Finish your workout; grab a protein shake, it's a tried and tested recipe for success. That's because protein helps feed your muscles and repair those tiny tears that are responsible for muscle growth. But what if you’re a vegan? Happily, the protein that you reach for after a tough session needn't be derived from animal products, as the best vegan protein powders can also help you make serious gains.
It makes perfect sense – a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that body mass index and cholesterol levels are both typically lower among vegans, while vegan diets have been linked to a 35% lower risk of prostate cancer.
Of course, before you choose a vegan protein powder, it's important to make sure that it’s right for you. That depends on many variables, from budget and taste to mixability and ingredients.
When Is Amazon Prime Day?
This year, Amazon Prime Day will be in full swing from 00:01AM Tuesday 12th July to Wednesday 13th July at 23:59PM, meaning that you can get some seriously good products on the cheap.
From protein to trainers and blenders to condoms, the list below is a comprehensive buyer's guide of everything you need to be healthier and happier in 2020. There's a small catch, though — you need to register for Amazon Prime (here's a handy link) to get in on these deals. However, before your 30-day trial finishes, you can cancel your Prime subscription and not be charged the already-discounted yearly fee. Not bad, right?
But, Bbefore sharing our pick of the best vegan protein powders on the market, tried and tested by our MH Lab, here's everything you need to know about vegan protein. It's time to unlock the power of plants.
Your Guide to Best Vegan Protein Powders
Is Whey Protein Vegan?
Whey protein isn't vegan. Whey protein is derived from milk, which contains both whey and casein proteins. Vegan protein, however, is made using a variety of protein sources including pea, rice, hemp and algae.
Is Vegan Protein as Effective as Whey Protein?
Put simply, yes, vegan protein is as effective as whey. A 2019 study that looked at the effect both whey and pea protein had on body composition and exercise performance found that whichever protein men opted for there was little to no difference in their body composition, muscle gain, performance or strength.
What to Look for in Your Vegan Protein Powder
First things first — to get more protein into your vegetarian or vegan diet, you have to go beyond vegan protein shakes. If you look hard enough, your local supermarket will be loaded with vegan-friendly meals and snacks — like tofu, tempeh and seitan — that will build muscle without any ethical (or financial) qualms.
However, it's equally important to know what's going into your vegan protein powder. Below, explore three of the most important ingredients to look out for, before you invest.
Pea Protein: We're not talking Green Giant here. Instead, pea protein powder is made from field peas — which are nearly four times higher in protein than sweet peas — helping pea protein powders pack up to 80% protein content. Handily, pea protein is allergen-free too, meaning it's suitable for vegans and those with food allergies, alongside being free from dairy, egg and soy.
Soy Protein: This vegan protein has been used for decades and comes from defatted soy flour. After processing, it can contain up to 90% protein content and has a neutral flavour, meaning that it's suitable when mixed into smoothies, shakes and other protein recipes.
Hemp Protein: Suitable for those trying to follow a diet plan rich in whole foods, hemp protein contains 20 amino acids and provides healthy omega fatty acids and fibre. Hemp protein has also been found to improve heart health, cull sugar cravings and bolster your immune system.
Benefits of Going Vegetarian or Vegan
Thinking of making the switch? Smart move. With the majority of sports supplement brands now stocking vegan counterparts to their whey protein products, there's never been a better time to go green with your supps. Below, we talk you through a bunch of benefits that will come thick and fast once you do. Dig in.
By Switching to Vegan Protein, Your Skin Could Become Clearer
If you're going to the gym regularly and looking after your fitness, it's safe to assume that you're concerned about your appearance and your confidence. Ironically, though, your attention to correct nutrition could be slipping you up — and it's got nothing to do with your muscles.
Instead, whey protein intake has been connected with acne breakouts, as it increases the production of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor 1, or IGF-1. Similarly, whey protein can cause an imbalance in blood sugar production, which can inflame your skin. Go green for a smoother appearance.
You Can Digest Vegan Protein Easier
Compared to the often-questionable ingredients list of whey protein powders, vegan protein could be significantly kinder on your gut. Peas, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds are all common ingredients in vegan protein, with healthy levels of fibre that can improve digestion while culling signs of gas and bloating.
You're Getting an Added Hit of Antioxidants and Phytochemicals
Plant-based and vegan protein powders are loaded with vitamins and minerals that are essential to optimum health and are abound with phytochemicals — compounds produced by plants — that can boost your health. On the flipside, some whey proteins can contain added hormones and antibiotics. Time to go natural, perhaps.
Men's Health Lab Approved
Over the last year or two, the market has exploded with vegan protein supplements, making shopping tricky. That’s where the Men’s Health Lab comes in. We recruited a panel of fitness fanatics and industry experts and asked them to put a variety of vegan protein powders to the test for four weeks.
They provided in-depth feedback on each product’s nutritional value, impact on exercise performance, ease of use, texture and, importantly, flavour (because we’re all fed up with plant-based protein supplements that taste grainy and disgusting).
The best vegan protein powders, which all passed our rigorous tests, have the MH Lab Approved badge displayed proudly above their picture below. The other entries on our list have been carefully chosen by our editors, all of whom know a thing or two about what makes a good vegan protein powder too.
Here are the vegan proteins powders which really pack a punch...
OTE Sports Soya Protein Drink
Per 52g serving: 182kcal, 25g protein, 18.6g carbohydrates, 0.5g fat
Why: Our team of testers were mightily impressed with these high protein, single-serve sachets, which are ideal for chucking in your gym bag on busy days.
The nutritional breakdown is impressive, with 25g protein, a decent carb count plus electrolytes and vitamins, meaning it contains everything you need for optimal recovery. Win, win.
The Protein Works Vegan Wondershake
Per 25g serving: 94kcal, 20g protein, 1.9g carbohydrates, 0.6g fat
Why: Don’t let the name dictate how you consume this versatile, vanilla-flavoured vegan powder from The Protein Works. Sure, the fine texture means it’s great as a shake with oat milk and ice, but to up the carb count, why not sprinkle it over cereal for a serious AM protein punch?
Low-cal, high protein and tasty, it had our testers sold, with one saying it revitalised them after a hard run. Oh, and it comes in a host of flavours, including banana toffee, choc mint brownie and cookies and cream.
Form Performance Protein
Per 40g serving: 145kcal, 30g protein, 1.7g carbohydrates, 2.4g fat
Why: One scoop of Form’s Performance Protein will deliver 30g of protein for just 145 calories. It’s made from an organic blend of plant-based proteins, including pea, brown rice and pumpkin seed, and it’s brimming with energy-boosting ingredients like BCAAs (5g), turmeric (to help boost performance and aid recovery), and digestive enzymes (to prevent post-shake bloat).
Our panellists described the chocolate hazelnut flavour (one of four) as sweet, smooth and pleasant without any chalky aftertaste – a good starter choice for any new vegans.
It scored brownie points for its environmentally friendly packaging, which is 100% plastic free and compostable. That does mean it doesn't come with a scoop, which some of our testers found inconvenient, but hardly a dealbreaker.
Boxd Plant Based Pea Pouch
Per 30g serving: 141kcal 21g protein, 5.9g carbohydrates, 1.0g fat
Why: This no-nasties powder is a solid option if you’re looking for a plant-based protein supplement without an endless list of artificial sweeteners and additives. Not only will you enjoy a protein hit from the pea protein isolate, but you’ll also get a substantial amount of your daily recommended vitamins (including C, D, and B12) and a mix of electrolytes to help replenish your body post-workout.
Most of our testers rated the double chocolate brownie flavour highly, but a couple found the pea protein taste slightly overwhelming. It also lost some points for ease of use; a lack of scoop and no clear instructions made it hard to get the measurements right. If you have a spare scoop knocking about though, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Myvegan Clear Vegan Protein
Per 16g serving: 52kcal, 10g protein, 2.9g carbohydrates, 0g fat
Why: Not your typical protein powder, Myvegan’s clear protein is more like a refreshing fruit squash than a classic creamy protein shake. It did well in terms of mixability and slipped down easily post-gym. Our testers were big fans of the raspberry mojito flavour, which was sweet, fruity and bursting with flavour, but there's a variety of flavours to choose from like blackcurrant, strawberry and lemon and lime.
If you’re on a dedicated muscle-building mission, this isn’t your best bet, as there’s only 10g protein per serve (the lowest volume on our list). That said, it’s a pleasingly light and tasty way to top up your protein throughout the day.
Innermost The Health Protein
Per 40g serving: 150kcal, 31g protein, 2.5g carbohydrates, 1.4g fat
Why: Formulated to “boost your health, support recovery and strengthen the immune system”, there’s a reason why Innermost’s products have such a strong rep. The brand’s Health Protein contains a whopping 30g of pea and brown rice protein, plus a host of health-boosting ingredients like glutamine to improve recovery, medicinal mushrooms for their antioxidant properties, and açai berries for an extra dose of superfood goodness.
Our panellists gave the protein to carb ratio a thumbs up and liked the smooth, creamy texture too. They found the chocolate flavour subtle, if a tad earthy for some tastes. For this reason, try blending it with other ingredients to make a smoothie, or using it in pancakes, muffins and brownies. Innermost has a variety of tempting recipes on its website if you're in need of some inspo.
Dare Motivational Protein Shake
Per 350ml serving: 208kcal, 20g protein, 13.8g carbohydrates, 6g fat
Why: If you’re looking for a filling, high protein powder to replenish your body post-workout, put Dare’s Motivation Protein Shake on your radar, stat. Its impressive nutritional profile includes slow-release carbs from oats, seeds and nuts, pre and probiotics, omega-3s and green tea extract. Unlike the other protein powders on test, it also provides a noteworthy 10g of fibre per serving.
The cocoa vanilla frosting flavour divided our panellists; some likened it to a rich and delicious cake batter, while others found the taste of green tea a little overpowering and bitter.
Myvegan Vegan Protein Blend
Per 30g serving: 110kcal, 22g protein, 3.3g carbohydrates, 0.8g fat
Why: Myvegan has been at the top of the vegan supplement game for a while now, and for good reason. This blend offers a good hit of protein for just 110 calories, making it one of the leanest options in our edit. It has 0g of sugar, but it does contain 5g of BCAAs, plus essential amino acids to aid your body in its post-workout recovery.
It comes in a range of fun flavours including vanilla, white chocolate raspberry, turmeric latte, cacao orange and chocolate salted caramel, to name but a few. Our panellists sampled the vanilla, which they found pleasantly sweet, smooth in texture and relatively light. The also appreciated its versatility; it tastes good as a simple shake but also works well in smoothies and sweet treats.
Shreddy Vegan Protein
Per 30g serving: 121kcal, 22.g protein, 6.9g carbohydrates, 0.5g fat
Why: Part of fitness influencer Grace Beverley’s empire, Shreddy is a great plant-based all-rounder. The chocolate cookie dough shake, which is made of pea protein, has an enticing nutty chocolate flavour, and offers a good balance of protein and carbs, with minimal fat and sugar (just 0.4g). It also delivers on texture, which our testers described as smooth, thick and creamy, making it easy to drink with just water.
To cut down on unnecessary plastic, you don’t get a scoop, which some of our panellists found frustrating. If you’re anything like us, though, you’ve already got heaps of them. Shreddy gets bonus points for its fully compostable packaging, too.
Decathlon Vegan Protein
Per 30g serving: 118kcal, 21g protein, 0.6g carbohydrates, 2.9g fat
Why: Decathlon’s chocolate hazelnut vegan protein stands out for its addictive flavour. Sweet, nutty and smooth, our testers likened it to a Ferrero Rocher, without any artificial aftertaste. It ticked the mixability box, proved easy to digest and felt reassuringly light on the stomach – handy if you fancy slurping it down pre-gym.
Some panellists thought it tasted slightly chalky, so mix it into cereals and smoothies if you fall in this camp.
Huel Complete Protein
Per 29g serving: 105kcal, 20g protein, 3g carbohydrates, 1.4g fat
Why: Huel claims its Complete Protein is “the world’s first nutritionally complete vegan protein powder” but is it worth the hype? Well, with 20g of plant protein, 9g of essential amino acids, 5g of BCAAs, turmeric extract and 26 vitamins and minerals, the ingredients list suggests so. Better still, at just 105 calories per serving, it’s good for fat loss too.
Wholesome ingredients aside, this vegan offering got the thumbs up from our testers for its satisfying chocolate brownie flavour and easy mixability with both water and milk. Some found the texture a bit grainy, and others reported an unpleasant aftertaste, so whizz it up into a smoothie for best results.
Arbonne FeelFit Pea Protein Shake
Per 40g serving: 158kcal, 20g protein, 11g carbohydrates, 3g fat
Why: If you’re assuming vegan protein will taste gross, this Arbonne powder will prove you wrong. The coffee flavour was a big hit with our panel, who thought it tasted more like a delicious mocha-flavoured dessert than a protein supplement.
Its nutritional profile is impressive, too. There are no artificial flavours or ingredients, it contains 20g of pea protein, cranberries and rice, and it features over 20 vitamins and minerals including B12 and folate. The pre-portioned sachets (you get 30 in a pack) are ideal for fuelling up on the go and blend well with plant-based milks. Though one of the pricier options on our roundup, if you’re after a high-quality protein powder that doesn’t compromise on taste, this one’s a winner.
Musclemary Not Just Protein
Per 30g serving: 114kcal, 18g protein, 8.7g carbohydrates, 1.1g fat
Why: More than just a bog-standard protein powder, this pea and white hemp blend from Muscle Mary contains a variety of vitamins, including all-important B12, which can be tricky to get enough of if you’re following a plant-based diet. It’s also filled with good stuff like maca, flaxseeds, matcha powder and goji berries, meaning it’s gentle on the stomach.
Our testers described the vanilla dream flavour as smooth, satisfying and creamy, but very sweet. Note the carb content is higher than many of the protein powders listed here but, on the plus side, it will keep you feeling full for longer.
33Fuel Premium Protein
Per 38g serving: 145kcal, 20g protein, 15g carbohydrates, 2g fat
Why: Made with a blend of pea, sunflower and rice protein, plus organic coconut sugar, raw cacao and banana, 33Fuel’s Premium Protein avoids the artificial ingredients often found in protein powders.
Flavour-wise, it’s rich in cacao with hints of malt and dried fruit. Our testers described it as well-balanced, without tasting overwhelmingly sweet. Just note that the light, thin texture doesn’t make for the most satisfying shake, so we'll be blending ours into a smoothie or adding it to cereal.
Battle Ready Fuel Vegan Warrior Clear
Per 17g serving: 57kcal, 11g protein, 2.5g carbohydrates, 0.1g fat
Why: Here’s another clear mix, and again, the protein content is relatively low at 11g. With just 57 calories and 0.1g fat per serving, though, it’s a good option if your main goal is fat loss. It also tastes good; the tropical punch flavour went down well with our testers. They found it smooth and surprisingly tasty with water.
Light, refreshing and easy to drink, Battle Ready Fuel makes getting your protein fix easy. If you're keen to up the carb content for a more nutritionally dense shake, we recommend blending it with frozen fruit or juice.
Maximuscle Plant Max Vegan Protein Powder
Per 30g serving: 108kcal, 20g protein, 0.8g carbohydrates, 1.6g fat
Why: Gluten free and soy free, Maximuscle's vegan protein powder is seriously low in fat and carbohydrates, while mixing with water. It's a pea protein and brown rice protein mix, made with natural food sources and flavours.
Bulk Vegan Protein Powder
Per 35g serving: 131kcal, 21.8g protein, 7.2g carbohydrates, 1.3g fat
Why: Using a blend of five vegan protein sources (pea protein, brown rice protein, pumpkin protein, flaxseed powder and quinoa flour), Bulk's vegan protein powder is also very easy to mix due to soluble protein sources while being low in sugar and fat. Stevia is used as a natural sweetener.
The Protein Works, Vegan Protein Powder
Per 30g serving: 106kcal, 25g protein, 1g carbohydrates, 0.2g fat
Why: Unlike other vegan protein shakes, The Protein Works offering contains five different protein sources – hemp protein, sunflower protein, pea protein, brown rice protein and soy protein. This ensures a far more comprehensive nutritional profile to help meet your vegan dietary needs.
Wyldsson Vegan Protein Powder
Per 35g serving: 129kcal, 20g protein, 5.3g carbohydrates, 2g fat
Why: Made from pea, sunflower and pumpkin, this powder delivers 20g of vegan protein, 4.8g of fibre and just 150 calories per serving. Better still, Wyldsson plant a tree for every order, further strengthening your eco credentials.
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Plant Based Protein Powder
Per 36g serving: 144kcal, 24g protein, 5.2g carbohydrates, 2.2g fat
Why: It's 100% plant vegan and gluten free. Providing 19 servings, each scoop will feed you with vitamin B12s, essential amino acids, natural occurring BCAAs and glutamine. And don't worry about artificial colouring, flavours and sweeteners, either – it's free from all. Care about where your nutrients come from? This is the product for you.
Try These Vegan Protein Smoothies
Ready to go beyond just another vegan protein shake? Try any of these vegan protein recipes for a health spike that tastes great and does wonders for your health.
'Very Berry' Vegan Protein Shake
“This shake is packed with protein, fibre, healthy fats, phyto-nutrients, and probiotics,” says Brian St. Pierre, M.S., R.D., C.S.C.S., sports dietitian and nutrition coach at Precision Nutrition. “It can be breakfast, lunch, or dinner.”
500kcal, 57g protein, 54g carbs, 14g fibre, 11g fat
1 cup spinach
2 cups frozen mixed berries
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 scoops vanilla vegan protein powder
1 tbsp walnuts
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
Strawberry Banana Shake
Adding ground flax to this classic vegan protein shake provides you with extra fibre and heart-healthy omega-3 fats, St. Pierre says.
490kcal, 55g protein, 9g fat, 47g carbs, 11g fibre (accounts for using water as the fluid instead of milk or yogurt)
340ml water, milk, or yogurt
2 scoops vanilla or strawberry flavoured vegan protein powder
1 cup of frozen strawberries
1 cup of spinach
2 tbsp of ground flax
Chocolate Cherry Shake
Research suggests that cherries can ease soreness after a workout, making this a perfect recovery shake, says St. Pierre. We also suggest that chocolate tastes great, so get whizzing.
530kcal, 56g protein, 13g fat, 47g carbs, 9g fibre (accounts for using water as the fluid instead of milk or yogurt)
340ml water, milk, or yogurt
2 scoops chocolate flavoured vegan protein powder
2 cups of sweet dark cherries, pits removed
1 cups of spinach
1 tbsp of walnuts
1 tbsp ground flax
1 tbsp cacao nibs or dark cocoa powder
You Might Also Like