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Best Vegan Protein Powder: 5 Top Choices for 2018

Best Vegan Protein Powder: 5 Top Choices

If you are living on a plant-based vegan diet, you still have plenty of options to meet your daily nutritionally protein needs. Foods like lentils, beans, quinoa, and tofu pack a lot of protein per mouthful. 

But, sometimes you are looking for a little more than they provide or you might need something you can make on the go. 

If you're working hard at putting on muscle, or want to have an always ready-to-go vegan protein source, protein powder are a fantastic option. 

Keep reading to learn all about them and find out the best options available.

Different Types of Protein Powder for Vegans

The biggest problem with find a truly vegan-friendly protein powder is that one of the most common protein powder bases is whey. Whey is of course derived from milk. And, as a vegan, that basically means it is off limits. 

Luckily, there are plenty of plant-based sources that are used to make protein powders that are vegan friendly.

Here are the most common types.

Pea Protein

Pea protein is derived from...peas of course. Although the pea is quite a small vegetable, it's actually a very complete protein. 

It's basically protein extracted from dried mashed up peas. The entire extraction process is a little more complicated than simply smashing dried peas and calling it protein powder, but it's legitimately vegan and cruelty-free.

Pea protein is actually just as effective for building muscle as whey protein is: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25628520

Peas aren't everyone's cup of tea though, as unflavored powders made with pea protein don't always pass everyone's taste test. 

Overall though, it's a solid choice.

Brown Rice

Another excellent option as a base for vegan-friendly protein powder is brown rice. It's a true cruelty-free and hypo-allergenic option. 

The protein isolate is created by using certain enzymes to break the brown rice apart. The enzymes separate the protein in the brown rice from the carbohydrates. That protein is then turned into powder.

Like pea protein, brown rice produces a very good protein powder capable of meal supplementation or muscle growth. 

One of the common knocks on both pea protein and brown rice protein is that while they are fairly complete, neither of them have a full amino acid profile. To counteract that one drawback, you'll often see the two mixed together in blends. 

Soy

Next to whey protein, soy protein is probably the second most popular option. As the name implies, soy isolate comes from soybeans. 

Soy protein has some very polarizing aspects, so depending on your unique situation, it may either be perfect for you, or something you might was to pass on. 

The major pro to soy is the bioavailability of the protein. Bioavailability is the amount of a nutrient that your body actually absorbs, meaning if you use soy isolate, your body absorbs most of it.

The major con is that soy is believed to raise estrogen levels and lower testosterone levels, but there is some debate over the truth of this claim.  

Hemp

Hemp is an often misunderstood plant. While it comes from the same family of plants as marijuana, it's a completely different plant. Modern day hemp is not psychoactive.

Hemp is a pretty impressive plant. It is used to make paper, clothes, biofuel, and even environmentally friendly plastic. And as a protein powder base, it's a solid option. 

The amount of protein per serving is a little lower then what you normally get out of the other options listed above. But, the fact the hemp plant is so eco-friendly makes it a great choice for many vegans. 

For those looking to put on muscle, you'll rarely find a standalone hemp protein powder that's suitable. But, as with other vegan friendly options, you can usually find a blend that will suit your needs.

Blends

While the four isolates listed above are OK on their own, many of them are used in blends to compliment the pros of one another and erase any missing nutrient gaps caused by using one on its own. 

There's nothing wrong with using a blend, and as long as you do a little homework to make sure it's still suitable for a vegan and cruelty-free lifestyle, you'll be good to go.

Reviews of Our Top Choices

There are a ton options out there to sort thorough, and there are plenty of quality products. These are what we feel are five of the best vegan protein powders currently available. 

Vega One All-in-One Shake (Chocolate)

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Vega is a company that focuses on manufacturing high quality plant-based products.  One of the companies co-founders, Brian Brazier, is a professional triathlete. That means he understands that aside from creating a products that check all the vegan friendly boxes, you need a product that live up to the hype. 

One of those very products is Vega One's All-in-One Shake.  

Major Features

The main type of protein used in the Vega All-in-Shake shake series is pea protein with flaxseed and hemp. Aside from protein it contains a lot of other essential vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, C, D, E, and K along with zinc, iron, magnesium and more.

But, don't let all the extras fool you. You still get 20 grams of protein with each scoop.

Features include -

  • Certified Vegan - The Vega All-in-One shakes are certified vegan by Vegan.com as they are made without the use an any animal byproducts.
  • Made with Real Foods - All of the ingredients come from real foods, not from synthetic ingredients. 
  • Full of Nutrients - The All-in-One shakes are full of fiber, antioxidants, and probiotics.  

Pros & Cons

  • Lots of Flavors - We love the chocolate flavor, but there plenty of others to choose from, like: mocha, coconut almond, french vanilla, mixed berry, vanilla chai, and natural. 
  • Non-GMO Certified - Along with being vegan certified, it's also non-GOM certified by the Non-GMO Project.
  • Manufacturing Concerns - While the powder mix itself is vegan, it is manufactured in a facility that also processes dairy and egg.

Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal (Chocolate)

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Garden of Life is a company that takes a very rigorous approach to making the healthiest supplements as possible. They avoid using synthetic additives and try to use real food in everything the make, taking the sourcing of their ingredients very seriously.

They makes various products like probiotics, vitamins, and of course, protein powder. 

Their Raw Organic Meal is a perfect example of everything they believe.

Major Features

Raw Organic Meal's base protein is a blend of pea protein and brown rice protein. It has a bunch of other healthy ingredients as well.

In one serving you get such vitamins and nutrients as vitamins A, B6, B12, C, E, and K. It also has chromium, niacin, thiamin, folate, and more. 

It's a very complex mix.

Features include -

  • Certified Vegan - Raw Organic Meal is certified vegan by Vegan.com, so you know you are getting a cruelty-free product.
  • Many Uses - Whether you need a meal replacement shake or a post-workout protein fix, Garden of Life has you covered.
  • More than Just Protein -Each serving provides you with 20 grams of protein, but also contains ingredients from 44 other superfoods. 

Pros & Cons

  • Clean & Pure - Aside from being vegan certified, it's also USDA Organic certified and a non-GMO food as verified by the Non-GMO Project.
  • Flavor Options - We have a bit of a chocolate tooth, but there are other flavors like vanilla and vanilla chia available too.
  • Not for All Palates - While the flavor is suitable for most people, those who don't like it, they really don't like. 

Naked Rice

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Naked Rice is a protein powder produced by Naked Nutrition. While they are not a purely vegan supplement manufacturer, they do make some very good vegan-friendly options. 

Besides protein powder, they make other supplements like creatine, BCAA powder, and glutamine.

Major Features

Naked Rice is one of two vegan options Naked Nutrition makes. As the name alludes to, it's derived from brown rice. The other option is their pea protein powder.

Naked Rice contains only one ingredient: organic sprouted whole grain brown rice protein. Unlike many other popular options, this is not a blend. It's pure brown rice protein. 

Features include -

  • No Artificial Anything - The whole concept behind the Naked line of products is that they are clean. This one is no different. It doesn't contain any kind of artificial ingredient.
  • Non-GMO - Even though Naked Rice only contains one ingredient, the company makes sure it gets the rice from a non-GMO source. 
  • Amino Acids Galore - The company uses a hexane-free extraction process to ensure a quality product with a very full amino acid profile.

Pros & Cons

  • No Hidden Ingredients - Since Naked Rice is a single ingredient powder, you don't get any unwanted extras like sodium.
  • Truly Vegan - As a "Naked" product, there's no need to worry about an ethically questionable ingredient or additive being slipped in.
  • Flavor & Texture - There are no added flavors or sweeteners, so it can taste and feel a little too chalky for some people's tastes. 

Orgain Organic Protein (Creamy Chocolate Fudge)

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Orgain was founded by Dr. Andrew Abraham. He founded the company after realizing a gap in the nutrition shake market following his cancer diagnosis. 

He realized he wasn't alone in his search for a truly nutrition shake that was organic, low in sugar, and had a high protein content. That is when Orgain was born.

Major Features

Orgain's Organic Protein is a blend. It gets its protein from peas, brown rice, and chia seeds. It also had other natural high quality ingredients like organic cacao.

Each 46 gram serving will give you 21 grams of protein. It also contains a small amount of potassium. 

Features include -

  • Checks All the Boxes - Organic Protein is exactly what the name suggest it is. It's USDA certified organic. It's also vegan-friendly, non-GMO, kosher, gluten free, and soy free.
  • Tested for Heavy Metals - Orgain uses third-party labs to make sure their supplements are free of heavy metals and toxins.
  • Well Rounded Amino Acid Profile - Due to the blend of peas, brown rice, and chia seed, you get a very well rounded does of amino acids with each serving. 

Pros & Cons

  • Lots of Flavors - The Creamy Chocolate Fudge is the cat's pajamas, but if it's not your cup of tea you have five other flavors to pick from: Iced Matcha Latte, Peanut Butter, Pumpkin Spice, Sweet Vanilla Bean, and Natural.
  • Tested Clean - Orgain used third-party testing to make sure their products and free from unwanted heavy metals and toxins.
  • Aftertaste - While the flavors are fairly tasty, some people feel that there's a bit of an unpleasant aftertaste that hangs around. 

Naturade VeganSmart All-In-One Nutritional Shake (Vanilla)

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Naturade is no newcomer to the health supplement market. In fact, they have been around since 1926 and have been making soy-based protein powders since the 1950's.

Naturade manufactures a variety of products from protein powders and meal replacement mixes to joint health supplements and immune system boosters.

Major Features

The VeganSmart All-in-One Nutritional Shake is a more of a meal replacement than a stand alone protein powder. It still packs a solid protein punch though, so don't shrug it off if you're looking for a good vegan protein powder.

A single 44 gram serving will give you 20 grams of protein. You also get tons of vitamins, and other nutrients like zinc, riboflavin, selenium, chromium, and more. 

As far as protein powders go, this is about as much of a blend as you can get. It contains protein from peas, hemp, chia seed, potatoes, and even chlorella.

Features include -

  • Lots of Vitamins & Minerals - Aside from the already mentioned vitamins, it contains a total of 22 different heathy nutrients. 
  • Complete Amino Acid Profile - As this is a blend of five different proteins, you get a very complete amino acid profile, which single protein based powder might lack.
  • No Artificial Sweeteners - Naturade keeps their powders as clean as possible, and that means no artificial sweeteners or flavors are added. 

Pros & Cons

  • Flavor Options - The vanilla is delicious, but there are three other flavor options to choose from: chocolate, wild berries, and chai.
  • Non-GMO - None of the ingredients used are sourced from facilities that use GMOs.  
  • Meal Replacement - This tends to be used as a supplement and/or meal replacement. It contains a good amount of protein and solid amino acid profile, but it's not really designed for those looking to gain muscle mass. 

Additional Considerations

All of the protein powder options reviewed above are solid plant-based friendly choices. All five of the manufacturers focus on producing quality clean products. 

The one most important thing to do after weeding out the vegan options from all of the many non-vegan options is to pick a product that fits your goals. 

If you're trying to lose weight or just need a meal or snack you can take with you in the car, bus, or train, one of the meal replacement options might be your best choice. 

If you're trying to gain muscle, something like Naked Rice and some added BCAAs might be a solid choice. 

And, always check with a health professional before making changes to your diet and lifestyle.

Conclusion

As the vegan lifestyle become more common, supplements like protein powders become easier to find. There are a lot of options, so not matter what your goal is, you should be able to find something suitable. 

You have a variety of bases to choose from, like soy, hemp, pea, and brown rice as well as blends. And, as more options become available, you have more flavors to test out.

If you find a product that you feel we should add to this list of what we think are the best vegan protein powders available, let us know here

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