorite sites.
Another consideration we looked at as we compiled our list of the best vegan protein powders on the market is how big the container is. This may seem like a silly thing to consider, but it is still something you should look at before making a decision. Why, you ask? The size of the container can greatly affect the value of the product you’re purchasing. A container of protein powder that is $10 and provides 15 servings is a lot less cost-effective than a container that costs $20 and provides 50 servings. You should always look at the weight of the container as well as how many servings are provided in each product. Sometimes in the case of protein powder, one serving is considered to be two scoops meaning you’ll be flying through the product faster than you would if a serving size is half of that.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Are you curious about whether or not a plant-based diet is going to work for you? You could eliminate all animal products overnight, sure, but if you’re on the fence about whether or not veganism is right for you, we recommend a slower transition. Start small. Try Meatless Mondays for a few weeks, where you prepare one meal every Monday without dairy or meat. See how your body reacts. If Meatless Mondays are working out for you, remove meat from more meals until you’ve fully transitioned to a plant-based diet. Don’t be afraid to try new foods. Things like nutritional yeast, tempeh, and buckwheat can be staples of a vegan diet but it can be scary to jump right in when you’ve never even heard of those foods before!
Cheese is often one of the hardest things for new vegans to give up. The good (no, GREAT) news is that you can make your own cheese and dairy-substitutes from home and still maintain your vegan diet. Cashew cheese, nut milk, tofu paneer, cashew yogurt, you name it, you can make it!
One of the biggest misconceptions about going vegan is that there is no way you’re going to be able to maintain muscle mass if you’re not feeding your muscles with steaks and chicken breasts all day long. The truth is that there are plenty of vegan athletes (the tennis playing Venus Williams or ultramarathoner Scott Jurek, for example) who are just as healthy and successful in their athletic endeavors as their meat-eating counterparts.
Other Factors to Consider
Using vegan protein powder is an incredibly easy and convenient way to ensure that you’re getting a good dose of protein in your meals. But these powders are powerful and can do so much more than just ensure you’re getting the protein you need in a day.
This supplement is able to help improve your overall body composition as well as your exercise performance just as well as whey-based protein. Certain protein sources in plant-based powders can help curb your appetite. All of the options on our list have a very impressive micronutrient profile because they’re full of healthy and natural ingredients. Many products above are full of fiber which can help promote better digestion and lower cholesterol levels.
All of that said, there are some side effects you may notice when you begin to supplement with protein powder. Products that aren’t made with organic ingredients could possibly have harmful pesticides in them. This is because many of the ingredients that are used in the production of these powders are sourced from countries where the use of pesticides or herbicides are not as strictly enforced as what we may be used to. Thankfully, most of the products on our list are very open about their use of organic ingredients so this shouldn’t be something you need to worry about.
Another side effect you may experience is difficulties with digestion. This could be due to the fact that powders that are vegan, dairy and gluten-free are produced by using high-temperature processing methodologies. These methods have been shown to destroy the nutrients in some plans, making them more difficult to digest.
Vegan protein powder can be a delicious and simple way to ensure that you’re getting the amount of protein in your diet that you need to be healthy. It’s especially important to get enough protein if you’re an athlete or have aerobic goals you’re striving toward. Even if you’re not following a plant-based diet, though, you can probably benefit from including vegan protein powders in your diet. They’re full of natural and healthy ingredients that can boost your overall health.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Why do I need protein if I am following a plant-based diet?
This is a very good question and answer is one that requires a bit of science to back it up. Alongside carbohydrates and fats, protein is one of the three essential macronutrients your body needs to survive and thrive so you can imagine just how big of a role it plays in so many components of your overall health. The cells in your body need protein in order to build and repair tissues and it is a very critical building block for your bones, muscles, skin and even your blood. Did you know that your hair and nails are mostly comprised of protein? It’s true! When you follow a diet high in protein, you may notice some of these other benefits as well – increase in lean muscle mass, decrease in hunger, less muscle loss, faster recovery time after workouts.
q: Where else can I get protein from if I am a vegan or vegetarian?
This may come as a surprise for those of you who may not already be vegans, but people who follow this kind of diet actually are able to meet all of the daily nutritional requirements for an adult. There was a school of thought floating around for a while that it would be impossible for vegans to get all of their daily recommended protein without having meat in their diet. False! In fact, there are some plant products that are considered to be “complete proteins” in that they provide users with all of the essential amino acids we need to survive. Some protein-rich vegan-friendly foods are: tofu, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, chia seeds, and hummus!
q: I have some whey protein-based recipes, can I substitute my vegan powder in place of the whey?
Yes, but it is necessary to make some modifications as plant-based powders tend to be more absorbent than their whey counterparts. We recommend beginning by adding around half as much of the vegan powder as the recipe calls for. If your recipe says to use 1 scoop of whey protein, use only half a scoop of your plant-based powder. You can always add more powder later if you find that the batter is too wet but you can’t take away once it’s already in the bowl.
q: Can vegan protein powder help me reach my weight loss goal?
Of course, it can. You’ve heard it before but we will reiterate it – “it’s about calories in vs calories out.” If you’re burning more calories in a day than you’re taking in, you’re going to lose weight! Many of the powders on our list are very nutritionally-dense foods too, so not only will they help you to reach your weight goals, they can give your overall health a hefty boost as well.
q: Can I follow a vegan diet if I have food allergies?
Yes, of course. There are people who have chosen to live a plant-based lifestyle even though they have allergies to things like nuts or grains. It is a common misconception that vegans eat only grains and nuts by the boatload. There are an infinite amount of vegan foods to choose from and you can choose whatever you like, even if you have allergies.
q: I love to go out to eat. Can I still dine out if I’m vegan?
Yes! In fact, if you live in a larger city center, you probably have a number of different strictly vegan restaurants to choose from. The more that you educate yourself about veganism, the more you’ll be able to determine where you’ll be able to dine out. You may have better luck finding a vegan meal with certain cuisines like Middle Eastern or Ethiopian restaurants. Heck, even chain restaurants have vegan options. Take Subway for example, you can create your own vegan sandwich there (though we would suggest checking the ingredient list of the breads online before you go as their whole wheat bread does have honey in it). Chipotle and Taco Del Mar are other great chain restaurants you can check out where you’ll be successful in getting a vegan meal.