The world of protein powders and supplements can feel overwhelming – never mind the hundreds of different brands and flavours, you’re also faced with buying decisions like whether you should get organic, get an all-in-one, get one with caffeine, the decisions to make are endless. And perhaps one of the biggest questions, vegan or non-vegan? Whey or plant-based? If you have a dietary restriction, it makes it even harder to understand which brands are best for your specific health goals and needs.
Switch carries one of the most innovative and best-tasting protein powders out there – it doesn’t even taste like protein powder. As in it doesn’t taste chalky, doesn’t feel hard on the tummy or gut, and is so much easier to mix into almost any liquid. Philosophie’s mission is to make wellness more accessible, to lead the industry with a new standard, and to “make every food a superfood.” To put things in perspective, we prepared a comparison of the most popular vegan protein powders below.
Why use vegan protein powder?
Before we get into the nitty gritty of different vegan protein brands, let’s take a look at the general features of plant protein and why you might want to switch from whey to plant protein. Vegan protein powder is obviously a go-to if you have certain dietary restrictions, food intolerances (experts estimate that about 65% of the world’s population are lactose-intolerant), or allergies.
Even if you’re not vegan or dairy-free, plant-based protein is generally easier for your body to absorb and digest as it’s naturally higher in fibre, essential nutrients, and antioxidants. It’s also lower in saturated fat and calories.
On the other hand, whey and other non-vegan protein powders (if it has casein, enzymes like lipase and protease, and egg whites it’s a non-vegan protein powder) have a complete profile of amino acids, while most vegan proteins fall short on this (only soy has a full profile, but some try to stay away from soy). To combat this, most vegan protein powders combine a few plant-based protein sources to achieve a full profile. By doing this, they end up naturally containing even more essential vitamins and nutrients (e.g. iron, calcium, magnesium) as opposed to whey which is an isolated protein. Since whey proteins can contain added hormones and antibiotics, people also tend to experience a few side effects with it such as inflammation (whey can cause imbalances in blood sugar production) and acne (whey increases the production of a hormone called Insulin-Like Growth Factor 1). Vegan protein powders can be significantly kinder to your gut by improving digestion and discouraging bloating with its fibre content.
And yes, vegan protein is as effective as non-vegan options like whey! A 2019 study comparing whey and pea protein found little to no difference in study participants’ body composition, muscle gain, performance, or strength when taking either supplement. Animals get protein from the plants that they eat – they don’t produce it on their own! Why should we be relying on whey protein that is essentially recycled plant protein when we can get it straight from the plant-based source.
Comparing the most popular vegan proteins in the market
To try and make these comparisons as fair as possible, for brands that carried more than one type of protein powder (e.g. Vega, Sunwarrior, and Garden of Life), we chose their original/basic formula. So, some brands may in fact carry an organic protein powder (for a few dollars extra), while their original blends aren't certified organic (as it would show in our chart).
In terms of nutrition and flexibility for many different dietary restrictions, Philosophie comes out on top as certified organic, non-GMO, soy-free, paleo, gluten-free, and with no added sweeteners. While Philosophie's protein powder is 10g of protein per serving (compared to the other brands' 15-20g), it does use less product (1 serving = 1 tbsp, while the other brands' servings are, on average, a heaping scoop of 20g. So, to match the 20g of protein, it would also require less product!).
Having tried many vegan protein powders, I've found Philosophie's taste to be unmatched. For example, the Cacao Magic tastes like Ovaltine chocolate powder! Philosophie offers 3 flavours:
1. Green Dream (hemp protein, spirulina, maca, mesquite, chia seeds, vanilla)
- Blend of superfoods that provide natural, caffeine-free energy boost
- Spirulina is an antioxidant-rich blue green algae pack with nutrients including iron, magnesium, and zinc
2. Berry Bliss (pomegranate, goji berry, maca, mangosteen, camu camu, acai berry, brown rice protein)
- High in antioxidants (camu camu is one of the world’s most abundant forms of vitamin C)
3. Cacao Magic (cacao powder, vanilla, cacao nibs, mesquite, chia seeds, hemp protein, reishi mushroom, maca)
- Extremely high in antioxidants and magnesium
- Chinese herbs, rare medicinal mushrooms, raw cacao powder
Choosing a protein powder for yourself can be challenging, so we hope this blog post gave you some good information to help make your decision easier! If you're body building and lifting heavy, the amount of protein per serving might be the most important factor for you; if you're looking more for a protein powder to supplement your diet (and any restrictions, allergies, or intolerances you might have), we tried our best to look into those factors and share our findings! By far, Philosophie is the only vegan protein powder to check all of our boxes (organic, no added sugars, non-GMO, etc.). Garden of Life and Nuzest come close, but fall short in being suitable for paleo diets or being 100% organic, respectively. Finally, while brands like Vega, Nuzest, and Blessed have more flavours, it is a trade-off with checking off those boxes regarding ingredients and dietary restrictions. Additionally, Philosophie isn't just meant to be added to plain water like many of these brands! Unlike most protein powders, you can easily add it to your coffee or in any baked goods without sacrificing the taste (again, this stuff doesn't even taste like protein powder. It tastes like something you would bake with! Check out our many Philosophie recipes). At the end of the day, the best protein powder is one that fits with your lifestyle and your personal health journey.