Protein powder has been the most popular fitness supplement for decades. And whey protein has been the most popular protein powder. But whey protein has become less and less popular over the last few years as athletes are increasingly turning to plant-based proteins. And vegan protein powders are becoming wildly popular among plant-based athletes. But, not only plant-based athletes are using vegan protein powders. The non-vegan is also seeing the vast benefits of vegan protein powder.
First Things First: Going Vegan Isn’t a Fad
Vegans and plant-based athletes are obviously at a forefront of the vegan protein powder movement. Much of the world is trending towards plant-based diets. Millennials are thought to be major drivers behind the shift away from animal-based products. Over the last three years, there have been a 600% increase in people who identify themselves as vegan in the United States. This group makes up roughly 6% of the population but is continuing to grow every year.
Among this group of vegans are professional athletes, including: JJ Reddick, Wilson Chandler, Venus Williams, Nate Diaz, Derrick Morgan, Jurrell Casey Wesley Woodyard. Many other professional athletes have transitioned to plant-based diets.
Why are People Going Vegan?
There’s one research that the vast majority of people decide to go vegan: their concern for animals. People are becoming more and more aware of the suffering that animals go through for no other reason than to provide humans with meat. In my estimation, the rise of animal suffering awareness correlates with the increase in social media. People can actually see the fear and harm that animals suffer while being raised and slaughtered. That has equated to drastic change when it comes to how people understand animal cruelty. It’s currently estimated that each person that goes vegan saves 100 animals lives per year.
The second major reason that people decide to go vegan is that it creates a more sustainable world. Raising animals solely to feed humans is a huge problem when it comes to creating a sustainable world. Raising animals is a drain on our resources. It’s estimated that 13 pounds of grain are used to produce each pound of consumable meat. This is food that could be used to greatly reduce global hunger and malnutrition.
When it comes to fitness – the end result of people adopting veganism and plant-based diets is that they’re adopting vegan-friendly supplements like vegan protein powder. This is helping vegan-friendly supplements become more mainstream within the fitness community.
Vegan Protein Powders are Here to Stay
While whey protein has typically been the go-to protein supplement within the fitness industry, that is beginning to change. Athletes who adopt plant-based diets and veganism are turning to vegan protein powders. And they’ve realized that whey protein is no longer the only option.
Vegan protein powders are able to produce the same muscle-building results – with added benefits and without the side effects of animal-based proteins like whey protein powder. We’re going to dive into the vegan protein powder vs whey protein powder debate in a second. But first, lets just make it clear that whey protein is not vegan.
Vegan Protein Powder is Better than Whey Protein Powder
There, I said it. And I’ll go to my grave defending this stance. Allow me to give you the four major benefits of vegan protein powders which make this a non-argument.
1. Vegan Protein Powders are Great for the Planet: Vegan protein powders are proven to be far superior for the health and sustainability of our planet. Choosing vegan protein powders protects the environment in several different ways: organic farming combats global warming, helps to improve depleted soils and helps sustain animal life and our planet’s water supply.
On the flip side, whey protein hurts the environment. Whey, in its simplest term, is the by-product of cheese production. It’s also a by-product of animal farming which is extremely harmful to animals and our environment. Studies have shown that it takes 720 pounds of milk to produce 5 pounds of whey protein powder. A cow can spend almost all of its life being impregnated to force continued lactation and to produce milk – and whey. Some people – like us – would classify that as animal cruelty.
2. Vegan Protein Powder Aids Muscle Recovery: There is a strange belief among some fitness enthusiasts that plant-protein isn’t as effective as animal-proteins such as whey when it comes to building muscle mass. But this simply isn’t true. Some plant-based proteins, such as pea protein, have been proven to be equally effective to animal-based proteins when it comes to increasing muscle thickness. When combining multiple protein sources, athletes are able to create a protein source that is superior and more balanced than animal-based proteins.
3. Vegan Protein Powder is Inherently Nutritious: Vegan protein powders offer much more than just protein. Their nutrient profiles contain a wide variety of vitamins, minerals and nutrients such as healthy omegas, calcium, fiber and iron. Chia, pea and hemp proteins are especially packed full of a wide variety of nutrients.
Additionally, vegan protein powders are significantly less likely to contain harmful additives. Vegan protein powders typically require less processing and additives to make them soluble.
On the flip side, whey is heavily processed and often times includes harmful additives and artificial sweeteners. During the production of whey, many of the vitamins and digestive enzymes are destroyed. Which leads to further tinkering by manufactures to artificially improve the taste and texture of the powder.
4. Vegan Protein Powder is Easy to Digest
Vegan protein powders are naturally easy to digest. Some plant-based powders such as pea and hemp protein powders are allergen free. This allows almost everyone to easily digest them.
On the other hand, whey protein is typically hard for most people to digest because it contains lactose. Up to 65% of people have a difficult time digesting lactose.
If you’re part of that 65%, then whey protein could cause fatigue, bloating, gas and intestinal discomfort.
Vegan Protein Powder vs Whey Protein Powder: Just Read the Label
When the average athlete is shopping for protein, they look at one thing: protein content. They want to know how much protein is in each serving. And we can’t blame them for this rookie mistake – we’ve all been there. In our estimation, this is what has allowed whey protein to remain a popular supplement for this long. But, as athletes research other alternatives such as vegan protein powders, they typically come to the realization that all of those ingredients listed on the back of the supplement are just as vital as the protein content.
Four Vital Considerations When Buying Protein Powder
1. Carbohydrates: Another misconception among some people within the fitness industry is that carbohydrates are bad. But carbohydrates should make up about 65% of your diet. Some people equate carbohydrates to fat. Yet, this is only a concern for those who live very sedentary lives because their body could store excess carbs as fat. However, most active people don’t need to be overly concerned about consuming carbs.
2. Fats: Speaking of fats, there is a huge difference between healthy fats and unhealthy fats. It is vital to know which type of fat you’re consuming and not to assume that all fat is bad. It’s also important to note that gaining fat is not solely a result of consuming fat. It’s a result of consuming calories – from any source such as fat, carbs or protein. Consuming more calories than you eat will always lead to weight gain. On the flip side, the opposite is also true.
Unsaturated fats are known as good fats. These are classified as polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Each of these fats can help lower cholesterol levels and reduce risk of heart disease.
Saturated fats and artificial trans fats are known as the bad fats. And guess where saturated fats are commonly found? In animal products such as meat, dairy and eggs. Artificial trans fats are commonly found in fried foods and prepackaged snacks. Vegan protein powders are typically significantly lower in harmful fats than animal-based proteins.
3. Calories: As mentioned above, weight gain and weight loss can be controlled by a simple calculation: calories in minus calories out. When this calculation produces a positive number – you gain weight. When it produces a negative number – you lose weight. But, it’s important to keep in mind that both protein and calories are important when it comes to building and maintaining muscle mass.
However, when your body is short on calories, it will believe that food is scarce. When this happens, your body will naturally lower its metabolic rate and burn fewer calories. In this state, it actually becomes harder to build and maintain muscle as the primary goal of the body is to survive – which makes it extremely difficult to thrive.
4. Fiber: Protein, fats, carbs and calories are often discussed when it comes to dieting. But fiber is also an important component of a balanced diet. Vegan protein powders, especially chia protein, are high in easily digestible fiber. Easily digestible fiber allows the human body to operate smoothly by normalizing bowel movements, maintaining bowel health, lowering cholesterol levels, controlling blood sugar levels and maintaining a healthy weight. Most people who consume vegan-friendly or plant-based diets are able to consume enough fiber through eating fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, nuts, seeds and whole-grain foods. However, using a vegan protein powder further boosts your protein intake.
Vegan Protein Powders and the Nine Essential Amino Acids
The primary benefit of animal-based proteins is that they are a complete source of amino acids. The essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. The nine essential amino acids allow your body to perform vital functions like protein synthesis, tissue repair and nutrient absorption.
The nine essential amino acids can’t be created by your body and must be consumed through your diet. These nine essential amino acids are commonly found in animal proteins such as meat and eggs.
Unfortunately, this could potentially put vegans and plant-based athletes at a disadvantage if they’re not careful. Not all vegan protein powders contain all nine essential amino acids. This is important to keep in mind when shopping for vegan protein powders.
This is, in part, is why chia, hemp and pea proteins are among our favorite proteins here at BioGains. Each of these vegan protein powders contain all nine essential amino acids.
Vegan Protein Powders: Our Three Favorites
If you’re familiar with BioGains, then you know we love of vegan protein powders. We try and test protein powders seemingly around the clock. But we don’t just sell anything we can get our hands on. We only offer the best products that we can possibly source. Leading us to only the best gluten-free, kosher, non-GMO, organic, raw and vegan products possible.
Out of all of the vegan protein powders we’ve put to the test, three have stood out amongst the rest. And they are chia protein, hemp protein and pea protein. Keep in mind that each of these vegan protein powders offer a slightly different nutrient profile. And each one comes with a unique taste – although, they’re all of the ‘nutty’ variety.
The Benefits of Chia Protein
1. Chia Protein Can Be Used as an Egg Substitute: This is probably the most common usage when it comes to vegans who love to bake – like us. Mixing chia protein with water enables you to avoid using eggs and boost the nutritional value of your recipe. It’s what we’d call a win-win.
2. Chia Protein May Help You Lose Weight: Chia protein powder has a unique feature which is its ability to absorb water. This essentially expands your stomach which signals your brain that you’re full – leading to fewer hunger cravings and weight loss.
3. Chia Protein Powder Contains High Quality Protein: While chia protein powder isn’t the most protein-rich vegan protein powder – it does contain quality protein. Chia protein powder contains a higher than normal amount of protein.
4. Chia Protein Powder is Low in Carbs and Fat: Chia protein contains only 8 grams of carbs per serving. And all eight grams of carbs are fiber. It also contains less than one gram of fat per serving – and none of that is unhealthy saturated or trans fats.
5. Chia Protein Powder is High in Antioxidants: Antioxidants fight the production of free radicals. Free radicals can damage cell molecules and expedite aging and certain diseases.
The Benefits of Hemp Protein
1. Hemp Protein Powder Repairs Muscles: It’s no secret that repairing muscle is a key component to actually building muscle. And that makes it one of the key components of this vegan protein powder.
2. Hemp Protein Powder Builds Lean Muscle: Hemp protein powder contains all of the muscle-building amino acids. These increase the body’s ability to complete protein synthesis and prevent muscle loss.
3. Hemp Protein Powder Boosts Metabolism: Consuming hemp protein aids the body in losing weight by boosting our metabolism. Healthy metabolism levels improve the body’s fat burning potential.
4. Hemp Protein Powder Boosts the Immune System: This vegan protein powder contains globular proteins called edestin and albumin. These help make up enzymes, antibodies and hormones that aid the immune system.
5. Hemp Protein Powder Increases Your Energy Levels: Hemp protein contains all of the essential fatty acids. These fatty acids produce more energy than carbohydrates. The fatty acids in protein break down slower, which also leads to prolonged energy that lasts throughout the day.
The Benefits of Pea Protein
1. Pea Protein Builds Muscle: Pea protein is probably the most whey-like plant-based protein due to its high protein content. It’s easily among the best plant-based proteins for building muscle.
2. Pea Protein is High in Plant-Based Iron: Iron helps transport oxygen through the blood. A lack of iron can cause fatigue, shortness of breath and weaker hair and nails. Iron deficiency is a fairly common problem among women.
3. Pea Protein is Low Carb: While pea protein is high in protein, it’s low in carbs. Our pea protein contains 12 grams of protein to only 1 gram of carb, per serving.
4. Pea Protein is Easy on the Stomach: Pea protein doesn’t contain any major allergens or lactose which makes it easier for the stomach to digest.
5. Pea Protein is Easy to Digest: Pea protein is a low glycemic food – meaning it’s easy to digest and digests quickly. It also makes you feel full longer which can aid in weight loss and prevent overeating.
Vegan Protein Powders: What Are They Good For?
In short, you can do everything with vegan protein powders that you do with whey protein powders. But, why would you want to? Whey protein has become so bland that the vast majority of people who consume it simply add it to milk or water and force themselves to drink it. This, doesn’t sound very pleasant to us.
At BioGains, we encourage our customers to be a bit more imaginative with their protein supplementation. We don’t want you to simply mix your protein powder with milk or water and suffer through drinking it. Because, truth be told, most people don’t enjoy it. And it’s hard to stick with things we don’t enjoy.
Here we focus on using vegan protein powders to boost the natural profile of the foods we enjoy and to make them even healthier. That way, you’ll be more inclined to stick with it and see results.
Each of our vegan protein powders are ideal for adding to a wide assortment of foods and baked goods. And, when you make these foods yourself, they’re much more nutritious than buying preservative laced protein bars or cookies off the shelf.
What can you make with vegan protein powders? You’re only limited by your imagination. Our customers have added protein powders to their regular foods such as cereal and oatmeal. They’ve also added them to baked goods such as brownies, cookies, cakes, cupcakes, protein balls and bars, donuts, muffins and pancakes – among many other things.
Ready to Boost Your Protein Intake With Vegan Protein Powder?
We encourage all of our customers to start with our three-pack variety bundle – especially if you’re new to baking with protein powders. This bundle includes each of our vegan protein powders including our chia protein, hemp protein and pea protein.
Each of these protein powders have a different taste – but they’re all nutty. If you’re just starting out, you can’t go wrong mixing any of them with peanut butter or chocolate! Be sure to check out or recipes here and share your recipes and photos with the #BioGains community on Instagram.