Best Plant Based Protein Powder Reviews / Comparison Chart


First, let’s get this out of the way: the best plant based protein powder for you may be completely different than me. Your age, activity level, health goals, pre-existing conditions, and hormones all play a part in determining the right powder for you.

Generally speaking though, there are two pieces of objective data we can use to evaluate “the best” protein powders: 1.) The ingredients, and 2.) The nutrition facts.

For this review, I analyzed the nutrition and ingredients for 20+ of the (supposedly) healthiest and best plant based / vegan protein powder brands.

If you currently use (or are looking to find) a healthy plant-based protein powder, I have some alarming news:

90 percent of plant based protein powders I analyzed (even the organic protein powder brands) have chemical additives, fillers, gums, and/or sugars.

If you want to find the best plant protein powders for your health, my reviews will reveal:

  • Why most whey and vegan protein powder brands are not what they say they are (and 5 questions you should always ask to find the cleanest and healthiest ones)
  • What several top health experts (including a world renowned cardiologist) look for when recommending protein powder
  • How 20+ of plant protein powders compare in terms of ingredients, nutrition, and cost.

This review is massive at 2500+ words … so I broke it up into three sections.

Scroll down or click/tap the the green and grey boxes below to navigate to each section.

 

Why Most Plant Based Protein Powder Brands Are BAD for Your Health

Protein manufacturers spend lots of dough to convince you their products are “clean” and healthy. I’m talking millions of dollars on marketing and fancy packaging with bogus health claims.

But fear not, because there’s an easy way to cut through their b.s. and find out if a protein shake is actually good for you. The first step:

Read and understand the nutrition facts and ingredients in your protein powder.

It’s the only objective piece of information you have to judge whether the ingredients are “clean” and “healthy” or not.

Here are 5 things to look for on the nutrition panel/ingredients list:

1. How many grams of sugar do you see?

Sugar is sugar. It all turns to fat in your body. Doesn’t matter if it’s from honey, maple syrup, molasses, or coconuts (although I do enjoy raw honey in moderation).

Bottom line:

Avoid all protein powders with more than 1 gram of sugar. Click To Tweet

2. Which artificial sweeteners do they use instead of real sugar?

A “clean” plant protein should definitely not contain chemical sugars like saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose anymore. But protein manufacturers are notorious for sneaking so-called “all-natural” sweeteners that may not be so good for you into their products. Here are a few to be wary of:

best vegan protein powder
Avoid these so-called “natural” sweeteners.
  • Xylitol is a cheap, processed “sugar alcohol” that can cause serious gut imbalances.
  • Monk fruit (luo han guo) is a popular sweetener many protein powder companies use. It’s commonly made using ethanol chemical resins and often contains GMO fillers.
  • Stevia. The stevia most protein companies use is chemically-derived and loaded with fillers. Organic stevia leaf extract is the cleanest … you just need to find out how it was processed (no bleaching!) and whether or not it has excipients (ask the manufacturer!).

Bottom line:

The best plant based protein blends use organic, real food ingredients and all-natural (or no) sweeteners … not GMO fillers and junk.

And again, 1 gram of total sugar should be your limit per serving.

3. What other highly-processed ingredients (flavors, gums, fillers, etc.) do they add?

Here are a few ingredients you’ll find in the majority of the so-called healthiest protein powders:

  • Natural flavors. Up to 90 percent of “natural” flavors have chemical solvents and preservatives. If you see them on the ingredients list, make sure you ask the manufacturer how they’re made and what’s in them.
  • Gums. Many so-called clean plant protein powders contain gums like carrageenan, guar, xanthan, locust bean, konjac, and acacia. Gums make vegetable protein products easier to mix and blend … but there are some reasons for concern with some of them. Many people report gut issues and certain gums have been shown in clinical studies to produce laxative effects, gas, and bloating. I recommend people with sensitive guts and GI issues avoid protein powders that have gums.
  • Lecithins. The most common way to make lecithins involves using a petroleum-based neurotoxin called hexane. Avoid powders with this cheap soy- and sunflower-based filler … or at the very least make sure it’s organic if your powder has it.
plant protein comparison chart
This is why it’s so hard to find a healthy protein powder–you have to cut through a lot of b.s. to find the hidden junk.

Bottom line:

Avoid vegan protein powder with flavors, gum, or lecithins if you have a sensitive gut. Click To Tweet

4. What types of protein do they use?

Whey has long been considered the gold standard for packing on muscle but it may come with a price. And it’s true: whey has a lot of clinical evidence that shows it’s a good source for those looking to improve body composition. However, whey protein brands like to talk up their efficacy without mentioning the possible side effects. And there are lots of them, according to the Mayo Clinic.

If whey works for you, that’s great. I recommend sticking with organic protein powder though.

Plant-based protein blends made from organic peas, rice, hemp, sacha inchi, cranberry and pumpkin seed are a better choice for those who want to avoid whey. Again, if the ingredients in your protein powder are not organic, chances are it’s sprayed with pesticides, and most of these powdered vegetable ingredients come from countries outside the U.S., where regulations may not be as strict.

Whether you choose a plant-based or animal protein like whey, pay a little more for organic. It’s worth it for the sake of your health.

Bottom line:

If your protein powder isn’t organic, you’re likely drinking chemical pesticides with that protein shake. Click To Tweet

5. How are their ingredients processed?

how is whey protein made
Whey protein processing–yuck

This is a tricky one because protein manufacturers rarely disclose this information. Most whey protein is made using a high heat, acid-flushed process.

Most companies that use vegetable proteins also use high temperature processing methods, and some even use hexane. These high-heat, chemical methods destroy vital nutrients in the plant.

A small handful of protein manufacturers will disclose how they make their proteins. Most won’t though. When in doubt, ask.

Bottom line:

Always ask the manufacturer how their proteins and other ingredients are processed. Click To Tweet

How to Find the Healthiest Protein Powders: What Health Experts Say

I asked several health and wellness gurus, “What’s your advice for finding the best plant based protein powder?

Here’s what they said:

Joel Kahn, M.D.

America’s Holistic Heart Doc, University Professor, Founder, The Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity

no whey
“I recommend clean plant-based protein powders to my patients and use them myself in a morning smoothie. When they ask me about whey my answer is “No Whey“!”

Michelle Crowder, N.D.

Licensed Naturopathic Physician

doctor recommended protein
“In general, I recommend that my patients look for real food ingredients in anything they purchase, and avoid ingredients like artificial colors and flavors, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils. If cane sugar or another refined sweetener is listed, it should be organic and one of the last ingredients listed. Look for organic, hormone-free, non-GMO products. Casein and soy tend to be more allergenic than other proteins and should be avoided in general.”

Carolyn Scott-Hamilton

TV Host & Media Personality, Celebrity Vegan Chef, Holistic Nutritionist

Carolyn-Scott-Hamilton
“For me, it must be vegan but after that I look for powders that aren’t full of fillers, sugars and extra junk. I love pure, clean powders that are non-GMO and I know how to pronounce the ingredients ; )”

Alisa Fleming

Founder, GoDairyFree

Alisa-Fleming
“Since protein powder can be a daily food, I think it’s important to be sure you are comfortable with every single ingredient. I may not be as particular about a “once in a blue moon” treat, but if it is going to be in my daily diet rotation, I want to make sure it doesn’t have any questionable ingredients.”

Myra Mingo

Founder, The Happy Health Freak

Myra-Mingo
“I look for vegan protein powders with very few ingredients, no soy or gluten and sweetened naturally without chemicals.”

Samantha Shorkey

Vegan Coach and WNBF Bikini Pro

vegetarian bodybuilder protein
“At this point in my vegan bodybuilding career, I like to think of myself as a connoisseur of the top vegan protein powders. I’ve literally tried ‘em ALL! The ones I tend to gravitate the most towards are of course, the ones that taste good, have a nice texture that isn’t too gummy, chalky or gritty and are high in protein but low in fats and carbs. I prefer to eat my calories rather than drink ‘em so texture and consistency is super important. I want my protein “pudding” to be creamy. I also try to avoid protein powders that are chalk full (no pun intended) of added sugars or fake sugars. Usually the natural sweetness of vanilla and cinnamon is enough for me (and better for staying lean.)”

Best Vegan / Vegetarian Protein Powder Reviews: Compare 20 Brands

Use this handy-dandy comparison chart to see some of the so-called best plant based protein powder and nutritional shake brands on the market.

All of these guys make claims about being “clean, “healthy” and “natural”. When you start to peel back the curtain though, you’ll see there’s a lot of hidden junk in pretty much all of most popular brands

best plant based protein powder

Click/tap the numbers below to skip to each section or just scroll down to compare 20 vegan / vegetarian protein brands.

1

Protein Sources

pure food protein

Organic fermented pea protein
Organic sprouted and fermented whole grain brown rice protein
Organic hemp protein

PlantFusion Chocolate Pea protein isolate, Artichoke protein, Organic sprouted amaranth, Organic sprouted quinoa
Vega Choc-a-Lot Pea protein, SaviSeed [sacha inchi]

protein, Hemp seed protein, Sprouted whole grain brown rice protein

Aloha Chocolate Organic pea protein, Organic pumpkin seed protein, Organic hemp seed protein
Skoop Chocolate Organic pea protein, Organic rice protein, Organic hemp protein
SunWarrior Warrior
Blend Chocolate
Whole grain brown rice protein
Orgain Organic Protein Powder – Chocolate Organic pea protein, organic brown rice protein, organic chia seed, organic hemp protein
Garden of Life Organic
Chocolate Protein
Organic sprouted brown rice protein
Sprout Living Pea protein isolate, Manitoba Harvest hemp protein powder, Rice protein concentrate
Lifetime Life’s Basics Pea protein concentrate, Organic brown rice protein concentrate
MRM Veggie Elite
Chocolate Mocha
Pea protein concentrate, Organic brown rice protein concentrate
Body Ecology Fermented
Chocolate Protein Shake
Pea protein, Mushroom protein blend
Healthforce Organic sprouted brown rice protein, Organic hemp protein
Kachava Organic sprouted brown rice protein, Organic hemp protein
Yuve Pea protein isolate, Rice protein concentrate
Philosophie Organic hemp seed protein, Organic reishi mushroom
Sann Pea protein isolate, Rice protein isolate, Artichoke protein
22 Days Nutrition Organic pea protein, Organic flax, Organic sacha inchi
Growing Naturals Chocolate
Power Rice Protein
Organic brown rice
Boku Organic brown rice, Organic cranberry
2

Calories, Protein, Sugar (g) Per Serving and Sweeteners Used

Calories

Protein

Sugar

best vegetarian powder
134
20
1

Organic stevia leaf powder

PlantFusion Chocolate
120
21
4
Fructose Stevia glucine
Vega Choc-a-Lot
90
15
2
Papaya concentrate powder Stevia leaf extract
Aloha Chocolate
150
18
4
Organic coconut sugar Monk fruit extract
Skoop Chocolate
150
20
1
Organic stevia extract Organic coconut sugar
SunWarrior Warrior
Blend Chocolate
100
16
0
Erythritol
Organic rice dextrins
Organic stevia extract
Orgain Organic Protein Powder – Chocolate
150
21
0
Organic stevia extract
Garden of Life Organic
Chocolate Protein
90
17
1
Organic stevia leaf
Sprout Living
110
19
1
Organic red banana
Organic baobab fruit
Organic stevia leaf powder
Lifetime Life’s Basics
134
22
5
Fructose Xylitol Stevia
MRM Veggie Elite Chocolate Mocha
130
24
0
Stevia extract Monk fruit extract
Body Ecology Fermented Chocolate Protein Shake
110
15
1
Stevia extract
Healthforce
100
17
2
Organic whole stevia leaf
Kachava
220
24
8
Erythritol Oligosaccharides Stevia
Yuve
155
16
2
Stevia leaf extract
Philosophie
55
10
0
Organic mesquite
Sann
116
21
1
Fructose Stevia
22 Days Nutrition
100
16
2
Organic stevia leaf extract
Growing Naturals Chocolate Power Rice Protein
120
25
3
Organic brown rice syrup solids Organic stevia
Boku
120
18
4
Vermont maple syrup Organic lucuma fruit
3

Free of Natural Flavors & Gums/Thickeners

FREE OF NATURAL
FLAVORS
FREE OF GUMS/
THICKENERS
PlantFusion Chocolate No (natural chocolate flavor) No (silica, xanthan gum)
Vega Choc-a-Lot No (natural chocolate flavor) No (xanthan gum)
Aloha Chocolate No (xanthan gum, organic sunflower lecithin)
Skoop Chocolate No (organic flavor, natural flavor) No (organic acacia gum)
SunWarrior Warrior
Blend Chocolate
No (organic chocolate flavor blend) No (organic guar gum)
Orgain Vegan
Protein Powder – Chocolate
No (natural flavor, organic natural flavors) No (organic guar gum, organic acacia gum, xanthan gum)
Garden of Life Organic
Chocolate Protein
No (natural chocolate flavor, natural vanilla flavor)
Sprout Living
Lifetime Life’s Basics No (natural chocolate flavor)
MRM Veggie Elite Chocolate Mocha No (natural chocolate mocha flavor) No (konjac gum, guar gum, tara gum)
Body Ecology Fermented Chocolate Protein Shake No (natural cocoa flavors with other natural flavors) No (natural cocoa flavors with other natural flavors)
Healthforce
Kachava No (natural chocolate flavors) No (alkalized cocoa, xanthan gum, guar gum)
Yuve No (natural flavors) No (corn starch powder, guar gum, xanthan gum)
Philosophie
Sann No (natural flavor) No (glycine, guar gum, lecithin)
22 Days Nutrition No (organic chocolate flavor) No (organic chocolate flavor)
Growing Naturals Chocolate
Power Rice Protein
No (organic flavor) No (organic guar gum, organic gum arabic, organic sunflower oil)
Boku No (organic guar gum)
4

100% Organic Ingredients, Probiotics Added and Cost Per Gram

100% Organic
Ingredients
Probiotics
Added
Cost Per
Gram ( $ )
protein powder review

Bacillus coagulans
0.06

Bacillus coagulans

0.06
PlantFusion Chocolate No No
0.04
Vega Choc-a-Lot No No
0.08
Aloha Chocolate No No
0.08
Skoop Chocolate
Lactobacillus plantarum
Lactobacillus bulgaricus
0.11
SunWarrior Warrior Blend Chocolate No
0.06
Orgain Organic Protein (Chocolate) No
0.02
Garden of Life Organic Chocolate Protein No
Bacillus subtilis
Lactobacillus bulgaricus
0.04
Sprout Living No
0.07
Lifetime Life’s Basics No No
0.04
MRM Veggie Elite Chocolate Mocha No No
0.03
Body Ecology Fermented Chocolate Protein Shake No
Lactobacillus, Saccharomy
ces, Bifidobacterium
longum
0.10
Healthforce No
0.06
Kachava No
Lactobacillus rhamnosus
Lactobacillus acidophilus
0.08
Yuve No No
0.08
Philosophie No
0.11
Sann No No
0.07
22 Days Nutrition No
0.11
Growing Naturals Chocolate Power Rice Protein No
0.06
Boku No No
0.09

Click Here to Download the Free PDF Version of This Chart!

*Note: I usually update this post at least once per month. However, if you see something that looks inaccurate or you’d like me to analyze and add another product, shoot me an email (Scott@purefoodcompany.com).

Final Thoughts: What Is The Best Plant Based Protein Powder?

“Best” is subjective and depends on your unique health goals and needs. If you value ingredients and nutrition over taste, my criteria for finding the healthiest protein powder for you are pretty simple:

1. Look for ingredients that are organic and come from whole food sources you can pronounce without any additives like fillers, gums, or flavors.

2. Research the amount of protein per serving, the protein sources, sugar content, and cost per serving in grams. 

Is Pure Food Protein a Good Fit for You?

Here’s me being (probably too) honest: if you’re looking for the best tasting plant protein powder, Pure Food isn’t it. We don’t add artificial junk and chemical-ridden flavors to make our product taste better.

But if you’re done settling for “average” protein powders and the junk ingredients that wreak havoc on your body and want to try a product that will actually have a positive impact on your health (and the world), then try

The HEALTHIEST plant protein with 100% real food, organic, vegan ingredients + probiotics. 

Not only does Pure Food have the best ingredients, it’s the best value for the money at $.06/gram (the same price as Vega, which is NOT organic and has all types of fillers, additives, and “natural” flavors).

Find Out If Pure Food Is Right for You

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23 thoughts on “Best Plant Based Protein Powder Reviews / Comparison Chart

  1. Scott (Founder, Pure Food Company) says:

    Now makes some solid products, Tommy. This post is more centered around flavored powders. Now’s plain pea protein powder is decent. The pea protein we use in Pure Food is a bit smoother in texture … but I definitely use a lot of Now products myself.

  2. Scott (Founder, Pure Food Company) says:

    Call me biased, Terence, but Pure Food Protein sounds right up your alley if you’re looking for clean, healthy ingredients.

    • Scott Christ says:

      Nope, I didn’t say stevia was junk … I said the “stevia” most companies use has GMOs, fillers, and other junk and contains more than just stevia leaf extract. Organic stevia extract is as clean and natural as it gets when it comes to zero calorie sweeteners. I used to use organic whole leaf stevia powder but for some reason the FDA has still not approved the actual plant … just the extract version (go figure).

  3. Diana says:

    I am surprised that Fermented Vegan protein from Genuine Health is not on your list. Any particular reason for that? I know it is not ALL organic, but a lot of ingredients are. Also, it’s certified NonGMO and has no sugar and is only lightly sweetened stevia leaf extract. The list of ingredients other than the protein is super short and does not seem to be concerning to (to me at least). I personally use the Vanilla and I love it.

    • Scott Christ says:

      I’ll add the one from Genuine Health. I like a lot of the ingredients. The protein blend is fantastic. Not a huge fan of the flavors and xanthan gum.

    • Scott Christ says:

      Yes, but show your doctor the ingredients to be on the safe side…everyone is different. My wife is pregnant and uses regularly.

  4. Joy says:

    Hey! Just wondering about your Vega recommendation. I see it in the list but then further down I notice, you compare it to pure food saying it’s “the same price as Vega, which is NOT organic and has all types of fillers, additives, and “natural” flavors). So is Vega good or bad? Thanks!

  5. Debbe Laszlo says:

    What is your opinion of Organifi. they seem to be pure as well and they have an awesome minty green juice. They are quite pricey though. Just curious. I couldn’t see spending $80 not including tax and shipping which can to $100 I just couldn’t justify the cost for their protein shakes. Is yours replacement meal as well? Curiosity got me.

    • Scott Christ says:

      I like their protein blends and digestive enzymes and the fact that all their ingredients are organic. But $80 is a little much, in my opinion. Ours is not a true meal replacement because it’s not high enough in calories. We’ll be launching a meal replacement powder soon.

  6. Heather Ramsay says:

    I’m really excited about this product and just ordered my first bag. I was using JuicePlus Complete then became ‘freaked out’ when really looking into ingredients plus I was spending so much $ and it wasn’t even an organic product. I switched to Garden of Life Raw Meal. I really wanted to love it but- TMI- it gave me the worst constipation in years! I’m a very clean eater so I narrowed it down to that protein powder. In your option, is constipation going to be an issue with this? I would love some peace of mind. I do use these kinds of drinks for breakfast and lunch due to conveince with my work schedule. FYI I do drink lots of water.

    • Scott Christ says:

      Hi Heather – I’ve never heard a single customer complain about constipation with our products … probably due to the fiber content. Hopefully you’re not the first. 😉

  7. Scott Christ says:

    Thank you, Walter! The sodium comes mainly from the peas. We don’t add any. I’m considering a rice-free, stevia-free version of the protein.

  8. Nicola says:

    Hello,
    I am new to protein powders- am trying a healthier lifestyle with regular meals. Been making a protein shake for breakfast (lactose, whey and eggs intolerant- hence the vegan protein powder breakfast idea) Using Orgain Organic meal- what are your thoughts on this product?
    Unfortunately been suffering 3 weeks in with terrible bloating and gas, which have linked to the protein shake. Any idea why this would happen?

      • Nicola says:

        Thanks for the reply- I am considering two Canadian bought brands- Perfect protein- Botanica and Ironvegan-sprouted protein- any feedback on these two?

  9. Michael says:

    I’m one of those weird folk that find stevia to have an extremely unpleasant aftertaste. Do you know anyone else like this that use the product and if so, what do they say about that aftertaste presence in your powder?

    • Scott Christ says:

      Hey Michael – we get a lot of folks who aren’t into stevia and are considering a stevia-free plain version. We definitely don’t use a lot in our current products … it’s less sweet than most powders, and this was deliberate!

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