Well-designed, plant-based diets can provide a rich source of phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. While it’s completely possible to reach your desired protein intake without supplementing, athletes of any diet — vegan or omnivorous — can find it useful to reach for a powder instead of preparing a high protein snack.

The truth is that out of the three macronutrients, protein is typically the hardest to prepare and the toughest to find on-the-go, and that goes double for folks whose protein sources lean on soy, legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains. Whatever your diet, protein powders are inexpensive and convenient, especially if you’re trying to support an athletic lifestyle.

If you’ve decided to go the protein powder route, we’ve listed the six best vegan protein powder options you can find on the market today. Keep reading to find out why we chose them so you can select the option that best suits your individual needs.

Best Overall
Legion Thrive
Legion Thrive
Legion Thrive

Pea, rice, quinoa, and hemp form a high quality protein with added nutrients to shore up any deficiencies. Use the code BARBEND10 to get 10% off!

Doesn't expire

Best Low Carb
Transparent Labs Organic Vegan Protein
Transparent Labs Organic Vegan Protein
Transparent Labs Organic Vegan Protein

A surprisingly low carb vegan protein powder that's totally free from artificial ingredients and soy. Use the code BARBEND10 to get 10% off!

Best Tasting
Pure Food Company Plant-Based Protein Powder
Pure Food Company Plant-Based Protein Powder
Pure Food Company Plant-Based Protein Powder

Lucuma and mesquire are some of the more unusual flavors that make this one of the tastiest vegan protein powders on the market.

Most Antioxidants
Vega All In One Shake
Vega All In One Shake
Vega All In One Shake

This meal replacement delivers quality protein with a solid macro profile, along with probiotics and much more.

Best Value
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Plant-Based Protein
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Plant-Based Protein
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Plant-Based Protein

A very low carb vegan protein that contains a welcome dose of extra vitamins and minerals.

Best Digesting
Kos Vegan Protein
Kos Vegan Protein
Kos Vegan Protein

This meal replacement is nutritious and especially low in allergens, making it useful for a wide variety of consumers.

Best Vegan Protein Powder

Editor’s note: The content on BarBend is meant to be informative in nature, but it should not be taken as medical advice. The opinions and articles on this site are not intended for use as diagnosis, prevention, and/or treatment of health problems. It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning a new fitness, nutritional, and/or supplement routine. 

What to Look for in a Vegan Protein Powder

We’re just talking about protein, here. We aren’t looking at meal replacements, micronutrient supplements, or fat burners, we’re just looking at protein sources. Still, there are pros and cons for these supplements that we did weigh when deciding the best.

Protein per calorie

Compared to whey protein, it’s much more difficult to create a vegan protein powder that’s low in carbs and fat. For this reason we don’t criticize these supplements too much for containing carbs, but it remains true that people buy them as a source of protein. The amount of protein you get per calorie is the main factor, here.

Micronutrients in Protein Powders

No, these aren’t vitamin supplements. However, it’s fair to say that it’s a bit trickier (though far from impossible) to get certain nutrients on a plant-based diet, particularly calcium, iron, and Vitamin B12. If a product is a decent source of these, it gets extra points.

Digestion

Whether it’s because of lectins, gums, or sweeteners, protein powder can be tough for some people to digest. We draw attention to whether or not a product contains gums or sweeteners and consider it a nice addition if the ingredients list includes digestive enzymes or probiotic bacteria, which may reduce indigestion.

Price

Naturally, this is an important component of selecting your go-to product. Depending on whether or not they’re organic or all-natural, vegan proteins typically cost between 6 and 9 cents per gram of protein.

Sourcing of Vegan Powders

While it’s unlikely to confer any additional nutritional benefits, many vegan products use only organic ingredients which brings some customers peace of mind as far as farming best practices go.

Should You Avoid Soy in a Vegan Protein Powder?

Debate continues to rage about whether or not soy is a bad idea, with the arguments revolving around the phytoestrogens present in soy. The term refers to isoflavones that may interact with human estrogen receptors, which many interpret to mean that soy messes with your sex hormones.

The truth is that the vast majority of research has found that soy won’t lower your testosterone or increase your estrogen. A meta analysis of fifteen placebo-controlled studies, which included participants eating up to 70 grams of soy protein per day, concluded

neither soy foods nor isoflavone supplements alter measures of bioavailable T concentrations in men. (1)

As for athletes, a study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition that compared athletes consuming 50 grams of soy or whey per day for twelve weeks found no difference in testosterone levels between the two groups.(2) Note that they were taking soy concentrate, which is far higher in phytoestrogen than your standard tofu or tempeh.

In any case, the fear of soy has resulted in a vegan protein powder industry where very few products contain it anyway, and none of the products we’re reviewing today use soy as a source of protein. As an FYI, though, it doesn’t look like it would matter if they did.

[Become an expert: read our complete guide to soy and testosterone.]

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The 6 Best Vegan Protein Powders

Below we detail our favorite vegan protein powder picks! See the why and reasoning behind each!

Best Overall

Legion Thrive Protein

No stranger to disrupting the supplement industry, Legion has once again hit a home run with their pea, rice, quinoa, and hemp based protein powder. Providing a super high quality protein with all the amino acids you could want, they’ve added “ten additional nutrients that vegan diets tend to lack” like beta-alanine, creatine, and Vitamin B12. There’s also a lot of Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and iron.

Cost: ~8 cents per gram of protein
Calories per gram of protein: 6.4
Nutrition: 25g protein, 14g carbs (3g fiber, 6g sugar alcohol), 3g fat
Pros: Nutritious, all natural, has added enzymes
Cons: Not low carb, has sugar alcohols and beta alanine

It’s worth noting that not everyone will be happy with the creatine and beta alanine, which can cause water retention and paresthesia respectively, plus the 6 grams of sugar alcohol per serving can cause digestive issues for some folks. However there are a remarkable four digestive enzymes added, which may help with indigestion and enhance nutrient absorption.(3)(4)(5)

BEST OVERALL
Legion Thrive
Legion Thrive
Legion Thrive

Pea, rice, quinoa, and hemp form a high quality protein with added nutrients to shore up any deficiencies. Use the code BARBEND10 to get 10% off!

Best Low Carb Vegan Protein Powder

Transparent Labs Organic Vegan Rice & Pea Protein

Transparent Labs has done a phenomenal job of creating a super low carb product that’s also entirely organic and made without any artificial ingredients. It’s also remarkably well priced at 6.8 cents per gram of protein. This is the kind of macro split you’d expect from a whey protein and it’s very rare for a plant-based one. 

There are absolutely no vitamins or minerals listed on the label, which explicitly says there’s zero Vitamin D, calcium, iron, potassium, and even sodium, despite the Himalayan rock salt on the ingredients list. It’s also made on equipment that also processes milk, eggs, and fish oil, which may give pause to some consumers.

Cost: ~$6.8 cents per gram of protein
Calories per gram of protein: 5
Nutrition: 24g protein, 3g carbs (1g fiber), 2g fat
Pros: Very low carb, well priced
Cons: Low in micronutrients

Save 10%
Transparent Labs Organic Vegan Protein
Transparent Labs Organic Vegan Protein
Transparent Labs Organic Vegan Protein

A surprisingly low carb vegan protein powder that's totally free from artificial ingredients and soy. Use the code BARBEND10 to get 10% off!

Best Tasting Vegan Protein Powder

Pure Food Company Plant-Based Protein Powder

Pure Food’s product is made with organic lucuma, mesquite, and real vanilla, making for an unusually velvety, aromatic flavor that is a real delight to consume. Add to that the probiotic bacteria and all natural ingredient list and this is a solid, if somewhat expensive pick.

There are a lot of upsides to vegan protein powders but it’s hard to argue that it’s really hard to find a tasty vanilla option. Chocolate, sure — it’s nutty and earthy enough to work well with the grain- and legume-based mixture — but vanilla pretty much always winds up taking like peanut butter.

Cost: ~10 cents per gram of protein
Calories per gram of protein: 6.2
Nutrition: 20g protein, 9g carbs (4g fiber), 2g fat
Pros: Contains probiotics, high in iron
Cons: Pricey, little nutrition info

Pure Food Company Plant-Based Protein Powder
Pure Food Company Plant-Based Protein Powder
Pure Food Company Plant-Based Protein Powder

Lucuma and mesquire are some of the more unusual flavors that make this one of the tastiest vegan protein powders on the market.

Most Antioxidants

Vega One All-In-One Protein Powder

Somewhere between a protein powder and a meal replacement, Vega One delivers about 50 percent of the recommended daily intake of a slew of B-vitamins, Vitamin K, and Vitamin C, along with 30 percent of your iron and 15 percent of your calcium.

The ingredients also include a ton of plants you normally find in greens powders like spirulina, spinach powder, and mushroom powder. Add to that some probiotics, an all natural ingredients, and a surprisingly pleasant coconut almond flavor and you’ve got a great addition to a supplement routine, if you can handle the cost.

Cost: ~17.5 cents per gram of protein
Calories per gram of protein: 7.5
Nutrition: 20g protein, 8g carbs (4g fiber), 5g fat
Pros: High in vitamins, contains probiotic bacteria
Cons: Pricy, not super high in minerals

Vega All In One Shake
Vega All In One Shake
Vega All In One Shake

This meal replacement delivers quality protein with a solid macro profile, along with probiotics and much more.

Best Value

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Plant-Based Protein

Optimum Nutrition comes out swinging with their vegan addition to their “Gold Standard” pantheon that includes whey, casein, pre workouts, and BCAAs. Their 100% Plant is completely organic and based in pea, brown rice, and sacha inchi protein.

There’s also an innovative grain blend of amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, and chia, making for a remarkable amino acid profile. There’s also 20 percent of your daily iron and B12 and at just 6.7 cents per gram of protein, it delivers on value.

Cost: ~6.7 cents per gram of protein
Calories per gram of protein: 5.8
Nutrition: 24g protein, 6g cabrs (2g fiber), 2.5g fat
Pros: Low carb, nutritious
Cons: Nutty flavor, contains gums

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Plant-Based Protein
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Plant-Based Protein
Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard Plant-Based Protein

A very low carb vegan protein that contains a welcome dose of extra vitamins and minerals.

Great Digestion

Kos Vegan Protein

This “small batch, boutique” protein powder is a well priced all rounder that we really enjoyed at the BarBend office. While it contains tree nuts it’s free from soy and gluten and it contains solid hits of Vitamins A, C, D, and B-vitamins.

It mixes surprisingly well and a real bonus is the added digestive enzymes, which may make a protein powder digest more effectively. All that combined with the price made for a nice all rounder, though it’s a bit low in B12.

Cost: ~6.6 cents per gram of protein
Calories per gram of protein: 6
Nutrition: 20g protein, 7g carbs (3g fiber), 2.5g fat
Pros: Contains digestive enzymes, well priced
Cons: Low in B12, high in sodium

Kos Vegan Protein
Kos Vegan Protein
Kos Vegan Protein

This meal replacement is nutritious and especially low in allergens, making it useful for a wide variety of consumers.

Best Vegan Powder – Wrapping Up

Plant-based protein powders have even more variety than whey products — the protein sources, the added micronutrients, and the wide variety of macronutrient profiles make selecting a supplement a surprisingly difficult task. We’ve tried an awful lot of them and think we’ve landed on the best possible list of the best possible products.

References

1. Oben J, et al. An open label study to determine the effects of an oral proteolytic enzyme system on whey protein concentrate metabolism in healthy males. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2008 Jul 24;5:10.
2. Muss C, et al. Papaya preparation (Caricol®) in digestive disorders. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2013;34(1):38-46.
3. Zhou Z, et al. Inhibition of Epithelial TNF-α Receptors by Purified Fruit Bromelain Ameliorates Intestinal Inflammation and Barrier Dysfunction in Colitis. Front Immunol. 2017 Nov 10;8:1468.
4. Hamilton-Reeves JM, et al. Clinical studies show no effects of soy protein or isoflavones on reproductive hormones in men: results of a meta-analysis. Fertil Steril. 2010 Aug;94(3):997-1007.
5. Kalman D, et al. Effect of protein source and resistance training on body composition and sex hormones. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2007 Jul 23;4:4.