Hemp protein, brown rice protein, soy protein, organic protein… vegans are lucky enough to be spoiled for choice when it comes to vegan protein powders. However, what the hell do they all do, and why should you care what they’re made from?
Alas, not all protein powder is created equal, and there are a lot of details you need to scoop up if you’re looking for the best vegan protein powders on the market.
Here we go over our personal top 10 best vegan protein powders, helping you to find the healthiest protein powder for the way you live your plant-based protein filled life.
The Best Vegan Protein Powder For Your Goals
OUR #1 RATED - Editor's Choice
Transparent Labs Organic Vegan
Best Pea Protein
Nuzest Clean Lean Protein
Best Soy Protein
Six Star Pro
Best Hemp Protein
Best Rice Protein
Organic Brown Rice Protein
Best for Weight Loss
Garden of Life
Best for Weight Gain
IronVegan Athlete's Gainer
Best Tasting Protein Powder
Garden of Life
1. Best Overall: Transparent Labs ProteinSeries Organic Vegan
This product contains a protein base of 2:1 rice to pea protein ratio, meaning that it is 100% vegan-friendly.
What’s nice is that it is also free from artificial nonsense and is even USDA Certified as organic too.
In my personal testing, I found that this rice/pea combination makes for a smooth texture, helping this powder to mix well into drinks and smoothies without getting clumpy or gritty. It’s also gentle on sensitive stomachs.
Each serving comes in at 24 grams of protein, which is a decent amount, in addition to 4 grams of fiber too.
I found it to be good for improving gains as well as improving overall health and bowel movements due to its fiber content.
2. Best Pea Protein: Nuzest Clean Lean Protein
This Clean Lean Protein is a rhyming marketing gimmick machine!
Nuzest’s “Clean Lean Protein Powder” is very low in fat and carbs - 1g of fat and 2g of carbs -, so it’s a great addition to a healthy plant based diet if you’re trying to stay slim.
With 21 grams of protein per serving, this protein powder is one of the best things you can scoop into your protein shake if you’re trying to increase your protein intake.
I've tried several flavors by them and they all mix well and taste amazing (which is very rare in protein powders).
What I love the most is the premium European quality in their ingredients and their processing so I know I'm getting product of the highest standard and somethings that's SAFE - no animal contamination of animal products.
Related post: Other recommended pea protein powders
3. Best Soy Protein Powder: Six Star Pro
If you’re looking for high-quality soy protein, then Six Star Pro is perfect for you.
Each serving provides you with 20g of high-quality protein, helping you to easily increase your mass and enhance your workout performance.
Six Star Pro is also buzzing with amino acids, brilliant for muscle growth, and is happily free from lactose, cholesterol, trans fat, and aspartame.
In other words, you can scoop it into your protein shake without worrying about side effects to your health!
Here's our full buyer's guide on the best soy protein powders.
4. Best Hemp Protein Powder: LeanHemp
Hemp protein powder is not only a great choice because of the quality protein... it's also a nutritional powerhouse.
LeanHemp is a hemp protein supplement which boasts 20g of hemp protein per serving, providing you with all the building blocks you need to live a healthy plant based life.
The unique consistency and flavor of this protein powder make it ideal for mixing into various foods, such as yogurts, cereals, and protein shakes. This way, you can scoop it into a bunch of different meals and make your day potentially much easier!
It's got 20 amino acids which includes 8 essential amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own.
Read our full review on the best hemp protein powders.
5. Best Rice Protein Powder: Organic Brown Rice Protein Powder
Rice protein is very well digested, suitable for people with an easily upset stomach.
If you’ve ever watched the movie “Showgirls”, you’ll know that brown rice and vegetables are the keys to an athletic body.
Although powdered vegetables are hard to come by, Organic Brown can offer you this healthy brown rice protein powder instead.
This high-quality vegan protein contains more than 15 types of amino acids (including the essential amino acids) which help you to build and maintain a healthy body.
This supplement’s organic protein comes in at 27g per serving, which is awesome if you need a quick energy boost before hitting the gym!
6. Most Organic: Organic Organic Plant Based Protein
The questionably-named Orgain is certainly remaining on-brand with this organic protein powder, providing you with a nice 21g dose of organic protein with every serving, in addition to 7g of organic fiber and quite a few other benefits.
Orgain’s unique blend contains pea protein, brown rice protein, chia seeds, and more, coming in at a respectable 150 calories per serving.
As a result, it’s ideal for eating a healthy organic diet without popping on the pounds.
It's easily one of the cleanest protein powders out on the market.
Sometimes I add this to my smoothie and create a nutritious protein smoothie. You should give it a try.
7. Best for Weight loss: Garden of Life
You want something with a small amount of calories and with a large percentage of calories coming from protein... and ideally it ought to provide a lot of plant protein for every dollar spent... then Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein is for you.
This formula contains 22 grams of plant-based organic protein, giving you an energy boost when you need it most, while vitamins A, D, E, and K help you to live healthily without shoveling fruit and veg down your throat 24/7.
At 110 calories per serving, this is ideal for weight loss, while the pleasant vanilla flavor makes it one of the more palatable vegan protein powders on this list.
Oh, did I mention there's 0 grams of sugar?
8. Best Vegan Protein Powder for Weight Gain: IronVegan Athlete's Gainer
Weight gain is the result of eating more calories than you burn = being in a caloric surplus.
And honestly... for the purpose of bulking up and putting on mass just about any quality plant-based protein will work fine.
However, the bulk of your calories should always come from plant foods, not protein powders. That's my go-to protein powder for weight gain is IronVegan Athlete's Gainer.
Packed with 720 calories and 42 grams of protein per serving, this vegan gainer surely knocks off its competitors.
It provides well-balanced macros with its vegan carbohydrate blend, giving a 2.85:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio.
(For 13 effective tips on healthy vegan weight gain check this article out)
9. Best Budget-Friendly: BulkSupplements
BulkSupplements have made their name on being affordable, simple, and to-the-point with their products, and they haven’t disappointed this time!
This pea protein powder is packed full of essential amino acids and protein – the perfect combo for any vegan athlete.
It's got 24g of protein, 110 calories and 1g of fat per serving.
This low-priced supplement is often an alternative to whey protein isolate powders, with athletes commonly mixing it into shakes and fruit smoothies for a health and energy kick!
This is my go-to if you're short on cash but still need to get your protein intake. Read our full review on the cheapest vegan protein powders we recommend.
10. Best Tasting Vegan Protein Powder: NutraLeaf
Finding the best tasting plant-based protein powder is quite possibly... a bit impossible. Everyone has got their own unique taste palate.
Consumers consistently rank NutraLeaf as one of the best vegan protein powders when it comes to taste, and in my opinion, IT IS.
This Dark Chocolate-flavored powder contains natural flavorings, in addition to 22g of protein, so you can get your protein fix without grimacing as your drink your shake!
NutraLeaf claims that this is "The World's Best Tasting Vegan Protein". It's a bold claim, but we have to agree.
It's an all-in-one nutritional shake that contains plant-based proteins, greens, antioxidants, vitamins, and natural digestive enzymes.
This delicious protein powder is easy to digest and free from several nasty additives, which is great news if you don’t have the strongest stomach.
For 15% Off, Use Coupon code:
How many grams of protein do you need?
You need between 1.6g and 2.2g of protein per kg of bodyweight if you want to maximize your muscle gains. This equates to roughly 0.73-1g per lb. This should cover the protein needs of 99.2% of vegan athletes who are increasing their muscle mass.
It should also be pointed out that one can build appreciable amounts of muscle mass on protein intakes as low as 1 g per kg bodyweight.
However as dietary protein tends to correlate with the amount of new muscle synthesised, and also as plant protein generally speaking is less anabolic and not as well digested than animal protein, I recommend going with the upper end of the protein range suggested by the scientific literature to be optimal.
So for example:
A vegan athlete weighing 80 kg, or 176 lbs, would need around 1.6-2.2 x 80 = 128-176 grams of protein per day.
With these numbers in mind, and taking into account the general lifestyle of a vegan athlete, here's why I believe a plant-based protein supplement to be so invaluable:
Benefits of Vegan Protein Powder
While you should base your protein intake mostly around whole plant foods such as legumes, beans and lentils (as they are packed with protein and deliver some serious amounts of other important nutrients)...
...a vegan protein powder shake or two per day just makes getting adequate protein a hell of a lot easier.
As you might've noticed this particular nutrient is quite popular amongst bodybuilders.
And not without good reason.
Protein not only provides the building blocks required to support the growth and repair of muscle tissue - it also offers some other pretty cool benefits:
1. It's super convenient
Instead of having to lug around cans of chickpeas, finding somewhere to drain the liquid, eat the chickpeas and dump the cans, you can just rely on a powder as a protein snack. No other high-protein plant food beats protein powder in terms of convenience:
It's great for bringing with you to work or school in a shaker, just add some water, shake and gulp down.
Woke up too late and can't afford spending time preparing your oatmeal? Grab a protein shake and you're set!
Too tired to cook dinner after your workout? Make a protein smoothie with a bunch of fruit and some oatmeal!
2. Alleviates some of the burden of having to eat tons of legumes.
Don't get me wrong, I adore legumes, beans and lentils. But relying on these foods solely to meet your protein demands can be... daunting.
Adding 30 g of vegan protein powder to your morning oatmeal will make it a lot less bothersome hitting the rest of the prescribed protein macros.
So if I you crave some delicious pasta instead of kidney beans for dinner, feel free to indulge as you've already hit your protein macros with the protein supplement and you thus fit less protein-dense foods into your diet.
3. Makes cutting down (without losing muscle) a lot easier.
You can probably relate to this problem:
Cutting calories and carbohydrate intake while simultaneously keeping protein intake high on a vegan diet can be a difficult, if not an almost impossible task.
High-protein foods such as beans, lentils and tofu simply comes with too many extra calories in the form of fat and carbohydrate.
When my calories dip down to about 2000 calories, and I still want to make sure I get 150+ grams protein, it's not really doable without a vegan protein powder.
A high-quality vegan protein with a good protein content should sit around 80-90% protein, with only trace amount of carbs and fats. This macronutritional composition is guaranteed not to screw up your vegan cutting macros and can help you lose fat, while preventing going catabolic and keeping your gains intact.
4. Has a high digestability.
Turning whole plant foods such as peas and rice into a protein powder - essentially grounding it up to a fine powder and filtering out the fiber, carbs and fats - improves the digestability of the protein.
While whole plant foods as a rule of thumb aren't digested as well by the body as animal protein, vegan protein powders are almost as well-digested as animal products.
This makes it a very high-quality source of protein which can sometimes be lacking in the vegan diet.
What to Look for in a Good Vegan Protein Powder?
1. Value - Protein per Dollar
If you’re a vegan on a budget and you don’t have the cash to be splashing out on fancy protein isolate powders, then you need to take a look at this formula:
In order to spend the least amount of money for the most amount of protein, here's the number you need to be looking at:
Dollar per gram of protein.
The basic formula to calculate this looks like:
Protein per serving * Servings per container
This is the quickest way to find out how much protein is in the product you’re buying per dollar. Just make sure that the protein it contains is high-quality and not something cheap with limited bioavailability.
Don’t be fooled by ripped-looking bottles of protein powder which are bigger than your car – do this calculation and get the cold, hard facts for yourself.
2. Percentage of Protein
If you’re purchasing a protein powder, chances are that you’re looking for a high percentage of plant proteins above everything else on the ingredients list. This is a good time to calculate the protein yield, which is basically the percentage of protein in a supplement.
Not all protein is created equal – hemp protein powders contain different yields to brown rice protein powders – and the figures can vary from 50% to 90% depending on the product.
Basically, the higher the percentage of protein is in a product, the less space which is taken up by carbs, fats, sugars, and other nutrients which you may (or may not) want. The only time you would want this would be when you're bulking and trying to consume a ton of calories.
If you're bulking and need that extra help in getting more calories, you may want to consider taking a vegan mass gainer.
3. Taste & Mixability
We vegans have it hard enough as it is – we shouldn’t be subjected to disgusting chalky shakes which are more akin to gruel than anything else.
You need to keep an eye out for powders which taste decent and can mix easily into fruit smoothies, protein shakes, and other such drinks or meals.
Consider how you’re going to consume your protein and then decide how to make it palatable. If you’re doing something with simple milk or water, maybe go for a flavored powder.
Alternatively, if you’re planning on scooping your protein into your entire diet, you should be fine with unflavored varieties.
Protein is great and all that, but you’ve got to consider what else is in the ingredients of a product. Just because something is packed with protein doesn’t necessarily make it good for you.
Try to consume products which offer you lots of nutritional benefits, such as essential amino acids and major vitamins and minerals.
It’s mostly common sense, but keep an eye out for additives, fillers, gums, and other crap that shouldn’t be in your vegan protein powder.
Generally speaking, if the ingredients list on the bottle resembles the Magna Carta, then you’re probably best off going with something “simpler”.
What's the Best Overall Vegan Protein Powder?
Overall, I have to recommend Transparent Labs Organic Vegan as the best overall plant-based protein powder on the market. Its low-carb and low-fat formula is ideal for keeping any extra pounds off, while its 24g of protein can help to staple a healthy vegan diet.
It’s even great for people on restricted diets, being 100% free of gluten, GMO ingredients, and other nasty additives. This truly is the one rice and pea protein to rule them all, and the price ain’t too shabby either!
So, next time you’re making a protein shake, reach for a scoop of this - it does what it says on the tin (or bottle).
Our #1 Recommended Vegan Protein Powder
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