Top Vegan and Vegetarian Protein Powders

Peas are a Common Vegan Protein Source

Peas are a Common Vegan Protein Source

Protein powder supplements the most convenient way to increase your daily protein intake. Most are derived from milk, but there are other choices available that use alternative sources.

What is a Vegan Protein Powder?

Vegan and vegetarian protein powders use plant based sources instead of animal sources such as milk, eggs or beef. Common plant protein sources are soy, peas, rice, hemp, alfalfa, artichoke, pumpkin seeds and others. These plants are used because they have a relatively high protein concentration and are therefore excellent sources of raw protein. However, plant sources in general have lower protein content than animal sources.

Vegan protein powder is typically made up of 4 components;

  • A protein isolate. This is the main ingredient in a protein powder. Made simply taking a source such as peas and removing everything but the actual protein, thus isolating it from the rest of the pea, creating pea protein isolate.
  • Flavoring ingredients.  Cocoa powder, extracts from vanilla, stevia leaf, monk fruit and vanilla bean, among others are used to sweeten and flavor the product so it tastes good.
  • Stabilizing ingredients. Ingredients such as Organic Guar Gum, Xanthan Gum are gluten free additives used as thickeners and emulsifiers to give the product consistency and hold it together.
  • Nutritional ingredients. Additives such as fiber, vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids may be used in protein products to boost desirability.

Who Needs a Vegan Protein Powder?Bodybuilder in the Gym working out

Vegan protein powders are necessary to fill three important needs:

  • A source of protein for those living a Vegan or vegetarian lifestyle and do not consume enough protein for a healthy, balanced diet.
  • Vegan athletes, bodybuilders, and anyone involved in strength training, need a plant based source of protein to fuel their goals.
  • Anyone who wishes to increase their protein intake that are lactose intolerant or have allergies to certain dairy products.

Most foods in Vegan and vegetarian diets are naturally low in protein content, so it can be a challenge to get enough protein. This is why high quality protein powders designed for the Vegan diet can be a valuable part of a healthy eating plan.

If you are in the lactose intolerant, see my article on Lactose Free protein powders.

Where Do I Buy Vegan Protein Powder?

Vegan protein powder used to be hard to come by, but now you can find it at any health food store as well as on the shelf at many grocery stores. The best deals are usually online at retailers such as the ones listed in this article. The best way to buy any protein powder is in as large a quantity as you can afford, as it is almost always significantly cheaper in large amounts. Common sizes are 5 lb tubs and some powders are available in 10 lb bags as well.

How do you know if you are getting a quality Vegan Protein Powder?

One way to know is to look at how many grams of actual protein you are getting in each serving. This will reveal the purity of protein in your particular brand. Every protein powder has a certain percentage of “fillers”. These are ingredients such as sweeteners, preservatives and flavorings. Some products include vitamins, minerals or essential fats in their products and some are “meal replacement” products. Additional ingredients can make it harder to calculate the purity, so I am only looking at powders that are advertised as “protein only”.

Purity is simple to calculate, just divide the grams of protein per serving by the serving size to get your purity percentage.

Calculating Protein Content

Calculating Protein Content

For example, if your protein shows a serving to be 31 grams, and the protein per serving is 24 grams, 24 divided by 31 equals .77, or 77% protein. The remaining 23% is going to be sweeteners, flavorings and other ingredients. Needless to say, the higher the percentage, the more protein you are getting for your money.

The percentage of protein in plant based powders is generally lower than a whey, egg or beef based powder. This is primarily because plants are lower in protein than milk (where whey comes from), eggs or beef.

This calculation only works if you are looking for protein products, as opposed to a meal replacement or product that adds other nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, healthy fats, etc.

In this article I am only rating products that are primarily protein. A few of these do add a small amount of additional nutrients, but all are marketed as vegan protein powders.

Most Complete Vegan Protein Powder

In order to determine the most complete vegan protein powder, you need to look at the amino acid profile of each brand and compare it to some top whey and milk-based protein powders. Whey protein is considered to have a complete amino acid profile.

In general, you would need a protein containing a blend of different protein sources to have a good amino acid profile. Therefore, a Pea protein may have a good percentage of protein content, but may not have all the amino acids necessary for the highest quality protein.

Not all manufacturers list the amino acid profile on their label or in the literature. some of the top vegan proteins that are marketed as having a “complete amino acid profile” are:

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Plant

S.A.N. rawfusion

GNC PRO PERFORMANCE® COMPLETE VEGAN PROTEIN

NUTRABIO® ORGANIC PLANT PROTEIN

NATURE’S WAY® ALIVE!® PLANT PROTEIN

Top Vegan Protein Powders

To reach this list of top vegan protein powders, I used purity calculations to judge which ones have the highest percentage of protein in them.

My research shows that the quality of vegan protein powders can vary from as low as 46% to as high as 71% pure!

To rank the top vegan protein powders, I am going to be looking at the purity, or percentage of actual protein as a measure of the quality of each product. The products included will only be the highest rated on various online sites including Bodybuilding.com, GNC, and Vitamin Shoppe. These 3 sellers have the majority of the market and therefore will have the most review and ratings.

Remember that plant-based protein powders automatically have lower purity then whey and milk-based proteins simply because you are starting with sources that are lower in protein. The top proteins that I found tend to have between 60% And 71% purity.

MRM Veggie Elite

  • Overall Customer Rating on Bodybuilding.com 8.9 out of 10
  • Purity- 24 grams protein per 34g serving. 71% protein content

Veggie Elite Chocolate Mocha 30 Servings -…

MRM Veggie Elite Chocolate Mocha 30 Servings – No Artificial Flavors Or Sweeteners! [More]

Price: $52.99
Sale: $26.00

 

  • Protein sources- Pea Protein Isolate, Organic Brown Rice Protein Concentrate
  • Digest-All™ VP to aid more rapid digestion and assimilation
  • Soy Free
  • Certified Vegan
  • Non GMO
  • Allergen Free
  • Gluten Free

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Vega Sport Performance Protein

  • Overall Customer Rating on Bodybuilding.com 9.0 out of 10
  • Purity- 30 grams protein per 44 g serving. 68% protein content

Sport Performance Protein Chocolate 19 Ser…

Vega Sport Performance Protein Chocolate 19 Servings – Exercise Recovery Support* [More]

Price: $54.99
Sale: $43.99

 

  • Protein sources- Pea Protein, Pumpkin Seed Protein, Sunflower Seed Protein, Alfalfa Protein
  • Non GMO
  • Certified Vegan
  • Gluten Free
  • 6g BCAAs
  • 6g Glutamine

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S.A.N. rawfusion

  • Overall Customer Rating on Bodybuilding.com 8.7 out of 10
  • Purity- 21 grams protein per 31 g serving. 68% protein content

rawfusion Natural Chocolate 1 Lb. – Plant …

S.A.N. rawfusion Natural Chocolate 1 Lb. – Rich In BCAAs And Glutamine to Support Musc… [More]

Price: $18.50
Sale: $18.50

 

  • Protein sources- Pea Protein Isolate, Rice Protein Isolate, Artichoke Protein Powder
  • Complete Amino Acid Profile
  • 4.5 grams of BCAAs per serving
  • Lactose Free
  • Dairy Free
  • Soy Free
  • Animal Free
  • Certified Vegan
  • Non GMO
  • Allergen Free
  • Certified Organic

_________________________________________________________________________________________

GAT Plant Protein

  • Overall Customer Rating on Bodybuilding.com 8.3 out of 10
  • Purity- 21 grams protein per 33 g serving. 64% protein content

Plant Protein Vanilla 1.48 Lbs. – Protein …

GAT Plant Protein Vanilla 1.48 Lbs. – Contains 20 Grams Of Protein Per Serving [More]

Price: $29.99
Sale: $29.99

 

  • Protein sources- Pea Protein Isolate, Organic Brown Rice Protein Concentrate, Quinoa Sprout Powder, Coconut Pulp Powder and Artichoke Protein
  • Gluten Free
  • Wheat Free
  • Soy Free
  • Dairy Free
  • Contains Omega 3,6 and 9 essential Fatty Acids

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Plant

  • Overall Customer Rating on Bodybuilding.com 9.0 out of 10
  • Purity- 24 grams protein per 38 g serving. 63% protein content

Gold Standard 100% Plant Chocolate 1.5 Lbs…

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Plant Chocolate 1.5 Lbs. – A Complete Profile Of … [More]

Price: $35.99
Sale: $29.99

 

  • Protein sources- Organic Pea Protein, Organic Brown Rice Protein, Organic Sacha Inchi Protein
  • Complete Profile of Essential Amino Acids
  • 4 Grams of Naturally Occurring BCAAs
  • 4 Grams of Naturally Occurring Glutamine
  • 100% of the Daily Value for Vitamin C
  • Best in Class Flavor and Mixability
  • Non GMO
  • Certified Vegan
  • Gluten Free
  • Certified Organic

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Orgain Organic Plant Protein Powder

  • Overall Customer Rating on Bodybuilding.com 9.0 out of 10
  • Purity- 21 grams protein per 46 g serving. 46% protein content

Organic Plant Protein Powder Natural Unswe…

Orgain Organic Plant Protein Powder Natural Unsweetened 1.59 Lbs. – Organic Protein Th… [More]

Price: $39.99
Sale: $39.99

 

  • Protein sources- Organic Pea Protein, Organic Brown Rice Protein, Organic Chia Seed, Organic Hemp Protein
  • Organic product
  • Dissolves easily
  • Non GMO
  • Soy Free
  • Certified Vegan
  • Gluten Free
  • 5 g fiber per serving
  • Highly rated for taste

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Cheap Vegan Protein Powder

I have done a lot of research trying to find the best of the best, as well as the cheapest of the best! Yes, there are some inexpensive vegan protein powders out there, you just need to look at the label to see what you are getting for your money.

I have found that the cheapest vegan protein powder in made by a company called myProtein.

This vegan blend uses protein from peas, hemp and brown rice. This vegetarian sourced blend provides a complete amino acid profile and a 34 gram service provides 21 grams of protein, which make the purity a respectable 61% which is not bad for a plant based protein powder!

This company has minimal advertising expenses, as you do not find them advertising in the popular bodybuilding magazines and taking out full page expensive ads. Instead, they advertise mostly on the Internet, definitely get a lot of referrals from customers like myself, and pass the savings on to the customer.

They also save by not using super fancy, multi color, expensive packaging like all the other supplement companies do. If you look around at all the major brands you will see fancy bright colors and psychologically appealing packages.

Those awesome colors on the outside of the package cost a lot to develop to absolutely nothing to improve the quality of what is inside the package. MyProtein uses relatively plain (but still attractive) packaging which saves them a bundle in the manufacturing process. This allows them to pass on the savings on to the customer.

MyProtein Vegan Blend

Myprotein Vegan blend

Myprotein Vegan blend

  • Overall Customer Rating on Myprotein.com 4.0 out of 5.0
  • Purity- 21 grams protein per 34 g serving. 62% protein content
  • Price- As low as $.45 per serving in the 5.5lb bag with promotions.
  • Protein sources- Pea Protein Isolate, Brown Rice Protein, Hemp Protein
  • Contains DigeZyme®: a natural enzyme complex to aid digestion
  • Certified Vegan
  • Soy Free
  • Dairy Free
  • Gluten Free
  • Naturally Sweetened
  • Naturally Flavored

How much should you pay for a good quality vegan protein?

If you have been using protein supplements for a long time like I have, you have seen the prices increase every year.

You will pay anywhere from $.45 to well over $1.50 per serving for the good stuff, and well over $2.00 per serving for the GREAT stuff.

If you go with MyProtein powders, you will save a boatload. Their prices are extremely aggressive.

There are certainly many more choices in the market for Vegan protein powders, but a lot of the most popular and well reviewed have been listed here. I will add more as my research continues.

If you have any experience with these protein powders or know of others that you think make the list, please leave a comment below and I will look at it and add it.

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