Jul 11, 2023
The best vegan protein powders in 2023
Whether you swear by protein powder as part of your health and fitness regime, or you're new to supplementing your protein intake, studies show that vegan protein powders offer the same health
Whether you swear by protein powder as part of your health and fitness regime, or you're new to supplementing your protein intake, studies show that vegan protein powders offer the same health benefits as their whey-based counterparts -- averaging 20 to 30 grams of protein per serving. For context, six ounces of chicken delivers about 46 grams of protein, while a six-ounce sirloin steak delivers slightly more, around 54 grams of protein.
Today's vegan powders, from top brands like Now Fitness, Bare Performance Nutrition and Naked Shake, offer great flavor; are easily digested according to verified reviews; and mix well. Chalky chunks, be gone.
When choosing our favorite vegan powders, we looked for soy-free, GMO-free powders that earned great (at the very minimum) reviews on taste. And we looked for powders that mixed well and didn't clump.
(The FDA doesn't currently regulate protein powders, which makes getting the right information even more important.)
An industry leader and Amazon best-seller, Orgain's Organic Plant Based Protein Powder delivers 21 grams (per serving) of organic, plant-based protein derived from pea, brown rice and chia seeds. Each serving has zero grams of added sugar. And though vegan protein powders generally have a slightly higher calorie count than their whey counterparts, Orgain has just 150 calories per serving, making it a low-calorie way to add more protein into your diet. (Whey protein powders average 113 calories per serving).
USDA organic certified, this powder is also vegan, kosher, lactose and soy free. A 4.5-star rated protein powder, loyal buyers stated this powder "is a great product, deserves 5 stars."
Why we like Orgain:
Orgain Organic Vegan Protein Powder, Creamy Chocolate Fudge (2 lb.), $22 with coupon (reduced from $27)
Shop more top-rated Orgain protein powder flavors:
Consisting of pure pea protein, Now Sports vegan protein powder is a non-GMO vegetable protein isolate that delivers 24 grams of (promised) easily-digestible protein. That's good news for those who find protein powders hard to digest. One scoop contains 24 grams of protein.
While taste on vegan powders scores lower than the taste of whey powders in general, verified users who wanted a vegan option liked that this powder was a great source of low-calorie protein. Zero added sugars scored big with buyers.
Why we like Now Sports pea protein:
Now Sports Pea Protein, unflavored (2 lb.), $24 (reduced from $32)
This vegan protein powder by Optimum Nutrition is made from a combination of pea, rice and fava bean protein. Made with nine essential amino acid/BCAAs, this powder contains zero sugar and is gluten-free. There are 24 grams of protein per serving. Chocolate or vanilla flavor shop-able via the link below.
Reviews gave this powder 4.0 out of 5 stars, with one stating "the taste and the texture are exceptional."
Why we like Gold Standard plant-based protein powder:
Gold Standard Plant Based Protein Powder, Rich Chocolate Fudge or Vanilla (1.76 lb.), from $34
This dairy-free, pea-based vegan protein offers 20g of protein per serving and just 4g of sugar, 8g of carbs and 130 calories. It also features MCT oil, which claims to helps boost satiation and energy supply. Rated 4.3 stars on Amazon.
Why we like Naked Shake:
Naked Shake Protein Shake, Chocolate (2.2 lb.), $42
Naturally sweetened with stevia and monk fruit, this vegan plant-based protein is made from pea protein, watermelon seed protein and pumpkin seed protein. Formulated with DigeZyme, a digestive enzyme blend, this protein is formulated for improved digestion; it helps support the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates and protein in your food. Available in chocolate, oatmeal cookie, peanut butter and vanilla flavors.
Why we like Bare Perfomance:
Bare Performance Nutrition Vegan Protein Powder, Chocolate (2 lbs.), $47
Get 26g of complete plant-based protein from each serving and 6g of fiber, in just 150 calories. The rich chocolate flavor blends well with milk, water or blended into a smoothie. This powder has 0 grams of sugar, but does offer digestive enzymes and probiotics for proper protein absorption. It's available in vanilla, vanilla chai, lightly sweet and chocolate flavors.
Why we like Garden of Life protein powder:
Garden of Life Protein Powder, Chocolate (2 lb.), $41
With so many people touting the benefits of a plant-based diet, it's easy to want to jump on the plant-wagon. But getting the scoop on how to choose a vegan protein, and why you should or shouldn't, is top priority.
"If someone is allergic to dairy, choosing a vegan protein powder would be an ideal choice," said Alex Larson a registered dietician. "Or, if a person follows a vegan diet lifestyle, then they would need to select a plant-based protein product."
Most vegan protein powders are made from pea protein, which is hypoallergenic -- it's good for people who have food sensitivities. And since most plant proteins are incomplete proteins as a solo act, look for a protein powder with multiple vegan protein sources that combine together to make a complete protein.
Once you decide to try a vegan powder, it's important to look for a vegan powder derived from a variety of protein sources. Why? It's all about amino acids, according to Larson. "Many vegan protein powders will have a variety of food sources to get a blend of amino acids. You may also see enzyme additives in the ingredient list to improve absorption."
BCAA's, which stands for branched chain amino acids, are the essential amino acids touted to help with recovery. The average vegan protein powder contains 5-12 grams of BCAA's, including at least three grams of leucine (thought to be essential to muscle metabolism) -- per serving.
So is there a downside to a vegan protein powder? This may get awkward, but so can taking a vegan protein powder. Sarah Wenig, a registered dietitian nutritionist, broke down the potential downside of vegan protein powder.
"Many vegan protein powders are made with pea protein, which can be hard to digest for some people, especially those with IBS," she said. "This can lead to bloating, cramping or stomach issues. Also, these protein powders are often higher in fiber as compared to whey.
"When it comes to sports, having fiber too close to a game, practice or exercise can lead to GI issues. It will also slow digestion. This delays the absorption of simple carbs, which our body needs for energy before and during exercise, as well as for recovery immediately after."
Wenig suggests buyers look for a product that has been third-party tested and delivers exactly the ingredients listed on the label. "This is especially important for athletes since protein powder is considered a supplement, and products that have not been third-party tested may contain banned substances. There is also concern about heavy metal content in vegan protein powders, so be sure to choose a product that has been tested for heavy metal content."Now Fitness,Bare Performance NutritionNaked Shake, Orgain's Organic Plant Based Protein PowderWhy we like Orgain:Orgain Organic Vegan Protein Powder, Creamy Chocolate Fudge (2 lb.), $22 with coupon (reduced from $27)Shop more top-rated Orgain protein powder flavors: Orgain Organic Vegan Protein Powder, chocolate coconut (2 lb.), $22Orgain Organic Vegan Protein Powder, vanilla (2 lb.), $21.50 with couponOrgain Simple Vegan Protein Powder with no artificial sweetener, chocolate (2 lb.) $25Orgain Vegan Protein Powder, unsweetened, (1.5 lb.), $28 (reduced from $31)Orgain Organic Vegan Protein Powder + 50 Superfoods (2 lb.), $30Why we like Now Sports pea protein:Now Sports Pea Protein, unflavored (2 lb.), $24 (reduced from $32)Now Sports Organic Pea Protein, Creamy Chocolate (2 lb.) $31Now Sports Organic Pea Protein, Creamy Vanilla (2 lb.), $32 (reduced from $44)Now Sports Organic Pea Protein, Vanilla Toffee (2 lb.), $25Now Sports Organic Pea Protein, Vanilla Toffee (2 lb.), $25Why we like Gold Standard plant-based protein powder:Gold Standard Plant Based Protein Powder, Rich Chocolate Fudge or Vanilla (1.76 lb.), from $34Why we like Naked Shake:Naked Shake Protein Shake, Chocolate (2.2 lb.), $42Why we like Bare Perfomance:Bare Performance Nutrition Vegan Protein Powder, Chocolate (2 lbs.), $47Why we like Garden of Life protein powder:Garden of Life Protein Powder, Chocolate (2 lb.), $41Vegan protein + organic superfoods: Ka'Chava Meal Replacement Shake, $89 (reduced from $108)Top-rated flavor and consistency: Vega Original Vanilla Protein, $27Features over 50 organic superfoods: Orgain Organic Vegan Protein Powder + 50 Superfoods, $28