Reviews

The Best Vegan Protein Powders

The Best Vegan Protein Powders

By RFD Staff

January 22, 2021

Choosing a protein powder that fits your needs is not always a simple task; add in dietary restrictions and you've got your work cut out for you. Vegan diets, which exclude the consumption of products produced by animals such as meat, dairy and eggs, often need other forms of protein intake, which is essential for the body. Protein is a key macronutrient that promotes digestion, muscle growth and repair, strong bones, healthy skin, hair and even nails.

When choosing a vegan protein powder there are many factors to consider - what are your health goals? Does the powder include complete proteins? What even are complete proteins? Do you have any other dietary restrictions? Vegan protein powder has been proven to be beneficial to not only vegans, but also those wanting to avoid dairy products, or even just for those who have digestive issues. Vegan powders provide similar results to other mainstream protein mixes, but differs in the fact that it is derived from plant based sources instead of animals.

Below, we’ve outlined some of the most popular vegan protein powders to help you better understand the power of protein powder, (say that five times fast) and narrow down your search so that you can find a powder that fits all of your wants and dietary needs. Although many protein powders have many of the same ingredients, like pea protein, brown rice and hemp, not all of them have the same functions. Below are some great options whether you're looking to bulk up, eat clean or green, or even get the whole family involved, there’s a product out there for you!

Editor's Pick: 1. Best Greens: Vega Protein & Greens Vanilla

ProsCons
  • No added sugars
  • Non-GMO and vegan certified
  • Keto friendly and gluten free
  • 7 different flavours
  • 2 different tub sizes
  • Grainy texture

Key Specs

Total Servings: 18
Calories: 100
Protein: 20 g per scoop of 30 g

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If you’re someone who has very specific dietary restrictions, Vega’s Protein and Greens powder is sure to check all your boxes. This plant-based protein powder is certified vegan friendly, has no added sugars and is naturally sweetened through stevia. If you weren’t already sold on this powder then the fact that it’s also keto friendly, gluten free, non-dairy, non-soy and non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) verified is sure to convince you otherwise. This powder also offers a wide range of flavours from plain, vanilla, and chocolate to coconut almond, tropical, berry and even salted caramel.

2. Best Overall: Vega One All-In-One Plant Based Protein Powder

ProsCons
  • Organic, vegan and non-GMO certified
  • Great source of vitamins, minerals, fibre and Omega-3 ALAS
  • French vanilla flavour lacks taste

Key Specs

Total Servings: Small: 10, Large: 20
Calories: 160 (per recommended serving)
Protein: 20 g per scoop of 42 g

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Similar to their Protein and Greens powder, Vega’s One All-In-One protein powder is vegan certified, vegetarian, gluten-free, non-GMO project verified, with no added sugars or artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. In addition to 20g of protein in one scoop, this blend of fruits and veggies such as kale, broccoli and blueberries will help provide your body with the antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin A, not to mention 6g of fibre and 1.5 grams of Omega-3 ALA. Add this powder to any sweet baking recipe for an additional chance to sneak in some protein. What more could you ask of a protein powder!

3. Best Pea Protein: Naked Pea

ProsCons
  • Soy, gluten, dairy and GMO free
  • No artificial sweeteners, flavours or colours
  • 2g of sugar and carbs
  • Exclusively from farms in the States and Canada
  • Higher price point

Key Specs

Total Servings: 76
Calories: 120 (per recommended serving)
Protein: 27 g per scoop of 30 g

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Pea protein is a great source of complete proteins which help to promote healthy skin and shiny hair, as well as muscle growth and repair. Coming in on the higher end of the price range, Naked Pea is a great investment if you're looking to build muscle, and is a great vegan friendly alternative to whey protein powders; pea protein has been known to promote the same amount of muscle growth as its dairy competitor. Great for pre or post workouts, what you see is what you get in this environmentally friendly powder.

4. Best Family Protein: Orgain Organic Vegan Protein Powder

ProsCons
  • Great for adults and kids
  • Environmentally friendly
  • USDA organic, gluten and soy free, kosher, vegan, non-GMO
  • Expensive
  • Includes erythritol (sugar alcohol)

Key Specs

Total Servings: 20
Calories: 150 (per recommended serving)
Protein: 21 g per scoop of 41 g

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If you're on the market for a vegan protein powder to satisfy the whole family, look no further. Orgain’s organic vegan mixture is gluten, kosher, vegan, soy, dairy, GMO and carrageenan free, and has no artificial ingredients. The creamy chocolate fudge flavour makes for a smooth and nutritious drink that provides 21g of protein and 6g of fibre in each serving. Orgain is also an environmentally conscious brand working towards greater sustainability, and have saved thousands of pounds of plastic and cardboard by changing the size of their product container. Check out their green initiative for more information.

5. Best for Weight & Muscle Gain: Iron Vegan Athletes Gainer Protein Powder

ProsCons
  • Organic and Kosher certified
  • Informed by Sport certified
  • GMO Free, Gluten Free
  • Expensive

Key Specs

Total Servings: N/A
Calories: 720 (per recommended serving)
Protein: 24 g per scoop of 190 g

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This organic fermented pea and brown rice based vegan protein powder was created with athletes in mind. The mixture is made of organic greens, grains and more to deliver a high protein and caloric intake, and only 1g of sugar to promote healthy weight and muscle gain. With a ratio of 2.85:1 carbohydrates to protein, 12g of fibre and is also certified vegan friendly, gluten, kosher and GMO free, this protein powder is a must for those with dietary restrictions looking to throw on a few pounds.

6. Best for Athletes & Post Workout: Garden of Life Sport Organic Plant-Based Protein

ProsCons
  • Certified clean for sport
  • Certified USDA organic
  • Includes complete proteins and BCAA’s
  • Expensive
  • Strong initial smell

Key Specs

Total Servings: 19/td>
Calories: 160 (per recommended serving)
Protein: 30 g per scoop of 42 g

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If you're an athlete on the hunt for a clean vegan protein powder, Garden of Life’s Sport based organic powder is the answer. This recovery drink has so many certifications it deserves its own award; Certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, NSF Certified for Sport, Informed-Choice for Sport Certified, not to mention vegan, gluten, dairy, and soy free with no added sugars. Athletes can breathe easy and have peace of mind knowing this vegan powder has their back.

What Is a Complete Protein and Why Do I Need It?

In total, there are 22 amino acids; amino acids are in essence the building blocks of what protein is made of. Our body produces 13 different types of amino acids, the remaining 9 amino acids can be found in different food products. Protein is considered to be complete when these 9 amino acids, or final building blocks, are ingested, completing the structure of the protein. Complete protein is vital for building and repairing muscle, fighting antibodies and helps with digestion. Examples of plant-based complete proteins are quinoa, soy, buckwheat, hemp, brown rice, and pea protein.

How Much Protein Should I Be Taking?

The Institute of Medicine, IOM, recommends that your daily intake is equal to 0.8 grams per kilogram of your bodyweight. For the average woman that may be around 46 grams per day, while the average male would need 56 grams per day. That being said, the amount of protein ingestion all depends on your activity levels and health goals, meaning, someone training to be in the next Avengers movie will have a much higher protein intake than the average Joe. To check your recommended daily allowance, search USDA’s DRI calculator.

What to Look for in Vegan Based Protein Powders

With a variety of different vegan protein powders to choose from, it's hard to know what to look for and it's even more difficult to know if it will fuel your body the right way. Always look for:

  • High protein per serving; aim for around 20 grams per serving
  • Keep an eye out for those complete proteins! E.g soy, buckwheat, brown rice, hemp, pea protein
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners and flavours like Splenda and opt for natural ones like stevia or monk fruit
  • Make sure it doesn't include vegetable oils, creamers, or milk ingredients such as whey and casein
  • Look for a NSF Certification, this will ensure that the product doesn’t include any illegal substances or unsafe amounts of metal or toxins.

Blending Do’s and Don’ts

Here are some blending do's and don'ts to keep in mind for all your smoothies and blended drinks:
  • Too thick: The more you blend the thinner it will get! Try adding more liquid and blend at a low speed.
  • Too thin: Oops, you may have over mixed; add more ice or even frozen fruit.
  • Too gritty: This taste just means the powder needed more blending time!
  • Too sweet: Try using a half water - half juice base, or just forgo the juice and stick to only water or almond milk.
  • *(Stevia is a natural sweetener that many people don’t necessarily enjoy, so if you want to avoid extra sweetness look for powders without it, or add some lemon juice to help balance out the taste!) Powder sticks to the blender: Add your liquid before you add the powder, then try giving those two a mix before adding other ingredients.

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