Does Vegan Protein Powder Expire? (Hemp, Pea, Soy)


Believe it or not, forgetting you have a container of protein powder in the back of a cabinet is pretty common.

When you finally pull it out, the question is:

“Can I still use it?”

The answer is maybe.

Does vegan protein powder expire? Yes, absolutely.

But that doesn’t mean that the powder is unusable at the exact date listed on the container.

While most set an expiration date of about 2 years from manufacturing, it’s still often possible to use it after that date, under certain conditions.

Is It Safe To Use Expired Vegan Protein Powder?

No one will tell you to consume an expired product, since it’s a liability issue.

But if you’re fine taking the risk of feeling a bit unwell, that’s up to you.

Businesses are required to set an expiration date on all food products, so they estimate a point where they’re sure that all products will still be in ideal condition by.

There’s 3 things on the side arguing that it’s okay to consume vegan protein powder, even a while after the expiration date:

  1. The expiration date is an estimate, not an exact calculation.
  2. We’re not dealing with milk or meat – We can eliminate a significant chunk of bacterial concerns just from this. Hemp, pea, soy, and other plant proteins generally keep better.
  3. Protein powders are typically kept in dry environments (i.e. the container) – Without moisture, it’s very difficult for microbes of any kind to grow.

What Happens When Vegan Protein Powder Goes Bad?

The biggest issue, besides getting sick, is that the quality of the protein degrades.

Two amino acids in particular, arginine and lysine, are susceptible to a reaction called Maillard browning, which causes them to breakdown.

The higher the temperature you’ve stored the protein at, the more likely this reaction has started to occur. If your protein has been sitting in a cold pantry, you should be pretty optimistic.

The reaction is a simple one that occurs as sugars react with the components of proteins. Although keep in mind that not all protein powders even have sugars (a good thing in this context!).

How Can You Tell if Vegan Protein Powder Has Gone Bad?

Without expensive lab equipment, the best way to tell if your vegan protein has expired is by using your smell and taste.

expired protein powder signs

If it smells significantly off what you remember and expect, toss it.

If it smells fine, taste a bit of it before mixing. Again, if it tastes really bad, it’s likely expired, so toss it.

I understand that protein powder is expensive, but it’s not expensive enough to make it worth getting sick over. If the cost is truly an issue,  sort by cost in our table of the top vegan protein powders to find a cheap replacement.

But, if it smells and tastes normal, you’re probably fine to keep using it, just accept that you’re taking a bit of a risk.

Worried About Buying Too Much Protein Powder?

my vegan protein powder collection

Vegan protein powder is usually more expensive than whey protein, so buying in bulk to save money makes a lot of sense.

But you also don’t want to buy too much and it ends up going bad.

Here’s a quick table that shows you how long a protein powder lasts based on your consumption rate:

Protein Shakes per Week How Long 1 lb (454 g) Lasts
14 1 week
7 2 weeks
3 5 weeks
2 Just under 2 months

When I order protein powder in bulk, I aim to consume it within a year.

So if you drink 1 shake a day, you can order up to 24 lbs at a time (which is a ton).

If you only drink a couple shakes per week, don’t order more than 5-6 lbs of vegan protein powder at a time to be on the safe side.

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.