MENU
ConsumerLab.com Answers

Best Protein Supplements for Vegetarians & Vegans

Question:
What is the best protein supplement for vegetarians and vegans?

Answer:
As discussed in our review of protein powders, two very good sources of protein — whey and casein protein — are both derived from milk, so products that contain these may be suitable for vegetarians but not for vegans. Whey and casein are both complete proteins, meaning that they contain all of the essential amino acids. Whey protein is particularly high in branched-chain amino acids, which are important to replenish after exercise and are needed for maintaining muscle.  

If you prefer plant-based protein or are vegan, protein powders made from soy, rice, pea and hemp, or a mix of these sources, can be good choices. Soy protein is a complete protein, and is considered the most "heart healthy" -- but should not be taken if you have a soy allergy or thyroid condition. 

Rice and pea proteins can also provide all of the essential amino acids, and some studies have found them to be equal to whey in increasing strength and muscle when taken after resistance exercise. Hemp can also provide all of the essential amino acids, and is particularly high in the branched-chain amino acid arginine, although there is little research on its use for muscle building or sports recovery. Be aware that although these plant-based proteins provide all the essential amino acids, the ratios of these vary by protein source. Consequently, it's generally recommended that a mixture of sources be used, such as combining a grain-based protein, like rice, with a legume-based protein like pea protein. (Note: Arsenic contamination is a concern in rice-based products -- see the Warning and Quality Concerns for more about this; however, ConsumerLab.com tested protein supplements containing rice for arsenic (see the results in the third column of the Results table in the review)).

See the ConsumerTips section of the Protein Powders Review for more about these different types of protein.

Also see our Top Picks among supplements made from each protein source. 

To be sure a protein supplement does not contain any added ingredients which are non-vegetarian or non-vegan ingredients, you can check the full Ingredients List (provided for each protein supplement tested by ConsumerLab.com), or check the last column of the Results table in the Review, which notes products labeled as "Suited for Vegetarians" or "Suitable for Vegans."

Become a Member
INSTANT ACCESS TO REVIEW OVER 1000 PRODUCTS!


Learn More About Protein Supplements



When choosing a protein powder, which protein source is best -- whey, casein, soy, pea, rice or egg? >>

I'm a vegan but my doctor wants me to take fish oil with EPA and DHA. Is there something I can take that would be as good as fish oil capsules but would satisfy the needs of a vegan? >>



See other recent and popular questions >>
Comments
Add Comment

Katherina16844   May 16, 2018
Hi, I'd like to see Huel Powder reviewed. It's a protein blend and is 100% vegan. The company has registered nutritionists from the UK and a registered dietitian from the US on the advisory panel. It seems promising, but it would be nice to see the results from a third party. (Note: I have no financial interest in this product or any competing product)

Thank you

sergio17095   August 22, 2018
Id like to second this petition

Jeanne16524   March 2, 2018
I would like to see a review of the higher end vegan protein powders, such a Xymogen's Fit Food Complete, or the vegan versions of other brands. I prescribe and use the Xymogen and like it a lot. While the companies proved such information, I'd like to hear it from Consumer Lab as well!

Thanks

William15468   August 25, 2017
What is the significance of soy and breast cancer ? Does it make a difference if it is organic?

ConsumerLab.com   January 25, 2018
Hi William - Eating soy may help reduce the risk of developing breast cancer; however, women who have estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer and are post-menopausal should avoid taking soy phytoestrogens -- regardless of whether from organic or regular soy. Please see the see the Menopause Supplements Review (https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/soy-isoflavones_red-clover_black-cohosh_supplements/phytoestrogens/#soycancer) and the Encyclopedia article about isoflavones (https://www.consumerlab.com/tnp.asp?chunkiid=21778) for more information.

ConsumerLab.com   December 4, 2018
Regarding lactose intolerance and your avoidance of milk-based proteins -- whey and casein, consider using a lactase supplement or choosing a protein powder that contains lactase as an ingredient, as the lactase will break the lactose into sugars you can digest. You can look at the "Ingredients" page in our review to find a protein powder with added lactase. Also, see our Review of Lactose Intolerance Products (which includes lactase pills and lactose-free milks) at https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/lactose-free-milk_lactase-enzyme-supplement-review/lactose-intolerance/.

Elaine L15439   August 23, 2017
Unfortunately, I cannot use whey or casein as I am lactose intolerant. Also, soy is off my list as I'm genetically predisposed to breast cancer. At this time, I use egg white protein. Does anyone have any research on that? Thank you. Have a great day!

ConsumerLab.com   August 23, 2017
Hi Elaine - Yes the Protein Review also includes information about egg white protein powder, which you can find here: https://www.consumerlab.com/reviews/_/NutritionDrinks/#egg

Rebecca15433   August 23, 2017
Are there any data on the arsenic levels in rice protein?

ConsumerLab.com   August 24, 2017
Hi Rebecca - Yes, thank you for your question. We've now added information about this in the Answer above.

This CL Answer initially posted on 8/23/2017. Last updated 1/1/1900.

Add Comment...

Share your thoughts and comments about this topic in the space below. Please abide by the following rules:
  • If you make a statement of fact, such as whether a type of treatment does or does not work, state your basis -- such as personal experience or a published study.
  • If you make a positive or negative comment about a product, note whether or not you have a financial interest in the product or in a competing product.
  • Please be respectful in your tone.
  • Please do not submit any type of HTML markup or scripting as it will not be accepted.
For your privacy, only your first name (from your account) followed by a random number will appear with your comment. Your last name and email address will not be displayed.
Comment:

Add Comment...

Share your thoughts and comments about this topic in the space below. Please abide by the following rules:
  • If you make a statement of fact, such as whether a type of treatment does or does not work, state your basis -- such as personal experience or a published study.
  • If you make a positive or negative comment about a product, note whether or not you have a financial interest in the product or in a competing product.
  • Please be respectful in your tone.
  • Please do not submit any type of HTML markup or scripting as it will not be accepted.
For your privacy, only your first name (from your account) followed by a random number will appear with your comment. Your last name and email address will not be displayed.
Comment:

Edit Comment...

You can modify your comment below. Please be aware the comment will have to approve the changes before they will be shown:
Comment:
THANK YOU FOR SUCCESSFULLY UPDATING YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS!

PLEASE BE AWARE that the email address is now your sign-in email address, replacing any previous username. Your password has not changed.

If you do not receive our newsletter at this new address within one week, please contact support@consumerlab.com or call us during business hours at 914-722-9149 ext. 2#

ConsumerLab.com Customer Support

THANK YOU FOR SUCCESSFULLY RESUBSCRIBING TO THE NEWSLETTER!

If you do not receive our newsletter within one week, please contact support@consumerlab.com or call us during business hours at 914-722-9149 ext. 2#

ConsumerLab.com Customer Support