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After you finish the workoutThe first thing to do is probably reach for your protein shake. It helps nourish the muscles and repair small tears – responsible for muscle growth – in short: that protein shake is one of your most precious allies when you train. But have you ever considered switching to vegan protein powder over whey protein?

If yes, know that you are not alone. The global market for vegetarian, plant-based or vegan proteins was valued at $10.5 billion in 2017 – this included vegan proteins, meat substitutes, supplements and nutrient powders – clearly showing that people are ready to re-evaluate their protein intake in favor of sustainability, healthier habits and ethical earnings.

Of course, finding the right vegan product for you depends on many variables, from budget to taste, mixability and ingredients.

Below, we'll explain everything you need to know about vegan protein powders, including the best sources of vegan protein. 

Is whey protein vegan?

Whey protein is not vegan. Whey protein is, as its name implies, derived from milk, which contains both whey protein and casein protein. Vegan protein, on the other hand, is made using a variety of protein sources including peas, rice, hemp, and seaweed.

We look at vegan protein, vegan protein powders, vegan protein bars and vegan recipes

Is plant protein as effective as whey protein?

Put simply, yes, vegan protein is just as effective as whey. A 2019 study that looked at the effect that both whey and pea protein had on body composition and exercise performance found that whichever protein men chose, there was little or no difference in their body composition, muscle gain, performance, or strength.

What to look for in your vegan protein powder

First of all, to get more protein into your vegetarian or vegan diet, you need to go beyond vegan protein shakes. If you look closely, your local supermarket will be loaded with vegan meals and snacks – like tofu, tempeh and seitan, that will build muscle without any ethical (or financial) qualms.

However, it's just as important to know what's in your vegan protein powder. Below, explore three of the most important ingredients to watch out for before investing.

Pea protein: Pea protein powder is made with field peas – which have nearly four times the protein content of sugar snap peas – helping pea protein powders contain up to 80% of protein. Plus, pea protein is also allergen-free, meaning it's suitable for vegans and food allergy sufferers, as well as being free from dairy, egg and soy.

Soy protein: This vegan protein has been used for decades and comes from defatted soy flour. After processing, it can contain up to 90% of protein and has a neutral flavor, meaning it is suitable when mixed into smoothies, shakes and other protein recipes.

Hemp protein: Suitable for those looking to eat a diet rich in whole foods, hemp protein contains 20 amino acids and provides healthy omega fatty acids and fiber. Hemp protein has also been found to improve heart health, curb sugar cravings, and boost the immune system.

The benefits of becoming vegetarian or vegan

Are you thinking of changing your lifestyle and becoming a vegetarian or vegan? Smart move. With most sports supplement brands now stocking the vegan counterparts of their whey protein products, there's never been a better time to go eco-friendly with your recipes. Below, we tell you about a number of benefits that will come to your mind once you do. 

  • By switching to plant proteins, your skin may become clearer
  • If you go to the gym regularly and are concerned with your fitness, it is safe to assume that you are concerned about your appearance and safety. Ironically, though, your focus on proper nutrition could be making you lose face, and that has nothing to do with your muscles. 

Instead, whey protein intake has been linked with the occurrence of acne, as it increases the production of a hormone called insulin-like growth factor 1, or IGF-1. Similarly, whey protein can cause an imbalance in blood sugar production, which can inflame the skin. In short, going green also helps to have smoother skin.

  • It is easier to digest vegetable proteins.
  • Compared to the often questionable ingredient list of whey protein powders, vegan protein may be significantly gentler on the gut. Peas, greens, legumes, nuts and seeds are all common ingredients in vegan protein, with healthy levels of fiber that can improve digestion while eliminating signs of gas and bloating.
  • You're getting a boost of antioxidants and phytochemicals.
  • Vegan and plant-based protein powders are loaded with vitamins and minerals essential for optimal health and are rich in phytochemicals – compounds produced by plants – that can boost your health. On the flip side, some whey proteins may contain added hormones and antibiotics. Maybe it's time to go natural.

The 7 best plant protein powders

🥇 Vegan Protein

best vegan protein

Our favourite, 3 different flavors in total natural flavour.
Over the 70% of proteins

Why: no hidden additives or artificial sweeteners but only natural things. Gluten, fructose, GMO and lactose free. It's a mix of pea protein and brown rice protein, made with natural food sources and flavors. They have more than 8000 positive reviews on Amazon

Performance Protein;center,top&resize=480%3A%2A

Per 40g serving: 154kcal, 30g protein, 2.0g carbohydrates, 2.9g fat

Why: Even when mixed with just water, Form Nutrition's Performance Vegan Protein range from Form Nutrition is a real crowd pleaser. 30g pack of protein for only 154kcal, outperforms most whey protein products in protein to calorie ratio and has an additional 5g of BCAAs per serving. Available in Chocolate Peanut, Vanilla and Tiramisu flavours, there is sure to be a flavor for you. Suitable for vegans, soy free, dairy free, gluten free and GMO free.

Complete Vegan Blend;0.0243xw,0&resize=480%3A%2A

Per 35g serving: 131kcal, 21.8g protein, 7.2g carbohydrates, 1.3g fat

Why: Using pea protein isolate, brown rice protein and quinoa flour, and available in strawberry and chocolate peanut, Bulk Powders' Vegan Blend is also very easy to mix thanks to the soluble protein sources, while being low sugar and fat content. Stevia is used as a natural sweetener.

Vegan Protein Blend;center,top&resize=480%3A%2A

Per 30g serving: 110kcal, 22g protein, 4.1g carbohydrates, 0.6g fat

Why: Made with pea and broad bean protein isolates, Myprotein's plant-based protein blend is one of the most popular and is available in chocolate, banana, strawberry, turmeric milk, turmeric milk, and coffee flavors. At remarkably low in calories, fat and carbohydrates, it is an ideal choice for anyone who is looking to increase the calorie deficit while on a diet.

Vegan Protein Powder (Chocolate);center,top&resize=480%3A%2A

Per 40g serving: 150kcal, 31g protein, 2.5g carbohydrates, 1.4g fat

Why: Innermost uses 10 ingredients in its vegan protein powder, which comes with 3g of glutamine and is packed with BCAAs and essential amino acids. Flavors include chocolate and vanilla. No traces of artificial flavors, colors or aspartame.

Vega Clean* Protein;center,top&resize=480%3A%2A

Per 35g serving: 133kcal, 25g protein, 2.2g carbohydrates, 2.3g fat

Why: This gluten-free, vegan, plant-based protein powder is perfect for anyone who wants to know where their ingredients come from. Made from peas, hemp, alfalfa and pumpkin, this natural vanilla flavor is not only high in protein but also low in sugar.

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100 Percent Plant;center,top&resize=480%3A%2A

Per 36g serving: 144kcal, 24g protein, 5.2g carbohydrates, 2.2g fat

Why: 100% is vegan, plant-based and gluten-free. Providing 19 servings, each scoop will nourish you with Vitamin B12s, essential amino acids, natural BCAAs and glutamine. And don't worry about artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners, either — it's free of everything. Interested in knowing where your nutrients come from? This is the product for you.

Some recipes to include vegan proteins

Ready to go one step further with another vegan protein shake? Try any of these vegan protein recipes for a health boost that taste great and work wonders for your health.

Very Berry Vegan Protein Shake

This smoothie is packed with protein, fiber, healthy fats, and phytonutrients probiotics, and can be taken for breakfast, but also to replace other meals. It counts 500 calories, 57g protein, 54g carbohydrates, 14g fiber, 11g fat.

  • 340ml of water
  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 2 cups frozen mixed berries
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat plain yogurt
  • 2 scoops of vanilla vegan protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon of walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

Strawberry and banana smoothie

Adding ground flax to this classic vegan protein shake provides extra fiber and heart-healthy omega-3 fats. It has 490 calories, 55g protein, 9g fat, 47g carbs, 11g fiber (represents using water as a fluid instead of milk or yogurt).

  • 340ml of water, milk or yoghurt
  • 2 scoops of vanilla or strawberry flavored vegan protein powder
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 2 tablespoons of ground flax

Chocolate cherry smoothie

Research suggests cherries may ease soreness after a workout, making this a perfect recovery smoothie, says St. Peter. We also suggest that chocolate tastes great, so make yourself a nice smoothie.

530 calories, 56g protein, 13g fat, 47g carbs, 9g fiber (this explains the use of water as a fluid instead of milk or yogurt).

  • 340ml of water, milk or yoghurt
  • 2 scoops chocolate flavored vegan protein powder
  • 2 cups dark sweet cherries, without pits
  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 1 tablespoon of walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon of ground flax
  • 1 tablespoon of cocoa tip or dark cocoa powder.