If ever you needed reason to stock up on the best vegan protein bars, this research published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, gives just that.
According to a study by Loma Linda University in California and the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique in Paris, those of you who eat vegan protein such as nuts and seeds have a whopping 40% reduced risk of heart disease; while your meat-eating counterparts have a 60% increased risk. Interesting.
The good news is, as veganism continues to boom in popularity, options of vegan protein bars are plentiful. Most protein bars on the market are not vegan-friendly as they use whey protein which is made from cow's milk, however vegan protein bars use soy, rice and pea protein instead of whey to bulk up the macros (check out our guide to vegan protein powders, whilst you're here).
WH Lab approved vegan protein bars
In a bid to sort the decent from the dodgy (aka the ones that taste like sawdust), we put a range of leading bars through their paces in the WH Lab as part of our 2022 Sports Nutrition Awards – you'll see our winners stamped below with the esteemed Sports Nutrition Awards logo.
Our trusty panel of over 200 fitness enthusiasts chomped their way through the selection before telling us how they found each bar’s taste, texture, nutritional value, packaging and instructions. Impact on athletic performance and recovery were also carefully judged.
Combined with our editors’ own top picks, there’s sure to be something that takes your fancy below. Keep scrolling for the best vegan protein bars for women that prove you don’t need animal protein to make #gains.
The best vegan protein bars to try
1) Veloforte Protein Bar: Mocha
Per 62g bar: 252kcal, 10g protein, 40.5g carbohydrates, 8g fat
Fed up with protein bars that are rammed full of artificial sweeteners and preservatives? Us too. Luckily our top scorer is handmade and packed with natural ingredients, including juicy dates, roasted hazelnuts, hazelnut butter, decaf coffee and vanilla seeds. Blending rice and pea protein, it’s a complete protein source (meaning it features all the essential amino acids).
Our testers liked its rich cocoa flavour and texture, and it kept them fuelled for hours. The dates bring a natural sweetness and hazelnut shards add a satisfying crunch. In short, there’s little not to like.
Best for high protein
2) Pulsin Choc Fudge Protein Bar
Per 57g bar: 227kcal, 14.8g protein, 12.8g carbohydrates, 10g fat
We're huge fans of Pulsin's protein products and its indulgent choc fudge protein bar did not disappoint. It's legit delicious, plus it's packed with 15g of muscle-building protein and just 1.5g of dastardly sugar. A sprinkling of choc chips adds a little texture, without being too sweet – and the bar is gluten free, too. Win, win.
Best for a sweet tooth
3) Tribe Nut Butter Triple Decker Peanut Salted Caramel
Per 40g bar: 199kcal, 8.1g protein, 14g carbohydrates, 11g fat
Caramel and roasted peanuts is a dreamy combo in our eyes, as confirmed by this tasty nut butter bar. Its well-balanced salty-sweet flavour – think crunchy granola base and a smooth caramel filling, all wrapped up in a crisp vegan chocolate shell – got a big thumbs up from our panel.
It also scored highly for its recognisable list of natural and health-boosting ingredients, including nuts, maple syrup, chia seeds, buckwheat, chicory fibre and a fistful of vitamins to help replenish your body post-workout. Excellent stuff.
Best for mint choc chip lovers
4) Optimum Nutrition Plant Protein Bar: Chocolate Mint
Per 60g bar: 227kcal, 18g protein, 21g carbohydrates, 11g fat
Optimum Nutrition has done the impossible and created a plant-based bar that delivers a hefty 18g of protein and actually tastes delicious. It’s the perfect treat after a gruelling gym sesh.
The punchy minty chocolate taste won over our testers (even those who don’t usually dig the flavour) and they rated the combo of gooey caramel, soft nougat and crispy rice balls for a bit of crunch. If there’s one criticism, the texture is a tad dry, but when you consider protein content and taste, that's no biggie. Just grab a glass of water as you munch.
Best swap for a classic chocolate bar
5) Barebells Vegan Protein Bar: Hazelnut & Nougat
Per 55g bar: 213kcal, 15g protein, 21g carbohydrates, 9.4g fat
Barebells has knocked it out of the park with this vegan offering; "It tasted like a proper chocolate bar,” declared one happy tester. Imagine a Lion bar – sweet milk choc, nutty chunks and a chewy, gooey centre. Delish, right?
Offering a decent protein punch (15g), our panel thought it a good snack to slip into your gym bag as après-sweat refuel. Leaving them feeling full and satisfied, it’s also one to reach for when those 3pm hunger pangs kick in. Put simply, we loved it.
6) Free Soul Vegan Protein Bar: Dark Chocolate & Raspberry
Per 50g bar: 150kcal, 15.3g protein, 14.6g carbohydrates, 4.2 fat
Touted as the supplement brand for women, Free Soul designs its products with the female body in mind. Music to our ears!
Its vegan bar scored highly on nutrition, dishing out over 15g of protein, a full amino acid profile for recovery and muscle growth, plus tapioca fibre to support a healthy gut. Despite its healthy creds, the flavour is on point – our testers couldn’t get enough of the rich dark chocolate casing and sweet jammy layer. They also raved about its seriously moist consistency (no dry, chalky texture here) and cute pink packaging.
Best for chocolate lovers
7) Myvegan Carb Crusher: Choc Peanut
Per 60g bar: 212kcal, 15g protein, 17g carbohydrates, 8.4g fat
With nearly 100 plant-based products to its name, Myvegan certainly knows a thing or two about creating vegan supplements. Unsurprisingly, then, its legendary Carb Crusher bar went down a treat with our panel. They loved the fudgy chocolate flavour and texture, saying it was more like chomping down on chocolate cake than a protein snack.
It also ticks every box on the nutrition front – 15g of protein from different sources, less than 2g of sugar and a huge 11g of fibre to help you make it from one meal to the next. The only real flaw is the packaging, which makes it tricky to discern the nutritional information, but that’s hardly a dealbreaker.
Best for a protein top-up
8) Foodspring Vegan Protein Bar Extra Layered: Roasted Peanut
Per 45g bar: 180kcal, 10g protein, 13g carbohydrates, 8.5g fat
Foodspring has raised the bar (sorry) with its vegan variety, which one tester described as a ‘delicious healthy Snickers’ thanks to the combo of smooth milk chocolate, crunchy roast peanuts and sweet, sweet caramel. Um, yes please?!
Made from a blend of high-quality pea and rice protein, it contains all the amino acids you’d get from an animal source, and unlike most bars, it’s totally soy-free. Okay, so the protein content isn’t super high at 10g, but if you’re after a tasty and convenient way to top up throughout the day, meet your new BFF.
Best for a pre-workout snack
9) Trek Protein Energy Bar: Cocoa Chaos
Per 55g bar: 189kcal, 10.2g protein, 27.6g carbohydrates, 3.7g fat
Tasty? Check. Made with natural ingredients? Why of course. One of your five-a-day? Yes, siree. This nifty little bar grabbed the attention of our panel for its unique texture (like a fruit and nut bar but way better), wholefood creds and portability (you can snap into three bite-size portions for snacking on throughout the day).
Made with gluten-free oats, dates, cashews and cocoa, it provides a dose of slow-release energy to power your after-work training sessions. It might not be top dog in terms of protein content but as a pre-workout snack or mid-afternoon pick-me-up alongside a cuppa, it’ll do the job nicely.
Best for added health ingredients
10) Xite Vegan Nootropic Protein Bar: Salted Caramel
Per 60g bar: 241kcal, 18.2g protein, 8.2g carbohydrates, 11.8g fat
This protein bar contains nootropics, aka ‘smart drugs’ designed to improve brain function. Fancy, huh? Its unique ingredients list stars panax ginseng, bacopa monnieri and lion’s mane, all said to boost focus, mental clarity and energy levels. It dutifully left our testers feeling ‘energised’ and ‘perky'.
Trendy health ingredients aside, it serves up an impressive 18g of protein to help you meet your daily target, plus a whopping 14g of fibre to keep you feeling fuller for longer. The subtle salted caramel flavour is lush, so if you’re on the hunt for something a bit different, bite into Xite.
Best for convenience
11) Arbonne FeelFit Protein Snack Squares: Strawberry & White Chocolate
Per 35g serving: 143kcal, 6g protein, 19g carbohydrates, 4g fat
These small (but incredibly moreish) squares are filled with 6g of gut-friendly pea protein, dried fruit, sunflower seed butter and rolled oats to keep you going. They're not the most protein-packed option listed here, but they make up for that in flavour – our testers found the combo of strawberry and white chocolate to die for.
Like our champ above, they’re free from artificial colours, flavours and sweeteners, and the individual packaging makes them ideal for a plant-based protein hit on the go.
Best protein balls
12) Bounce Dipped Chocolate Caramel Millionaire Protein Ball
Per 40g ball: 164kcal, 9.1g protein, 15.3g carbohydrates, 6.5g fat
Okay, technically it's not a vegan protein bar but a ball. But who's judging? Certainly not the vegan eaters who, until recently, had to endure meat-eating friends rave about their favourite protein snacks.
Each ball contains a decent 9g of veggie protein, good fats, fibre and carbohydrates. Aside from this heavenly caramel millionaire flavour (with a perfectly gooey centre), there's also choc brownie, hazelnut praline, peanut cacao and almond. Which will you go for first?
Best for natural ingredients
13) The Primal Pantry Protein Bar: Cocoa Brownie
Per 55g bar: 193kcal, 12g protein, 23g carbohydrates, 4.9g fat
The Primal Pantry vegan protein bars have around about the same protein content to other similar protein-based bars and balls. Their USP? A squeaky clean ingredients list of real food ingredients, free from any refined syrups, additives, or flavourings.
Made up of only dates, coconut nectar, hemp protein, cocoa powder, almonds and cocoa nibs, the bar offers 10 to 12g of natural protein and a healthy dose of fats and carbs, too.
Best for high protein content
14) Huel Complete Protein Bar: Raspberry
Per 55g bar: 200kcal, 20g protein, 10g carbohydrates, 7.6g fat
The recipe for the Huel bars was formulated by registered nutritionists. Unlike many other vegan protein bars, Huel bars offer all 26 essential vitamins and minerals, and a nutritionally complete balance of carbohydrates, essential fats, proteins and fibre. Top stuff.
At only 200 calories, Huel is a convenient and tasty vegan protein bar for whether you're on the go, in a rush, having a meal or just fancy a snack. We love the raspberry flavour, but we hear salted caramel is seriously tasty, too. Buy two boxes of 12 bars for £50.
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