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 the best vegan 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 these powders so you can select the option that best suits your individual needs.

Best Overall
Legion Plant +
Legion Plant +
Legion Plant +

Pea, rice, quinoa, and hemp form a high quality protein with added nutrients to shore up any deficiencies.

Best for Athletes
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.

Most Protein Per Calorie
Inno Supps Clean Vegan Protein
Inno Supps Clean Vegan Protein
Inno Supps Clean Vegan Protein

All natural and packed with antioxidants and enzymes, Inno Supps really stands out for its low carb count.

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

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

Most Antioxidants
Vega One Organic All-in-One Shake
Vega One Organic All-in-One Shake
Vega One Organic All-in-One Shake

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

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 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 Powders

We’re just talking about protein powders, 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. Take it into account when you look at the price of different vegan protein powders.

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. People often look at the price of powders but it’s better to consider the price of the proteins. Protein powders contain lots of ingredients including fats and carbohydrates. We mention price of protein per gram for each 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 powders 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 Powders?

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

All Natural With Vegan-Friendly Nutrients

Legion made good with their pea, rice, quinoa, and hemp based protein powder. This combination produced a terrific amino acid profile, plus 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 added to the mix.

Pros

  • It contains extra nutrients that some plant-based diets tend to lack.
  • The product is completely free of artificial ingredients and GMOs.
  • Plant+ includes four digestive enzymes

Cons

  • With 14 grams of carbs for every 25 grams of protein, it’s not the most low carb protein powder available.
  • Some may find the “all natural” taste to be a little too… natural tasting.
Legion Plant +
Legion Plant +
Legion Plant +

Pea, rice, quinoa, and hemp form a high quality protein with added nutrients to shore up any deficiencies.

Best for Athletes

Tested for Banned Substances

The main reason we like Gold Standard for athletes is because it’s one of the rare protein powders that’s been certified by Informed Choice, so the facility has been swabbed for banned substances. But it’s also surprisingly low carb for a vegan protein powder, it’s soy free, naturally flavored, and it helps to add B12 and iron to your diet — nutrients that can be tricky to get among the plant based.

Pros

  • With 4 grams of net carbs per 24 grams of protein, it’s relatively low carb for a vegan protein.
  • It contains a good dose of Vitamin C, iron, and B12.
  • This product has ben certified by Informed Choice, meaning the facility has been tested for banned substances.
  • Gold Standard Plant-Based Protein is USDA-certified organic.

Cons

  • The flavor is quite nutty.
  • There are three kinds of gum, which might cause digestive issues for some.
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.

Most Protein Per Calorie

High Protein, Low Carb, Plus Enzymes

With 25 grams of protein per scoop and just 2 grams each of fat and carbs, this offers about the same amount of protein per calorie as your average whey protein powder — a very rare feat. Add to that the fact that there are no artificial sweeteners, and it contains antioxidants and digestive enzymes, and you’ve got a remarkable plant based powder.

Pros

  • Each scoop contains 100 calories of protein and just 25 calories from carbs and fat, which is unusual for (typically high carb) vegan protein powders.
  • It includes digestive enzymes, which may enhance protein absorption.
  • The ingredients also have a variety of powdered fruits and vegetables to add antioxidants.

Cons

  • On a per serving basis, this is one of the pricier protein powders.
  • Some find the flavor more savory than they were expecting, though this could make it a good pick for those who are tired of overly sweet protein.
Inno Supps Clean Vegan Protein
Inno Supps Clean Vegan Protein
Inno Supps Clean Vegan Protein

All natural and packed with antioxidants and enzymes, Inno Supps really stands out for its low carb count.

Best Tasting

Protein With Just 7 Ingredients

It’s notoriously tough to get a good vanilla vegan protein powder: they’re often made from grains and legumes, and while that earthiness can work well with cocoa it often overpowers vanilla.

Not so with Pure Food Company, which uses innovative flavorings like lucuma and mesquite that produces a thoroughly enjoyable, richly flavored protein powder that provides about 20 grams of protein for every 5 grams of net carbs.

Pros

  • Pure Food Company has just seven all natural ingredients.
  • The ingredients include probiotic bacteria, which may improve digestive health.

Cons

  • There’s no information regarding how much probiotic bacteria it contains.
  • The product is manufactured in a facility that processes common allergens like eggs, tree nuts, and wheat.
Pure Food Plant Based Protein Powder
Pure Food Plant Based Protein Powder
Pure Food Plant Based Protein Powder

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

Most Antioxidants

Protein Plus Probiotics

This shake sits somewhere between a meal replacement and a protein powder. It’s still pretty low in calories and has more protein than carbs or fat, but it also provides probiotic bacteria and about half a day’s worth of Vitamins B, C, and K. Add all that to the fact that it’s got antioxidant-dense additions like spirulina and spinach powder and you’ve a great way to get your protein.

Pros

  • This is one of the few vegan protein powders that tastes pretty great with water.
  • Each serving has about half a day’s intake of Vitamins B, C, and K.
  • The product is high in ingredients known for their antioxidant density.

Cons

  • It has plenty of vitamins, but the shake isn’t very high in minerals.
  • This is on the pricier side for a vegan protein powder.
Vega One Organic All-in-One Shake
Vega One Organic All-in-One Shake
Vega One Organic All-in-One Shake

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

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. It contains 0 grams of GMO ingredients. Yes, it’s 100% non-GMO.

Cost: ~8 cents per gram of protein
Calories per gram of protein: 6.4
Nutrition per serving: 25g protein, 14g carbs (3g fiber, 6g sugar alcohol), 3g fat (0.5 grams of saturated fat, 0 grams of trans 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 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 vegan protein powders.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What's the best vegan protein powder?

Legion’s Thrive is our top pick. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, it’s all natural and derived from  proteins like pea, rice, quinoa, and hemp, ensuring a broad spectrum of nutrients and amino acids. It’s also non-GMO and adds some beta-alanine and creatine for sports performance.

Are soy protein powders bad for you?

Unless you have a sensitivity, there’s no compelling evidence that a daily dose of soy will impact testosterone levels or reduce performance.

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. 

Is organic protein powder better than non-organic?

While there’s an argument to be made for organic animal products, there’s not much evidence that organic vegan products provide more nutrition benefits. However, organic farms don’t use synthetic fertilizers and insecticides, so they may be better from an environmental standpoint — just not from a nutritional one.

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.