The best vegan protein powders can help you achieve the gains you've always wanted by boosting your protein intake on a plant based diet. Vegans and vegetarians sometimes struggle to get enough complete proteins in their diet (containing all nine essential amino acids), and vegan protein powders can help mitigate this problem.
Instead of relying entirely on your diet for sufficient protein, you can get up to 31g of protein per serving with the best vegan protein powder. Most powders average out at 20-25g of protein per serving, with some falling a little below that, and some packing more of a punch.
Roxana Ehsani, a registered dietitian nutritionist and a national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, explained to Live Science that protein powder can help boost protein intake on a plant-based diet.
“It can be easily incorporated into a vegan or vegetarian diet and help a person consume enough protein," she said. "It can be beneficial for busy athletes for example to have a source of protein on the go or while traveling. Keep in mind some of the vegan proteins like rice protein, don’t contain all the amino acids needed to make it a complete source of protein, so looking for one that’s a mix of rice and pea would be preferred.”
As well as helping you to build muscle, a good vegan protein powder may be able to help you lose weight. An effective protein powder and tailored fitness and diet plan can serve you in achieving your fitness goals, whatever they may be.
A vegan diet may not seem like a high-protein option, but the truth is, you don’t need to eat meat to get protein, and a combination of high protein, plant based foods such as nuts, legumes and seeds with a high quality vegan protein powder can have you seeing the same gains as you would on a meat-heavy diet.
If you’re not looking for a plant-based protein powder specifically, we’ve also rounded up the best protein powders for women, for brands that are tailored for the female body, and the best protein powder for our general favorites. Read on for our in-depth review of the top plant-based protein powders on the market today, which have been personally tested by our team.
How we tested
All of the products in this guide have been tried and tested by the Live Science team. Firstly, we looked at the texture of the powder. We then evaluated how well it mixed into water, plant-based milk, and either oatmeal or a smoothie bowl. Finally, came the taste test, where we determined whether the taste was reflective of the flavor, unusually bitter or particularly sweet. Packaging was also noted, based on sustainability and convenience, as well as any additional ingredients such as digestive enzymes and sweeteners.
The best vegan protein powder we tried
Huel, better known for its plant-based meal replacement powders, has branched out into flavored products and nutritionally balanced snacks, including this impressive protein powder, which pulls off the rare feat of achieving excellent flavor and texture in a plant-based product alongside a complete nutrition package.
Reviewers are impressed with the taste - "by far the best tasting protein drink I’ve tried," says one reviewer. The main objection in the reviews is the price, especially when compared to non-plant-based protein powders. At the same time they mostly acknowledge that the nutritional profile and ingredients are of a quality that justifies the price.
It’s not intended as a meal replacement or for your sole source of nutrition, as it has a lower calorie and carbohydrate profile than would be recommended for a complete meal, but nevertheless it is a nutritionally complete high protein snack. Using pea, faba pea and hemp seed as its protein source, it contains all 26 recommended vitamins and minerals and meets the UK and EU recommendations for macro- and micronutrients.
There are a couple of drawbacks. There’s a minimum order of two tubs, and it doesn’t come in sample sizes, which might make you reluctant to commit to a particular flavor. However, the taste is delicious, and it mixes really smoothly. Overall, this was our favourite protein powder we tested.
MyProtein is known for its reliable products that offer no-frills value for money. Its vegan protein powder fits this bill.
It scores 4.2 of 5 on Amazon (although a less enthusiastic 3.25 on the MyProtein site) has many fans. "Really, REALLY tasty", raves one reviewer. Not everyone is convinced. "The ingredients are all good, high protein, low carbs, sugar and fat. Now for the taste. First of all it tastes nothing like any chocolate I have ever tasted before. I can't work out if the flavor you get is perfume, soap or crushed up vitamins."
Made in a wide range of flavors (admittedly, not as many as the bewildering 40+ flavors that its whey protein comes in, but still more than most of its vegan counterparts), it provides a hefty 22g of protein per serving, for just 110 calories.
As you’d expect with a value product, it’s not as natural as some of the more expensive vegan protein powders. It contains processed ingredients such as high-oleic sunflower oil, xanthan gum and sucralose, and strict vegans and vegetarians should know that MyProtein also produces products such as beef biltong, hydrolyzed beef protein and fish oils.
The flavors aren’t to everyone’s taste - we found the chocolate flavor to be very unchocolatey and rather artificial. Moreover, some of our testers experienced a slightly unpleasant ‘cotton mouth’ sensation after trying this protein powder. However, it mixes well and doesn’t overpower the flavor when blended with fruit, peanut butter or other ingredients.
This protein powder is designed by vegan nutritionists and made with a blend of five different types of protein.
It scores 4.2 stars of 5 on Amazon overall. However, one reviewer rates the flavor as "insanely terrible". At the other end of the scale, a fan says, "I've tried a few plant based protein shakes and they've all tasted like old carpet. I was expecting similar with this one though I was hoping it might at least be new carpet flavor but OMG it tastes great. "
This protein powder actually delivers the largest helping of protein of all, coming in at a punchy 25.1g per serving. Be aware that one of those protein sources is soy, which Dr Dehghan recommends but which is also a common allergen.
It isn’t the easiest vegan protein powder to blend - we found that you really need a metal spiral or a blender to get a smooth consistency - and it’s definitely designed for those with a sweet tooth. Nonetheless, it worked well with water as well as plant-based milks and did not feel overwhelming when blended with fruit or peanut butter. A big plus for The Protein Works is that it offers two additional versions of this protein powder: a diet one (with fewer calories) and an ‘extreme’ one (infused with a mineral and vitamin blend). Strict vegans and vegetarians should note that this brand also produces products such as whey protein and fish oils.
Anyone who competes in athletic events will know how important it is not to take any banned substances, either deliberately or inadvertently.
In reviews on Amazon it scores 4.1 of 5. Some reviewers note that it’s expensive compared with other vegan protein powders. As another points out, however, "There are cheaper vegan protein supplements out there, but the ones I've checked out tend to compromise on the quality, they often 'pad out' their mixes… In many respects, you get what you pay for."
With this protein powder you can be confident that you’ll not breach any doping regulations. All batches are screened for banned substances on the Informed Sport program.
The flavor and texture are pretty good, although it’s a pity it only comes in chocolate and banana flavor. A wider choice, including vanilla, would be welcome, and it only comes in one size (although the pouch arguably makes it more environmentally friendly than a tub). Strict vegans may have some reservations about purchasing from a manufacturer that also produces non-vegan products, including whey products and fish oils.
If you're a fan of using creatine powder, we found this product mixed extremely well together with creatine and water too.
Bulk is a reliable manufacturer of good value protein powder, and the vegan version is no exception.
Overall, reviewers are pretty enthusiastic, awarding it 4.1 stars of 5 overall. Fans praise it for not including artificial ingredients, especially sweeteners, and many find it delicious. Critics of the flavor are inventive in their descriptions. "It tastes like green peas in coffee", and "more chemical latte than caramel latte", say two reviewers about the caramel latte flavor.
Made up of five different protein sources, it provides a chunky 23g of protein per serving, although with a carbohydrate content a little higher than some others at 5.5g. It comes in a dizzying array of flavors, plus an unflavored version, and includes digestive enzymes in an otherwise reassuringly small list of ingredients. Vegans and vegetarians should be aware that Bulk also produces products such as beef jerky, fish jerky and fish oils.
Where it falls down, in our opinion and that of many, is in the flavor. The stevia flavor is rather overpowering and it’s extremely sweet, but without much depth of flavor (although many reviewers enjoy the taste). However, its superb consistency - thick, creamy and easily blendable - makes it easy to enjoy this protein powder on its own with water or milk, or as a component of fruit smoothies and desserts. As with quite a few of the other vegan protein powders, it is made by a manufacturer that makes non-vegan products, although that presumably is one of the reasons they can keep the cost down.
Innermost Health takes a holistic approach to its products - it claims to use science, research and "best practices from Ayurvedic and Asian medicine" in crafting its products.
It scores an impressive 5 stars on the Innermost website, with most reviewers giving glowing feedback on the taste, praising its "delicious, creamy taste". One reviewer was disappointed with the vanilla flavor, saying they struggled to taste the vanilla and could taste the peas and brown rice, but most are positive about the flavors.
This plant-based protein powder ticks those boxes, combining an exceptionally high 31g of protein per serving with immune-supporting ingredients such as glutamine and medicinal mushrooms (shiitake, maitake, reishi and cordyceps). It does have a slightly higher calorie count than most of the other vegan protein powders with 150 calories per serving.
There’s a strong emphasis on natural and non-GMO ingredients, but the protein powder is sweetened with sucralose, an artificial sweetener, and vegans and vegetarians should be aware that some of their products, such as the collagen peptides, are not vegetarian.
We found the flavor pleasant, though we were aware of a slightly unusual underlying flavor, perhaps due to the unusual list of ingredients, and it mixed well.
This protein powder ticks most boxes when it comes to protein powders.
Some reviewers criticize it as being overly sweet and sickly, but most praise it for being one of the best-tasting vegan protein powders out there. "Not overly sweet which you find with other protein shakes, mixes really well so it’s not grainy and doesn’t clump together on the bottom/side."
Made by a giant in the industry, Optimum Nutrition, it is Informed Choice and Vegan Society certified, so you can be sure of the ingredients, and it delivers 24g of protein per serving. The flavor and texture are pretty good; we tried the vanilla, which had just the right hit of vanilla without being too sweet, and unlike some vegan proteins it didn't make our oatmeal go all stodgy. In fact, the powder is quite fine which means it doesn't come lumpy mixed with water or plant-based milk.
The downside for vegetarians and vegans is that Optimum Nutrition also makes whey products and sells fish oils, so it’s not a vegan company. Its plant-based eco-credentials are further marred by the fact that it only comes in a plastic tub with a plastic scoop.
There’s much to love about this protein powder.
Most of the reviews can be summed up in the words of this reviewer: "The taste is great, it is a quality product with added extras like probiotics, it has responsible eco packaging and whilst it is pricier than others on the market, all of the before mentioned make this worth it."
Packing a powerful protein punch from high quality, plant-based proteins, it also tastes pretty good. We found the texture to be pleasantly smooth and creamy. The powder is easy to mix and the flavors are fun, though some of them may come across as way too sweet. They may also overpower the taste when blended with other ingredients. Still, it’s worth trying Form out. Their protein powder is enriched with 5g of glutamine and 5g of BCAA per serving, making it a perfect muscle building supplement. It also contains several digestive enzymes and is devoid of artificial flavorings and thickeners, which can be helpful for people suffering from gastrointestinal issues. The addition of curcumin to combat inflammation is a nice touch.
Vegans can rest assured that it comes from a business only selling plant-based products (even the omega oils are vegan). It’s not cheap, but most flavors are available in smaller sample sizes, and you are getting a product that is kind to the environment in every way (there’s no plastic scoop and the packaging is 100% plastic-free and compostable).
It’s not surprising it’s won awards. Reviewers are enthusiastic about the protein to calorie ratio and the flavors. It’s not to everybody’s taste - there are grumbles from some about the flavor, powdery texture and excessive sweetness.
There’s a bit of a trade-off with this protein powder.
It has a slightly underwhelming 3.9 stars of 5 on Amazon. Although plenty of happy customers love the flavors, some find it too sweet (which was our experience). "I REALLY wanted to like something about these but unfortunately the taste was really artificial and the texture like eating wet sand", laments one.
While three out of the four flavors come in at under 100 calories, so it may appeal to anyone watching their caloric intake (and see Dr Dehghan’s comments on this, above), the flip-side is that the protein content is a little lower than in most. It has a good level of sweetness and a pleasant, subtle flavor that works well with a wide range of ingredients. Nonetheless, Misfits powder does not blend easily and you need to give it a good shake or stir before serving.
Vegans will appreciate the purely plant-based ethos and product range of Misfits. Better still, the packaging is biodegradable and even the ink used is eco-friendly. Misfits works with Climate Partner to offset its emissions and aims to be plastic-free by 2022. This protein powder isn’t the cheapest, and it’s only available in one size - another trade-off.
Mikuna is a relatively new brand, on a mission to introduce the US to Chocho, the Andean-grown, plant-based protein. According to the brand, this whole food source helped to nourish the Incan civilizations thousands of years ago.
Chocho is a lupini variety that grows high in the Andes. It is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids, as well as vitamins E and D, and calcium. One serving of Mikeuna’s Superfood Protein also contains 7g of dietary fiber.
Plus, if sustainability is important to you, chocho is a regenerative plant, meaning it is drought-tolerant, solely rain-watered and helps to fix nitrogen deep into the soil. It’s also vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO and paleo and keto-friendly.
When it comes to taste, we were in agreement with users who were hoping for a slightly richer chocolate flavor. One wrote, “It's pretty decent.. 7/10…[but] that quintessential ‘plant protein taste’ is there and a bit overpowers the chocolate taste you want”. We would agree - while the flavor certainly isn’t unpleasant, it’s not as rich and chocolatey as you expect. However, given how few ingredients it contains, and the lack of artificial sweeteners, it’s no surprise that the powder is slightly on the bitter side. It does blend well, however, and was a pleasant addition to smoothies and oatmeal.
The drawbacks? Mikuna Superfood Protein is a little higher in calories than some other brands, at 200 calories per serving. Therefore, it may not be suitable for those with weight loss goals. At around $37.79 for 15 servings (or $67.49 for 30) it’s also fairly expensive.
How to choose the best vegan protein powder for you
It can be tricky to choose the best vegan protein powder for you, but there are some easy ways to narrow it down. A lot of vegan protein powders are soy based, which not everyone can tolerate well, however if you can drink soy milk or other soy-based products without any adverse affects, then soy-based protein powders should be fine for you.
If you aren't a fan of soy, there are several other options available, including pea protein, rice protein and hemp protein. Pea protein is made out of yellow peas, and as such, it’s FODMAP diet friendly and free of allergens. It's also very high in branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) which promote muscle fiber synthesis and can be a good addition to many different heavy resistance training routines. Pea and rice protein are often combined as together they offer all 9 essential amino acids.
Hemp protein is extracted from hemp seeds and offers a complete profile of all 9 essential amino acids. It can have a slightly earthy flavor, which some people don't like, but also provides lots of fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals as well as being a good source of plant based protein. If taste is an issue for you, you can always try one of these 5 easy protein powder recipes.
The next step in choosing your vegan protein powder would be to find a product that aligns with your health and fitness goals. Protein powders are generally divided into two categories: protein supplements and mass gainers. Protein supplements aim to exclusively top up your protein intake, whilst mass gainers are designed to also deliver a hefty dose of calories and a bulk of different nutrients that support muscle growth. If your primary aim is to lose weight, aim for the regular protein powders, particularly those that are lower in carbohydrate. If you are looking to use protein shakes to gain weight, you will need to choose a mass gainer, which will help you to achieve the calorie surplus needed to put on weight.
Price is also an important factor to consider. The best protein powders come in at a range of different prices, and it can be helpful to bulk buy them in order to lower the overall cost-per-shake. While more expensive doesn't always equal better quality, you may find that the more you spend on a powder, the higher the protein content per serving.
For many people, taste is the final deciding factor when choosing a vegan protein powder. Look at the range of flavors each brand offers - most will offer a vanilla and chocolate option, but some brands offer a wider range.
The benefits of using vegan protein powder
Calculating the correct amount of protein you need depends on several factors; your body weight, your age and how physically active you are. An average person will need 0.75g of protein per kg of body weight, increasing to 1-1.2g in the over-65s. People who train a lot will need even more – about 1.2-2g per kg of body weight.
To boost your protein consumption Dr. Dehghan recommends starting with whole foods. “The easy way to increase your protein intake is to start with regular food,” she said. "You can easily increase your protein intake by just adding hemp seeds, tofu or any other protein source to your smoothies or meals."
If you feel that you still want to add extra protein to your diet, then Dr. Dehghan lists soy and pea proteins as her first recommendations. “Both have been around for a long time and most studies use soy or pea protein powders to compare with whey protein. Another one of my favorites is protein powders that use a combination of different protein sources, for example, pea and brown rice.”
While there is a lot of advice out there on when to consume your protein, Dr. Dehghan said concentrating on getting enough protein and calories should be the main focus. “As the sports dietitian Dan Benardot says, we humans are energy-first systems, meaning that if we don’t increase our caloric intake to meet the increased demand during exercise, any excess protein will be utilized as fuel and not for muscle synthesis. This is why increasing calorie intake should be top priority for anybody who’s engaging in physical activity, even before deciding on protein shakes.”
This article is for informational purposes only, and is not meant to offer medical advice.