If you're trying to bolster your workout but don't want to consume any animal products, there are still protein bars or powders that cater to a vegan lifestyle. Protein bars especially can be a handy addition to your day, as they satisfy the physical urge to snack and keep your body nourished.
We've conducted hours of research to curate a list of the 10 best vegan protein bars on the market this year. Our favorite is Vega's Sport Protein Bar, which packs a generous amount of protein and contains BCAAs to help muscle recovery. If you need some extra help in deciding which product to buy, take a look at our buying guide. It was reviewed by a registered dietitian, and it's full of helpful tips for you.
There are several determinants when it comes to choosing the right vegan protein bar, some of which include the alternative protein source, the balance of macronutrients, price, and total calories.
Most protein products are sourced from whey, which is a very effective for protein production but is unfortunately sourced from cows. However, there are many plant-based proteins including pea, hemp, pumpkin seeds, brown rice, and soy. These sources are all backed by a raft of scientific studies and are safe and effective.
One of the most popular plant-based proteins is soy protein. It's rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). Many sports companies claim that these amino acids will help to build muscle, but studies have proven this claim to be unwarranted.
Still, BCAAs will help to reduce muscle soreness if consumed after a workout, and soy contains a generous amount of protein. About 35 percent of the calories derived from soybean products are protein. For reference, most meats have a protein content of about 23 percent per serving.
Pea protein is another great vegan protein source. The protein content for a serving of peas is between 23 and 30 percent. Also, pea protein is a rich source of iron, which is well-known to improve muscle mass and aid in weight loss.
Another common plant-based protein is hemp, which derives about 24 percent of its calories from crude protein. Unlike most vegan protein sources, hemp is a complete protein. That means that it contains all nine essential amino acids that the human body must obtain from food. Hemp has an earthy flavor and is also rich in fiber, fats, and minerals like magnesium, iron, and calcium.
You'll find that most vegan protein bars are made from a blend of different plant-based proteins. This is because some vegan protein sources like pea and soy don't contain each of the nine essential amino acids. To ensure your body is receiving the right balance of nutrients, try aiming for a hemp-based bar, or for a bar with a mix of different proteins.
When purchasing a vegan protein bar, it's important to decide how much protein you would need. On average, an adult should consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
But if you're aiming to increase your muscle mass, it's recommended that you eat about 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of your bodyweight.
If you want to lose weight, you should consume from 25 to 30 percent of your total daily calories. Studies have shown that consuming that amount of protein will boost metabolism and help you lose weight.
Many vegan protein bars boast a high amount of protein. However, when looking at the overall macronutrient breakdown, you will notice that they also contain a high amount of carbohydrates and fats. Carbohydrates and fats are not necessarily bad for us, but you may want to consider where these macronutrients are coming from.
Plant-based protein bars have lots of complex carbohydrates due to the plants' fibers and other natural nutrients. You should consider bars with a high fiber content as well since fiber not only enhances your digestive health but also keeps you feeling full for a long time.
However, processed carbs such as sugar may be included in a protein bar to make it taste better. This is normally fine, but if you have dietary restrictions caused by conditions like diabetes, you may want to keep an eye on the sugar content of your protein bar.
We recommend aiming for a sugar content of six to eight grams per protein bar. If this isn't sweet enough for you, it may be a good idea to look into protein bars with artificial sweeteners such as stevia. These will keep things sweet while bringing down the sugar count in your bar, but be aware that artificial sweeteners are highly processed and may leave an unpleasant aftertaste.
Complex carbohydrates are awesome and tend to have more fiber than simple carbohydrates. You will absolutely need some form of carbohydrates if you are using your bar as a pre- or post-workout snack.
Simple carbohydrates are helpful when you need quick energy, like with cardio. Complex carbohydrates provide energy more gradually, keeping you full longer. It is important to be aware of how much fiber is in your bars. Increasing fiber gradually and drinking adequate water can prevent GI discomfort.
Protein bars often have nutrient-filled fatty ingredients like flaxseeds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds. These generally fall under the category of saturated fats, which are said to be the healthier type of fat.
Some unsaturated fats that can be found in vegan protein bars include coconut oil and palm oil. If you're worried about your cholesterol, you may want to avoid higher concentrations of these unsaturated fats.
All of these vegan protein bars are a great choice to help you reach your fitness goals. Just remember, macro breakdowns are important, but a great tasting bar will help you stick to healthy eating habits.
*Please note that these products were chosen after extensive research by mybest writers. The choices are not necessarily affiliated with or recommended by Rachel Binkley. For more on our selection process, check out our content policy.
Garden of Life
Sport Protein Bar
Chocolate Lovers Variety Pack
The Simplest Protein Bar
Organic Plant-Based Performance Protein Bar
Organic Protein Bars
Protein Snack Bar
Vegan Birthday Cake Protein Bar
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Protein Bar
One Plant Protein Bar
Best High-Protein Vegan Bar for Active People
Best Variety Pack That's Keto-Friendly
Best Handmade Protein Bars With Minimal Ingredients
Best Sports Bar With Low Sugar and High Protein Content
Best Protein Bar for Those Who Want Less Sweetness
Best for a Soy-Free, Vegan Snack
Best Protein Bar for Indulging Your Sweet Tooth
Best Low Fat Bar With Lots of Protein
Best Low-FODMAP Eco-Conscious Protein Bar
Best Vegan Protein Bars With Unique Flavoring
|Type||Crispy mint chocolate, 12 pack||Chocolate sea salt, peanut butter chip, almond butter chip, 12 pack||Lemon cashew, 12 pack||Chocolate fudge, 12 pack||Vanilla almond crunch, 12 pack||Chocolate chip cookie dough, 12 pack||Birthday flavor, 12 pack||Chocolate peanut butter flavor, 12 pack||Sunflower butter and chocolate, 12 pack||Carrot cake flavor, 12 pack|
|Main ingredients||Brown rice protein, pea protein, tapioca syrup, and more||Flaxseeds, coconut oil, tapioca fiber, almonds, and more||Cashews, coconut nectar, pea protein, lemon extract||Tapioca, pea protein, almonds, cocoa, stevia, and more||Almonds, brown rice protein, pumpkin seed protein, vegetable glycerin, sunflower seed butter, and more||Protein blend, chia seeds, tapioca syrup, and more||Good greens protein, tapioca fiber, cane sugar, almond butter, and more||Brown rice protein, pea protein, soluble corn fiber, lactose-free chocolate coating (chocolate liqueur, cocoa butter, and more||Brown rice syrup, sunflower seed butter, sprouted brown rice protein, cacoa powder, sprouted flax, and more||Pea protein, rice protein, almond protein, soluble corn fiber, Maltitol, almonds, and more|
|Type||Crispy mint chocolate, 12 pack|
|Main ingredients||Brown rice protein, pea protein, tapioca syrup, and more|
|Type||Chocolate sea salt, peanut butter chip, almond butter chip, 12 pack|
|Main ingredients||Flaxseeds, coconut oil, tapioca fiber, almonds, and more|
|Type||Lemon cashew, 12 pack|
|Main ingredients||Cashews, coconut nectar, pea protein, lemon extract|
|Type||Chocolate fudge, 12 pack|
|Main ingredients||Tapioca, pea protein, almonds, cocoa, stevia, and more|
|Type||Vanilla almond crunch, 12 pack|
|Main ingredients||Almonds, brown rice protein, pumpkin seed protein, vegetable glycerin, sunflower seed butter, and more|
|Type||Chocolate chip cookie dough, 12 pack|
|Main ingredients||Protein blend, chia seeds, tapioca syrup, and more|
|Type||Birthday flavor, 12 pack|
|Main ingredients||Good greens protein, tapioca fiber, cane sugar, almond butter, and more|
|Type||Chocolate peanut butter flavor, 12 pack|
|Main ingredients||Brown rice protein, pea protein, soluble corn fiber, lactose-free chocolate coating (chocolate liqueur, cocoa butter, and more|
|Type||Sunflower butter and chocolate, 12 pack|
|Main ingredients||Brown rice syrup, sunflower seed butter, sprouted brown rice protein, cacoa powder, sprouted flax, and more|
|Type||Carrot cake flavor, 12 pack|
|Main ingredients||Pea protein, rice protein, almond protein, soluble corn fiber, Maltitol, almonds, and more|
If you want to make your own vegan protein bars, we have an easy recipe for you! This simple recipe, courtesy of Desserts With Benefits, doesn't require baking and only needs seven ingredients. So, let's get cooking!
Here are some commonly asked questions about vegan protein bars and the ingredients you can find in them.
The best source of protein will vary depending on your diet and lifestyle requirements. If you're a practicing vegetarian or vegan, plant-based protein will fit your needs, and in fact, will be your only choice. However, if you're just looking into plant-based or vegan protein bars for health reasons, here are some points to consider.
Plant-based protein will almost always contain fewer calories per serving than animal protein. Furthermore, plant-based products contain lots of fiber, which will help keep you feeling full for longer amounts of time. You may feel fewer urges to snack on a plant-based diet or after eating a plant-based protein bar.
However, plant-based proteins are rarely complete in terms of their amino acids. Animal protein always contains all nine essential amino acids, while many vegan-friendly protein sources are missing one or more. You may have to supplement certain nutrients when consuming plant-based proteins.
Still, plant-based protein can be a better choice for those suffering from health issues such as cardiovascular diseases or type two diabetes. They also contain just as many calories of protein per serving than animal-based products, and sometimes even more.
Plant based proteins are great because they help regulate cholesterol as well as reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. It is most important that you are consuming adequate protein in your diet.
Plant based proteins tend to be lower in fat, however it does take more planning and a larger quantity of food to consume the same amount of protein. Even if you do eat animal based proteins, I encourage incorporating some plant based proteins, as they bring added nutrients and are typically less expensive.
According to a study run by the National Kidney Foundation, plant protein may actually be better for your kidneys than animal protein. Previous studies have also shown that meat-based proteins create more phosphorous in the blood and intestines. While healthy kidneys function to remove excess phosphorous from your body, too much of it can cause kidney damage.
This isn't to say that meat will damage your kidneys, but if you suffer from kidney-related health issues, plant-based proteins may be a better option for you.
Vegan protein sources can be a concern for those with acute or chronic kidney problems, but they don't have to be excluded from the diet. Plant based proteins tend to be higher in phosphorus and potassium. Ready-to-eat plant based proteins may also be higher in sodium.
Individuals with chronic kidney disease do not want to overwhelm their kidneys with potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium or protein. It can cause additional stress. It all depends on the level of kidney function and treatment plan. Always speak with your doctor and a dietitian before making significant changes to your diet.
Soybeans contain isoflavones, which are hormone-like compounds created by plants. These compounds are similar to estrogen, and as such, it's commonly believed that soybeans can create hormonal issues in male consumers.
However, several scientific studies can confirm that isoflavones don't impact the hormonal balance of a male's body. Isoflavones don't overwhelm male testosterone levels, nor do the estrogen-like compounds "feminize" males who consume large amounts of soy.
Too much of anything can be a problem. Isoflavone is the biologically active component of soy. This does not significantly affect estrogen or testosterone levels.
Soy can potentially lower cholesterol and the risk of cardiovascular disease. The FDA recommends 25 grams of soy per day. It is helpful to get your protein from a variety of sources.
If you're looking for more healthy vegan snacks or protein shakes to supplement your workout, check out our recommended articles below.
Want to see more choices for protein bars? Amazon has a lot to recommend; but keep in mind not all of these are vegan.
This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary, as well as extra tips and advice. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.
Author: Jack Currie
Updated by: Erin Himeno, 11/12/2021
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