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, we 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, here’s some bad news:
99 percent of plant based protein powders we analyzed (even the “best” organic protein powder brands) have chemical additives, fillers, gums, and/or sugars.
If you want to find the ideal plant protein powders for your health, our 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).
- Why most vegan protein powder reviews you find online are biased.
- What several top health experts (including a world renowned cardiologist) look for in their protein powders.
- How 20+ of plant protein powders compare in terms of ingredients, nutrition, and cost.
This review is massive at 2,800+ words … so we broke it up into three sections. Scroll down or click/tap the green and grey boxes below to navigate to each section.
Note: We do sell our own organic plant-based protein powders, which of course means we’re biased. That’s why these reviews are NOT based on subjective criteria like taste; rather, we will look at how our products compare to the competition when it comes to:
- Protein Sources
- Nutrition (calories, protein, and sugar per serving; sweeteners used)
- Ingredients (gums, flavors, fillers used; organic ingredients)
- Cost Per Gram of Protein
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. We’re 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 added sugars.
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:
- 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 junk fillers. Organic monkfruit extract that doesn’t contain extra fillers is a good sugar-free sweetener (the taste can be extremely bitter when companies use too much though, which is often the case).
- Stevia. The stevia most protein companies use is chemically-derived and loaded with fillers. Organic stevia leaf extract is the healthiest option when it comes to stevia.
The best plant based protein blends use organic, real food ingredients and all-natural (or no) sweeteners … not 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.
Bottom line: Avoid vegan protein powder with flavors, gum, or lecithins if you have a sensitive gut.
4. What types of protein do they use?
Whey has long been considered the gold standard for packing on muscle.
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 for many folks.
If whey works for you, that’s great. Regardless of whether you choose a whey or plant protein, I recommend sticking with a protein powder with organic ingredients though.
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.
5. How are their ingredients processed?
This is a tricky one because protein manufacturers rarely disclose this information.
Most whey protein is made using a high heat, acid-flushed process. Many companies that use plant-based / vegetable proteins also use high temperature processing methods, and some even use hexane.
These high-heat, chemical methods destroy vital nutrients in the plant and are definitely not things you want to be ingesting.
A small handful of protein manufacturers will disclose how they make their proteins. Most won’t though. When in doubt, ask. If they don’t know or don’t tell you, this is a big red flag.
Bottom line: Always ask the manufacturer how their proteins and other ingredients are processed.
Why Most Vegan Protein Powder Reviews You Find Online Are Unreliable
Most plant protein reviews you see online have a vested interest in selling more products.
If you visit the manufacturer websites, you’ll see a cherry-picked selection of 5-star reviews. But these don’t tell the whole story.
Amazon used to be a good source of unbiased reviews. But companies have figured out how to manipulate these and reward consumers for buying their product and leaving a good review, so these aren’t the best source of unbiased information anymore either.
As a consumer, it’s up to you to review the ingredients, the nutrition facts, and the company to judge for yourself if it’s worth your investment. It’s no easy feat, and most people just don’t have the time to do the level of research required to make sure you’re not getting a tub full of junk ingredients from China.
So with that in mind, let’s talk about how some health experts choose their vegan protein powders …
How to Find the Best Protein Powders: What Health Experts Say
I asked several health and wellness gurus, “What are the top things you advise people to look for when choosing protein powders?” Here’s what they said:
America’s Holistic Heart Doc, University Professor, Founder, The Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity
“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“!”
Licensed Naturopathic Physician
“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.”
TV Host & Media Personality, Celebrity Vegan Chef, Holistic Nutritionist
“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 ; )”
“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.”
Founder, The Happy Health Freak
“I look for vegan protein powders with very few ingredients, no soy or gluten and sweetened naturally without chemicals.”
Vegan Coach and WNBF Bikini Pro
“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 our plant protein comparison chart to see some of the best 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
Click/tap the numbers below to skip to each section or just scroll down to compare 20 vegan / vegetarian protein brands.
|PlantFusion Chocolate||Pea protein isolate, artichoke protein, organic sprouted amaranth, organic sprouted quinoa|
|Vega One||Pea protein, sunflower seed protein, pumpkin seed 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||Organic pea protein, organic hemp 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, 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|
Calories, Protein, Sugar (g) Per Serving and Sweeteners Used
|Vega One Chocolate|
|Stevia leaf extract|
|Organic coconut sugar Monk fruit extract|
|Organic stevia extract Organic coconut sugar|
|SunWarrior Warrior Blend Chocolate|
|Erythritol Organic rice dextrins Organic stevia extract|
|Orgain Organic Protein Powder – Chocolate|
|Organic stevia extract|
|Garden of Life Organic Chocolate Protein|
|Organic stevia leaf|
|Organic red banana Organic baobab fruit Organic stevia leaf powder|
|Lifetime Life’s Basics|
|Fructose Xylitol Stevia|
|MRM Veggie Elite Chocolate Mocha|
|Stevia extract Monk fruit extract|
|Body Ecology Fermented Chocolate Protein Shake|
|Organic whole stevia leaf|
|Erythritol Oligosaccharides Stevia|
|Stevia leaf extract|
|22 Days Nutrition|
|Organic stevia leaf extract|
|Growing Naturals Chocolate Power Rice Protein|
|Organic brown rice syrup solids Organic stevia|
|Vermont maple syrup Organic lucuma fruit|
Free of Natural Flavors & Gums/Thickeners
|PlantFusion Chocolate||No (natural chocolate ﬂavor)||No (silica, xanthan gum)|
|Vega One Chocolate||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)|
|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)|
|Kachava||No (natural chocolate ﬂavors)||No (alkalized cocoa, xanthan gum, guar gum)|
|Yuve||No (natural ﬂavors)||No (corn starch powder, guar gum, xanthan gum)|
|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)|
Organic Ingredients, Probiotics Added and Cost Per Gram
|Vega One Chocolate||No||No|
|Skoop Chocolate||Lactobacillus plantarum Lactobacillus bulgaricus|
|SunWarrior Warrior Blend Chocolate||No|
|Orgain Organic Protein (Chocolate)||No|
|Garden of Life Organic Chocolate Protein||No||Bacillus subtilis Lactobacillus bulgaricus|
|Lifetime Life’s Basics||No||No|
|MRM Veggie Elite Chocolate Mocha||No||No|
|Body Ecology Fermented Chocolate Protein Shake||No||Lactobacillus, Saccharomy ces, Biﬁdobacterium longum|
|Kachava||No||Lactobacillus rhamnosus Lactobacillus acidophilus|
|22 Days Nutrition||No|
|Growing Naturals Chocolate Power Rice Protein||No|
*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. Find out 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 sugar, 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).
40 thoughts on “Best Plant Based Protein Powder Reviews / Comparison Chart”
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.
Call me biased, Terence, but Pure Food Protein sounds right up your alley if you’re looking for clean, healthy ingredients.
You say stevia is junk but it’s in your ingredient as”organic stevia
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).
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.
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.
Is this safe to use during pregnancy?
Yes, but show your doctor the ingredients to be on the safe side…everyone is different. My wife is pregnant and uses regularly.
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!
Hi Joy – I definitely wouldn’t classify Vega as “bad.” In my opinion, there are better/cleaner powders though, if that’s something that’s important to you. Here’s my full write-up on it: https://purefoodcompany.com/vega-protein-reviews/
Please give me your prices for organic plant based protein.
Hi Lucy – Pure Food organic protein powder is $39.99/bag, or $31.99 if you sign up for our Subscribe & Save program. You can also sign up for our email newsletter to get additional coupons and recipes to save you a few extra bucks: https://purefoodcompany.com/join/
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.
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.
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.
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. 😉
Thanks so much! Delivery says it will be here Tuesday!! ????????????
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.
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?
Not a huge fan, Nicola. It has gums and sugar alcohols that could be causing the bloating/gas.
Thanks for the reply- I am considering two Canadian bought brands- Perfect protein- Botanica and Ironvegan-sprouted protein- any feedback on these two?
What about ProPlant chocolate?
Aloha, Just saw the on-line advertisement on ProPlant Complete. Is it true or fake?
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?
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!
Do you have powders without Probiotics? Everything looks great except we are trying to play it as safe as possible using a probiotic geared towards autism.
It seems GutPro left Bacillus out of their “extra” safe blend because it produces spores – https://organic3.com/supplements/probiotics/gutpro/
Not at the moment, James, but I’m finalizing a new meal replacement product that doesn’t have probiotics. Should be ready in 6-8 weeks.
How do you feel about Vegan Pure powders???
Also, the ‘clean label project’ tested Vega’s powders and did r know that they are high in mercury and Lead?
Solid protein blend, good probiotic and greens blend…but then there’s those “other ingredients”: natural flavor, gums, etc. Ingredients aren’t organic either, which is a concern.
All plant protein powders have heavy metals but yes, Vega’s appear to be higher than most. Read more here
Hello I’d love to see a review/analysis on VIVO Life Perform protein. Have you heard of it/tried it? They claim to have
100% organic ingredients, tested for heavy metals and cold-pressed hemp protein. I currently take this as a gym supplement. Im over all satisfied with it except that it seems to make me gassy/bloated if i consume it too often, as in every day for example.
I like a lot of the ingredients I see, Ismael (particularly the enzymes, BCAAs, and reishi). Sometimes too much hemp or pea protein can cause gas/bloating in some people, and while I like both plant protein sources and use those in our products, it usually takes a 3rd protein to create a PDCAA score of 1.0 (which means better digestibility). Don’t love that they use natural flavors but other than that this product looks pretty good to me.
Which one do you recommend that is gluten, sugar, chemical and artificial flavors fee?
Pure Food, Sprout Living, or Healthforce Nutritionals.
GREAT thorough breakdown, I agree with most everything you’ve written here! I can’t stand how natural flavors get a health halo in so many “clean” food products when in reality, one has no way of knowing what sort of synthetic chemicals they contain. Question: what are your thoughts on thaumatin as a sweetener? From what I know, it is a protein isolated from a fruit, but there is very little information online about it…
Honestly, this is the first I’ve heard of thaumatin so I don’t have enough information to give you a great answer. The biggest questions I usually have with any sweeteners are 1.) How is it extracted, and 2.) What else is added? I would ask any manufacturer who uses it these questions.
Vega is on this list but it has been found to contain dangerously high amounts of lead and other harmful ingredients
How about Nutrilite? It is made from Soy Protein Isolates and contains Lecithins
How much organic guar gum and xanthan is in each serving?
Does Gundry’s plant protein powder have any merit compared to your study? I’m O+ blood type
I wanted to try Tony Horton’s plant Base Protein from Power Life; they recommends 3 months for best results. So I bought 3 months of product. To my surprise, all the packages I received were manufactured in November 2021, almost a year ago! I called to ask to replace them for newer and fresher ones, and they told me I still had a year to go, and within these years the product would start to lose its properties. I asked where I could find that information and they told me there was nowhere to find it. There is no expiration date on the product nor on your website. When you buy a perishable product, you EXPECT it to be FRESH, not a year old. It has a cardboard taste!