Vegan protein powder is an essential staple to a healthy diet, whether you claim the vegan lifestyle or not. While most traditional protein supplements come from animal products such as whey, casein, and eggs, plant based protein powder has many benefits. Here we will look at some of the pros and cons of vegan protein powder. After reading, you may even want to consider going vegan! Well, at least for your protein powder!
Vegan Protein Powder – the Pros
There is no way around it: animal products are acidic in your system and therefore inflammatory. This includes meat based products like bone broth powder and dairy products like whey, casein, and eggs. Unlike animal-based sources of protein, plant based protein powder is alkaline in your system. The most popular types of vegetable protein powders are sourced from peas, hemp, brown rice, soy, and quinoa. Every one of these plant sources is packed with antioxidants, phytonutrients, and is anti-inflammatory. That’s why the anti-inflammatory nature of vegan protein powder is our #1 pro!
In addition to being inflammatory in your body, many people are flat out allergic to dairy products. They may be especially sensitive to things like milk, cream, cheese, and whey. Others are just allergic to eggs. Unfortunately, whey protein is the most popular type of protein supplement, followed by casein and eggs. All three come from dairy products. And interestingly, though derived from milk, casein protein can effect people who are allergic or sensitive to wheat. Studies show that most people who are gluten-intolerant, have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease are actually also sensitive or allergic to casein.
With all of these allergies and sensitivities out there, a dairy free protein alternative is essential to a balanced diet. Even if you aren’t allergic or sensitive, dairy causes mucus production and headaches, and can be contaminated with growth hormones, antibiotics, or other pollutants. Some studies even suggest a link between dairy products and cancer, probably due to it’s highly inflammatory nature. Non dairy protein powder has little chance of causing any of the same issues, and very few people have allergies to popular plant protein sources.
3. Fewer Additives
Many bone broth protein powders, whey, and other animal-based supplements contain a long list of chemical or questionable additives to make it taste better, look better, and/or last longer. This not only adds toxins to your body, but calories to your diet! The best vegan protein powder will include very few extra ingredients, and nothing artificial. The protein powder you choose should be just that: protein. After all, your goals are to supplement your protein intake, not your artificial flavor intake!
4. Comparable in Cost
Vegan protein powder is comparable in cost to other types of protein supplements, even when bought in bulk. When comparing the cost of protein supplements, be sure to look at the grams of protein per serving. Divide the cost per serving by the number of grams of protein per serving to get the cost per gram of protein. Here I’ve pulled just five of the top selling traditional protein brands and five vegan protein brands for our comparison:
- Gold Standard 100% Whey – $1.07 per serving, 24 g protein per serving = 4 cents per gram of protein
- Pro JYM – $1.42 per serving, 24 g protein per serving = 6 cents per gram of protein
- ISO100 – $1.25 per serving, 25 g protein per serving = 5 cents per gram of protein
- Nitro-Tech – $1.50 per serving, 30 g protein per serving = 5 cents per gram of protein
- Syntha-6 – $1.06 per serving, 22 g protein per serving = 5 cents per gram of protein.
The traditional types of protein sell for an average of 5 cents per gram of protein. Now let’s look at some vegan alternatives:
- Sunwarrior Classic – $0.90 per serving, 16 g protein per serving = 5 cents per gram of protein
- Veggie Elite – $0.87 per serving, 24 g protein per serving = 3 cents per gram of protein
- Rawfusion – $1.23 per serving, 21 g protein per serving = 6 cents per gram of protein
- Pea Protein – $0.68 per serving, 24 g protein per serving = 3 cents per gram of protein
- Vega Protein Powder (& Greens) – $1.43 per serving, 20 g protein per serving = 7 cents per gram of protein.
The average cost of these five vegan proteins is 4.8 cents per gram of protein, compared to the average 5 cents per gram of alternative types. So the popular belief that vegan protein costs more can be put to rest.
Vegan Protein Powder – the Cons
After those main points in favor of vegan protein powder, you may already be convinced. But there are a few points of contention for whey protein lovers that need to be addressed. Though we list three “cons” against vegan protein powder, all of these are combatted by the best vegan protein brands, Sunwarrior protein being our favorite.
1. Amino Acid Profile
In short, amino acids are simple organic compounds that help build protein structures in our cells. Your body typically requires twenty-two different amino acids that are received through protein that we eat, or in this case, protein powder supplements. The proteins from animal sources have just about the same essential amino acid profile that humans do, but vegan protein sources are often lacking. Be sure your vegan protein powder has it’s amino acid profile listed, or you can assume that you will need to supplement with amino acids separately if you choose to go vegan.
2. The Trouble with Soy
Most health nuts are aware of the contamination of the GMO soybean industry. But even organic soy naturally contains phytoestrogens. Though soy protein powder is a logical alternative to animal-based proteins, soy may not be the best choice for you. Especially if you are male, you may want to reconsider soy. Phytoestrogens function in the body the same way that natural estrogen hormones do. Estrogen is naturally produced by healthy women in proper proportions. Too much estrogen for a lady can cause issues with her menstrual cycle and may even lead to infertility. Too much estrogen for a man can lead to low sperm count, increased risk of some types of cancer, and an imbalance in testosterone. The good news is that most of these risks and concerns have driven the vegan protein powder industry to offer more soy-free alternatives.
3. Taste and Texture
The taste and texture of even the best plant based protein powder may be difficult to overcome for some people. Especially if you are new to a veggie based or vegan diet, you may find some vegan protein powders to be gritty in texture. You may think some varieties taste more like fish food than a delicious chocolate milkshake. But taste and tolerance to texture is adapted over time. If the ingredients are good, it may be worth pushing through until you are used to it.
The taste and texture may also not be an issue for you if you are planning to blend the powder with leafy greens or frozen fruit. Adding nut milk or nut butter can also improve the taste and texture. But there are at least a handful of very delicious, smooth and easy to drink vegan protein powders that are great just with water! The key is to find the best product for you!
Vegan protein powder beats dairy and animal product alternatives for several reasons. A plant based vegan diet supports healthy immune function and is alkaline in your system. And an alkaline digestive environment helps your body properly detoxify and process. Plant based protein powder can give you this advantage even if you are not living a 100% vegan lifestyle!
You could consider plant based protein powder to be hypo-allergenic, as very few people have adverse reactions to vegan products, unlike those of dairy or meat. Vegan proteins also contain fewer additives and on the whole are more raw and natural than other sources of protein. In addition, there is no difference in cost when comparing vegan protein powder to other types.
Vegan protein powder sources alone may not include the full amino acid profile of other protein powder types. But some types are blended with amino acid supplements to provide the full spectrum of essentials. Finally, there are both soy-free and deliciously smooth varieties of vegan protein powder. So I find no disadvantage of vegan protein powder over animal based products.
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