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Vegan Protein Powder Benefits: Pros and Cons Explained

May 04, 2024

Vegan protein powder benefits by Robor Fitness


Are you looking to power up your workouts with a plant-based punch? Look no further than vegan protein powder. In this article, we'll uncover the secrets behind the rising popularity of vegan protein powder and its benefits. Whether you're a seasoned gym enthusiast or just starting your fitness journey, understanding the pros and cons of this nutritional powerhouse is essential.

From aiding digestion to building muscle and even contributing to a healthier planet, vegan protein powder packs a punch. But before you rush to stock up, let's explore the perks and potential pitfalls to ensure you make the best choice for your fitness goals. So, are you ready to unlock the potential of vegan protein powder? Let's dive in!


Vegan Protein Powder Benefits

Below are some key benefits of incorporating vegan protein powder into your diet. From promoting gut health to its environmentally friendly nature, vegan protein powder offers a range of advantages for gym enthusiasts and health-conscious individuals. Let's delve into each of these benefits one by one.


Gut Health

Gut health illustration

Ensuring diversity in your diet is critical to maintaining optimal gut health. You're giving your gut the variety it craves by incorporating various food choices, including different protein sources like vegan protein powder. Rotating protein sources keeps your meals exciting and supports a healthy gut microbiome.

Plus, switching up your protein sources helps prevent the development of food sensitivities, ensuring your digestive system stays happy and balanced. So, by adding vegan protein powder to your rotation, you're not just fueling your muscles – you're nourishing your gut too.


Easily Digested

Choosing a vegan protein powder can be a game-changer regarding digestion. These powders are often high in fiber, which promotes healthy digestion and keeps things moving smoothly. Unlike some dairy-based products that can cause bloating or discomfort, vegan protein powders are typically easier on the stomach.

By opting for a plant-based option, you're sidestepping potential digestive issues, allowing you to power through your workouts without discomfort. So, if you're tired of feeling weighed down by traditional protein shakes, it might be time to switch to vegan protein powder for a gentler, more digestible option.


Dairy Free

Going dairy-free has never been easier, especially with the rise of vegan protein powders. For individuals with lactose intolerance, these plant-based alternatives provide a perfect solution. Say goodbye to the discomfort and digestive issues often associated with dairy-based products.

With vegan protein powder, you can still enjoy the convenience of protein shakes without worrying about upsetting your stomach. If you have a milk intolerance, opting for a vegan protein shake opens up possibilities for your fitness journey. Check out our guide to the best lactose-free protein powders  for more options tailored to your needs.


Can Aid Muscle Building

How much protein to build muscle


To build muscle effectively, it's crucial to ensure you're consuming adequate protein daily to fuel muscle protein synthesis – the process vital for building new muscle fibers. Experts recommend a protein intake of 0.7-1g per pound of bodyweight to optimize muscle growth. However, meeting these targets can be more challenging on a vegan diet due to plant-based foods' typically lower protein content than animal sources.

Enter the vegan protein shake, your muscle-building ally. These shakes offer a convenient and efficient way to boost your daily protein intake, helping you reach your muscle-building goals. Whether on the go or struggling to fit in protein-rich meals, a quick shake can provide a substantial protein hit when needed.

Despite common misconceptions, recent studies from 2021 and 2023 have debunked the myth that plant-based diets are inferior for muscle building compared to omnivorous diets (1). Muscle strength and mass remain unaffected if daily protein intake targets are met, whether from animal or plant-based sources. So, remember, it's not about the source of protein but ensuring you get enough each day to support your fitness goals.


Great For Baking

When baking, finding the right protein powder can make all the difference. Plant protein powder steps up to the plate, offering a solution to common baking woes. Unlike collagen or whey proteins, plant protein absorbs liquids more effectively and tends to create thicker batters.

This means that plant protein powder is suitable for your favorite protein recipes and can enhance the texture and consistency of your baked goods. Whether you're whipping up protein-packed cookies, pancakes, or muffins, plant protein powder is your secret ingredient for delicious and nutritious treats that everyone will love. So, next time you're in the kitchen, consider reaching for a plant protein powder to level up your baking game!


Environmentally Friendly

Environmentally friendly illustration


Choosing plant-based protein shakes over animal-based ones is beneficial for your health and also a win for the planet. One critical reason for this is the significantly lower strain on land and water resources associated with plant-based protein production. Unlike animal agriculture, which requires vast land for grazing and growing feed crops, plant-based protein production generally requires less land and water.

Animal farming contributes to deforestation, habitat destruction, and soil degradation, all of which have detrimental effects on ecosystems and biodiversity. Additionally, animal agriculture's water footprint is considerably higher than plant-based protein production. Producing a pound of animal protein typically requires significantly more water than producing an equivalent amount of plant protein.

By choosing plant-based protein shakes, you're reducing your environmental footprint and contributing to conserving precious land and water resources. It's a small change that can make a big difference in preserving our planet for future generations. So, sip on your plant-based protein shake with a clear conscience, knowing you're fueling your body and helping protect the environment.


Can Help With Weight Loss

In the weight loss equation, it all comes down to the balance of calories consumed versus calories burned. Consuming more calories than you burn leads to weight gain while burning more than you consume results in weight loss. Here's where protein, particularly in the form of vegan protein shakes, plays a crucial role.

Protein is renowned for its ability to promote satiety. When you consume a protein-rich meal or shake, you tend to feel fuller for longer than meals high in carbohydrates or fats. This feeling of fullness is a critical strategy in preventing overeating. By reducing the urge to snack or indulge in larger portions, you effectively lower your "calories in," which is essential for shedding pounds.

Vegan protein shakes are an excellent low-calorie snack option. Averaging around 150 calories, they are a stark contrast to a typical sandwich, which could range between 400 and 700 calories. This makes vegan protein shakes a smart, low-calorie alternative for those mindful of their calorie intake.

Furthermore, the benefits of plant proteins extend beyond just weight management. They also contribute positively to metabolic health, especially among adolescents, where obesity is an increasing concern worldwide. Studies like the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence (HELENA) study reveal interesting insights (2).

This study found that adolescents consuming higher levels of plant protein had lower body fat percentages and Body Mass Index (BMI) compared to those with higher animal protein intake. While adequate protein is crucial for many physiological functions and aspects of development, the study suggests that increasing plant protein in diets, especially for adolescents, can be a strategic move.

It not only assists in controlling obesity but also offers potential benefits for cardio-metabolic factors. In essence, incorporating more plant proteins in place of excess calories and animal protein can be an effective approach to tackling adolescent obesity.


Better Vitamin Profile

Regarding nutrition, plant-based protein powders have an impressive edge over their whey counterparts, particularly in their vitamin and mineral content. Derived directly from vegetables, these powders are naturally packed with various essential nutrients.

Take pea protein, for example; it's not just an excellent protein source but also a powerhouse of iron. One serving can provide up to 35% of your daily iron needs. This is particularly beneficial for those who may struggle to get enough iron, such as vegetarians, vegans, or women with heavy menstrual cycles. Iron is vital for energy production and oxygen transport in the body, making it an essential nutrient for everyone, especially active individuals.

Additionally, plant-based protein powders like pea and soy are rich in antioxidants and vitamins, often absent in whey protein. These nutrients come from their vegetable origins, where they play roles in plant growth and defense.

When you consume plant-based protein powders, you're not just getting protein but also ingesting the beneficial compounds that plants have developed over millions of years. This includes a range of antioxidants, which help combat oxidative stress in the body, potentially reducing inflammation and improving overall health.

In summary, plant-based protein shakes offer more than just protein; they provide a spectrum of vitamins and minerals derived from their vegetable sources, including iron and antioxidants. This makes them a nutritionally superior choice for those looking to enhance their dietary intake of essential nutrients alongside their protein consumption.


Avoiding Chemicals

Avoid chemicals by using vegan protein powder


Opting for plant-based protein powders can be a wise choice for reducing exposure to certain chemicals and additives often found in animal products. When you consume animal-derived proteins, such as meat or dairy-based whey protein, you may ingest harmful bacteria, animal-based hormones, and antibiotics, especially if these products are not organically sourced.

These added substances, used in conventional animal farming to promote growth and prevent disease, can accumulate in the body over time, potentially leading to health concerns.

Plant-based protein powders, on the other hand, are less likely to contain these contaminants. Since they are derived from plants, they are not exposed to the same levels of antibiotics and hormones prevalent in animal agriculture. This makes them a cleaner, more natural protein source, especially for those who are cautious about the additives in their diet.

Moreover, plant-based diets have been associated with a lower intake of contaminants like heavy metals, which are more common in the food chain through animal-based foods. By choosing plant-based protein powders, you're not just opting for a healthier protein source but also taking a step towards reducing your overall exposure to potentially harmful substances that can accumulate in the body from animal-derived foods.

In essence, plant-based protein powders offer a purer, more natural alternative to animal-based proteins, allowing you to fuel your body without the added concern of unwanted chemicals and hormones.


Vegan Protein Powder Drawbacks

While vegan protein powders offer many benefits, it's also essential to consider some potential drawbacks. Like any dietary choice, it's about finding the right balance and understanding what works best for your body and lifestyle. In the following sections, we'll discuss some challenges you might encounter with vegan protein powders.

Whether it's the completeness of the protein source, cost comparisons, or taste preferences, being informed about these drawbacks can help you make the most educated decision for your health and fitness goals. Let's take a closer look at these factors to get a well-rounded perspective.


Not Every Vegan Shake is a Complete Protein Source

The 9 Essential amino acids


One notable challenge with vegan protein powders is that not all are complete protein sources. A complete protein contains all nine essential amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. These amino acids are labeled "essential" because our bodies cannot synthesize them; they must be obtained through our diet. Getting enough of these essential amino acids is crucial for maximizing muscle protein synthesis, the process of building new muscle fibers.

While animal-based protein shakes typically provide complete proteins, the same can't always be said for their vegan counterparts. For instance, pea, soy, and hemp proteins are complete sources, containing all essential amino acids. However, other plant-based proteins like rice, almond, pumpkin, and sunflower seed proteins are considered incomplete, as they are low in at least one of the nine essential amino acids.

For example, legumes often lack sufficient amounts of the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine, while grains usually have limited lysine content (3). This variation highlights the need for a diverse diet to ensure a balanced amino acid intake.

But this doesn’t mean vegan protein powders are ineffective. It simply implies the importance of consuming a variety of protein sources. By incorporating a range of plant-based proteins and other foods rich in different amino acids, you can compensate for any deficiencies in your protein shake. This approach ensures a balanced intake of all essential amino acids and adds variety to your diet, making it more enjoyable and nutritionally complete.


More Expensive Than Whey

Vegan protein powders often have a higher price tag than whey protein, and there are several reasons behind this difference in cost. One of the primary factors is the complexity and length of the extraction process required to isolate protein from plant sources. Unlike whey protein, which is a by-product of the cheese-making process and relatively straightforward to extract, plant proteins require a more involved procedure.

The process of extracting protein from plants typically involves several stages, including the removal of fiber and other non-protein components. This is necessary to ensure that the final product is high in protein concentration and meets quality standards. However, these additional processing steps require more time and more advanced technology and resources, contributing to a higher production cost.

Moreover, some plant-based proteins come from less abundantly available sources or are more expensive to cultivate than dairy. For instance, sourcing high-quality, non-GMO soy or peas can be costlier, mainly if they are organically grown. Additionally, as the demand for vegan products is still rising and hasn't yet reached the economies of scale of dairy-based products, this can also influence the overall price.

The higher cost of vegan protein powders largely reflects the more complex, resource-intensive process of extracting protein from plants, along with the costs associated with sourcing quality raw materials. While they may be more expensive, for many, the benefits of plant-based proteins, such as being more environmentally friendly and suitable for those with dietary restrictions, outweigh the additional cost.

Related: The Top 3 Cheapest Protein Powders


The Final Say

Vegan protein powders offer many benefits, from supporting gut health and muscle building to being kinder to the environment. They're an excellent choice for those with dairy sensitivities or those seeking a more plant-based diet. However, it's essential to remember that not all vegan proteins are complete, so diversifying your protein sources is critical.

Additionally, while vegan protein powders may be more expensive than whey protein, the investment is often worth it for the added health and environmental benefits. Ultimately, whether vegan protein powder is the right choice for you depends on your dietary needs, budget, and personal preferences. As with any dietary choice, it’s about finding the best balance for your body and lifestyle.



  1. Monteyne, A. J., Coelho, M. O. C., Murton, A. J., Abdelrahman, D. R., Blackwell, J. R., Koscien, C. P., Knapp, K., Fulford, J., Finnigan, T. J., Dirks, M. L., Stephens, F. B., & Wall, B. T. (2023). Vegan and omnivorous high protein diets support comparable daily myofibrillar protein synthesis rates and skeletal muscle hypertrophy in young adults. the Journal of Nutrition (Print), 153(6), 1680–1695.
  1. Lin, Y., Mouratidou, T., Vereecken, C., Kersting, M., Bolca, S., De Moraes, A. C. F., Cuenca-García, M., Moreno, L. A., GonzálezGross, M., Valtueña, J., Labayen, I., Grammatikaki, E., Hällström, L., Leclercq, C., Ferrari, M., Gottrand, F., Béghin, L., Μanios, Y., Ottevaere, C., . . . Huybrechts, I. (2015). Dietary animal and plant protein intakes and their associations with obesity and cardio-metabolic indicators in European adolescents: the HELENA cross-sectional study. Nutrition Journal, 14(1).
  1. Young, V. R., & Pellett, P. L. (1994). Plant proteins in relation to human protein and amino acid nutrition. the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 59(5), 1203S-1212S.

Thomas D
Thomas D


Thomas is a dedicated fitness enthusiast with over 12 years of experience in the gym. As a level 2 qualified gym instructor, he combines his passion for working out and nutrition to help others achieve their fitness goals. Thomas stays up to date with the latest fitness research and follows the work of top experts in the field. With a balance of textbook knowledge and real-life experience, he provides practical guidance to help others reach their full potential.

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