10 Best Tasting Vegan Protein Powders in 2020 [Test Results]

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my vegan protein powder collection
My vegan protein powder collection

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 ones 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. (I did a similar thing to find the best vegan protein bar if you’re interested.)

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. (Save 5% with coupon code “VPLAB”.)
  • 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 best 10 tasting vegan protein powders:

1. Nuzest Clean Lean Pea Protein

(Best Tasting Overall)

nuzest vegan protein powder container

Per serving: 90 calories | 20g protein | 2g carbs (0g sugar, <1g fiber)

In terms of the product itself, Nuzest is the best overall vegan protein shake I’ve tried. The only issue is that it’s also the most expensive one (although they do frequently offer coupons).

There are a few unique aspects of Nuzest:

  • The pea protein is sourced from Europe, not China, which is where most other companies source from
  • 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 tastes about as good as a vegan protein shake can taste, and it does so without adding a ton of sugar or filler ingredients
  • It has 20 grams of protein and just 90 calories – impressive

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, you can get more value from other options.


2. PlantFusion Complete Plant Protein

(Best Value)

plantfusion vegan protein packagingPer 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 (it has very small grains of powder).

Here’s a quick video with a side-by-side comparison of the smoothness of the powder of a typical protein powder, 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
  • Has a nice blend of pea protein and added BCAAs to balance the amino acids
  • 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.


3. True Nutrition Vegan Lean

(Best Tasting for Weight Loss)

true nutrition vegan lean package

Per serving: 117 calories | 23g protein | 2.6g carbs (0.1g sugar, 2.1g fiber)

This protein powder tastes really good and is fairly affordable. You can buy in bulk and save another 5% off with our coupon code (“VPLAB”).

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 second highest ratio of protein to calories (only Nuzest beats it). With 23 grams of protein and 117 calories, ~79% of calories come from protein.

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.

In terms of protein quality, Vegan Lean consists of both pea protein and rice protein, so you get all your essential amino acids in good proportions.


4. Canadian Protein All Natural Blend

(Best Tasting in Canada)

canadian protein vegan blend packaging
Per serving: 126 calories | 21g protein | 6g carbs (3g sugar, 2g fiber)

Originally, this was only available to Canadians (since then, they’ve opened a United States store). It tastes quite good, but most importantly – it is very affordable. You can buy in bulk to make it even cheaper.

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 buy it on a regular basis do to the incredible price and overall value.

One final note is that this is a blend of multiple plant protein powders. It has pea protein, hemp protein, and brown rice protein, so you get a super balanced essential amino acid profile.


5. NOW Sports Pea Protein

(Best Tasting on a Budget)

now sports pea protein packaging

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 per serving compared to calories 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

(Most Nutritious)

vega protein and greens container
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.

The pros:

  • Good flavor
  • Great texture (almost felt like a milkshake)

The cons:

  • 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)

orgain organic vegan protein powder

Per serving: 150 calories | 21g protein | 15g carbs (0g sugar, 7g fiber)

Orgain Organic Protein 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 protein 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)

naturade vegansmart packaging

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 (good balance of amino acids) – 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.

Side note about prebiotics vs probiotics – Probiotics are the actual “good” bacteria in your gut that break down food. Prebiotics (in this shake) are essentially dietary fiber that feed those probiotics to encourage them to grow.

This is more of a meal replacement shake, which is why the ratio of protein to calories isn’t amazing.


9. Vega Sport

(Easiest to Find)

vega sport protein powder

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)

ON gold plant based protein

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.

A few things in particular stood out:

  1. The texture was very “grainy” (a bit different than chalky). It’s not terrible, just a bit unpleasant.
  2. The aftertaste is reasonably strong.
  3. It has a nice blend of plant protein sources (including Sacha Inchi Protein) for a well rounded amino acid profile. No added BCAAs though.

The flavor by itself was okay, but not great.

Overall it just tasted very average.

So while it’s a decent protein shake, especially for an organic option (second only to Orgain organic protein), 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 (higher is always better).

Here’s a quick summary of how I scored each category:
 
  • Nutrition – The “nutrition” score tells you the relative amount of calories that come from protein (i.e. the ones that score low are basically meal replacement shakes).
  • Price – This is a score based on the price per gram of protein.
  • Taste – I mixed a consistent amount of protein powder into the same amount of almond milk and then drank and rated the shake.
  • Mixability – I poured the shake through a fine strainer and weighed the clumps that came out. Then scaled this to a score out of 25.
NameNutrition (/25)Price (/25)Mixing (/25)Taste (/25)Overall (/100)
Plantfusion2316252286
True Nutrition Vegan Lean2412222280
Canadian Protein Blend1919222080
NOW Sports Pea Protein2223191579
Vega Protein and Greens1917222078
MRM Veggie Elite2121251077
Purely Inspired1722221576
Nuzest Clean Lean250252575
Leanfit Complete Green1913222074
Vega Sport2212192073
Naked Pea2517191071
Orgain Organic1516251571
Naturade VeganSmart1416251570
ON Gold Standard1813221568
True Nutrition Vegan Optimizer2214121866
Sunwarrior Warrior Blend2110161764
KOS Organic131792261
Kaizen Naturals191632058
Bodylogix201931557
Garden of Life Raw Fit181661555
Iron Vegan18719549
MRM Veggie Protein16200036
Vega One All-in-one1356529
On the second and third page you’ll see a lot of “popular” vegan protein powders that really don’t stand up to the testing (e.g. Sunwarrior Warrior Blend, Garden of Life, etc.).

Common Questions About Vegan Protein Powder

Is It Bad to Rely on Protein Powder?

I drink one or two protein shakes per day.

There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just that protein powders don’t typically give you any extra nutrition. So you’re still going to have to get all your vitamins, minerals, and fiber from actual food sources.

I’d recommend getting as much protein from whole foods as possible, and then using protein powder to hit your macros if needed. See my guide on how to get enough protein as a vegan if you’re struggling with this. 

How Do You Make Vegan Protein Powder Taste Better?

You can’t do much about the taste of a plant based protein powder itself. However, one factor is in your control – the clumps.

The key to making your protein 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 almond 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

Additionally, you can add other ingredients to your protein shake like fruit (make a smoothie), or artificial sweeteners.

If you’re bulking, many bodybuilders often make a meal replacement shake by adding foods like peanut butter, hemp seeds, and chia seeds, which mask the taste of any protein powder.

What Sources Are Plant Based 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. All the ones I tried were soy free.

Most products are based on pea protein (i.e. you won’t find many that are just hemp protein powder).

Some protein powders have a small amount of other plant-based sources as well, but usually in very small amounts.

On top of that, there’s some sort of sweetener. In most cases, they use a natural sweetener (e.g. stevia), instead of artificial sweeteners like xylitol. Only a few plant based protein powders have sugar added.

Are Plant-Based Protein Sources as Good as Whey?

Whey protein powder 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:

SUMMARY

While there is still some research to be done, plant-based dairy-free proteins like pea, brown rice, hemp, soy, and others have comparable effectiveness to whey protein when it comes to increasing protein intake and muscle gain.

Protein Blend vs. Protein Isolate

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).

SUMMARY

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 in terms of essential amino acids. 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 Plant Based 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 protein powder 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).

For taste in particular, the powder was mixed into room temperature almond milk. I didn’t add other ingredients (i.e. and make a smoothie) in order to keep things fair.

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.

 

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.

3 comments

  • Hello Dale C
    Thank u for ur amazing effort in helping us learn about this complex subject
    Wondering if it is possible for me to hire your services in helping me find the correct Protean powder, (product) for my personal use?
    I have too many allergies & GI issues to be considered. If u can’t maybe u know someone who can. Thank u in advance

    • Hi Seifu,

      With issues like that I think your only option will be to find a registered dietician in your area to make sure you find a safe one.

  • True Nutrition Vegan Protein Optimizer is the best, they make it hard to find on their website but it’s the best kept secret