Battle of the (Vegan) Protein Powders!
Updated: Jun 27, 2020
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So your new year's resolution was to start working out, lose weight, or just work on a healthier lifestyle? One tool you can use to help you meet any or all of those goals is to use protein powder! But which one to choose? Protein powders, especially vegan ones, often have a bad reputation for tasting terrible and being a nuisance in your fitness goals. Thankfully, there are gems out there that taste great and still meet your special diet needs!
I had the chance to review a mixture vegan protein powders. Of course, the reviews below are not exhaustive of the vegan protein powder market, but they do represent a variety of protein sources (nuts, pea protein, etc.) as well as major and minor brands in the market.
Vega* is one of the most well known brands in the vegan health supplement space. Their products are very easy to find, found not only at specialty stores like Whole Foods, but also at regular supermarkets and common health stores like The Vitamin Shoppe. This makes it a great option if you have limited access to specialty stores! Because of its widespread and well known brand, Vega products are often also cheaper than other brands you will encounter.
I tried the Vega Protein Shake while I was on travel because I was able to easily find it at Whole Foods in single serve packets. While this was convenient, the packets were substantially more expensive than if you just buy the full sized containers. I purchased both the vanilla and chocolate packets so I could try both flavors.
Here's what I found:
Both flavors created a very thick consistency based off of the instructions, and I had to add more water than specified to get the powder to fully dissolve. This may have been due to the fact that I didn't have a blender as I was on travel, but it did make it kind of difficult to drink. The chocolate flavor tasted significantly better than the vanilla flavor, but I have a feeling the vanilla powder would taste good if mixed in with a smoothie. Overall, I would be willing to have the chocolate flavor again, but I would only buy the travel packets again if I had something like a Blender Bottle or an actual blender available in hopes that the consistency would be easier to swallow.
Vega Vanilla: M
Vega Chocolate: G
Noosh* is a much smaller brand than Vega. They originally started with Almond Butter products and have recently expanded into almond based protein powders as well.
One of the things I really like about this protein powder is the simple ingredients. The unflavored almond protein powder just has almonds-no other ingredients. This makes this protein powder very allergen friendly and accessible to a variety of diets including gluten free, vegan, paleo, keto, and more. Even the chocolate powder has a much shorter ingredient list than the other powders reviewed in this article. They currently have 4 flavors: Unflavored, Chocolate, Vanilla Bean, and Vanilla Berry with Super Greens. I tried the Chocolate flavor.
Here's what I found:
This powder was great! I love Noosh almond butters and know they do a great job with flavor, and this powder did not disappoint. The chocolate gave a delicious addition that helps the shake feel like a treat! If you are having protein shakes because you work out regularly, this helps create a reward structure for finishing the difficult workout. It also had a good consistency and blended nicely into a shake. Another added bonus was that as a single serve package, I didn't have to measure out the powder which generally proves to be a messy endeavor.
Noosh Chocolate Protein Powder: G
I learned about Natreve* through the New Hope Blogger Box program in the Summer 2019 box. The brand has existed for a while in the traditional protein space but recently entered into vegan protein powders. Their line of vegan protein powders is quite extensive and features 7 different flavors ranging from S'Mores Sundae to Banana Split and everything in between. All of their vegan protein powders are certified gluten free, non-gmo, and soy free, making them very accessible to special diet needs. In the blogger box, I was sent the S'Mores Sundae flavor.
Here's what I found:
This protein powder is fantastic. The S'Mores Sundae flavor is phenomenal, even smelling good. I have been using this brand regularly for ~2 months now, and every day at work, I have a coworkers jealous of my "milkshake" that smells so good. They are often surprised to hear that it is my protein powder. This protein powder blends well (although I would recommend putting the liquid in first and then the powder to avoid clumping at the bottom, especially in a Blender Bottle). Another great thing about it, you only have to mix in 8 oz of liquid, but it doesn't have a dense taste or consistency with that little liquid. One warning, though. This brand is significantly more expensive than the others reviewed in this article (approximately 2x the price). If you are on a budget, perhaps consider buying this when it is on sale or trying another brand.
Natreve S'Mores Sundae: G
I also learned about Swanson's protein powder through the New Hope Blogger Box. Swanson Health is a very established brand in the vitamin/supplement space with a large variety of traditional and vegan products. The Vanilla flavor (shown left) is gluten free, vegan, and soy free, using pea protein as it's main protein source. This line is also sugar free, making it an option for those on a low sugar diet. The "Real Food Plant Protein" line comes in Vanilla and Dark Chocolate. I tried the Vanilla flavor. Here's what I found:
The first time I tried this protein powder, I absolutely hated it. The consistency is fine, but the taste is terrible. Perhaps because it is sugar free, there is a bitterness to the flavor that leaves a terrible after taste in your mouth. I was pretty disappointed because I don't often come across products that are so terrible. I chose to give it another try, mixing it not with water, but with Califia Pumpkin Spice Coffee to hopefully mask the taste a bit. It was better this way which gave me hope that this product could be used when mixed with other things. I imagine if you made a smoothie or baked this powder into something, that would mask the aftertaste enough to make it bearable. However, by itself, it is not worth the money. I'm not the only one who feels that way it seems as the average rating on their website for this product right now is only 3/5 stars.
Swanson Health Vanilla Protein Powder (mixed with water): O
Swanson Health Vanilla Protein Powder (mixed with Califia Pumpkin Spice Coffee): M-
In summary, there are lots of great tasting protein powders to choose from and help you meet your goals. My favorite one is the Natreve because of the exciting flavors you can choose from, my least favorite is the Swanson Health powder because of the aftertaste issue, and the most cost effective options are either the Noosh or Vega powders.