The 7 Best Plant-Based Protein Powders of 2021, According to a Dietitian

Boost your protein intake with these plant-based options

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Best Plant-Based Protein Powders

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

If you’re looking for a plant-based protein, there are many options on the market. It's important to note that "plant-based" and "vegan" are not interchangeable terms. All vegan products are plant-based, but not all plant-based products are vegan. Some plant-based supplements contain non-vegan ingredients such as honey, and a plant-based diet doesn’t always mean that you should avoid consuming animal products. Rather, it emphasizes eating the majority of foods from plant sources.

That said, plant-based protein powders are a great supplement for anyone looking to increase their protein intake, including omnivores, vegans, and everyone in-between. Plant-based protein powders come from many sources, including pea, hemp, pumpkin seed, brown rice, soy, chia, and flax.

These plant-derived products are a versatile option for those who have a sensitivity to typical dairy-based protein powders, such as whey, or those who are simply looking to add more high-quality, easily digestible protein to their diet. As an added bonus, some products also contain beneficial ingredients such as probiotics, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Here are the best plant-based protein powders on the market.

Best Overall: Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein Powder Unflavored

Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein Unflavored

Made up of a unique blend of 15 plant-based legumes, grains, and seeds, Garden of Life’s Raw Organic Protein takes the top pick for plant-based proteins. Each scoop provides 22 grams of sugar-free, plant-based protein. One key protein source in the powder is pea protein, which is known for being easily digested. The powder is also easy to digest, as it contains 3 billion CFU probiotics from lactobacillus and digestive enzymes, including bromelain, papain, and protease.

No matter what your flavor preference is, Garden of Life has you covered. The sugar-free protein powder comes in four flavors, including Chocolate, Vanilla, Vanilla Chai, and unflavored. Garden of Life’s Raw Organic Protein is also gluten-free and kosher.

Garden of Life highlights the importance of a raw protein, noting that heat can denature proteins, damaging the protein and reducing the effectiveness and availability to your body. This raw organic protein is produced at low temperatures to preserve the amino acids and is made without any added fillers to ensure a high-quality product.

Best Hemp-Based: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Yeah! Organic Max Fiber Protein Powder

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Yeah! Organic Max Fiber Protein Powder

If you’re looking for a great hemp-based protein, Manitoba Harvest HempPro Fiber is the top choice because of its great taste and impressive nutrition profile. Hemp protein has a unique nutty taste but mixes easily into smoothies, oatmeal, or your favorite baked good. While many plant-based proteins have added ingredients to improve taste, nutrition, or consistency, HempPro Fiber comprises only one ingredient: organic hemp protein powder. So you can rest assured knowing exactly what you’re intaking. 

Each serving of HempPro Fiber contains 2.5 grams of plant-based omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which is important for vegetarians and vegans, or those who may have an allergy or don't enjoy eating fish. The high-quality protein source contains 13 grams of plant-based protein and fiber per a 4 tablespoon serving.

The majority of the dietary fiber in the protein is insoluble fiber (12 grams), which speeds up digestion and adds bulk to stool, helping to promote regularity and prevent constipation. The product is also certified organic and Kosher.

Best Rice-Based: Sunwarrior Organic Brown Rice Protein Vanilla

Sunwarrior Organic Brown Rice Protein Vanilla

Sunwarrior’s Classic Protein is a clean and simple organic brown rice protein powder. The plant-based powder is made up of only five ingredients: brown rice, vanilla flavor, guar gum, stevia extract, and ancient sea salt. One scoop provides 20 grams of protein with 100 calories and zero added sugar. Interestingly, one study suggests that rice protein may be just as effective as whey protein in supporting body composition and exercise performance in resistance-trained athletes.

The brown rice powder is sprouted and fermented, meaning that the brown rice is soaked for a period of time and then allowed to germinate. This process leads to increased bioavailability of nutrients, such as vitamins and fatty acids—and decreased amounts of anti-nutrients such as phytates and tannins.

The plant-based powder blends well into your smoothie, shake, or beverage. It comes in three delicious flavors, including vanilla, chocolate, and natural. Good news for those with sensitivities, the vegan powder is also free of gluten, soy, and dairy.

Best Pea Protein: Sunwarrior Organic Vegan Protein Powder Warrior Blend

Sunwarrior Natural Warrior Blend

Research published in 2015 shows that pea protein may be just as effective as dairy-based whey proteins for athletes looking to improve muscle strength. Sunwarrior Warrior Blend takes the top pick among pea protein powders. The proprietary blend of organic pea protein, hemp protein, and goji berry contains 19 grams of plant-based protein per scoop. The USDA Organic, non-GMO Project Certified blend is also allergy-friendly, as it is free of soy, gluten, and dairy.

Additionally, the Sunwarrior Warrior Blend is free of added sugars and artificial sweeteners, ideal for those watching their sugar intake. It comes in five flavors, including Berry, Chocolate, Mocha, Vanilla, and Natural.

The natural flavor doesn’t taste overly sweet so that it won’t overpower your favorite beverage. With only four ingredients: pea protein, hemp protein, goji berry, and ground coconut, Sunwarrior’s Warrior Blend Natural is a super clean choice. Note that the flavored versions contain additional ingredients, including the specific flavor and stevia.

Best Single Ingredient: Sprout Living Simple Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder

Sprout Living Simple Pumpkin Seed Protein Powder

Sprout Living’s Simple Pumpkin Seed Powder is made up of one ingredient: cold-pressed pumpkin seed powder. The USDA-Organic protein provides 15 grams of protein per serving from non-GMO pumpkin seeds, which offer a wide range of nutrients, including an array of amino acids and essential fatty acids.

This super clean product checks all the boxes: organic, vegan, grain-free, soy-free, gluten-free, and kosher. The 100 percent pure, single-ingredient powder has a slightly nutty flavor and is a great hypoallergenic plant protein source. Sprout Living doesn’t use gums or stabilizers, so the powder may settle and require a bit of mixing before blending into your favorite beverage.

Best Stevia-Free: ALOHA Organic Protein Powder

Aloha Organic Protein Powder

Aloha’s USDA-Organic plant-based powder uses coconut sugar and monk fruit as alternatives to erythritol or stevia. While stevia is declared “generally accepted as safe” by the FDA, some people prefer to avoid the natural sweetener. The FDA acknowledges erythritol as a sugar substitute that’s not a high-intensity sweetener, however, it may cause digestive issues if over-consumed. Aloha’s protein blend mixes pea, brown rice, hemp, and pumpkin seed protein to provide 18 grams of plant-based protein per serving. The blend contains 3 grams of dietary fiber per serving, likely attributed to acacia fiber, which is rich in soluble fiber.

The vegan powder also contains medium-chain triglycerides from coconut oil. Made with simple, whole-food ingredients, Aloha Protein comes in three flavors: Vanilla, Chocolate, and Banana. It’s a great option to add to your favorite smoothie, baked good, or oatmeal.

Best Grain-Free: Sprout Living Epic Protein Powder Original Flavor

Sprout Living Epic Protein Powder Original Flavor

If you’re looking for a paleo-friendly (gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free) plant-based protein powder, Sprout Living’s Epic Protein is a great choice. While any plant-based protein powders include grain-based proteins such as quinoa, amaranth, and brown rice, Epic Protein is made from yellow pea and a mix of sunflower, pumpkin, sacha inchi, and cranberry seeds. Each two-scoop serving provides 26 grams of plant-based protein. It also boasts 5 grams of dietary fiber, most of which are derived from Jerusalem artichoke.

The super clean, plant-based protein comes in four flavors: Chocolate Maca, Green Kingdom, Vanilla Lucuma, and Original. The delicious product is also free of fillers and gums. Produced in a cGMP-certified facility, Epic Protein is known for its purity and dedication to ultra-clean ingredients.

Best Protein + Greens: Vega Protein and Greens Vanilla - Vegan Plant Based Protein Powder

Vega Protein and Greens Vanilla - Vegan Plant Based Protein Powder

If you're looking to boost your protein powder with a dose of greens, try Vega Protein and Greens (Vanilla). While you should still aim for at least five cups of vegetables a day, green, plant-based powders are a convenient way to help increase your daily vitamin and mineral intake.

The pea protein base offers 20 grams of protein per one scoop serving. Spinach, kale, broccoli, and alfalfa grass powders add 25 percent of your daily intake needs for iron and 60 percent of your vitamin K needs. Additionally, it offers calcium, potassium, vitamin A and C. Vegan, Non-GMO and sweetened with stevia, this powder is a great addition to a plant-based diet.

Final Verdict

For a high-quality, plant-based protein made up of 15 grains, legumes, and seeds, try Garden of Life's Raw Organic Protein (view at Amazon), which comes in a variety of flavors and an unflavored option.

What to Look for in a Plant-Based Protein Powder

Type of protein

There are various plant-based protein sources, including those made from peas, brown rice, and hemp. Some may agree with your digestive system more than others—you might also have to base your choice on any dietary restrictions you have.

Fortunately, there are varieties that can work for most diets (including organic formulas). To get a wide array of nutrients, try to rotate which protein source you use—for example, alternate between hemp and brown rice protein in your morning smoothie.

Fillers

When it comes to protein powder, you want to make sure you know what else is included besides protein. Some brands contain fillers that add extra calories, sweeteners, and carbs, while others offer more pure formulas. Read the ingredients carefully and choose one that supports your goals without getting in the way of them.

Flavor

Taste and flavor are two important considerations when choosing a protein supplement. You may prefer something relatively neutral in flavor or a product that provides a rich chocolate or vanilla taste. Whatever your preference is, always check out the ingredients and choose a product without artificial flavors or additives.

Be Wary of Soy

Soy protein is a controversial supplement, and you may note that soy-containing products are not included in the roundup above. While there is plenty of research to support soy protein consumption, there is an equal amount of research that recommends avoidance.

Since there are many great protein alternatives on the market, consider hemp, pea, or other non-soy plant-based options.

FAQs

How do you use plant-based protein powder?

Consuming an adequate amount of protein on a vegan or vegetarian diet can be challenging, considering plant-based foods tend to be lower in protein than animal-based foods. Plant-based protein powder can be an effective way to boost your daily protein intake. Omnivores can also benefit from plant-based protein powders, as diversifying your protein intake from both plant and animal-based proteins supports a healthy, balanced diet

Plant-based protein powder is best mixed in smoothies—we recommend blending it with unsweetened plant-based milk (like oat, almond, or coconut), a serving of fruit, and a serving of leafy greens like spinach. You can also try mixing it into your morning oatmeal. Depending on the product, some powders are water-soluble and can be simply mixed into water.

Is plant-based protein powder better than typical whey or animal-derived protein powders?

The nutritional content and ingredient lists vary greatly from one protein powder to another, whether they are plant-based or animal-derived. Therefore, it’s important to compare specific product information when deciding which powder to choose. 

Animal-based proteins are considered higher quality protein sources based on their amino acid levels and ratios and their protein digestibility or bioavailability. Whey and animal-derived protein powders tend to have a higher amount of protein per ounce, and they are considered complete proteins, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids. However, plant-based proteins tend to have higher levels of antioxidants and fiber.

Some plant-based proteins, like soy, contain all nine essential amino acids and have a relatively high protein content per ounce. Other plant-based protein powders contain complementary protein blends, meaning they combine different plant proteins to create a complete protein.

What Experts Say

"When looking at plant-based protein supplements, it’s important to read the ingredients to ensure that they aren’t full of fillers, additives, artificial sweeteners, or sugar. Try to choose a supplement with a short ingredient list, and only clean, organic ingredients." Nathalie Rhone, MS, RD

Why Trust Verywell Fit?

A personal note on my recommendations written above. As a dietitian, I am careful to recommend supplements, including protein powders. I spent time reviewing the most current research on various plant-based proteins and looking at multiple products and brands.

I believe the protein supplements in the round-up are made by trusted brands that I would feel comfortable recommending to my clients, friends, and family. I have tried the majority of the powders recommended and use plant-based protein powder regularly in smoothies, overnight oats, and chia pudding. Eliza Savage, MS, RD, CDN

Anne Cook Carroll, MS, RD, contributed to the FAQs.

How We Select Supplements

Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements; you can read more about our dietary supplement methodology here

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Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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