Vegan Protein powder, although not a mandatory purchase, is truly a lifesaver in the vegan household. Sometimes finding different protein sources can get a little tricky, leading to a redundant meal regimen. I have found some of the best-tasting vegan protein powder companies in the industry, narrowing your decision-making process down a lot.
Plant-based proteins are hitting the market in a wider variety, which is awesome! However, when you are making a smoothie, a good, organic, plant-based protein powder is something you’ll be craving. These protein powders come in all types of flavors, although, the chocolate flavor and vanilla flavors are the most popular.
Most of the organic plant-based protein powder companies will also offer protein shakes. This is a great way to get in the protein without all the extra effort. Running late? Just open the fridge and shake up a ready-made organic protein shake, and get moving.
Each of these five protein powders is great addition to your kitchen. Whether you are soy-free or not, there is a protein powder for you. All of these options are high in amino acids and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).
BCAAs are amino acids that the body doesn’t create on its own. We must get these amino acids from food. For vegans, this can sometimes be challenging. However, you will no longer have an issue after you read through these top-notch options.
BCAAs account for 35% of the essential amino acids in muscle protein. They are also responsible for transporting protein to the brain to help with the production of long-lasting energy.
Orgain is a trusted company with an endearing story. The company started with a son and his mother. Being diagnosed with an aggressive cancer at a young age, the son wasn’t getting the essential nutrients he needed. When his doctor recommended using a protein powder, he couldn’t find one that wasn’t pumped with synthetic ingredients and added sugars. That’s when the son and mother set out on their own to create protein shakes with only high-quality ingredients.
Now, Andrew Abraham is a doctor and cancer survivor with an amazing protein powder and shake company. One that still doesn’t compromise on quality ingredients or taste. Unlike some other powders, Abraham’s protein powders feature a gritless taste. Making your morning smoothie that much more enjoyable.
Orgain is rich in protein and tastes great, which makes it an easy top pick!
They also come in a variety of flavors including:
Orgain even has the USDA organic seal of approval to prove its quality.
* The entire product line isn’t vegan so you will have to make sure of this before purchasing. All the products charted above are the vegan products Orgain offers.
- The powder mixes very well with nearly anything
- Serves well as a meal replacement
- Helps with weight loss
- Can be a replacement for flour when baking
- The container is large
- Flavors aren’t very strong
- Texture is a bit grainy
- Sweetend with stevia
Sunwarrior is a plant-based protein company through and through. All of their products are derived from plants that are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and phytonutrients. That’s right, the entire product line is vegan-friendly!
Sunwarrior has a collagen-building formulated protein powder. Our bodies need collagen to support our joints. Without collagen, your joints would pop out of place constantly.
This is a protein company that prides itself on extracting collagen by vegan means, rather than from the skin and bones of animals. Most collagen-building supplements on the market aren’t vegan. This blend is not only vegan-friendly, but it is also keto-friendly.
Their product line showcases:
- Hyaluronic Acid
- High in vitamin C
- No added sugars
- High in amino acids
Medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs are also known as medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). They are usually found in things like butter, coffee and stevia. However, it is possible to extract them from coconut oil. Sunwarrior gets their MCTs this way. Most other protein powders on the market, and on this list, use stevia as a sweetener. It is a sweetener that is easy to digest and helps keep the net carbs low.
Not only is this brand packed with amino acids and fatty acids, but it is also alkaline-forming. Our bodies maintain a natural balance of alkaline and acid – measured by pH – a healthy pH is was lets your cells function properly. Most high-protein foods, especially meat, are high in acidity. This protein powder is high in protein, but it also forms alkaline. Because of this, it is easier on your body to process and digest.
- Comes with a collapsible scoop
- Mixes really well with smoothies
- High-quality ingredients
- Salty taste
- Denser than other protein powders
Now Foods is a company that has been around since 1968. Over the years they have one countless awards. They won ten awards this year alone. Elwood Richard, a physical chemist, started a small chain of health food stores in Chicago. After a supermarket stole all of his customers because of lower prices, that is when he decided to completely take matters into his own hands. Creating his own natural products manufacturing company, Now Foods.
The company has been offering natural products since the early days when people regarded him as a hippie or granola head. Now that these products have become more mainstream, his business has grown into one of the most recognizable brands in the industry. Their entire line of products is certified in things like:
- Probiotic Strain Verified
- USDA Organic
- Certified Gluten-Free
- Halal (permissible under the Muslim dietary law)
They offer anything from protein powders and supplements, to natural beauty and health, essential oils, natural food products and even pet health. There are four main vegan protein powders Now Foods offers.
Their protein powders may not be as high in fiber as some of the other brands, but the quality is there. You can trust that this protein powder will go down easily, and digest just as easily. Leaving you with loads of energy and balanced nutrition.
Now Foods also has a line of vegan supplements including the Hair, Skin and Nails vitamin, and Evening Primrose Oil. Primrose oil is an omega-6 fatty acid, supports healthy skin and vascular system. They also offer vegan recipe ideas on their site as well. So, if you are ever feeling stumped on something to prepare, you can easily find something on this site.
- Helps reset the digestive system
- Comes in large quantities
- Priced well
- Packed with Iron
- Taste is inconsistent
- Amount of sodium can cause bloating
- Not sourced in America
- Chalky texture when mixed with water
Natures Plus is a long-standing family-owned company. Founded in the early 1970’s by a man named Gerald Kessler. He worked as a pharmaceutical salesman when he realized his passion for health supplements. He felt as though the traditional drugs he sold were only treating the symptoms and not the actual problems. He got his start by making his own vitamins and supplements at night, and selling them out of his truck during the day.
This company has been an industry leader since 1972. Natures Plus has an overwhelming commitment to the industry. They showcase this through education, training and political advocacy.
Natures Plus offers five different vegan protein powders:
You will notice, none of these protein powders come with a special flavoring. That is because the plants they are using to make the powders offer a nice flavor all on their own. If you are looking for a chocolate or vanilla flavoring here though, you won’t find it. that being said, there are powders listed above that are a little higher in sugar. These powders are the ones that have a stevia sweetener added in.
Aside from protein powders, Natures Plus offers over 1,200 natural vitamins and supplements. Reaching a wide variety of dietary needs. This makes the company extremely versatile. Their site also offers some educational features as well as a company blog to stay up to date. If you are looking for an internship, they also offering an intern program. Nature plus hold events that are showcased on their home page. These events occur all over the country.
- Doesn’t use artificial sweeteners
- Mixes easily
- Tastes great with fruit
- Dries the mouth
- High in sugar
- High in calories
- High in carbs
Nutiva has been a company of hemp advocates since the beginning in 1999. John Roulac started the company with 500 hemp seed bars, and the rest is history. They are a company that will fight for our right to nutrient-dense, organic foods without chemicals or GMOs.
Their list of certifications is rather impressive:
- USDA Organic
- Palm Done Right (ensuring animal habitats and rainforests are preserved, farmers are empowered and communities thrive)
- Fair Trade Certified (to empower farmers and workers and protect the environment)
- Fair For Life (assures that human rights are safeguarded at all stages of production)
Starting in 2012 Nutiva became a fruit tree planting initiative in public schools around Richmond, California. They have since planted around 600 trees in public schools. In 2015 they fulfilled a pledge to donate 100,000 coconut seedlings to the Philippines. This is a company that truly gives back to the community.
Their protein doesn’t have any additive in it, making it extremely pure and a great source for protein. Nutiva is also the only company out of the five listed above that offer a hi-fiber option.
Nutiva also offers numerous vegan recipes on their website as well. This is a wonderful feature to have and to use as a consumer. You will have no problem coming up with creative recipes because they have done that work for you.
- Works well with savory foods and smoothies
- Nutritional value is great
- Can act as a meal replacement
- Good tasting
- Great for energy
- Doesn’t dissolve well
- Not the best packaging
- Gritty texture when blending
Can You Build Muscle with Vegan Protein Powder?
It is quite possible to build muscles with vegan protein powder. Especially with the companies, I have reviewed above. Every single one of these products is a complete protein. Meaning all the essential amino acids are there, as well as the BCAAs. Branched-chain amino acids are great for building muscles and enhancing exercise performance as a whole.
The proteins that have a higher concentration of amino acids will benefit in muscle building more than other proteins. Especially if the protein has a high leucine level.
At least 3 grams of leucine is recommended daily for muscle growth.
It is also dependent on how your body metabolizes the protein and processes the energy. The better your body absorbs the protein, the more benefits you will see for gaining muscle.
Legion Athletics reported on the amino acids in a steak, and I added on the average amino acid profile from the companies in this review:
|Essential Amino Acids||Stea||Average Protein Powder Reviewed Above|
As you can see, you are getting a complete protein with plant-based protein powder. Isoleucine, Leucine, and Valine are the three main muscle building contributors. Those three categories are where the protein powders exceed the steak. Showcasing that the ability to achieve muscle growth is there if you are willing to put in the work through physical activity.
Is Vegan Protein Powder as good as Regular Protein Powder?
Whey protein has been the trusted protein powder in the bodybuilding and athletic communities for generations. Whey is a liquid that is separated from milk during the production of cheese. For this fact, whey protein is not vegan.
Many bodybuilders and Olympic athletes in today’s world are switching to vegan-based protein. At the end of the day, it comes down to your body type, as well as the concentration of amino acids in the protein powder.
A recent study compared the two groups of weightlifters. One that stuck with whey protein and one that tried pea protein. The groups were watched for eight weeks. The study concluded that “whey and pea proteins promote similar strength, performance, body compositions, and muscular adaptations.”
Aside from the amount of amino acids you are getting, no matter what protein powder you decide to choose, make sure you do your research first and foremost. Whether you choose whey protein or plant-based, make sure the company is trusted and has had the backing from its customers for years.
Most of the companies above have been around since the 70s, providing decades of customer review. Decades of customers that trust in a company, really speaks for itself.
How much protein should I take?
Too much protein is hard on your kidneys and liver. While some people have the mentality that more protein will help them build muscle quicker, this is most certainly not the case. Quality protein is what builds muscle.
No matter how tasty you think your protein powder is, it is not recommended to replace every meal with a shake. You simply can’t get all the nutrients you need doing this. Protein powders are becoming more and more nutrient-dense, but you still need to balance your diet with real food too.
If you are wondering how much of the protein powder to use in one sitting, it is best to stick with the suggested serving size. One serving size per shake is all you need. The protein powders are packed full of all the protein that is recommended in one sitting.
You may argue that body weight and height play a role in how much protein you should consume daily. And this is true. A point will dive into in just a moment. However, the bottom line is this, too much protein in one sitting can cause cramping, bloating and gas. Protein powders are digested faster than whole-food proteins. If you consume too much at once, some of the molecules could get taken into your large intestine only partially digested. This will lead to gastrointestinal distress.
Two general rules to follow are this:
- Don’t get more than 20% of your daily calories from protein powders
- It’s best not to consume more than 40 or 50 grams of protein at one
If you are unsure about how much protein you should be getting for your body type, here is a chart for the average recommended amount:
|Age||Protein Needed (grams/day)|
|Age 14-18 (Girls)||46|
|Age 14-18 (Boys)||52|
|Age 19-70+ (Women)||46|
|Age 19-70+ (Men)||56|
* These are the average recommendations.
Those trying to tack on the muscle mass will want to increase these numbers a little. The American College of Sports Medicine suggests you consume between 0.5 and 0.8 grams of protein for each pound of body weight. Along with your daily physical activity, of course.
How to Make a Protein Shake?
So you have now purchased your pick of protein powder, and now it’s time to put it into action. If you are a little stumped at where to begin, not to worry.
Walking around a gym, there is one thing most people have in common. They all seem to have a shaker bottle full of a protein shake. One they probably mixed with water and shook up real quick. This is the easiest way to get you that protein quick, and it’s not all that bad if you’ve tried it.
However, it isn’t the most appealing way to consume your protein powder. In turn, you could find yourself getting burnt out on the whole thing before you even finish that big jug of powder you just purchased. Be kind to yourself. There are several ways to consume your protein powder without succumbing to the water shake.
For instance, protein power bites! Add a few scoops of your protein into this recipe, and you’ll have bite-sized delicious protein snacks for days!
No-bake protein balls:
– 1 1/2 cups of rolled oats
– 1 cup of almond butter
– 1/4 cup of locally sourced honey, or maple syrup if you don’t consume honey
– 2 scoops of protein powder (chocolate if you have it)
– 2 tbsp of cacao nibs (a healthier choice than chocolate chips)
– a splash of water or almond milk if your cookies seem too crumbly
All you do is throw this all into a bowl and combine! I find using my hands works best to combine all these sticky ingredients. Then you roll them into tablespoon-sized balls and store in the fridge or freezer! You can make a bigger batch too. Sometimes I’ll fill up a gallon-sized bag with the notes and store them in the freezer for weeks at a time! They won’t go bad, trust me.
That is what is so great about protein powder… it’s a powder. You can add it to almost anything! Pancakes for breakfast? Throw in a scoop! Nothing is stopping you from throwing a couple scoops into dessert either! Although, that’s not the healthiest use for it, but you get my drift.
Personally, I like to start my day with a smoothie. This is where I’ll add my protein powder scoop for the day. It provides lots of fuel to get me going in the morning, and I’ll find I’m not hungry again until lunch. This is the only time I use my powder, I like to get the rest of my protein from whole foods like beans, quinoa or chickpeas.
I am someone that loves chocolate, so sometimes I’ll treat myself to a healthy version of a chocolate shake instead of a fruity smoothie. By using cacao nibs instead of chocolate chips, I keep my calorie count down and can enjoy my chocolate, guilt-free.
Protein-packed chocolate shake:
- 2 1/2 frozen bananas
- 1 cup of almond milk
- scoop of protein powder
- 1 tbsp of cacao nibs
- 1/4 tsp of cinnamon
- 1 tbsp of almond butter
If you purchased a protein powder with a fruity flavor, like berry, here is a smoothie recipe for you:
– 2 frozen bananas
– small handful of frozen pineapple
– 1/4 cup of frozen blueberry
– 1 cup of coconut or almond milk
– scoop of protein powder
– 1 tbsp of almond butter
Using unsweetened almond milk, and almond butter instead of peanut butter is a great way to keep the calorie count low. Most of your calories will be from the protein powder. Making a nutrient-dense smoothie like one of these though is an effective meal replacement for breakfast. You won’t be hungry enough for more food until lunch rolls around.
Should I use something alongside vegan protein?
One last powder I wanted to speak on, isn’t necessarily a protein powder. Although, it does offer some protein and is great to add into smoothies. This powder is called spirulina. Spirulina is an algae that forms in warm alkaline lakes in Africa, and Central and South America. Making it naturally a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Its high nutritional value has people considering it a superfood.
It has high antioxidant and inflammation-fighting properties, as well as an ability to regulate the immune system. One tablespoon contains:
- 4g of protein
- 2mg of iron
- 14mg of magnesium
- 8mg of phosphorus
- 95mg of potassium
It also contains folate, which is a great vitamin for anyone, but especially for pregnant women. Spirulina aids in gut health, weight management and diabetes. Naturally lower blood sugar while raising insulin levels, while boosting the metabolism. It also helps to lower cholesterol, reducing blood pressure and risk of heart disease. It even helps support mental health and relieve allergy symptoms. This powder truly is a superfood and a staple in my kitchen.
All of the protein powders listed above are complete proteins. This is because they all offer all the essential amino acids and BCAAs in every serving. Most of them are great providers of fatty acids as well. Making them all ideal choices for your diet. The choice is yours. Find a company you wouldn’t mind getting behind, and start your journey to healthier living.
If you’re looking for a suggestion on the Spirulina powders on the market, I suggest the following: