The Best Vegan Protein Powders, According to a Dietitian

Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein is NSF Certified for Sport and nutrient-rich

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Best Vegan Protein Powders

Verywell / Sabrina Jiang

If you are following a vegan diet, especially if you are an athlete, you may choose to include a vegan protein powder as part of your diet. To decide if you would benefit from adding a vegan powder, take note of your protein needs and compare that with your intake of protein-rich plant foods, including tofu, beans, nuts, seeds, and meat substitutes. If you struggle to get a good-quality plant protein source during a particular meal (perhaps breakfast), you may find a protein powder especially helpful.

Vegan protein powders are made from a variety of sources, including soy, hemp, pumpkin seed, and brown rice. To put together a list of recommendations, our dietitian and expert in plant-based nutrition reviewed dozens of products and consulted with colleagues who specialize in nutrition for athletes and active individuals. When deciding which one to purchase, consider the ingredients list, type of protein, amino acid profile, third-party testing, and amount of protein the supplement provides.

Verywell Fit Approved Vegan Protein Powders

Always speak with a healthcare professional before adding a supplement to your routine to ensure that the supplement is appropriate for your individual needs and which dosage to take.

Best Overall: Garden of Life SPORT Organic Plant-Based Protein, Chocolate

Garden of Life SPORT Organic Plant-Based Protein, Chocolate

Amazon

Pros
  • 30 g of protein per serving

  • NSF Certified for Sport

  • 6.7 mg of iron per serving

Cons
  • Expensive

Who else recommends it? Good Housekeeping and Healthline both picked Garden of Life SPORT Organic Plant-Based Protein.

What do buyers say 86% of 10,200+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

Garden of Life SPORT Organic Plant-Based Protein is our top pick because it is a complete vegan protein source and is NSF Certified for Sport. It contains a protein blend including pea, bean, and sprouted lentil and garbanzo bean proteins, with 30 grams of protein per two-scoop serving. 

Garden of Life Raw Organic protein is certified organic and offers a good source of several micronutrients—one serving provides 40 percent daily value of iron, 42 percent of zinc, and 50 percent of both selenium and manganese. As a bonus, it contains an antioxidant-powered recovery blend including tart cherry, turmeric, apple, and blueberry. We like the chocolate flavor with organic cacao, but it also comes in vanilla.

Garden of Life Raw Organic protein includes the probiotic bifidobacterium lactis. While the jury is still out on the benefits of probiotics in healthy individuals, this probiotic strain may have a beneficial impact on bowel function, specifically helping reduce the risk of diarrhea and antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and may benefit immune function.

Of note, this protein powder is sweetened with stevia, a plant-derived calorie-free sweetener that is commonly used to sweeten protein powders.

Main Protein Sources: Pea, sprouted navy bean, sprouted garbanzo bean, cranberry seed protein | Serving Size: 2 scoops | Protein Per Serving: 30 grams | Additives: Stevia leaf extract, herbal blend, probiotic

Best Budget: Vega Protein & Greens Plant-Based Protein Powder

Vega Protein and Greens Vanilla - Vegan Plant Based Protein Powder

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Budget-friendly

  • 5 flavor options

  • Certified vegan, Non-GMO Project verified

Cons
  • Not third-party tested

Vega Protein and Greens is a solid budget-friendly vegan protein powder option. It contains 20 grams of protein, from a blend of pea protein, brown rice protein, and sacha inchi protein. In addition to the protein, it has a greens blend made from spinach, kale, broccoli, and alfalfa. The chocolate, vanilla, berry, and coconut almond flavors contain stevia as a sweetener, and the plain unsweetened variety has no stevia.

This protein powder is an excellent source of iron (with 5 milligrams per serving, or 30 percent of the daily value), a nutrient difficult to get following a vegan diet. It also packs 60 percent of your daily vitamin K needs. If you take an iron supplement or multivitamin with these nutrients, you should look at the levels provided to ensure you don’t consume either nutrient in excess. This product is certified vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, and Non-GMO Project verified.

Main Protein Sources: Pea protein, brown rice protein, sacha inchi protein | Serving Size: 1 scoop | Protein Per Serving: 20 grams | Additives: Stevia in flavored varieties, xanthan gum

Best Vegan Soy: NOW Sports Soy Protein Isolate

NOW Sports Soy Protein Isolate

Walmart

Pros
  • Affordable

  • Informed Sport certified

  • Single ingredient

Cons
  • Not suitable for those with a soy allergy

This NOW Sports soy protein isolate is an excellent choice for a single-ingredient, high-quality protein powder. Because of the way they are processed, protein isolates have more protein per serving than protein concentrates, making them a good option for those with increased protein needs.

Since soy is a complete protein source on its own, this soy protein isolate provides all nine essential amino acids, including branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), with a total of 20 grams of protein per serving. When consumed along with the other six essential amino acids, BCAAs can help promote muscle repair and synthesis and may reduce muscle soreness after a workout.

This soy protein is Non-GMO Project verified and Informed Sport certified, which ensures it has been tested for banned substances by the world-class sports anti-doping agency. It does not include sweeteners or flavorings of any kind, lending it a more neutral flavor and greater versatility.

Protein Source: Soy protein | Serving Size: 0.3 cup | Protein Per Serving: 20 grams | Additives: None

Best Vegan Hemp: Manitoba Harvest Hemp Yeah! Organic Max Protein Powder

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Yeah! Organic Max Protein Powder

Amazon

Pros
  • Certified organic

  • 2 simple ingredients

Cons
  • Not third-party tested

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Yeah! Max Protein powder is a complete protein powder made with just two ingredients—organic hemp protein concentrate and natural oregano extract, which acts as a natural preservative. This protein powder can be used for different recipes. It can easily be blended into smoothies, stirred into oatmeal, or used in baking.

Each serving contains 20 grams of protein as well as 3 grams of fiber. Hemp seeds are naturally a source of several micronutrients, so this protein powder also has 3 milligrams of iron, 922 milligrams of potassium, 64 milligrams of magnesium, 3 milligrams of iron, and 2 milligrams of zinc. It’s USDA certified organic and Non-GMO Project certified, and naturally vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free.

Protein Source: Hemp protein | Serving Size: 4 Tbsp | Protein Per Serving: 20 grams | Additives: None

Best Vegan Pea Protein: Sprout Living Organic Pea Protein Powder

Sprout Living Organic Pea Protein Powder

Amazon

Pros
  • Certified organic

  • Third-party tested

  • Single ingredient

Cons
  • Bland flavor

Pea protein is a high-quality, complete vegan protein source, and we love Sprout Living’s Simple Pea Protein powder made with just one ingredient—organic yellow peas, providing 20 grams of protein per serving. 

Sprout Living’s Organic Pea Protein Powder is certified vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, and non-GMO. Yellow peas naturally contain iron, and this protein powder provides 5 milligrams of iron per serving, which is nearly 30 percent of your daily needs.

Protein Source: Pea protein | Serving Size: 2 scoops | Protein Per Serving: 20 grams | Additives: None

Best Flavored: Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Chocolate

Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Chocolate

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Certified organic

  • 6 mg iron per scoop

Cons
  • Not third-party tested

Prefer a flavored protein powder? We love the certified organic Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Protein powder in chocolate flavor. Made from a vegan protein blend that includes organic fermented pea protein and organic hemp protein, this powder is a complete protein source with all nine essential amino acids, containing 17 grams of protein per scoop. 

The chocolate flavor comes from organic Dutch cocoa and organic chocolate flavor, and it is sweetened with organic stevia extract. It provides 6 milligrams of iron per scoop, which is more than 30 percent of your daily needs. Additionally, Sunwarrior’s Warrior Blend is soy-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free.

Main Protein Sources: Fermented pea protein, hemp protein | Serving Size: 1 scoop | Protein Per Serving: 17 grams | Additives: Stevia extract, chocolate flavor, guar gum

Final Verdict

Garden of Life SPORT Organic Plant-Based Protein Chocolate is our top choice with 30 grams of protein, including all essential amino acids, and it is NSF Certified for Sport. For a more affordable option, Vega Protein and Greens provides 20 grams of complete plant-based protein. Each of these options is an excellent source of iron, too, which can be hard to get enough of as a vegan.

Is Vegan Protein Powder Beneficial?

For people who do not get adequate protein from their diet, vegan protein powder may be a helpful supplement to add. On average, Americans do get enough protein from diet alone, but it can be more difficult to get adequate amounts on a vegan and vegetarian diet.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends the average person consume at least 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight a day—or 10 to 35 percent of their daily energy intake. So, for a 150-pound person, that would be around 55 grams of protein each day.

Some groups of people with increased protein needs who may especially benefit from taking a vegan protein powder include:

  • Athletes or other highly active individuals: Athletes typically have higher protein needs to support athletic training and muscle recovery. Depending on the type of exercise, athletes may need anywhere from 1.2 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight a day.
  • Older adults: As we age, we naturally lose muscle mass and strength. Our bodies also tend to have a decreased response to the protein we eat, and we are more prone to illness-related inflammation that will increase protein needs. Research shows that increasing protein intake can help older people maintain lean muscle mass and by doing so, promote better mobility and overall quality of life. Similar to athletes, some older adults may benefit from consuming at least 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight, with optimal intakes between 1.2 and 2 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight per day, depending on exercise levels.

Who May Not Benefit From Vegan Protein Powder

The following groups may not benefit from taking a vegan protein powder:

  • Healthy adults who meet their protein needs through diet: Most people who eat a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of protein sources get enough protein through food. So, for the average person, a protein powder supplement is not necessary and won’t provide noticeable benefits. Getting protein from food has the added benefit of nutrients like fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, protein-rich foods (especially vegan ones) are usually less expensive than protein powders.
  • Those on protein-restricted diets: Some people who have certain medical conditions that require a lower-protein diet may need to avoid vegan protein powder supplements. Some of these conditions include chronic kidney disease and inherited metabolic disorders including phenylketonuria, homocystinuria, maple syrup urine disease, and tyrosinemia. If you're on a protein-restricted diet, talk to a healthcare provider before trying a supplement.

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

We support supplements that are evidence-based and rooted in science. We value certain product attributes that we find to be associated with the highest quality products. We prioritize products that are third-party tested and certified by one of three independent, third-party certifiers: USP, NSF, or ConsumerLab.

It's important to note that the FDA does not review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they go to market. Our team of experts has created a detailed, science-backed methodology to choose the supplements we recommend.

What to Look for in a Vegan Protein Powder

Third-Party Testing

Supplements that are third-party tested are sent to a lab where they are tested to ensure they contain what they say they contain and are not contaminated with specific high-risk, common contaminants. However, it’s important to note:

  1. Third-party testing does not test to see if a product is effective or safe for everyone, and it does not ensure the supplement will not interact with other supplements or medications.
  2. Not all third-party testing is created equal. It is not uncommon for supplement companies to pay labs for certificates after conducting minimal to no testing. 
  3. The third-party certifications we can trust are: ConsumerLab, NSF, and USP. However, these certifications are difficult to obtain and/or expensive for manufacturers, so many companies choose not to get their products tested by one of these three organizations. 
  4. Sometimes products tested by these three companies are more expensive to try to offset the cost they pay for certification.
  5. Just because a supplement is not tested by one of these three companies, it does not mean it’s a bad product. We recommend doing some research on the reputability of the manufacturer, and calling up the manufacturer and their testing lab to determine their protocols and decide if you feel comfortable consuming the supplement.

Most protein powders naturally contain heavy metals in trace amounts, and consumers have expressed concern about heavy metal contamination when using these supplements. However, a recent study shows that consuming one to three servings of protein powder per day is unlikely to cause adverse health effects.

Heavy metal contamination is only a concern if the amount ingested is over a certain limit. It’s also helpful to note that trace amounts of heavy metals are naturally found in many foods like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes. Choosing a vegan protein powder that has been third-party tested helps ensure heavy metals do not exceed the FDA-established levels for contamination.

Form

Vegan protein powders can be made from different plant-based protein food sources, including soy, rice, hemp seeds and other seeds, peas, and other legumes. When purchasing a vegan protein powder, look for one that is a complete protein for optimal results. This means it has all nine essential amino acids and is a higher-quality protein your body can use more efficiently.

Ingredients & Potential Interactions

It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included, relative to the recommended daily value of that ingredient. Please bring the supplement label to a healthcare provider to review the different ingredients contained in the supplement and any potential interactions between these ingredients and other supplements and medications you are taking.

  • Additives: When purchasing a vegan protein powder, look at the ingredients list and choose one with minimal ingredients. Take note of added sugar, artificial sweeteners, artificial colors, artificial flavorings, or gums, especially if you have intolerances. Some vegan protein powders include functional ingredients, such as herbs, probiotics, or dietary fibers, that may not be supported by adequate research and may not be suitable for some to consume. For example, some herbs may not be recommended for pregnant people and may interact with certain medications.
  • Food allergens: If you have a food allergy, check the label of your protein powder to make sure there is no risk of cross-contamination with an allergen during processing.

Protein Powder Dosage

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein for an average adult is 0.8 grams of protein per day per kilogram of bodyweight, and the Food and Nutrition Board recommends a range of 10 to 35 percent of total caloric intake be from protein.

Individual protein needs can vary greatly based on many factors, including age, activity level, height, weight, medical conditions, and more. For example, athletes may need anywhere from 1.2 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day.

The international society of sports nutrition recommends consuming 20 to 40 grams of protein every three to four hours for optimum muscle synthesis. Most people meet their protein needs through food alone, but those with increased needs, or those on restrictive diets (such as vegans), may benefit from adding a protein supplement. 

How Much Is Too Much?

There is no set Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for protein intake, as the risks associated with consuming excess protein, particularly from food, appear to be very low for most healthy adults. However, the Food and Nutrition Board cautions against over supplementation of protein due to limited research on potential adverse effects.

Therefore, it is recommended to follow the RDA for protein (adjusting for individual factors such as health status and physical activity level) and try to obtain your protein from food first, supplementing only as needed. We recommend working with a registered dietitian or other healthcare provider to determine your individual protein needs and guide you on how to adequately meet them based on your dietary preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the best way to get protein as a vegan?

    The best way to get protein when following a vegan diet is by consuming plant-based foods that have protein. There are several food categories that provide plant-based protein, including whole grains, beans, legumes, soy, some non-dairy milks, nuts, seeds, vegan meats, and even some fruits and vegetables.

    If you're vegan, it is best to include a wide variety of protein-containing foods in your diet on a regular basis. This is because plant-based proteins are often “incomplete” proteins, meaning they do not contain all nine essential amino acids. By eating a variety of protein sources (for example, a meal that contains quinoa, lentils, and walnuts) you can ensure you are getting enough of all the essential amino acids.

  • How do you use vegan protein powder?

    There are a few ways you can use protein powder, depending on your preferences. The fastest way to use protein powder is simply mixing it up with water or another beverage like plant-based milk or coconut water. For tastiest results, use a flavored protein powder.

    You can also add protein powder to a smoothie—try blending fresh or frozen fruit (like banana and berries) and vegetables (we like spinach or frozen cauliflower), plant-based milk, and ice (if not using frozen ingredients). Experiment with add-ons like nut butter, chia, or flaxseed to add some healthy fats and extra nutrients. Additionally, you can even add vegan protein powder to some baked goods like brownies, pancakes, and waffles or stir it into oatmeal.

  • Is vegan protein powder better than other types of protein powder?

    Not necessarily. “It really comes down to what makes you feel the best and what your body can tolerate. If you eat a plant-based diet, or avoid consuming animal products for other reasons, then a vegan protein powder is likely best for you,” says Maddie Pasquariello, MS, RD.

    Regardless of what protein powder you choose, it’s best to stick with an option that has minimal additives like artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, or added sugars. Additionally, when choosing a vegan protein powder, choose one that is a complete protein source. This ensures you are getting high-quality protein similar to animal protein that your body can use effectively to build and maintain lean body mass. Several studies show vegan protein powders (specifically complete proteins like pea and soy) can be just as effective as whey protein at promoting muscle repair and synthesis when coupled with strength training.

  • What is the difference between getting protein from food and getting protein from a protein powder?

    “Biochemically speaking, there isn't a huge difference between consuming a protein shake made with vegan protein and a protein-rich meal. That said, getting your protein from whole foods does provide added benefits, such as fiber and even the feeling of satiety from chewing your food,” says Pasquariello.

    Vegan protein powder in isolation lacks several other health-promoting nutrients you can get from eating vegan protein sources or a well-balanced meal, including fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Additionally, a well-balanced meal that has protein, fiber, and some healthy fats is digested more slowly than protein alone, which will keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer.

    In general, it’s preferable to get your protein from whole food sources whenever possible, using protein powder to supplement only if you’re unable to get enough protein from your diet.

  • Is whey protein vegan?

    No, whey protein is not vegan because it comes from an animal product. Whey protein is one of the main proteins found in dairy, and is a byproduct of cheese-making.

19 Sources
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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By Alex Aldeborgh, MS, RD
Alex Aldeborgh is a Registered Dietitian with her own private practice and healthy recipe blog. She earned her Masters Degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. Her recipes have appeared in Real Simple, MindBodyGreen, Women's Health, the Feed Feed, and more.