The Cheapest Vegan Protein Powders in 2017

cheapest vegan protein powders

As a vegan athlete or gym-goer you've probably wondered:

Why is vegan protein powders so goddamn expensive?

Most of the plant-based protein supplements on the market are provokingly small tubs that cost 40$ or more.

This is not within my budget, nor most peoples', as 25 servings simply doesn't last very long. 

However if you just know where and what to look for - it's definitely possible to find a high-quality plant protein that doesn't break the bank.

This guide will give you the tools to find the cheapest vegan protein powders with the most bang for your buck.

Either scroll down to the guide, or if you're short on time I included a summary below with the products offering the best protein per dollar (Measured as servings per container x protein per serving / price)

The Bulksupplements Pure Pea Protein Powder blows all competition out of the water at 135 g protein per dollar. With only one ingredient, 100% pea protein powder, and having been lab-tested for quality and purity it's my recommendation for the best value vegan protein powder as of 2017.

Rating

Product

Protein yield

Price

1

135 g / $

2

Bulksupplements Pure Pea Protein Powder 

(11 lbs/5 kg container)

54 g / $

3

53 g / $

4

NOW Sports Pea Protein Natural 

(7 lbs/3.17 kg container)

52 g / $

5

NAKED Pea Protein Powder

(5 lbs/2.26 kg container)

39 g / $

Benefits of a vegan protein powder

now sports pea protein powder

Why should I purchase a plant-based protein powder?

It is a good question.

The plant protein found in whole plant foods and a protein powder is more or less the same. 

Regardless of what the food looks like on your plate (or in your shaker)...

...it gets broken down by the digestive system into the exact same amino acids.

With that in mind it would make sense to simply eat a bunch of high-protein foods such as beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh etc. These are in many ways great foods, they're often quite cheap and deliver both plenty of protein as well as other beneficial nutrients. 

Now:

There are a couple of different reasons why so you see so many vegan athletes and bodybuilders, and myself included, supplementing with vegan protein powders.

It's really convenient

squirrel eating

What would you rather have for breakfast on a hectic monday morning where you missed the alarm

A: chew through two cans of chickpeas for your 30 grams of protein

or

B: mix a scoop of vegan protein powder with some plant milk and drink it on the go to work/school?

Compared to whole food sources it's a much simpler and convenient way of getting some extra protein in your diet.

It takes just a couple of seconds to whip up a protein shake with not a lot of hassle. There is no food prep, cooking, roasting, boiling or any of that involved in the process.

Just dump powder in water and mix. You don't even have to chew it!

Another positive is that it's super portable: bring some with you in a shaker and you'l have a backup of high-quality plant protein wherever you go school or work.

Hitting macros with ease

tofu meal

Despite the variety of high-protein vegan foods, lentils, beans, tofu, tempeh etc, it can be difficult hitting your protein goals.

Say for example that you're a 176 lbs or 80 kg person cutting on 2000 calories or less.

As outlined in The Guide to Vegan Bodybuilding you need between 1.2-1.8 g of protein per kg bodyweight, ideally at the higher end of the range to retain as much muscle as possible during weight loss. 

That means you have to keep calories under 2000 and also hit 144 g protein. This is not an easy task eating only whole plant foods

What a vegan diet lacks is a whole food that is high-protein and simultaneously low in fat and carbohydrate. Omnivores has got meats such as lean chicken breast that fills that role. 

The solution:

Supplement your plant-based diet with one or two protein shakes per day. This'll add tons of protein with no significant amounts of carbs or fats. 

How to find a cheap vegan protein powder

piggy bank

Cheap doesn't have to mean shit quality. 

In fact the most affordable alternatives are often better than the fancy, expensive stuff.

But before you pull the trigger on any product here is a checklist you should go through before hand. 

Depending on the answer to these questions you should be able to roughly determine the quality of a product. Google the product and check reviews from users on Youtube, Amazon etc.

  • Does the protein powder mix well or does it clump and stick together?
  • Does it digest well or does it cause bloating or any other type of gastrointestinal distress?
  • Is it produced from non-GMO and organic ingredients?
  • Does it have a clean ingredient list or is it full with fillers and other stuff that doesn't really need to be in there?
  • What does it taste like?
  • What plant protein is the product derived from?
  • What is the bang for your buck, or protein per dollar?

If you're reading this article then you are probably most interested in the last sentence:

'What is the bang for your buck, or protein per dollar?'

In order to maximize the value of the product there are a couple of tricks.

Save money by buying in bulk

bags of grains

The ol' principle of saving buying in bulk will save you plenty of hard-earned cash. 

So instead of buying 1 lb containers every week - buy a giant bag of protein powder that'll last you for a couple of months.

Costs are cut by an order of magnitude if you go this route instead of weekly purchases. 

I would most certainly go bankrupt if I relied on the tiny tubs of expensive vegan protein powder - it's simply not feasible buying a new one of these every week for 40$.

Choose the cheapest protein source

The price of a plant-based protein powder varies dramatically depending on what source the protein is derived from. 

For the most value: choose either pea or soy protein. These two are considerably more budget-friendly than other plant proteins. 

Any vegan protein blend, rice or hemp protein will probably not be your best bet if you're looking for the cheapest option.

For a detailed look into the various plant protein powders check out this article. 

Look for a simple ingredient list

legumes

Less is more. 

If you want the most protein per dollar spent...

...look for simple ingredient list, ideally something with one ingredient i.e 100% plant protein.

In order to produce a palatable plant-derived protein powder, supplement companies has to add a variety of emulsifiers, sweeteners, oils, sugar, preservatives etc. 

Hence you as a customer have to pay for more stuff that is not protein.

The cheapest products often feature one ingredient, plant protein. In my humble opinion this is way better than drinking something with 25 different ingredients.

Recommendations for cheap vegan protein powders

bulk supplements pea protein powder

The Bulksupplements Pure Pea Protein Powder is unbeatable when it comes to bang for your buck:

The 44 lbs/20 kg option yields 135 g protein per dollar! No other vegan protein powder comes even close.

Well, except for the 11 lbs/5 kg container of the exact same product at 53 g protein/dollar.

So is there any catch here, why is it so damn inexpensive?

Basically you save heaps of money because:

A. you're buying in bulk and B. the minimalistic ingredient list, the product contains only 100% pure pea protein powder.

As such it is free of soy, gluten, lactose, animal products, artificial sweeteners, colors etc.

It has also been lab-tested for quality and purity so you know exactly what you're putting in your body. 

This is a no frills plant-based protein powder with a 87% protein content. Per serving you get

  • 110 calories
  • 1 g fat
  • 1 g fiber
  • 24 g protein

Pea protein is a great option as it contains plenty of the essential amino acids as well as the BCAAs which promote muscle growth. In fact it works so well that one study found that it's equal to whey in regards to promoting muscle gains.

Users report that it mixes and digests very well with no bloating or other adverse effects.

There is one drawback: it's unflavoured. Unless you enjoy the taste of raw peas in powdered form you'll probably not like the taste of this. Luckily it can easily be masked in a smoothie with other ingredients. 

  • Vegan
  • Contains nothing but 100% pea protein
  • 135 g protein/dollar
  • 87% protein
  • Per serving you get 24 g protein, 1 g fat and 1 g fiber
  • Free of soy, gluten, lactose, animal products, artificial sweeteners, additives, colors etc.
  • Pea protein provides good amount of the essential amino acids and BCAAs
  • It is unflavoured: it will taste like raw peas which most people don't find particularly tasty 
bulk supplements soy protein powder

This is quite similiar to the pea protein powder but there is one major difference, it's based on soy protein.

If you buy the 11 lbs/5 kg option you will get 53 g protein/dollar which is still pretty decent in terms of value.

It's yet another no frills protein powder from Bulksupplements with one ingredient, 100% soy protein. Free of gluten, lactose, animal products, additives, preservatives, artificial sweetener, colors etc.

This product definitely packs a protein-punch with 90% protein. Per serving you get

  • 112 calories
  • <1 g fat
  • 27 g protein

Users report that it mixes and digests well with no gastrointestinal distress.

Now:

There has been some concerns raised about the potential health effects of soy protein. Many of the purported dangers of soy, increasing estrogen levels in men so on and so forth, are completely false.

However soy protein can lead to increased levels of IGF-1 which have been linked to cancer risk. For this reason Dr Michael Greger suggests no more than 3-5 servings per day.

Another theoretical concern is that soy foods may increase risk of developing clinical hypothyroidism in people with compromised thyroid function and/or whose iodine intake is marginal.

The gist here is that if you keep intake at moderate levels, and don't have any preexisting thyroid problems, soy protein isn't going to cause any problems.

  • Vegan
  • Contains nothing but 100% soy protein
  • 53 g protein/dollar
  • 90% protein
  • Per serving you get 27 g protein, <1 g fat
  • Free of gluten, lactose, animal products, artificial sweeteners, additives, preservatives and colors
  • There are some health concerns associated with soy protein 
now sports pea protein powder

NOW Sports Pea Protein Powder is another great vegan protein powder yielding an impressive 52 g protein/dollar (7 lbs/3.17 kg container).

Following the theme of this article it's one more minimalistic plant-based protein powder containoing one ingredient, 100% pea protein. Free of gluten, lactose, animal products, additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and colors.

What I like about this product is that they've included the amino acid profile per serving so you know exactly how much growth-inducing BCAAs you get.

As noted above pea protein is a great alternative for a protein powders: it has a good amount of the essential amino acids as well as BCAAs required for muscle growth. One study found that it works just as well as whey in promoting muscle gains.

This pea protein powder sits at 80% protein and per serving you get

  • 120 calories
  • 24 g protein
  • 2 g fat
  • 1 g carbohydrate
  • Over 4,200 mg of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and over 2,000 mg of L-Arginine. 

Users report that it dissolves easily in liquid and doesn't seem to upset digestion. 

As it is made from 100% pea protein with no sweeteners or anything to mask the flavor it will taste... natural. Think ground up raw peas. Fortunately it can be masked quite easily in a smoothie with fruits. 

  • Vegan 
  • Contains nothing but 100% pea protein
  • 52 g protein/dollar
  • 80% protein
  • Per serving you get 24 g protein, 2 g fat and 1 g carb
  • 4,200 mg of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) and over 2,000 mg of L-Arginine. 
  • Free of gluten, lactose, animal products, artificial sweeteners, additives, preservatives and colors
  • Completely unflavoured so it will taste very natural
naked pea protein powder

The NAKED Pea Protein Powder is, as the name suggests, yet another pea-derived vegan protein powder.

This product comes in a 5 lbs/2.26 kg container which translates into 39 g protein per dollar. While it doesn't give you quite the same value as the competition - it does have some other reedeming qualities. 

It contains 100% yellow pea protein. The peas are sources from environmentally friendly farms in the USA and Canada. To my knowledge this is the only pea protein powder not made China-sourced ingredients.

Naked Pea contains no artificial sweeteners, flavors, or colors and is GMO-Free, soy free and gluten-free.

What I like about this particular product is the complete transparency. There is both an amino acid breakdown for each serving as well as independent heavy metals testing results. Which means you can rest assured that the product is not contaminated with any toxins. 

Another positive is that there are 3 different flavors available: unflavoured, chocolate and vanilla. If you cant stand the taste of plain pea protein this product may be your best bet.

This product definitely packs a protein-punch with 90% protein. Per serving you get

  • 120 calories
  • 0.5 g fat
  • 2 g carbohydrate
  • 27 g protein
  • 5.700 mg (!) of BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) per serving.

Reviews report that this protein powder dissolves and digests well with no bloating.

One drawback is if you chose the unflavoured version you will probably not enjoy the taste - which is to be expected from 100% pea protein. 

  • Vegan 
  • Contains nothing but 100% pea protein
  • Sourced from peas grown on environmentally friendly farms in the USA and Canada.
  • Provides independent heavy metals testing results and amino acid breakdown in each serving
  • 39 g protein/dollar
  • 90% protein
  • Per serving you get 120 calories: 27 g protein, 0.5 g fat, 2 g carbohydrate
  • 5.700 mg (!) of BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) per serving.
  • Free of gluten, lactose, animal products, artificial sweeteners, additives, preservatives and colors
  • The unflavored version is not going to taste like strawberrys

In conclusion

When it comes how much protein you get per dollar spent, the Bulksupplements Pea Protein Powder is the definite winner at 135 g protein / dollar. The other options are not bad products at all but they're not really in the same league in terms of value. 

Here is the table again with protein per dollar so you can make a decision for yourself. 

Rating

Product

Protein yield

Price

1

135 g / $

2

Bulksupplements Pure Pea Protein Powder 

(11 lbs/5 kg container)

54 g / $

2

53 g / $

3

NOW Sports Pea Protein Natural 

(7 lbs/3.17 kg container)

52 g / $

4

NAKED Pea Protein Powder

(5 lbs/2.26 kg container)

39 g / $

P.S If you found this informative make sure to share this article!

P.S.S Share your recommendations for budget-friendly plant-based protein powders in the comments. 

The Cheapest Vegan Protein Powders in 2017 

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  • Alex
  • November 9, 2017
Alex
 

Hey there! I’m Alex and I’m obsessed with a vegan diet, strength training and bodybuilding, as well as health and nutrition. When I’m not writing articles on here I am either in the gym, playing electric guitar or cooking vegan food!

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