As the vegan movement continues to flourish, what was once a scant category associated with gritty, hard-to-swallow blends has now bulked up into an industry of its own.
Vegan protein powders have come a long way over the years, especially in shedding its reputation for being an inferior alternative to whey or casein versions. After all, protein deficiency is one of the biggest gripes that active people deal with when diving head-first into a meat-free lifestyle without doing research, leading to fatigue and slower muscle growth in the long run.
While soy has become the front-runner in this market for being the only complete vegan protein with all nine essential amino acids, it also doesn’t sit well for those with sensitive stomachs, so brands have had to get creative in combining alternatives in the hopes of creating a blend that checks all the right boxes.
Shopping for the best vegan protein powders can be tricky because you want to ensure you’re nourishing your body with quality ingredients. Avoid fillers, added sugars, and artificial sweeteners as much as possible, and look out for powders that offer at least 15g of protein per serving for satiety and muscle building. For an additional health boost, choose supplements which have added superfood ingredients and digestive enzymes to increase its bioavailability.
Here are some of the tastiest and most nutritious vegan protein powders to try today.
With 21g of plant-based protein, 6g of fibre, and zero sugar per serving, Orgain ticks all the boxes for those looking to switch to a smooth plant-based option without the typical gritty texture. This magic concoction comes courtesy of pea, brown rice, and chia seeds, the latter of which has omega-3 fats that reduce inflammation.
Each serving of this complete amino acid blend is only 150 calories, and has no added sugar and artificial sweeteners; instead, the blend uses stevia, a plant-based sugar substitute. The Creamy Chocolate Fudge flavour is a favourite here, but the Vanilla Bean and Chocolate Coconut both come in close second. Blend with almond milk, almond butter and a frozen banana for a post-workout treat.
If the illustrated tub doesn’t put a smile on your face, the taste of Kos’ organic plant protein just might. The competition-winning flavour incorporates a nutritious line-up of ingredients —think pea, flaxseed, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds — with digestive enzymes to ensure your nutritional needs are taken care of, especially if you don’t get enough greens or are planning for this to be a pre-workout meal replacement.
Expect 160 calories and 20g of protein in each serving of the vanilla-flavoured version, with 6g of fat and 3g of sugar. Because it’s strictly organic, the blend is free from hormones, artificial sweeteners, colours, and GMOs too.
There’s a no-nonsense, muscle-building air to this packaging so that’s a good start. Inside, the blend of pea, pumpkin seed, organic sunflower seed, and alfalfa protein is highly nutritious and provides an impressive 30g of protein per serving.
Because it was designed as a muscle-rebuilding supplement after an intense workout, the mix has tart cherry to support recovery and 5g of BCAAs to help with fatigue and muscle growth. There are 160 calories per serving, with 3g of total fat, and 1g of sugar.
If the packaging makes you want to ditch the polluted urban lifestyle for a quiet life in the Himalayas, you’re not alone. Goop-approved looks aside, the ingredients that go into this blend are a wholesome mix of pea, hemp, and algae protein to provide a complete amino acid profile with 5g of BCAAs and 5g of glutamine per serving.
A portion of the Tiramisu-flavoured option will also provide 30g of protein and only 2g of carbs with no added sugar and artificial flavours. To make a tasty mid-afternoon snack or post-workout shake, mix yours with water for a lighter drink or with nut milk for a more substantial supplement. The curcumin content within is also anti-inflammatory and works with the firm’s proprietary black pepper extract for better bioavailability.
If you like your protein supplements as BS-free as your workouts, this option has nothing but organic sprouted whole grain brown rice protein as its ingredient. The product — made using a hexane-free extraction process — has an amino acid profile that’s similar to whey protein, and contains no artificial sweeteners or additives.
A serving will give you 25g of protein and 4.9g of BCAAs. Flavour will obviously not be a massive draw here but this also gives you free rein to dress up your shake or smoothie however you like. There are 4g of carbs and a very low 0.5g of fat within, while calories are minimal at 120 per portion.
If you’re already an Optimum Nutrition fan and want to make the switch to plant-based protein, the company now has vegan options in four flavours. Besides the usual pea and brown rice protein, this blend also incorporates sacha inchi (an omega-3 and omega-6-rich seed) to create a balanced bend with the full spectrum of amino acids. The powerhouse combination also includes 4g of naturally occurring BCAAs and 4g of glutamine to support recovery after the most gruelling of training days.
Each serving of the berry-flavoured option is 140 calories, with 24g of protein, 2g of fibre and 2.5g of total fat.
If you’re looking to rev up your metabolic game, Pure Encapsulations’ Ultra protein not only offers an enhanced blend of vegan protein and fibre, but also metabolic cofactors that support healthy weight management. The blend of pea and rice protein also include magnesium for nutrient metabolism, chromium and biotin for enhanced glucose metabolism, and green tea extract to promote thermogenesis.
The smooth and lightly sweetened formula (there’s cane sugar and stevia in this one) offers 25g of protein and 5g of fibre to keep you satiated. Naturally, it’s also higher in calories at 170cal per serving, with 7g of sugar.
It’s a big deal when the number-one compliment of a vegan protein supplement is its taste. In addition to being sugar-free, Ora’s vegan protein packs a punch in the nutrition department for being full of superfoods (such as acerola exract, acai, kale, and even Jerusalem artichoke) and digestive enzymes, lending a good amount of probiotics and probiotics to the pea-based mix.
This option is lower in calories than many others on this list at 120cal per serving, but also offers a lower 21g of protein. Note that there’s brown rice syrup in addition to monk fruit and stevia extract in this one, so it might not be for those looking to avoid added sugar completely.