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Can you get enough protein from a plant-based diet?
The answer to this is a resounding YES!
However, due to the highly restrictive nature of a vegan diet, the reality is that most vegans do not get enough protein.
On the other hand, some vegetarian diets allow dairy, eggs, and fish, which does make it easier to reach recommended daily protein amounts.
We all need proteins in order for our bodies to function properly.
Proteins are the building block of our cells, muscles, tissues, and play many roles within the human body including:
- Building and maintaining muscle
- Producing hormones
- Enzyme creation
- Boosting the immune system
- Supplying energy
Based on data provided by the USDA, anywhere between 10 and 35
percent of caloric intake should come from protein sources. In very general terms, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is a modest 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Converting this to pounds, to maintain good health and maintain body weight, .7 grams of protein per 1 pound of body weight is ideal, meaning that a person weighing 150 pounds should ingest 105 grams of protein per day.
Getting back to the original question, anyone on a plant-based diet can receive enough protein, however, it is important to be proactive and understanding which plant sources are high in protein.
Following is a list of high protein plant-based foods:
- Brussel sprouts
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Steel Cut Oats
- Chia Seeds
- Chick Peas
- Wild Rice
- Lima Beans
- Peanut Butter
- And many more…
I am sure you can see that there are a variety of plant based foods which you may be eating already which can easily be incorporated into your every day diet to bring the protein level up.
Article at a glance
- 1 Can you get enough protein from a plant-based diet?
- 1.1 Do you need a vegan protein powder supplement?
- 1.2 Is vegan protein as effective as regular protein?
- 1.3 What to look for in a vegan protein powder
- 1.4 Tips and tricks for purchasing a vegan protein powder
- 1.5 When to take vegan protein powder
- 1.6 Does vegan protein powder expire?
- 1.7 How to mix your vegan protein powder
- 1.8 The Top 10 Protein Powder Supplements for Vegans
- 1.8.1 #1 Orgain Organic Plant Based Protein Powder
- 1.8.2 #2 Vega Protein & Greens, Plant Protein Shake
- 1.8.3 #3 Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Organic Plant Based Vegan Protein Powder
- 1.8.4 #4 KOS Organic Plant Based Protein Powder
- 1.8.5 #5 Amazing Grass Organic Plant Based Vegan Protein & Kale Powder
- 1.8.6 #6 Veggie Elite Performance Protein
- 1.8.7 #7 Garden of Life Meal Replacement – Organic Raw Plant Based Protein Powder
- 1.8.8 #8 PlantFusion Complete Plant Based Protein Powder
- 1.8.9 #9 Nutiva Organic Hemp Protein
- 1.8.10 #10 NOW Sports Pea Protein Powder
- 1.9 Summing It Up
Do you need a vegan protein powder supplement?
If you live a vegan lifestyle and in turn are on a vegan diet, it is highly advisable to incorporate a vegan protein supplement into your daily routine.
By eliminating animal and dairy products from a diet, very high sources of proteins are being ignored.
A person must eat a greater volume of plant-based foods in order to receive the same amount from a small portion of animal products.
Although the recommended daily amount of protein as discussed above can be obtained from plant-based foods, taking a vegan protein supplement every morning gets it done without having to think about it.
If on the other hand, you are involved in body building, very athletic, or have an active lifestyle, it is essential that a vegan protein supplement be taken.
Is vegan protein as effective as regular protein?
For many years plant-based proteins have been viewed as inferior to their animal-based protein counterparts.
The primary reason is that most plant-based proteins are not complete proteins meaning that they do not have all of the essential amino acids which are present in animal -based proteins.
Essential amino acids cannot be produced by the human body and must be obtained from food sources or supplements like protein powders.
These amino acids are the building blocks for proteins, which in turn are responsible for building muscle and vital in the recovery process.
There has always been a myth that an incomplete protein, or a protein lacking in one or more amino acid does not have the same muscle building ability as a complete protein.
This may be true, however, studies have concluded that combining two incomplete proteins has the same effect as using a complete protein.
For example brown rice protein powder and bean or lentil protein powder can be combined to make up a complete protein.
The take away here is to understand the ingredients of the vegan protein powder to ensure it is complete, remember that animal-based protein powders can be as effective as their animal based counterparts.
What to look for in a vegan protein powder
Most vegans will have a good understanding of the foods they can and cannot eat, making it easy to quickly scan the ingredients on the label and tell whether the powder is vegan friendly.
There are however, additional things which should be considered when choosing a vegan protein powder.
Following is a list which we feel are the most important:
As we have mentioned numerous times, a complete protein means that the protein contains the 9 essential amino acids which cannot be produced by the body and must be acquired through diet.
Plant-based protein powders have received a bad rap as most are not complete.
Therefore, it is important to look for a complete amino profile, and if not make note of the EAA’s which are missing.
You can then look to other vegan or plant-based proteins which include the missing amino acids.
To recap, the 9 essential amino aids are, phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine.
Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s)
Branch Chain Amino Acids or (BCAA’s), include isoleucine, leucine, and valine, and are important to enhance the building of muscles, support recovery and reduce the natural process of muscular break down.
Some plant-based proteins have naturally occurring BCAA’s, it is suggested that you look for a minimum of 4.5 added grams.
When you look through our top 10 vegan protein powder listing, you will notice that a number of recommended products are derived from 2 or more plant-based protein sources.
The reasons we recommend these are firstly, it can make an incomplete protein complete, and secondly, it enhances the nutrient profile, and provides added health benefits.
Quality and Pureness
You control what you put into your body, and it is important to ensure that only quality ingredients are used. Here are a few things to look for:
In the protein powder industry, you generally get what you pay for. In other words, a higher price will most often reflect higher quality.
Check out the manufacturer’s website and look at their mission statement, corporate philosophies, and other information which ensures that quality of ingredients is high priority.
In addition, look for stability, longevity, and research initiatives in place.
Read reviews and look at credible websites like this, where much of the work is done for you.
Understand The Label
It is your obligation to understand what all of the ingredients are on the label, and if you don’t, find out.
In particular, if you see a very long list it often means that additives or fillers are present, and you should move on.
Another indicator of additives or preservatives is an unusually long expiry period.
Tips and tricks for purchasing a vegan protein powder
Above we looked at things to look for in a protein powder, and now we will list a simple process to follow prior to purchasing a vegan protein powder.
Research, Research, Research
We can’t stress this enough. Protein powders are not cheap, and its an absolute shame to throw a container out do to an allergic oversight or finding out after the fact that the powder contains non-vegan ingredients.
Know why you are using it
Many people jump on a trend or fad without having a clue why or what they are doing. Ensure you know the exact purpose for the vegan protein powder. Is it to add muscle, lose weight, or simply to top up the daily protein intake.
This will set the stage for the search.
Begin your search
Search the internet, read unbiased websites like AZHealthyFamilies.org, speak with medical professionals, and talk to current users to get as much information as possible.
Our research shows that the best pricing is obtained by purchasing online.
When you are first starting a protein powder, purchase the smallest quantity you can. Use it, test it, and see how it works for you. If you are satisfied, only then purchase in larger quantities.
Further, when we review specific protein powder products, the links provided direct you to the lowest price we could find at the time of writing.
When to take vegan protein powder
As we have discussed, protein is vital to the proper functioning of the body.
Specifically, without protein, the muscles begin to deteriorate and break down in order to supply energy to the rest of the body.
Given that statement, protein should be taken, or delivered to the muscles continuously throughout the day and evening.
If working out, vegan protein powders should be taken both pre and post workout to supply the muscles during exertion as well as during the recovery period
Most plant-based proteins are considered fast to moderate release proteins, meaning that amino acids are released into the blood stream and in turn the muscles immediately and up to 6 – 8 hours.
Therefore, vegan protein powders are highly effective when taken first thing in the morning, just before bed, and between meals.
Again, if working out or doing strenuous exercise, the protein schedule should be adjusted accordingly.
Does vegan protein powder expire?
Just like any other food product, vegan protein powder does expire, and in most countries, by law, the expiration date must be clearly stamped on the packaging.
In most cases manufacturers will set the expiration date somewhere around the 2 year point after production.
Some argue that being a plant versus animal based substance, the rules in using a vegan protein powder after the expiry date can be relaxed.
We, however, will not endorse the use of any product which has expired, however, there are a few things to consider which will help you make your own choice.
- Color – If the powder looks discolored, it is likely bad and should not be removed
- Odour – An unpleasant smell is a huge indicator that it is contaminated
- Storage – If it has been stored in a warm moist place, throw it out
- Opened or Closed – If the container has been opened for a long period chances are that it is bad
- How Long – A few moths past the expiry date is probably fine, but a few years past is likely not
There is no right or wrong answer, and the best advice we can give is to use common sense and err on the side of caution.
How to mix your vegan protein powder
Vegan protein powders are extremely versatile and tend to mix extremely well with most liquids and work well as ingredient substitutes in baking and cooking.
If you are a true vegan, it is vital that you choose mixing ingredients which are vegan friendly, however, if you are willing to bend the rules, you can include whey and casein protein powders which contains barely detectable traces of milk products.
The most common methods of mixing vegan protein powders are, stirring in a glass with a fork or spoon, using a shaker cup, blending with a blender, or baking or cooking.
The Top 10 Protein Powder Supplements for Vegans
This lactose free protein powder is packed with 21 grams of protein and contains only 160 calories per serving.
Orgain is USDA Organic Certified and unlike other plant-based proteins, it includes 5 grams of fiber to assist in motility.
Most customers who purchased Orgain Organic loved the taste, especially the peanut butter chocolate flavor.
In addition, they commented on the smooth, creamy texture and the ease of mixing with any liquid.
Many others found that it made a great meal replacement as it subdued hunger cravings for 4 – 6 hours.
Overall customers felt that the price was in line and a 2 pound container could last up to 2 months.
Some users experienced stomach issues such as stomach pain, aches, diarrhea, while a few commented that it gave them a feeling of cloudiness.
A few customers disliked the sweetness of the stevia flavoring and said it left a lingering after taste.
- 100% vegan formula
- Contains no soy, dairy, or gluten
- USDA Organic Certified
- High satiety score
- Contains no branch chain amino acids
- Amino acid profile is lacking
Each serving contains 20 grams of pure plant-based protein, 110 – 120 calories, and less than 1 gram of sugar.
It comes in small, medium, and large size bottles and is available in 6 delicious flavors including, vanilla, chocolate, berry, tropical, natural, and coconut almond.
Many verified customers like the addition of greens to the powder and found it helped them get nutrients which they may not through diet.
Others mentioned that they felt full after a glass and placed it on the same level as whey protein.
A few users stated that it mixed very well, especially in a blender, and is an ideal ingredient for baking.
A number of customers felt that the price was too high and that 15 amino acids were not adequate for a premium protein powder.
Others said that in order for shakes to be smooth, a substantial amount of liquid needs to be added.
- Contains 20 grams of 100% plant-based protein from a variety of sources
- Vegetable and powders from greens are added
- Low calories, carbs, and sugar
- Non-GMO, gluten-free, certified vegan, no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners
- Price point is high
- Contains only 15 of the necessary 20 amino acids
The powder is made with organic pea, brown rice and sacha inchi proteins, and is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
Gold Standard is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all 9 essential amino acids, as well as 4 grams of naturally occurring BCAA’s.
This USDA Certified Organic protein powder contains 24 grams of protein per serving, and has additional vitamins B12 and C.
Numerous customers said this protein powder is one of the most cost effective protein supplements on the market, and rave about the taste.
Especially the double rich chocolate, cookies and cream, and strawberry flavors.
Others mentioned that having a shake in the morning stays with them and subdues huger until lunch time.
Many found the flavor too sweet which is quite common with any powder flavored wit stevia leaves.
A few other customers found the vanilla flavor to disagree with them and said the texture was quite chalky.
- Complete protein with 4 grams of BCAA’s
- Includes some ancient grains and pomegranate powder
- Blend of Pea, Brown Rice & Sacha Inchi proteins
- USDA Certified Organic with no GMO’s, artificial sweeteners, or colors
- Very sweet for some
- Thick, chalky texture
This USDA organic certified vegan protein powder is made by extracting protein from Peas, Flax Seeds, Quinoa, Pumpkin Seeds and Chia Seeds.
This proprietary formula is entirely, gluten, soy and dairy free, contains all natural flavors such as coconut sugar, Himalayan sea salt, stevia, and monk fruit.
Each serving contains 20 grams of plant-based protein, and it is available in chocolate and vanilla flavors.
Numerous customers state that KOS Organic was the best vegan protein powder they have ever had.
Regarding the chocolate flavor, one user said they were “blown away” by its great taste.
Many others mentioned that unlike other plant-based protein powders they have used, KOS Organic did not cause gas or bloating.
A common concern from a variety of customers is that the powder does not mix well, leaving clumps, lumps, and is quite foamy.
Other found the taste to be too sweet, leaving a terrible after taste.
- Made from 5 different plant-based proteins
- 100% organic and made for vegans
- Digestive enzymes makes it easy on the stomach
- Naturally sweetened with Himalayan pink salt, organic coconut milk, organic stevia and organic monk fruit
- Poor mixability
- Too sweet for some
Each serving of Amazing Grass Organic Plant Based Vegan Protein contains 20 grams of protein, all the essential amino acids, and is as clean and pure as you will find.
Many customers who use this protein, said it is a cost effective option to buying natural greens by themselves, and most found it just as effective.
A few users mentioned that after taking Amazing Grass for a few months, it increased white blood count, iron levels, and saw a vast improvement in energy levels.
Some consumers of this protein powder indicated that the formula has changed, and the new version is much grittier and has a worse taste that the original.
Others complained that ingredients listed in brochures and advertisements do not appear on the ingredient list on the bottle,
- Contains all essential amino acids and packed with 20 grams of protein
- Addition of leafy greens enhances nutrient level
- A clean protein powder with no stevia, dairy, grains or gluten
- Cost effective alternative to buying green supplements
- New and improved formula has poor taste and texture
- Marketing does not match actual ingredients
Each serving of this pea and brown rice based protein contains 24 grams of quality protein, and its full array of essential and non-essential amino acids contribute to high absorption leading to recovery and repair of lean muscle tissue.
Many customers found that Veggie Elite did not lead to serious stomach pains, cramps, gas, bloating, nausea and diarrhea, often caused by other plant-based proteins.
Numerous users said that dollar for dollar, this veggie protein powder is one of the best values on the market.
Further, many others expressed their satisfaction with the mixability and taste.
The most popular flavor was chocolate moca.
As with many plant-based proteins, numerous consumers of Veggie Elite found the consistency to be chalky, and the odour to resemble a synthetics or chemicals.
A few people commented that the stevia flavoring made to shakes too sweet.
- Added BCAA’s and enzymes, makes its effectiveness comparable to whey protein powder
- Derived from pea and brown rice and contains 24 grams of protein
- Ideal for muscle builders or those looking to enhance athletic performance
- Cholesterol-free, dairy free, soy free, gluten free, and 100% vegan friendly
- Very chalky consistency
- Extremely sweet
- Synthetic odour
This protein meets the organic guidelines of the USDA and is certified organic and certified vegan by Vegan.org.
The ingredients contain vitamins A, D, E and K to support the digestive function and probiotics to promote gut health.
Each serving contains 22 grams of high quality protein, no sugar, and only 100 calories.
Most customers who purchased this vegan protein preferred the unflavored version as it contains no stevia for sweetening.
Many loved the amino acid profile found in the 13 raw organic sprouts and found that it digested well with few stomach issues.
Numerous users of Garden of Life Organic Raw expressed concern about the new and improved version which has a higher protein content but fewer nutrients.
Some people also said that the new packaging has a higher cost per serving than the previous version.
- Organic Certified by the USDA and Vegan Certified by Vegan.org
- High protein content extracted from all natural organic sprouts
- Contains vitamins A, E, D, and K
- Include 3 billion colony forming units of probiotics and enzymes
- New formulation has fewer nutrients than the previous version
- Cost per serving has increased with new packaging
Each serving contains 21 grams of protein, 4.5 grams of branch chain amino acids, and 3.3 grams of glutamine, making it perfect for increasing energy, controlling appetite, and recovery from working out.
This allergen free protein powder also has added enzymes to enhance digestion and protect the gut.
Several customers who use PlantFusion Complete, found it very filling if mixed with proper accompanying ingredients.
In addition many commented that the inclusion of enzymes makes it digest very well and is easy on the stomach.
Most said that the taste is OK, however, it is best mixed with a flavored liquid.
In the critical reviews, terrible taste was the primary issue across the board.
In addition, many said that it didn’t bake well when used in pancake batter and cookies. Some complained about stomach cramping.
- High in nutrients and contains 21 grams of protein
- Blend of enzymes makes it easy to digest
- Allergen free containing no dairy, soy, rice, gluten, eggs, nuts, fish, tree nuts or shellfish
- Includes 4.5 grams of branch chain amino acids, and 3.3 grams of glutamine
- Terrible taste from critical reviews
- Not conducive to baking or coking
- May cause stomach reactions
It includes 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. E
ach serving includes 15 grams of raw organic protein and 8 grams of fiber which is inherent in hemp protein.
Many users said that Nutiva Organic created a feeling of fullness, reducing the cravings to eat or snack between meals. A few people mentioned that the added fiber had a natural cleansing effect.
Quite a few customers of Nutiva Organic found it to be an excellent ingredient to add to cooking and baking such as pancake and cookies.
A few others stated that it blends well in smoothies and shakes, and the flavor is quite pleasant.
A few consumers mentioned that the new packaging does not close very well and will go bad in a short period of time if not sealed properly.
One person said that her last shipment was pale green as opposed to the usual bright green and made her feel sick and nauseous. Any others complained that it was grainy, gritty, and tasted terrible.
- Complete protein containing omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids
- Ideal for vegetarians, vegans, paleo dieters, keto dieters, and those on gluten-free diets
- Includes fiber to support motility and regularity
- Cold press extraction process ensures a clean and pure protein
- Packaging does not seal well
- Some shipments may have discolored and should be sent back
- Taste and texture a concern
Each serving contains 15 grams of protein, 2.7 grams of BCAA’s, and 1.3 grams of arginine, an ingredient which plays an important role in muscle building.
Ideal for the vegan, vegetarian, or those with allergies, this pea protein powder does not contain any corn, dairy, eggs, nuts, soy, or sugar.
It comes in a 1.5 pound container and is great for anyone who is allergy prone.
Customers who purchased NOW Sports Pea Protein Natural Unflavored Powder said that it keeps them feeling full with no after taste.
They also like the fact that NOW is a complete protein containing all of the essential amino acids and had the same muscle building results as whey or casein protein powder.
Some users said the formula has changed and there seems to be some inconsistency in the quality of different orders.
People also said there seemed to be a strong, unpleasant sour chemical-like taste, which was not present in the past.
- Natural 100% pea protein powder
- Does not contain ingredients which can stir allergies
- Mixes easily with any beverage
- High satiation score making it great for weight loss
- New formula has unpleasant smell and chemical taste
- Lack of consistency
Summing It Up
The vegan lifestyle and vegan diet has gained tremendous popularity over the last 10 – 15 years, and all indications are that it will continue to grow.
The protein powder industry has seen the trend and jumped in with both feet by creating and developing protein powders specifically for the vegan population.
We hope the information provided in this comprehensive article was informative, useful, and helps you choose he right vegan protein powder for you.
Our 1 choice for The Top 10 Protein Powder Supplements for Vegans is Orgain Organic Plant Based Protein Powder.
It is 100% vegan friendly and contains proteins extracted from chia, hemp, rice and pea sources. In addition, it contains no lactose, has 21 grams of protein, and contains only 160 calories per serving.
Further, it is USDA Organic Certified, extremely clean, and contains no soy, dairy, or gluten.