Vegan and protein? I bet you don’t hear those two words used together often. Vegans need protein too, but where do they get it from? That’s where plant-based organic protein powder comes in. Vegan protein powder is a plant-based protein that is free from allergens or other sensitive ingredients. It is the perfect alternative source of natural and healthy raw organic proteins for vegetarians or anyone lactose intolerant. Although it is an excellent alternative for vegans, it can be included in anyone's diet and is highly recommended.
More and more people are turning to vegan protein powder because it suits their lifestyle and still provides a healthy high-quality protein source. Vegan protein powder is a welcome addition to any diet, whether it’s for vegans as the main source of protein intake or to enhance a varied diet that includes both animal and plant-based protein. Think of it as an organic protein powder that can act as a high protein meal replacement that's dairy-free.
But animal protein and organic plant protein can’t possibly be the same right? Wrong! Protein is protein, so both sources are perfectly fine and will function the same. Plant protein powder can answer all your needs so it comes down to your preferences and diet choices. (study, Babault)
How is vegan protein made?
Each plant-based protein is processed differently and comes with different benefits so it’s easy to get lost in this world of plant proteins.
There are about 11 different types of vegan powders:
- Brown rice
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Sacha inchi
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Plant blends
I don’t want to bombard you with information so let's just go through the 4 most common vegan protein powders and get a better understanding because not all proteins are created equal.
Four best vegan protein powders
1 - Pea protein powder
Organic pea protein is extracted from yellow split peas (Pisum sativum), a high fiber legume that’s vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, and free of many other allergens. Unlike other proteins, the pea is a complete protein source with all 9 essential amino acids but lower in methionine. That means you'll be getting all the necessary BCAAs in one serving! Organic pea protein can be considered a whole food because it is so minimally processed and it's non-GMO. Also if you care about the environment then you'll also be glad to know that, peas are nitrogen-fixing plants so this helps with fertilization for future crops. This is truly a clean protein source from beginning to end. (study, Perchlik)
How’s it made?
Peas are a very clean protein that undergoes minimal processing. They go through mechanical processing compared to typical chemical processing. The peas are cleaned, dehulled, milled, grounded into flour, and then soaked in saline solution to extract the protein from the starches. This process is what separates the protein and gives a clean and pure pea protein. There are no chemicals or artificial fillers used throughout the process, so it ends up as pure unflavored and unsweetened raw organic goodness.
Dehulling and milling are just mechanical processes that remove the hull of the seed and work to give us concentrated protein without high fat or carbohydrates.
Benefits of pea protein powder
Peas are packed with nutrients and well absorbed into the body. It provides all amino acids needed for the body with high digestibility because of additional soluble fiber nutrition. It provides nutrients beyond protein and can keep you full longer. Pea protein has been studied against whey protein and the results are the same. This means plant-based protein can equally help muscle recovery and growth just as well as animal-based. (study, Banaszek)
Nutrition varies between different brands, but a simple example is Naked Nutrition Pea protein powder that comes unflavored and unsweetened.
A typical serving of 30g
- 27g of protein
- 120 calories
- 2g of carbs
- 0.5g of fat
Pea protein is an exceptional protein that is great for digestion, aiding in muscle growth and is compatible with all diets. Naked Nutrition's pea protein comes unflavored and unsweetened. It has a chalky sandy aftertaste that can be mixed with other sweeteners and flavors.
2 - Soy protein powder
Another popular form of vegan protein is soybeans. Soybeans are legumes that contain no cholesterol and low saturated fats. The protein isolated from soybeans contains all essential amino acids and a great source of fiber, iron, calcium, zinc, and B vitamins. It is a nutrient-packed protein that works with all diets except anyone with a soy allergy. (study, Montgomery)
How’s it made?
First soybean protein is isolated from soybean or soybean meal. Soybean meal is usually made by dehulling and defatting soybeans for isolation.
Dehulling is a process where the outer layer of soybean flakes are removed so it can be further processed into vegan protein powder. Defatted soybeans mean removing fatty acids from the soybean flakes and this is done by washing the flakes in alcohol or water.
After all these steps it’s dehydrated and turned into a powder.
Benefits of soy protein powder
Soy is another excellent plant-based protein that is rich in nutrients. It is one of the few vegan proteins that contain all the essential amino acids. There have been fears that consuming too many soy products can be bad because it may increase estrogen levels, but studies have shown this is not the case. (study, Hamilton-Reeves) Also, soy protein has been tested against whey products, showing that it works just as effectively. (study, DeNysschen)
Nutrition varies between different brands, but a simple example is Bob's Red Mill soy protein powder.
A typical serving of 20g
- 17g of protein
- 80 calories
- 1g of fat
Soy protein is a solid protein that serves 17 grams of protein per serving and other healthy nutrients. That's about 85% protein content for such a little bean! It has been tested and proven to be an effective supplement that has a complete amino acid profile. Soybeans are great for any diet and a solid alternative for anyone with restrictions, except anyone with soy allergies. Be careful of genetically engineered soybeans and do your research before purchasing a brand’s soy protein powder.
3 - Brown rice protein powder
That’s right brown rice protein is a thing. Believe it or not, brown rice contains a decent amount of protein and it’s equally effective as whey protein. A healthy alternative that avoids dairy and can improve liver and heart function. Brown rice is packed with antioxidants and nutrients that will promote muscle growth and weight loss. While it is a complete protein source, it’s lower in amino acid lysine so it’s commonly combined with other plant proteins for the superior blend. (study, Kalman)
How’s it made?
Brown rice is treated with enzymes that cause the proteins and carbohydrates to separate. The protein is isolated and turned into a powder. The resulting ingredient is a healthy, plant-based vegan powder.
Benefits of brown rice protein powder
Like all plant proteins, brown rice is no different! It’s another high-quality protein that comes loaded with additional health benefits. It is just as effective as whey or casein powder when it comes to protein supplementation on muscle growth and exercise performance. (study, Joy)
Nutrition varies between different brands, but a simple example is Myprotein’s Brown Rice Protein.
A typical serving of 25g
- 24g of protein
- 110 calories
- 3g of carbs
- 2g of dietary fibers
- 0 grams of sugar
Brown rice protein is an excellent supplement that comes with many health benefits. It’s a proven nutrient that’s perfect for any diet. Myprotein's protein uses a natural sweetener in stevia and combined with a vanilla flavor.
4 - Hemp protein powder
Hemp seeds are considered a superfood because of their rich nutrient profile and high-quality protein. They’re extracted from shelled seeds of the hemp plant, Cannabis Sativa, but very very low in the chemicals that give marijuana its psychoactive properties. Hemp seeds are a complete source of protein with high amounts of arginine. It boasts a high digestibility and a great addition to any diet. (study, Callaway)
How’s it made?
The first stage of protein processing is grounding up the hemp seeds. Afterward, the seeds are squeezed to extract the oil (fat content). Afterward, there’ll be a hemp seed cake that gets milled and turned into a powder. The powder gets sifted into hemp flour, which is high in fiber and low in protein. Lastly hemp flour is filtered further to remove the fiber content and leave us with a high concentration of protein powder that’s rich in minerals and vitamins.
Benefits of vegan protein powder
Hemp seed is a superfood and will provide loads of nutritional benefits in any diet. It’s plant-based and will fit any diet. It is packed with fiber and will help any high protein diet or even when combined with whey because that contains zero fiber. This nutrient-dense protein is excellent for muscle recovery and growth. (study, Leizer)
Nutrition varies between different brands, but a simple example is Nutiva's Organic Hemp Seed protein powder.
A typical serving of 30g
- 15g of protein
- 90 calories
- 3g of fat
- 9g of carbs
- 8g of dietary fiber
Hemp protein is a natural superfood with an amazing 8 grams of fiber per serving. It’s simple and effective for increasing daily protein intake while getting more fiber and antioxidants in your diet. It is high in fat so know how your body will react before consuming large amounts. Nutivia's hemp seed protein powder comes in delicious chocolate and vanilla flavor.
Which plant protein is for me?
Each plant protein can be for you because of how nutritious it is. Anyone can be applied to your diet and improve your health. Hopefully, this chart will further illustrate the differences between each plant and help you decide!
After seeing this chart, I hope it gives you a general idea of each plant protein. Remember that you don't have to stick to one type and the best vegan protein powder is a blend of them all. A great example of a plant protein blend is Orgain Organic Protein Plant-based Protein powder. They have a formulated blend of pea, brown rice, and chia seed protein. It comes in a variety of flavors, such as vanilla bean and peanut butter.
Benefits of plant-based protein
Whey protein powder has always been the gold standard for protein powder, but now you know this simply isn’t true. Vegan protein powder works just as well when it comes to supplementing your diet whether it’s for fitness or health. It promotes muscle growth and recovery while being lower in calories and fats.
Vegan protein powder offers its unique benefits besides protein and has a wide range of health benefits. Health benefits can range, but some notable ones are health, brain health, weight loss, muscle growth, diabetes, hypertension, and that’s just naming a few! (study, Hever).
For many people, plant-based protein is a no brainer because it fits their diet. Plant protein is free of allergens or sensitive ingredients. It is free of antibiotics, hormones, and drugs that are usually given to cows. Now you can skip out on animal products without missing out on protein! Vegan protein also causes less bloating and digestive issues because it’s packed with soluble fibers. Whether you consume animal products or not, this is an excellent and superb addition to any diet. (study, Hoffman)
Even if you don't want to fully convert to plant-based protein, you can create a blend of both whey and plant protein. This way you can get your all-in-one protein shake. Cycling between plant and whey protein can decrease caloric intake and boost daily nutrient consumption! (study, Lynch)
Men vs women?
Vegan protein powder is safe and effective for anyone and everyone. Seriously everyone should be taking and consuming it. There are no known side effects that will affect men or women negatively. There are only positives when talking about vegan protein powder and there should be no stigma associated with protein powder for men or women. It’s going to provide high-quality protein and loads of nutrients to help the body stay healthy and happy. If you don’t believe me, then try incorporating it to your protein shakes or smoothies. What’s the worst that can happen? (study, Kahleova)