Best Protein Powder for Vegans
March 30, 2016
For a long time, animal proteins dominated the protein powder landscape – whey and eggs were everywhere – leaving vegans with very few options. Now, however, things are much different. There are tons of different plant-based, vegan-friendly protein powders available.
So, vegans are no longer faced with the challenge of finding a protein powder. Instead, you have to try to figure out which is the best protein powder for vegans. Let’s take a look at some of the major contenders and see how they compare, before trying to decide which one stands out.
By far the most common and popular plant protein, soy has a long history of use – with its popularity largely linked to the fact that it’s very cheap to grow. But soy is also unique in that it is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all of the amino acids that our body cannot produce on its own. In the plant world, this is pretty unusual.
Despite its sterling past, however, soy has come under fire over the past few years. For one thing, the beans contain a substance that behaves very much like estrogen in the human body – which has the potential to increase cancer risks, as well as contribute to developmental problems in children.
Soy is also highly allergenic, with the ability to cause severe reactions in some people. It should also be noted that most soy now available in consumer products is a genetically modified organism.
That’s right, the humble yellow split pea is used for protein powder. While not a complete protein, peas still offer an impressive balance of amino acids. But, before you right them off completely, it’s important to remember that your body uses amino acids over the total course of the day. So, any other protein that you take in that day can easily fill in the nutritional gaps.
Pea protein powder is entirely allergen-free, however, making it a totally safe option for people who routinely struggle with food allergies or sensitivities. Interesting, pea protein powder also has a naturally savory flavor, which means that it can be used in preparing many soups and sauces – adding flavor, texture and protein – in unexpected ways.
In many ways, brown rice protein is very similar to pea protein. Again, rice protein powder is not a complete protein. But it makes up for this by being totally safe for people with allergies.
Unlike pea protein, though, brown rice has a subtly sweet flavor which also means that it can have some interesting uses in baking and cooking.
Sourced from the seeds of the cannabis plant, this protein powder has gained some popularity recently. And, nutritionally, hemp protein is pretty impressive. In addition to being a complete protein, hemp seeds are full of healthy fats. Unfortunately, hemp protein has been shown to have a much lower absorption rate than other plant-based, vegan protein powders. In other words, the listed amount of protein per serving is much higher than the amount your body will be able to absorb.
Additionally, because of its association with marijuana, hemp cultivation is very tightly regulated. Because of this, hemp is one of the most expensive protein powers available.
So, out of these four, which of these is the best protein powder for vegans. Really, it’s a tie between brown rice and pea protein. Although neither of these are complete proteins, they are rich in numerous amino acids and their profile can be completed through the rest of your healthy diet. Both proteins are hypoallergenic and full of other healthful plant nutrients.