As a vegan, I am 99% sure one of the most common questions you will get is “where do you get your protein from?”
While it is extremely annoying, and is no one else’s business, I don’t think it is an unreasonable question to ask yourself.
Having tried all kinds of diets, nutrition plans, ratios of macros and so on – and being massively into my health and fitness – I’ve realized that I get my best results, feel healthiest and at my best when I get a good amount of protein in.
Unfortunately the most common sources of high quality protein – predominantly meat, eggs, poultry and dairy – are strictly no-go so as vegans we need to adapt.
Thankfully there are plenty of vegan protein options available.
Yes of course there are plenty of vegan food sources of protein – beans, legumes, tofu, tempeh and nuts to name a few – but for those of you looking for a bit more protein, I hope this post will help.
I know how much a bit of extra protein gives me a boost and I think a lot of vegans especially can benefit from a little bit of extra protein from plant sources in their diet and so vegan and plant based protein powders can be extremely useful.
So we’re going to cover off the best dairy free and non dairy protein powders for you here.
- What Kinds Of Vegan Protein Powders Are There?
- Which Plant Based Protein Powder Is Right For Me?
- To Summarize
What Kinds Of Vegan Protein Powders Are There?
There are a few different options. Some are better than others in terms of health, and some are better than others in terms of taste and usability.
Soy Protein Powder
Soy is a controversial topic. There are literally countless reports, studies, anecdotes and personal testimonials about how incredible it is and how awful it is.
Having said that, humans have been eating soy for over 5000 years.
From what I understand, the best and safest way to use soy protein is in its most natural form or fermented – in other words, as tofu or as tempeh.
This eliminates most of the isoflavones and phytoestrogens that form the centre of the controversy.
However soy protein powder is the most readily available vegan protein powder. I have never used it as I was advised not to, so I can’t offer much advice about it but I just wanted to let you know that soy protein powder does exist and is an available option.
Personally though I would recommend sticking to the most natural plant-based protein powders which I have outlined below.
Hemp Protein Powder
Hemp protein powder is made from finely ground seeds of the hemp plant – which is related to cannabis but contains no psychoactive ingredients so it can’t make you high.
The main benefit of hemp protein over other vegan protein sources is the fact that it is a “complete” protein – in other words it contains all known amino acids that the human body needs. It is extremely rare to find a plant based protein which can do that on its own, but hemp does.
The downside is that in protein powder form it has a very strong “natural” (in other words – grassy) taste that is extremely difficult to overcome, no matter what you add to it.
Hemp protein is also rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids and high in fibre – which make it easy to digest and help keep you fuller for longer too.
Typical nutritional values of hemp per 100g:
- Protein: 48g
- Carbohydrates: 8.1g
- Of which sugars: 4.0g
- Fibre: 24g
- Fat: 8.2g
- Of which saturates: 1.0g
Brown Rice Protein Powder
Rice protein powder is made from extracting the proteins from rice. Rice protein powder is low in fat, sugar and has no salt, is high in fibre, balanced in carbs and is easy to digest. So it shouldn’t give you any stomach issues.
Again, it doesn’t have a particularly appealing taste or texture when had on it’s own or even when mixed with other things.
What it does do however is come out beautifully when baking so it is probably the best vegan protein powder for baking with.
Typical nutrition values per 100g of rice protein powder:
- Protein: 78g
- Carbohydrates: 19g
- Of which sugars: 1g
- Fat: 2.1g
- Of which saturates: 0.4g
Pea Protein Powder
Much like rice protein powder, pea protein powder doesn’t have a particularly great taste or texture on its own but is another one that is perfect for baking with. In fact both pea and rice protein come out better in baking than whey protein normally would so that is an added bonus.
Pea protein also has a complete amino acid profile and is particularly high in BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) – which makes it ideal for post-workout nutrition.
It is naturally fat free, low in cholesterol and easy to digest so again, it shouldn’t cause any specific stomach or digestion issues.
Typical nutrition per 100g of pea protein powder:
- Protein: 75g
- Carbohydrates: 3g
- Of which sugars: 0g
- Fat: 5g
- Of which saturates: 1.9g
Which Plant Based Protein Powder Is Right For Me?
That is exactly what we’re going to take a look at now. As we’re covering vegan protein powders, no dairy makes an appearance and because of my uncertainty over soy, we’re leaving out soy powders. So all of these are dairy free soy free protein powders.
One More Factor To Bear In Mind
One of the sad but true issues with vegan protein sources is that they often don’t contain “complete” protein. In other words, they don’t have the optimal ratios of amino acids or don’t have all amino acids on their own.
So getting a blend of sources is often ideal and I would usually recommend that where possible. Nowadays most manufacturers will offer some kind of vegan blend protein powder, and virtually 9 out of 10 times I will say to go with that one – subject to what else might be in there.
You of course want to make sure you don’t get stuck with a powder with additives or fillers in it as these not only rip you off, but can also affect your gut health which of course you don’t want!
Best Plant Based Vegan Protein Powder For Weight Loss
When you’re looking at a vegan protein powder specifically for weight loss, then what you’re mainly after is as pure a protein as possible with minimal carbs and fat, low in sugar, low in calories and high in fibre.
I think we’ve picked out one which goes one step further and has a generous dose of greens – spinach, kale, broccoli – thrown in. Without a doubt one of the best vegan shakes for weight loss is Garden Of Life Raw Vegan Protein & Greens
In terms of taste, it can still be a little bit chalky on it’s own if mixed with water, but when added to a smoothie it thickens up nicely and adds flavour.
Per 27g serving (roughly 1 scoop) it has a solid 20g of protein, 3g of fibre, 3g of carbohydrates and just 1g of fat so it is an excellent choice.
Because it is made up of a blend of protein sources, it has a full amino acid profile and can be called a “complete” protein – giving the body all the amino acids it needs.
It is available in chocolate, vanilla and unflavoured (also called lightly sweet).
Our rating: 9/10
Best All Natural Protein Powder
At the start of this post I talked about soy, hemp, rice and pea protein as the main vegan protein powders. So it is a little bit ironic that the best all natural protein powder actually gets a good chunk of its protein from two other sources – mushrooms and chia seeds.
In our books, for wholesomeness, nutritional value, taste and texture, there is no all natural protein out there that can match Foliage Protein by Peak Source Nutrition
It is 100% natural, vegan friendly, has no fillers and importantly it doesn’t have the same chalky texture which most plant based protein powders end up with. That is a HUGE bonus!
In fact in my books that also makes it the best tasting vegan protein powder out there!
A single 25g serving of Foliage Protein contains:
- 18g protein
- 3g carbs
- 2g fibre
- 3g fat
It is currently only available in raw cacao (or chocolate if you want to keep things simple) but that organic raw cacao packs a delicious punch.
Our rating: 8/10
Best Hemp Protein Powder
If you are looking for a single ingredient vegan protein powder – perhaps to add to your own smoothies or creations without getting any mixed or clashing flavours – then I would definitely recommend hemp over any others.
It is the only one which on it’s own has a complete amino acid profile (making it a complete protein) and probably also the easiest to mix into other things.
It still can have a fairly strong flavour and chalky texture but if you can get used to it and add enough flavours to your smoothies or drinks – through fruit, cacao, whatever else you have in mind – it is easier to manage.
Anyway, in terms of the best hemp protein powder, all we’re after is some good clean organic single ingredient stuff – that single ingredient of course being hemp powder.
So for that purpose, without a doubt the single best one you could go for is Navitas Naturals Organic Raw Hemp Protein Powder
There isn’t a huge amount to say. It is organic, raw, hemp, protein powder with no other ingredients whatsoever. And it is extremely good value for money!
Our rating: 9/10
Low Carb Vegan Protein Powder
This is another one that drifts away from my list of common vegan protein powder sources, and to be honest it took me by surprise as well.
Innovix Labs has created a pure potato protein isolate. And you are probably wondering how on Earth can potato protein count as low carb?
Well much to my surprise, as well as yours, this is pure protein powder. InnovixLabs potato protein is a fat free, cholesterol free, low carb vegan protein powder made entirely from potatoes.
Per 20g serving, there are 80 calories, 20g of protein and ZERO anything else.
So it is probably the ideal low carb vegan protein powder.
While I haven’t tried it myself yet, from the reviews of InnovixLabs potato protein that I have seen and heard, it is flavourless, mixes easily and can be added to anything. Plus it is hypoallergenic and easy to digest.
So if you are looking for a low carb – or in this case low everything! – protein powder this is probably the one for you!
Our rating: 10/10
Vegan Protein Powders Without Stevia
Sometimes you want a vegan protein powder without stevia. Most of them use organic raw stevia, which can lend a strong bitter aftertaste to your protein drink – which kind of defeats why you would get a flavoured one in the first place.
Sadly it is a bit tricky to find a way around it. Your options generally seem to be to go for one with sucralose or some artificial sweetener or go without flavouring, which is the more sensible option as you can then add your own.
For that, I would strongly recommend the unflavored version of Garden Of Life Raw Organic Protein
A 22g serving contains 17g of protein, 3g of carbohydrates, 2g of fiber and 3g of fat.
As it is a protein blend it is also a complete protein and provides all the amino acids you need.
I am not overly keen on unflavoured, and you might need a strong blender or a Vitamix to make this one smooth and drinkable, but if you can deal with that then you’re definitely onto a winner.
Our rating: 7/10
Vegan Gluten Free Protein Powders
Gluten free and vegan often go hand in hand. Many people make the decision to go gluten free as a lifestyle and health choice – as do many vegans – so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Thankfully, to the best of my knowledge at least all of the above recommended protein powders above have no wheat, gluten or gluten containing ingredients so from that point of view they can all be classed as gluten free.
However I would emphasize that this information is only current at the time of writing and may change. Also some will be manufactured in a factory that also handles wheat or gluten so there may be a risk of cross contamination.
So please do check the labels carefully before purchase.
There are a lot of vegan protein powder brands out there and a few things to look out for.
I believe I have managed to capture the best ones in this review post, which will cover the protein needs of most people but I am always open to suggestions and new ideas.
If you have any other comments or questions or want to see a review of another brand of vegan protein powder, drop us a message.