Protein is the building block of our bodies and a vital nutrient for all humans, and vegan protein powders are the healthiest form of protein supplements available.
Choosing vegan protein powder allows you to intake adequate amounts of protein without the negative side effects of consuming too many animal products.
I personally am not vegan or vegetarian, but I do work my best to consume as many vegan protein sources each day instead of animal protein, and I always use vegan protein powder instead of whey, casein, egg, or beef protein.
One of the major concerns about vegan and vegetarian diets is the insufficient supply of protein overall, however, there are tons of vegan sources of protein to choose from. There are many vegan foods that are high in protein, and vegan protein powder is available online just as readily as traditional whey protein powder.
Keep reading below to find the best vegan protein powder and more information about why you should choose plant protein over animal protein!
Why Should You Use a Vegan Protein Powder?
There are several reasons why it is beneficial to choose plant-based protein powders instead of animal protein powders like whey, casein, or egg protein. Plant-based protein can easily provide you with the required amount of protein your body needs, are better for the environment, and are generally lower in calories.
Along with that, plant-based protein is better for your health in a variety of ways.
For example, studies have reported that consuming plant protein instead of animal protein can reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. According to a study published in Cancer Research,
“Diets rich in plant-based proteins and scarce in red and processed meat may provide a cancer-preventive metabolic environment in the gut and thus decrease the risk for colorectal cancer.”
Furthermore, one of the main risks of protein intake is that some animal sources of protein also contain high amounts of saturated fat. Saturated fat intake is strongly associated with a risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and protein-rich foods such as whole-milk products and red meat are common choices for protein intake, while also being high in saturated fat content.
Therefore, it is important to choose as many plant-sources of protein as possible. Although white meat contains lower amounts of saturated fat than red meat, both have shown to increase LDL cholesterol more than plant protein (Bergeron, Chiu, Williams, M King, & Krauss, 2019).
Although in this article I am focusing on the health benefits of vegan protein sources, both high animal protein and high plant protein diets both have shown to be associated with having a lower body weight and lower amounts abdominal fat (Berryman, Agarwal, Lieberman, Fulgoni, & Pasiakos, 2016).
If eaten in excess, protein will still convert to body fat like carbohydrates and dietary fat. However, protein has a higher thermogenic effect in the body and is also more satiating, which might explain the apparent link between a high-protein diet and body composition (Pesta & Samuel, 2014).
For those who are very active and looking to build muscle mass while maintaining low body fat, a diet high in vegan protein can assist with muscle synthesis and enhance recovery, which is why supplements such as whey protein powder are both popular and beneficial (Devries & Phillips, 2015).
Furthermore, supplemental amino acid intake is a very perplexing concept. When looking through research studies on the topic, I seem to find as many studies claiming that BCAA supplements, such as Scivation Xtend, have positive effects on lean muscle mass and body composition as studies demonstrating potential adverse health effects. Studies indicate that amino acid supplementation, leucine, in particular, was associated with positive effects on lean muscle mass (Fujita & Volpi, 2006).
Contrarily, other studies show harmful impacts of elevated BCAA intake, such as how high-BCAA diets promote excessive eating, obesity, and can reduce lifespan through the effects of amino acid intake imbalance (Solon-Biet et al., 2019).
Although there may be some benefits of using supplemental amino acids, it appears that the best advice is to intake protein from quality vegan protein sources within well-balanced meals.
I will explain more about this product below, but if you wish to use a protein supplement, I suggest the vegan protein supplement Sunwarrior Illumin8:
Lastly, switching to vegan sources of protein could even lower your risk of death! According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association,
“High animal protein intake was positively associated with cardiovascular mortality and high plant protein intake was inversely associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality, especially among individuals with at least 1 lifestyle risk factor. Substitution of plant protein for animal protein, especially that from processed red meat, was associated with lower mortality, suggesting the importance of protein source.”
How Much Protein Should You Consume Per Day?
Depending on your level of activity and goals, most people should consume between 1.0 and 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. However, as you consider increasing your protein intake, you might find yourself wondering whether or not you are consuming too much protein
Excess protein intake can be a concern for some athletes, such as those who are overly concerned about their physique or athletes in sports that are predominately strength-based. One area of concern for athletes with long-term excessive protein intake is kidney health. There is currently no specific evidence that demonstrates that a high-protein diet will result in kidney damage, but some research has indicated that long-term high-animal protein intake can result in increased dietary acid load, increased dietary phosphate content, gut microbiome dysbiosis, and subsequent inflammation (Ko et al., 2020).
A primary risk of excess protein consumption is the inherent decrease in carbohydrate and dietary fat intake, which could lead to nutrient deficiencies. Carbohydrates, specifically, are at risk for inadequate intake if protein consumption is increased dramatically. For athletes, adequate carbohydrate consumption is necessary for refueling muscle glycogen, amongst other key bodily functions.
Additionally, whole-carbohydrate-based foods contain valuable micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, and refraining from consuming enough carbohydrates can hamper many aspects of an athlete’s overall health.
For an athlete concerned about consuming enough protein and insists on consuming more protein than his actual needs, suggesting the inclusion of more plant-protein sources would naturally increase the carbohydrate intake of his diet and vitamin and mineral intake (Lonnie et al., 2018). Increased plant protein consumption, instead of protein supplements or animal protein sources, provides additional carbohydrates and healthy dietary fats in the diet and helps individuals consume enough protein while still consuming a well-balanced diet.
What are the Best Vegan Protein Sources for Plant-Protein Powders?
If you want to switch to the best vegan protein powder instead of animal protein, here are some of the best vegan protein sources you can find in plant-protein powders:
Foods that belong to the legume family are always a great vegan source of protein for vegetarians, and peas are no exception. A cup of peas contains 7.9 grams of protein, which is about the same as a cup of milk.
Pea protein powder is also generally very affordable. I didn’t list it as one of the best plant-protein powders below because there is another pea protein powder I like more, but you can even get a super affordable pea protein powder if you would like something cheap and effective:
Although most grains contain only a small amount of protein, quinoa is technically a seed and is unique because it contains over 8 grams of protein per cup!
This also includes all nine of the essential amino acids that the body requires for growth and repair, but cannot be produced by the body.
Quinoa is one of the main sources of protein in KOS Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder, which I believe is the best vegan protein powder.
Chia seeds have been documented in Aztec history all the way back to 3500 B.C., and they are certainly one of the best plant protein sources.
In the Mayan language, “chia” means “strength,” which is likely due to the physical and mental energy provided by eating chia seeds. The Mayan people also commonly believed that chia seeds had a sort of supernatural power- which doesn’t seem to be too far off!
Chia seeds are also very easy to digest and can improve your digestive system when consumed consistently.
One 2-tablespoon serving of chia seeds provides:
- 4 grams of Fiber
- 1.75 grams of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- 2 grams of Protein
Along with numerous other health benefits, one of the most important benefits of eating chia seeds is their powerful antioxidants.
A study published in the Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society concluded that,
“Analyses of fatty acids of the two different samples of chia seed oils indicated potent antioxidant activity.”
This is another one of the main plant-protein sources in KOS Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder.
There are several varieties of beans including heirloom, pinto, black, white, kidney, etc. One thing that they all have in common is the high amount of protein they have! For example, two cups of kidney beans contain about 26 grams of protein!
Several studies have shown that diets that are rich in bean protein and other legumes almost always decrease cholesterol, help to reduce belly fat, lower blood pressure, and help to control blood sugar levels.
Hemp comes from the cannabis sativa plant, the plant which is notorious for being a part of the same family as the marijuana plant. Although it belongs to the same family as marijuana, it contains only trace amounts of THC (the compound that produces the marijuana-like drug effects).
Hemp seed, though not as well known as other seeds, contains 10 grams of easily digestible and complete protein per ounce (28grams). That is about 50 percent more than flaxseeds and chia seeds!
Hemp also contains a good amount of iron, zinc, selenium, and magnesium; and it is a great source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in a ratio that is considered optimal for human health.
To completely meet daily protein requirements, a vegan athlete can consume hemp protein as their primary source of protein. Due to its complex nature and micro-nutrient composition, hemp protein is the best source of protein completely obtained from plant sources.
It is perfect for vegans, and non-vegans alike!
There has been a wide range of research done on hemp protein to determine its benefits, including an article in The Journal of Food Chemistry from 2008 with results which,
“suggest that the protein isolates from hempseed are much more nutritional in amino acid nutrition and easily digestible than SPI, and can be utilized as a good source of protein nutrition for human consumption.”
Furthermore, as stated in an published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry,
“results provide reference data in support of protein claims for hemp seed products and provide evidence that hemp proteins have a PDCAAS equal to or greater than certain grains, nuts, and some pulses.”
Lentils are another great source of protein, with 18 grams of protein per cooked cup.
Lentils also contain great amounts of slowly digested carbs, as a single cup (240ml) provides approximately 50 percent of the daily fiber intake that is recommended for you. Not only are lentils one of the best vegan sources of protein, but they are also one of the best complex carbs!
Furthermore, the type of fiber that is found in lentils has shown to be food for the good bacteria in your colon, thereby promoting a healthy stomach. Lentils have been shown to help reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, some types of cancer, and excess body weight.
Lentils are also rich in manganese, iron, and folate, and contain a good amount of antioxidants and other plant compounds that promote quality health overall!
Dubbed as the “Tree of Life,” moringa is a plant-protein that has many health benefits.
According to a study published in the Journal of Pharmacy Research,
“Moringa oleifera Lam. (Moringaceae) is a highly valued plant, distributed in many countries of the tropics and subtropics. Moringa is nature’s medicine cabinet. It is best known as excellent source of nutrition and a natural energy booster. Different parts of this plant are being employed for the treatment of different ailments in the indigenous system of medicine.”
Moringa is considered to be a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids. One gram of moringa has twice the amount of protein as yogurt and is equivalent to a full serving of vegetables. It is certainly one of the best vegan protein sources!
According to a research study published in the Bulletin of Environment, Pharmacology and Life Sciences,
“Moringa leaves contain all of the essential amino acids in a good proportion, which are the building blocks of proteins. These leaves could be a great boon to people who do not get protein from meat. Moringa even contains arginine and histidine two amino acids especially important for infants, who are unable to make enough protein for their growth requirements [12-18]”
Moringa is one of the best vegan protein sources because along with its protein content, it contains tons of other valuable nutrients as well.
Amongst other vitamins and minerals, moringa has high levels of iron and calcium, which support energy-yielding metabolism.
Studies have found that patients who supplemented their diet with moringa felt a natural energy boost as opposed to those taking a placebo.
If you are interested in using moringa, one excellent product I suggest you try is Your Super Power Matcha. Along with moringa, Your Super Power Matcha also contains maca root, wheatgrass, matcha, and barley grass. This is an excellent vegan protein powder that you can drink in the morning as a replacement for your usual cup of coffee.
The Best Vegan Protein Powder (2022)
Although I always recommend people to eat whole foods instead of using supplements whenever possible, supplements are much more convenient. If you want to use vegan protein powder instead of whey protein, I think that is a great choice!
Although whey protein will probably always be the most commonly used type of protein, plant-based protein powders are far more effective in my opinion.
By using high-quality plant-based protein sources for your supplements you not only get the protein and amino acids your body needs to recover, but you are also getting valuable micronutrients that you don’t get from other sources.
Another crucial factor to me is that protein powders should not be sweetened with artificial sweeteners or flavorings. There are a lot of companies that claim to produce plant-based protein products, but they ruin them by adding too many other ingredients that are unnecessary.
Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein & Greens
If you’re looking for the best vegan protein powder, Sunwarrior Illumin8 is certainly one of the best options I have found.
Sunwarrior Illumin8 powder contains:
- Whole Grain Brown Rice
- Holy Basil
- Healthy Fats
- Gluten-Free Carbohydrates
- And more!
If you want an excellent vegan protein powder that contains the macronutrients and micronutrients that you need in your diet to be fit and healthy (which you obviously do), Sunwarrior Illumin8 is for you!
Nuzest Clean Lean Protein
Although I love all of the vegan protein powders on my list, Nuzest Clean Lean Protein is definitely the best tasting overall. Made from the highest quality European Golden peas grown in France, I tried several of the Nuzest Clean Lean Protein flavors and loved each of them!
Nuzest Clean Lean Protein Flavors include:
- Just Natural
- Smooth Vanilla
- Real Coffee
- Rich Chocolate
- Wild Strawberry
- Coffee Coconut + MCTs
- Chai Turmeric + Maca
- Vanilla Matcha
Each flavor of Nuzest Clean Lean Protein has unique ingredients that make its natural flavor, but they are all based on the same premium quality pea protein and are made with only natural ingredients.
Depending on the flavor, each serving contains 18-21g of protein, and they are free of:
- Artificial Ingredients
My favorite flavors of Nuzest Clean Lean Protein were Vanilla Matcha, Coffee Coconut + MCTs, and Chai Turmeric + Maca, but they are all outstanding vegan protein powders!
Give them a try and I am sure you will also believe this is one of the best vegan protein powders!
KOS Plant-Based Protein Powder
KOS Organic Plant Based Protein Powder is another incredible vegan protein powder. Depending on whether you purchase the vanilla or chocolate flavor, KOS Organic Plant Based Protein Powder contains several ingredients that make it a superfood powder as much as a protein powder!
KOS Organic Plant Based Protein Powder contains five different vegan protein sources, which are:
- Pea Protein
- Flax Seed
- Pumpkin Seed
- Chia Seed
Additionally, all KOS Organic vegan protein powders are:
- Certified USDA Organic
- 100% Non-GMO
- Gluten, Soy, and Dairy-free
Instead of artificial sweeteners or sugar, KOS Organic Plant Based Protein Powder uses only Organic Stevia and Organic Monk Fruit!
KOS Organic Plant Based Protein Powder also includes healthy fibers and digestive enzymes that help your digestive system work naturally.
Your Super Muscle Power
Your Super Muscle Power is certainly one of the best vegan protein powders and it is also an incredible superfood powder.
Your Super Muscle Power contains two vegan protein sources and three additional superfoods that help promote muscle recovery and provide additional energy.
The Ingredients in Muscle Power are:
- Pea Protein (Spain)
- Rice Protein (Spain)
- Lucuma (Peru)
- Banana Powder (Ecuador)
Vitamins and Minerals in Your Super Muscle Power include:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B6
Your Super Muscle Power contains less total protein per serving than the other vegan protein powders on this list but it contains some amazing superfood powders that they do not.
You can read my Your Super Review to learn about their whole line of plant-based superfood powders.
Zammex Organic Hydrolyzed Pea Protein
If you are looking for a simple and affordable vegan protein powder, Zammex Organic Hydrolyzed Pea Protein is a perfect option. Zammex Organic Hydrolyzed Pea Protein does not contain any artificial ingredients, sweeteners, coloring, or other ingredients, only 100% pure yellow peas from Canada.
Compared with other pea protein powders, Zammex Organic Hydrolyzed Pea Protein is better than other options because it is hyper-hydrolyzed, which means that it is smoother and less grainy. I have used this product and I can say that it truly has a better texture than other pure pea protein supplements.
With 27 grams of protein and 18 amino acids per serving, Zammex Organic Hydrolyzed Pea Protein is definitely one of the best vegan protein powders.
Concluding Thoughts – Choosing the Best Plant-Based Protein Powder
Vegan protein powders contain all the essential amino acids your body needs, and they are bioavailable sources of protein that promote overall health.
By consuming plant-based protein powders, you will get healthy and stay healthy!
For more information about supplements, you can read more about Research Verified Reviews to learn how to distinguish between quality supplements and to help you find one that is right for you!