As I found out first hand, most vegan protein powders taste like dirt.
Some even have loads of sugar and still taste bad.
But I knew there had to some great protein powders out there, so I set out to find the best tasting vegan protein powder on my own.
In total, I spent over 6 months buying, testing, and reviewing as many popular vegan powders as I could find. As of now, I’ve tested 23.
If you don’t have the time to read this whole page of results, here are the best products in each main category
- Best Tasting Overall (and Best Without Stevia): Nuzest Clean Lean Pea Protein tastes fantastic, and uses the natural sweetener thaumatin instead of stevia, which actually tastes better. It has a simple ingredient list, high protein content, and mixes well. The only downside is that it’s the most expensive one I tried. PlantFusion is a close runner-up when it comes to taste, and is more affordable.
- Best Overall Value: PlantFusion is the best vegan protein powder of 2019 based on all my testing when it comes to overall value. It tastes great, has very little sugar, and is relatively cheap. I’ll be buying this myself in the future.
- Best on a Budget: NOW Sports Pea Protein is as cheap as they come, has a high protein content, and tastes decent.
- Best For Weight Loss and Bodybuilding: True Nutrition Vegan Lean has the highest ratio of protein to total calories. It also tastes and mixes better than most of the powders I tried.
- Best Organic: Orgain Organic Powder is the best organic vegan protein powder, although mainly because most of the other organic options were terrible. It’s cheaper than average, and tastes pretty good.
- Best in Canada: Canadian Protein All Natural Blend is a great option for any fellow Canadian vegans. It’s the best cheap option in Canada, and still tastes pretty good.
Of the 23 I tested, here are the top 10 from best to worst, I’ve tried to point out the main differences between them.
(Best Tasting Overall)
Per serving: 90 calories | 20g protein | 2g carbs (0g sugar, <1g fiber)
In terms of the product itself, Nuzest is the best vegan protein powder I’ve tried. The only issue is that it’s also the most expensive one.
There are a few unique aspects of Nuzest.:
- The pea protein is sourced from Europe, unlike China where most other companies get theirs
- It’s sweetened with thaumatin, a natural sweetener with a much better taste than stevia in my opinion. It’s one of your few options if you’d like to avoid stevia
- It’s about as good as a vegan protein shake can taste, and it does so without adding a ton of sugar or filler ingredients
Nuzest mixes well, and it has a smooth, slightly foamy texture. Most important of all, the flavor is fantastic, whereas the other top scoring powders on this page taste a bit off, mainly because they use stevia.
Overall, Nuzest is a really good option if product quality is your biggest concern. But if cost is a factor, as it usually is, you can get more value from other options.
Per serving: 120 calories | 25g protein | 2g carbs (0g sugar, <1g fiber)
PlantFusion is the best overall vegan protein powder as far as I’m concerned.
It’s relatively affordable, has a high ratio of protein to calories, and mixes perfectly.
Here’s a quick video with a side-by-side comparison of the smoothness of the powder of KOS (left) and PlantFusion (right) that shows why PlantFusion mixes so well.
As far as taste goes, here are my main thoughts:
- Great taste, and no weird aftertaste.
- Very smooth (the grains seem much smaller than other powders).
- A bit frothy (but in a way I enjoyed).
I tried to think of any negatives, but came up blank.
If you’ve hated the taste of other plant-based protein powders, I’d highly recommend PlantFusion.
It’s been a while, but I think it was better than any whey protein that I had in the past.
(Best Tasting for Weight Loss)
Per serving: 117 calories | 23g protein | 2.6g carbs (0.1g sugar, 2.1g fiber)
If you’re trying to lose weight, you want a protein powder supplement with as high of a protein content as possible, and as few calories from fats and carbohydrates.
Of the protein powders that actually taste good, True Nutrition Vegan Lean has the highest ratio of protein to calories.
Overall, it tastes great:
- Very light (frothy)
- Good flavor
- Mixed well.
The one issue I had with it was that there was a bit of a chalky taste and aftertaste. Not very much of one, but enough that it’s worse than the top 2 powders.
(Best Tasting in Canada)
Per serving: 126 calories | 21g protein | 6g carbs (3g sugar, 2g fiber)
This is unfortunately only available to Canadians, but it tastes great, and is very affordable. You can buy in bulk to save even more.
It mixes well, and the flavor is good, but there were 2 issues that stood out:
- The stevia sweetness is a bit strong
- There’s a small amount of chalkiness.
Neither are major issues, and I still drink it on a regular basis.
(Best Tasting on a Budget)
Per serving: 120 calories | 20g protein | 1g carbs (0g sugar, 0g fiber)
NOW Sports’ Pea protein is as basic as it can get. The unflavored version only contains yellow pea protein isolate and nothing else.
As such, it’s protein to calories ratio is about as good as possible.
It does have a bit of a taste and smell, but not much of one, and it mixes better than average. I wouldn’t particularly recommend drinking it by itself in water, but I enjoyed cooking with it and putting it in smoothies (it barely affects the taste).
6. Vega Protein and Greens
Per serving: 120 calories | 20g protein | 6g carbs (1g sugar, 2g fiber)
Vega is easy to find pretty much no matter where you live. Protein and Greens is one of 3 products from them that I reviewed.
I chose to get the chocolate flavor here, which is typically my favorite flavor.
Overall, it was very good, just not amazing.
- Good flavor
- Great texture (almost felt like a milkshake)
- Little bit chalky
- A bit of a chocolate aftertaste
Both these cons are common in plant-based powders, to varying degrees. In this case, they were noticeable, but not terrible compared to others.
7. Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder
(Best Tasting Organic Powder)
Per serving: 150 calories | 21g protein | 15g carbs (0g sugar, 7g fiber)
Orgain features a mix of pea protein, brown rice protein, and chia seed protein.
It’s about as good as you’re going to get for an organic powder, most are just terrible.
The flavor is actually quite good.
But there’s 2 issues. First, there’s quite a bit of chalkiness. Second, there’s a significant (not too bad) aftertaste.
8. Naturade VeganSmart
(Best Tasting and Digestible)
Per serving: 160 calories | 20g protein | 14g carbs ( 4g sugar, 6g fiber)
A few things stood out with VeganSmart:
- Good texture, not very chalky at all.
- Bit of a bland flavor, but decent.
- A small aftertaste.
It’s fairly easy to drink, but I wouldn’t exactly say it’s a pleasure.
The real draw of VeganSmart is clear when you see its ingredients:
- Complete Protein Blend – Pea Protein Isolate, Quinoa Protein, Chia Protein, Potato Protein, Chlorella Protein
- Fiber & Omega Blend – Inulin, Flax Seed Powder, Bamboo Fiber, Pea Fiber, Apple Fruit Fiber, Borage Oil
- Vegan Energy Blend – Organic Cane Sugar, Sunflower Oil, Medium Chain Triglycerides, Organic Rice Syrup Solids
- Whole Food Complex – Apricot, Mango, Raspberry, Carrot Root, Pineapple, Broccoli, Cabbage Leaf, Beet Root, Spinach Leaf
- Digestive Enzyme Blend – Bromelain, Protease, Amylase, Lipase
- Prebiotics – Aloe Vera Inner Leaf
- Other – Natural Flavors, Organic Stevia, Xanthan Gum
The prebiotics and digestive enzymes should help you digest your shakes better and hopefully minimize bloating and gas.
9. Vega Sport
(Easiest to Find)
Per serving: 170 calories | 30g protein | 5g carbs (1g sugar, 1g fiber)
Vega Sport is the only vegan protein powder that I see in grocery stores here in Canada all the time.
This was the first Vega product that I tried, and honestly I came into it a bit biased against Vega because they always seemed too expensive.
However, it actually tasted really good.
I tried both the chocolate and mocha flavors. Personally I liked the mocha best (despite not being a coffee drinker), but both were good.
The flavor was great, but it suffered from the same issues that Protein and Greens (just above) has: a significant amount of chalkiness, and a bit of an aftertaste.
Overall, it’s still very good relative to the competition, but not perfect.
10. ON Gold Standard Plant
(Decent Organic Option)
Per serving: 150 calories | 24g protein | 7g carbs (1g sugar, 2g fiber)
I was excited to try Optimum Nutrition’s first plant-based protein, but was a bit disappointed with the result.
Two things in particular stood out:
- The texture was very “grainy” (a bit different than chalky). It’s not terrible, just a bit unpleasant.
- The aftertaste is reasonably strong.
The flavor by itself was okay, but not great.
Overall it just tasted very average.
So while it’s a decent shake, especially for an organic option, it’s nothing amazing. That’s why I decided to end the list here at 10 protein powders. The other 13 I tried were all worse.
Results: The Vegan Protein Powder Comparison Table
The data in this comparison table is the result of all my testing.
Click on the arrow icon on any of the headers to sort by that specific score.
|Name||Nutrition (/25)||Price (/25)||Mixing (/25)||Taste (/25)||Overall (/100)|
|True Nutrition Vegan Lean||24||12||22||22||80|
|Canadian Protein Blend||19||19||22||20||80|
|NOW Sports Pea Protein||22||23||19||15||79|
|Vega Protein and Greens||19||17||22||20||78|
|MRM Veggie Elite||21||21||25||10||77|
|Nuzest Clean Lean||25||0||25||25||75|
|Leanfit Complete Green||19||13||22||20||74|
|ON Gold Standard||18||13||22||15||68|
|True Nutrition Vegan Optimizer||22||14||12||18||66|
|Sunwarrior Warrior Blend||21||10||16||17||64|
|Garden of Life Raw Fit||18||16||6||15||55|
|MRM Veggie Protein||16||20||0||0||36|
|Vega One All-in-one||13||5||6||5||29|
Common Questions About Vegan Protein Powder
How do you make vegan protein powder taste better?
The key to making your shakes taste as good as possible is to make them mix well, otherwise you’ll have clumps that typically taste gross.
After a lot of testing, I’ve learned how to mix powders as well as possible:
- Shake it for at least 30 seconds, more is better
- Use room temperature liquid instead of cold liquid
- Water often dissolves protein powder better than non-dairy milk
- Put the liquid in FIRST, then the powder (makes a big difference, don’t know why)
- Use a blender or a shaker bottle with a metal (not plastic) mixer
What Sources Are Vegan Protein Powders Made Of?
Long story short, the most common protein sources in the products I tested were:
- Pea protein
- Brown rice protein
- Hemp protein
- Chia seed protein
For some reason, most people believe that all protein powders are made from soy. In reality, it’s actually difficult to find one that has any soy in it.
Some protein powders have a small amount of other plant-based sources as well, but usually in very small amounts.
Are Plant-Based Protein Sources as Good as Whey?
Whey is the “normal” gold standard in protein quality and effectiveness for athletes. It’s only natural to compare plant sources to it.
A decent number of studies have done this, and all have found similar things. I’ll give you a quick summary of a few of those studies:
- Pea protein was as effective as whey in a 12 week study of 161 males.
- Young men using brown rice protein gained the same amount of muscle as the whey protein group in an 8 week study.
- With a diverse combination of plant protein sources, vegetable proteins provide similar benefit to animal protein.
Conclusion: While there is still some research to be done, plant-based proteins like pea, brown rice, hemp, soy, and others have comparable effectiveness to whey protein when it comes to muscle gain.
Protein Blend vs. Isolates
If you take a look at the ingredients of vegan protein powders, some of them only have one protein source(usually pea protein), while others have a blend of multiple sources (like chia, buckwheat, quinoa, etc.).
To understand why, take a look at this picture of pea protein’s amino acid profile:
It has a fairly balanced profile, but is relatively low in 2 essential amino acids – methionine and tryptophan.
By creating a blend of protein sources, you make up for those weak spots (if you pick the right combinations).
Conclusion: For most people, it doesn’t matter whether you get an isolate or a blend, the rest of your food will make up for any deficiencies. If you’re not eating much (or not a diverse diet), choose a protein powder with a blend of protein sources.
How did you rate each protein powder?
I started by buying every vegan (non-dairy) protein supplement I could find, and doing detailed reviews of them to help anyone looking for a plant based alternative to whey powders that they may have used in the past.
To do this fairly, I created an objective testing procedure to score each product in the 4 most important aspects of a protein powder:
- Price – How cheap a protein was per 100 grams.
- Nutrition – What percentage of the calories come from protein.
- Mixability – How well the powder mixes, I measured the weight of clumps to calculate this.
- Taste – How good does it taste (subjective).
Each aspect was scored out of 25, where a high score is always a good thing (i.e. a high “price” score means that a product is cheap, a high “mixability” score means that a protein was non-chalky, a high “nutrition” score means it’s high protein and low carb).
Here is the detailed testing methodology for my reviews if you’d like to know how the individual scores were calculated.