This article is designed to inform you about the different types of vegan protein powders available on the market. It evaluates the ingredients, protein content, price, and other features. It is written by our CEO, Nicholas Orsini, based on his own experiences and research conducted while trying out various protein powders as a vegan athlete.
For many people, the brand of protein powder they use is equally, if not more, important as the logos on their running shoes, biking shorts, and winter coats. It’s understandable when you’re starting the day off with a particular protein powder with a certain taste and nutritional value. My smoothie gives me an extra bolt of energy and confidence knowing that I’ve already accomplished one minor thing on my to do list (a healthy breakfast or snack), even if it’s just consuming a healthy protein shake filled with vegan protein powder, greens, and fruits.
I started The Plant Era with the intention and drive to create the world’s best sports nutrition, and nothing short of that. Creating a sports nutrition company doesn’t mean that all other protein powders are bad, though. I recognize that there are other high quality, clean label protein powders, and just as equally, there are a lot of protein powders out there with artificial ingredients or impurities in their ingredients.
Below, you’ll see a comparison of various protein powders and brands, based on my own research I made when I first went vegan. I assess the ingredients, nutrient content, protein content, and also refer to the transparency of the companies.
When I started my fitness and nutrition journey ten years ago that spanned from boxing amateur under the legendary Buster Douglas, to cycling across America, and finally completing an Ironman, I started using a very prominent whey protein - Optimum Nutrition. Although they aren’t on this list, below you’ll see a thorough comparison chart of the various vegan protein brands on the market today. At the end of the day, I would love for everyone to use The Plant Era, but I know it’s not for everyone. I hope that you gain something of value from this list and the research and transparency that comes with it.
Vega comes in as our most expensive protein powder on the list. It is listed at $3.50 per serving (42gs) and is USDA organic, non-GMO certified, Gluten Free certified, and Vegan certified. It also serves as a meal replacement and contains 20 grams of protein in one serving, with nothing artificial in the product. The biggest competitive advantage of this particular protein powder is that it helps to supplement the immune system with numerous vitamins and probiotics.
Although they don’t track BCAA’s in this formula, they do offer sport versions with BCAAs. If you aren’t familiar with BCAAs, check out this article. There are many benefits to taking BCAAs, and are key for recovery after an intense exercise. The sport product is packed with pea protein, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, and quinoa sprouts, but it is not organic certified.
Unfortunately, Vega has faced criticism in the past due to the amount of heavy metals in their products and it was said that it exceeded the amount recommended by the California State Legislature. When I contacted their customer service, they would not release any information to me on their heavy metal testing results or processes.
Although their well-rounded nutritional profile is impressive, I believe transparency is an important point to consider when purchasing nutritional foods, such as protein powders. It would be great to see their heavy metal test results become publicly available for their customers, like many of the other brands on this list.
The MyVegan product line is great for those on a budget and it’s great to see a large brand like MyProtein catering to vegans. Their Vegan Protein Blend offers a wide selection of 9 different flavours such as Blueberry Cinnamon, Cacao Orange and Turmeric Latte. I have only personally tasted the unflavoured version, so I cannot comment on the flavours.
They source their protein from pea and fava bean, and it provides 22 grams per serving (30g), similar to Garden of Life’s “Raw Organic Protein Powder”. To put it into context, according to the Dietary Reference Intake published by the NIH, the average adult man should aim for about 56g of protein, and the average adult woman should aim for about 46g per day. Vegan Protein Blend also includes 5 grams of BCAAs per serving.
Their calories are on the lower end at 110 calories per serving, however, this may be due to their use of sucralose as their sweetener. Sucralose is a popular sugar alternative with its low calorie content. However, some studies conducted on rats have shown some potential negative effects of sucralose on our health, such as reducing beneficial bacteria in the gut.
MyVegan’s ingredients are not certified organic. Organic ingredients are more sustainable for both our health and the environment because they’re grown without pesticides, meaning less exposure to chemicals through our air, waterways, and soil, and are known to contain more vitamins and antioxidants.
At $0.99 per serving, MyProtein is definitely a good option for those on a budget. However, if you’re looking for an organic product or to cut out artificial sweeteners, MyProtein is not recommended.
Garden of life offers both whey and vegan protein powder which has been tested for heavy metals, and is certified non-GMO, USDA organic, and certified gluten free. The protein powder has no sugar, dairy, or soy. The flavours currently offered are vanilla, chocolate, vanilla spiced chai, and unflavoured. The sweeteners they use are stevia, erythritol, guar gum, and carob bean gum (all organic!).
With 22 grams of protein per serving (31gs) composed of pea, rice, buckwheat sprout, millet sprout, chlorella, quinoa, chia seed, garbanzo bean, lentils, beans, pumpkin, sunflower, flax seed, and sesame seed, Garden of Life is a good choice for those who want quality protein powder. It contains 3.8 grams of BCAAs, and they also offer a sport version.
While it is not the cheapest, nor most expensive on the list, a serving costs around $1.91. You can find information about their heavy metal testing here. Their customer service provided the actual test results for each product as well which I think is fantastic transparency.
Orgain’s protein powder is free from sugar, artificial sweeteners, soy, and dairy. This product is also non-GMO, vegan, and USDA organic certified. Orgain’s product is filled with quality ingredients, with a unique ingredient selection of organic acacia, rosemary extract, bran extract, sunflower oil and rice dextrin.
The protein is sourced from pea, rice, and chia seed. At $1.50 per serving, it doesn’t break the bank either.
However, with only 21 grams of protein per 46g serving, Orgain’s product is on the lower end of the list when it comes to protein content. Their calorie content per serving is 150 kcal.
Their customer service indicated that one serving of Orgain contains 3.9 grams of BCAA’s. For those working out, BCAAs are key for optimal recovery and repair of our muscles. Orgain is not exclusively vegan and sells other protein powders.
The Plant Era protein powder comes in two flavors: Dark Chocolate and Strawberry-Basil. The nutritionals are nearly identical as well. Our product packs 24 grams of vegan pea and rice protein powder in one scoop or serving (35g), with an additional 5g of free-form BCAAs added to our new product that was just released this summer. It’s a great supplement to your diet with 100% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin B12 and 27.7% of your daily iron for the average american woman, and 62.5% for the average american man, according to the National Institutes of Health.
A serving costs around $1.83, and while it is not the cheapest, it is also not the most expensive on this list.
We release our heavy metal testing results to anyone that asks our customer service for it, and our previous batches of this product have all been tested by Informed Sport and Informed Choice (test to be conducted this year for our newest batch).
All our ingredients (minus the stevia) are Soil Association organic certified, and are free from sugar, dairy, gluten, and artificial sweeteners. We are looking to gain a USDA organic certification, Gluten Free certification, Vegan certification, and Non-GMO certification within the next year (it is an expensive process, especially for a small business). The goal is to ensure that it passes any test with an A.
The Plant Era’s mission is to develop the world’s best sports nutrition. If you don’t think we’re achieving that, please reach out to us at email@example.com and let us know what we can do better to achieve that mission. We’d love to hear from you!
Features of the Best Vegan Protein Powder
The best vegan protein powder available is different for every person. Everybody reacts differently to different forms of protein, but below are some of my criteria for evaluating features of the best protein powder available:
- Protein / BCAA content
- Ingredient quality
- No artificial sweeteners
- Transparency with testing
- Company values