4 Tasty Plant Based Clean Protein Powders 4 Tasty Plant Based Clean Protein Powders
July 17, 2019
by Olena

4 Tasty Plant Based Clean Protein Powders

by Olena

My tried and true list of 4 Clean Protein Powders that are plant based and still tasty, pros & cons for each and where to buy for less. | ifoodreal.com

A few months ago I thought I’m done with protein powder – it prevents me from losing belly fat. Just a guess based on nothing.

After speaking with a holistic nutritionist, it became clear I need to eat less meat/animal protein and make our diet more plant-based. Regardless whether this switch will make me fat or not (which nothing even close like that has happened or I doubt ever will). A norm is about 2 lbs of meat per week/person. So, plant based clean protein powder is back in my life. I would rather consume organic, plant-based and clean protein powder than conventionally raised meat. Overall, the goal is to eat less meat.

I know there are many opinions out there whether protein powders are good for you, processed or clean etc. My take on protein powder is this:

Because I work out, I need an extra boost and not always have that snack on hand. Therefore, I choose the cleanest and most affordable plant based protein powder, that is made of whole foods, that has a pleasant taste if mixed with water, that I consume in moderation and that prevents me from eating foods not approved by Clean Eating.

Just like my life can’t be perfect, so can’t be my marriage or kids, so can’t be my nutrition. I do my best to eat whole foods and who knows maybe 2 years down the road I will not be consuming protein powder but right now greens, nuts and fruits just don’t cut it for me as a snack – I’m hungry. So, let’s pick the best of the best.

Is Protein Powder Real Food?

No and yes, in my opinion. Not all protein powders are created equal. There are also many “processed real foods”. I know it sounds weird but there is nothing wrong with organic tofu (pressed soy beans), high quality supplements or plant based protein powder.

“No” if it is non organic, GMO, full of artificial flavours, acid processed, stripped of alkalinizing minerals, naturally occurring vitamins and lipids whey or soy protein isolate. That is what I avoid.

“Yes” if it is organic, non-GMO, gently cold processed from whole foods vegan protein powder. This is what I use.

My Perfect Protein Powder Is:

  • Plant based
  • Organic or at least non-GMO
  • Without unknown ingredients: colours, artificial flavours and sweeteners, preservatives
  • No added sugar
  • No stevia aftertaste
  • No soy and preferably no organic soy isolate
  • It must taste good when mixed with water
  • Must be reasonably priced – about $40 per jug. As with many other things in life, you get what you pay for. So, I choose to pay more for something I enjoy and is good for me. Sure thing, I could buy hemp or brown rice protein but I can’t drink that. I applaud you if you can because that is as clean as protein powder can be.

What’s Up with Natural (Vanilla) Flavours

You might have heard or if you Google “natural vanilla flavour” that it can be made from beaver’s anal gland. Yes, that’s correct. I couldn’t believe my eyes at first. So, with trembling fingers I typed an email to Orgain about what are their “organic natural flavours” made of. Here is what the company said:

Our flavours consist of a flavour extract and an organic dextrin as the carrier. Being organic – we are forbidden from using ingredients like you mentioned below. We also can’t use MSG, artificial vanillin, colors, etc.

VEGA website states “Made with all natural, plant-based ingredients (absolutely no animal products).” Then I received the following reply to a similar email question I sent to Orgain:

Vega products contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives. The natural flavors in our products include a variety of compounds obtained from the natural essence or extracts of plants to produce the desired flavor. For example, vanilla bean is used in French Vanilla Vega One.  While the exact blends are proprietary, I would like to let you know that the essences and extracts can be from a spice, herb, leaf or similar plant material, but always exclusively plant-based, and never artificial.

PlantFusion label says “No Animal. Complete protein made only from plant sources”.

Sunwarrior’s products do not contain any natural flavours but rather made with Organic Vanilla Extract.

So, no beavers’ butts in my protein powders. One more time I got reassured that buying plant based, organic or non-GMO products pays off.

Why Not Whey?

I choose plant based over whey protein powder for health reasons: because of dairy hormones my skin was experiencing horrible acne outbreaks. Therefore, I stopped using it years ago. I prefer to consume protein extracted from whole foods. Think vegetables vs. dairy, what’s better for you?!

Most whey protein powders are heavily processed and contain so much junk in them. Some are comparable to a diet coke. Yes, whey has milder taste and food made with it looks prettier but I don’t care. I’m past that stage. America is too hung up on how food looks rather if it’s good for you. I get so many comments on my recipes “This doesn’t look good”, “This is dry and needs a sauce” etc, it’s ridiculous. America doesn’t need more sauce for sure!

Anyways, if you absolutely must to consume whey, your best option is organic grass fed Tera’s whey.

My Top 4 Picks

I usually buy protein powders in bulk on Amazon because I live in Canada, use American Amazon and unfortunately do not have a luxury of becoming a Prime member. I wish! Therefore, I ship a few protein powders to the nearest post office close to the border and pick them up. So far, I haven’t found cheaper place to buy clean protein powder from than on Amazon.

1. Sunwarrior

My tried and true list of 4 Clean Protein Powders that are plant based and still tasty, pros & cons for each and where to buy for less. | ifoodreal.com

Image courtesy of Sunwarrior.

Pros: Somewhat Organic, non – GMO, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Made in the USA – Buy on Amazon for $56/2.2 lbs.

Cons: It tastes OK mixed with water.

I tried Sunwarrior clean protein powder in Natural and Vanilla flavours. It tastes OK mixed with water, a bit chalky to my personal taste. Not horrible like hemp or brown rice protein but just not my favourite. However, in baked goods it tastes much better, no aftertaste. So, if you are looking for a protein powder to make cottage cheese protein pancakes and banana oat protein muffins with, Sunwarrior is great!

2. PlantFusion

My tried and true list of 4 Clean Protein Powders that are plant based and still tasty, pros & cons for each and where to buy for less. | ifoodreal.com

Pros: Price, Non – GMO, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Variety of Flavours, Made in the USA – Buy on Amazon for $31/2 lbs.

Cons: A Bit of Aftertaste, Not Organic.

Last time, I bought about 6 jugs of Plant Fusion on Amazon. Mostly because it was cheaper than VEGA and Orgain didn’t offer vanilla flavour back then which I prefer. It tastes OK mixed with water, not as chalky as Sunwarrior but has a different texture to it. I think it doesn’t dissolve as good as Vega or Orgain. Same with baked goods – a bit of aftertaste but if other powders are not within your budget, Plant Fusion is a very good option. Can’t beat that price.

3. VEGA Sport

My tried and true list of 4 Clean Protein Powders that are plant based and still tasty, pros & cons for each and where to buy for less. | ifoodreal.com

Image courtesy of Vega.

Pros: Taste, Somewhat Organic, Non-GMO, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Sustainable, Made in the USA with many Canadian ingredients.

Cons: A bit pricey at the store => $60 – $65 but more affordable on Amazon => $45/29 oz.

VEGA Sport is my favourite plant based clean protein powder taste wise. I tried all 3 flavours – berry, vanilla, chocolate and love them all. It tastes phenomenal mixed with water. Great for baking with no aftertaste.

The company says: “We’ll choose organic ingredients for Vega products whenever we can. It’s getting easier every year to find reliable sources of organic ingredients as demand for them grows, but the cost of certification remains prohibitive for smaller-scale farmers. Because of this, some of our ingredients are organically grown, but not certified organic—we think the right choice can include supporting the little guys”. I love that!

4. Orgain

Pros: Taste, Organic, Non-GMO, Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Made in the USA with many Canadian ingredients – Buy on Amazon for $18/2.05 lbs

Cons: None.

I first saw Orgain in Costco in the US and couldn’t believe my eyes – $30 for organic clean protein powder, too good to be true?! After the first sip mixed with plain water, me and my husband were screaming “OMG”. It tasted like chocolate milk. Seriously, it tastes phenomenal although I tried only chocolate flavour. Smooth texture, super tasty and even has some tiny crystals that remind me of crumbled Oreo cookies. Amazing in baking too, 0 aftertaste.

Orgain is definitely the winner in terms of price and taste of all plant based protein powders I ever tried. Highly recommended!

How to Use Protein Powder

My first choice is to be able to mix clean protein powder with water and it will taste good. It’s easy and saves calories. Hence, this post. I also like to add it to a smoothie for a post-workout recovery or snack. Quite often it makes its way into my morning oatmeal. I also love to bake with protein powder to make desserts further guilt free. It works best in muffins.

As for making smoothies, I use Blendtec and absolutely love it!

85 comments on “4 Tasty Plant Based Clean Protein Powders

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  1. Hello!
    So I’m noticing most powders have a horrid stevia taste.. the last 2 don’t? Also – isn’t rice protein more of a “filler”? Thanks for the reply, in advance!

    1. Last 2 are my faves out of all. I just like the taste. Not so much stevia taste IMHO. Yes, I heard about the filler thing too. Again, have to choose the best out of all “evils” or whatever they say. 🙂

  2. I hate the taste of stevia, and any shake that is Whey based makes me sick. My absolute favorite vegan protein is Vega One All-In-One Shake in Unsweetened Natural (No Stevia). It blends well, has no weird after taste and has great ingredients.

  3. So even in the Orgain, since it comes with flavors, it isn’t completely clean of sweetners/artificial flavors?

    1. Hi Cyndi–I also have a stevia allergy and the only option I’ve found is “Raw Organic Protein Powder Unflavored – No Stevia”. It’s about $2 per serving and does not taste great alone, but it’s good in a shake with berries, greens and nut milk. Hope you see this and that it helps!

  4. Thank you for the article! Helpful! I am considering buying a few unflavored options then adding my own cocoa and sugar. I, too, cannot stand the flavor of stevia. I simply don’t understand why it companies don’t offer a cane sugar or some other natural sweetner alternative. I imagine it is so they can get the glycemic index lower? If you know of any brands/flavors that simply include regular sweetners (beet, maple, cane, whatever), please let me know! Thanks!

  5. Thanks for the article! I love the chocolate Orgain Organic, but I think the stevia is causing my stomach issues. I wish I could buy this exact one without stevia.

      1. If you want protein without stevia you should buy garden of life raw meal lightly sweet “no stevia” ..

        I bought Garden of life raw meal vanilla and Garden of life detox alkalize all contain stevia it was trouble my sleep at night.. it feels my heart rate faster than normal.. I have their other products like green superfood original without stevia and its very good… the two with stevia trouble my sleep

        1. I got so excited about your Garden Of Life post without stevia! I like that brand… however I’m allergic to stevia and tomatoes, so that won’t work for me. 🙁

        2. Garden of life is owned my Nestle, now, and their company is pretty dirty. They find testing for a company which does studies on premature babies. I’ll find the source.

      2. Try Botanica
        It’s another that’s a bit chalky but no stevia if you are on a 30:40:30 it does have higher carbs ratio than some others I prefer under 10g this is 20 but if this is for health more then muscle building I recommend it

  6. Just a comment – I liked your article, my only issue with some of these is the artificial sweeteners – they say they are “natural” and they still put stevia or xylitol in them. Stevia for me triggers migraines beyond belief and I have digestive issues I have to watch, so be a label reader.

  7. FYI I also hate stevia and artificial sweeteners, but I find I also am sensitive to things like xylitol, maltitol, etc. I can sometimes tolerate sucralose. However, I would prefer unsweetened protein powder and then I can just sweeten it myself with maple syrup or even just a small amount of sugar. I don’t think sugar is as demonic as it’s made out to be, it’s just that people consume way too much. Anyway for those of you who were curious about NuZest, I tried it and it does NOT contain stevia, however I still found it had a horrible fake sugar taste. Oh and I forgot to mention but stevia, although it is natural, still tastes exactly like fake sugar. And some people, like myself, aren’t just sensitive to the taste. If I drink something with stevia, my throat and mouth get itchy. I am really sad to see a lot more products have stevia in them, not JUST protein powders. 🙁

    1. I agree, Sharon, with everything you said. I can tolerate stevia and just suggested protein powders that are easily accessible. You gotta choose from what you have, right?! I agree about sugar. I wish there was less hype about next miracle food and quality food with quality ingredients was widely available. Life would have been so much more simple.

  8. I use Powerootz Superfood Nutritional Shakes. The taste is out of this world (especially the chocolate PB madness!) and there are no gritty textures. I really like how it has clay minerals and 15 raw superfoods in it to. Cant beat the taste and quality! I have tried almost all of these that you posted and they dont even come close to how good powerootz tastes! You should try them out!

  9. Thank you for this review! I found it when doing a search to compare Orgain (which I currently use) and Plant Fusion. This is great!

    1. Stevia is not an artificial sweetener but rather a plant. It will be very hard to find a plant-based protein powder without stevia… IMHO, stevia is the least of all evils.

  10. Hi- I have transitioned to a vegan diet but find that I may not be getting enough protein, especially in the mornings when I’m in a rush to get to work. So for breakfast I’m trying out smoothies with added protein powder and so far have only tried the vanilla Pure Food pIant based protein powder. No verdict yet on it. But this powder also has stevia, which I dislike. Two questions: Is there a reason why manufacturers don’t use organic Xylitol instead, aside from possibly a little extra cost? Xylitol (from birch trees, not from corn) is great, with no aftertaste. I buy it in granulated form and use it instead of other sweeteners for all food preparation. Is there something unhealthy about Xylitol which I don’t know about?

    1. Hi Ashley. Orgain is sweetened with stevia. No added sugar or artificial sweetener. Yes, Orgain is sold in Costco and pretty much anywhere. I remember I wasn’t crazy about Shakeology because it contains GMO ingredients so I decided to use organic protein powder.

  11. Hi you say you don’t like stevia yet everything on the list contains stevia, if you don’t like it why not advertise ones that don’t have it in?

        1. Then plant based protein powder might not be for your tastebuds. You won’t find any better tasting than Orgain and without stevia for sure. You should try organic or grass fed whey protein.

          1. I’m the point where I want to find a plant-based protein powder sans stevia. I’ve sampled nearly all the vega one flavours (and some other brands) and I can’t get past the stevia. If I HAD to use something it would be the “natural” Vega One flavour, but would prefer any of it without stevia. Bummer.

          2. Might not find any…I think without stevia plant-based powder would taste much worse. There is plain pea, brown rice and hemp protein powder but taste…ew. Maybe there is just erythritol sweetened flavoured protein powder?

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