If you ever scan the shelves of protein supplements, you’ll notice that the majority of them contain ingredients derived from animal products. Whey, casein, and creatine are probably the most common protein sources.
For any vegan, these are obviously not suitable, but there are very good health reasons to switch to a vegan protein powder even if you have meat and dairy products in your diet.
Personally, I have switched to a plant based protein powder for quite a while, and I have done some testing with pea, rice, and hemp protein.
For this review, I want to focus on the pea based products that seemed to have become a lot more common.
Our Top Pea Protein Recommendations
Plant based protein supplements are pointing the way to a healthier future, and it is at the forefront of that movement.
#1 Transparent Labs
#3 Zen Principle
#4 Naked Pea
1. Editor's Choice: Transparent Labs Organic Vegan
I have been using this company’s products for almost a year now, and this vegan protein powder is probably one of my favorites.
What I like most is that they have kept it simple with a blend of pea and rice protein.
According to the manufacturers, there are no additives or artificial sweeteners, and I have to agree with so many reviews that say it’s not too sweet or fake tasting.
My personal experience has been very positive, and it continues to support me in cutting and bulking phases of training.
It’s easy to mix and doesn’t need to be blended, but I would love to see an unflavored option, so I can mix it with food or a smoothie. Still, it’s my top recommendation for organic pea protein powder.
2. Norcal Pea
This vegan protein powder is one of the most positively reviewed pea protein powders on Amazon, and it has been a go-to option for quite a few people on our team here.
The pea protein isolate does cover a wide range of amino acids, which your muscles will need to build strength. However, the packaging doesn’t point out that peas don’t provide the full range of essential amino acids .
You could mix it with grass fed milk, or stack it with brown rice or hemp to get a broader coverage.
The only thing I would say is that you want to give yourself some time with a shaker, as many athletes have reported that it can have a bit of a lumpy texture.
3. Zen Principle Powder
This is another solid way to boost your post workout protein intake to help with muscle recovery. If you like to be certain about the source of the raw nutritional ingredients, then the USDA certificate will be of interest.
Each serving provides 23 g of quality protein, which is easy to digest no matter what sports you’re into.
I should also point out that the makers highlight that it contains BCAAs.
These are essential amino acids that are important for building new muscle fibers, which this interesting study confirms .
The only thing I would caution about is that it doesn’t have the best taste as a shake, but is very suitable for mixing with meal recipes
4. Naked Pea Supplement
Naked Nutrition is one of the bigger companies that make vegan protein powder and other supplements. I have used the unflavored option quite a lot to mix in with some recipes for morning shakes.
The protein source is yellow peas, and with 27 g of protein, it provides the largest amount of all the options on this list.
That makes it especially suitable for athletes and fitness enthusiasts who spend a lot of time at the gym.
The only downside I found is that it does contain a small amount of sugar, and unlike some of the above options, there is no fiber to help with digestion and hunger cravings.
BulkSupplements has possibly got one of the largest product ranges with all of them available in large bulk-orders at an affordable price when you work it out per serving.
I like that it comes in pouches, which are easier to carry in a gym bag, and importantly, it’s easy to close the pouches after use to avoid a total mess in your bag.
This plant protein supplement really is a no-frills product, which is actually a good thing. They haven’t spent thousands on fancy packaging and designs but rather created something that many athletes say is very easy for your body to absorb.
If you prefer a tasty protein shake, then you may want to go for one of the above options, as this one is only available as unflavored.
6. NOW Foods
OK, here’s the last recommendation for vegan protein powders, and from a nutrition perspective, it is on the lower side of the amounts of protein it provides.
However, this does make it easier if you aim to take smaller volumes a day.
The family-owned business says that they don’t use any chemicals in the extraction process, which is nice to see in an industry where such methods are often used to cut costs.
Of all the options on this list, I find this the most difficult to mix, which is why I would recommend blending it with smoothies.
Why Is Pea Protein A Great Alternative?
The main reason for taking a protein supplement in the first place is to help with weight loss, building muscle mass, and speeding up muscle recovery. Whether the protein comes from an animal or plant based food source doesn’t matter so much to your muscles.
But the source can matter to your stomach.
One of the benefits of vegan protein powder is the bioavailability of the protein. This refers to your stomach's ability to fully absorb all the nutrition, and when it comes to pea protein, it really is one of the best for your digestion.
Also, the majority of dairy-based products will extract and isolate the protein using enzymes and chemicals. Over time, this can have an impact on your gut flora, which can make general food digestion a bit of a problem.
That’s why I always recommend an organic stack of different plant proteins.
Does Pea Protein Have Any Side Effects?
No, pea protein doesn’t have any side effects, unless you have some rare allergy to peas. It is far more likely that you have some gluten intolerance, and all the above products won’t cause a problem for celiacs.
Now, I do have to mention that even organic plant-based protein can cause some stomach turmoil if you take very large volumes of it in one go. While high-performance athletes may require several scoops a day, it’s best to spread them out a bit.
How Does Pea Protein Compare To Whey?
One of the main advantages of the majority of plant based protein powders is that it can be extracted without the need for chemicals.
No matter how safe those chemicals are, they can impact your digestion.
There’s still a lot of research going on, so it is something to pay attention to and read more about as studies are released.
On the downside, pea protein doesn’t provide the full range of all essential amino acids. That is something that whey is able to do. However, it’s a minor problem that can be fixed by mixing in some hemp or rice protein.
Finally, pea protein is also generally lower in calories than whey, which makes it more suitable for most diets.
Stacking With Other Plant-Based Proteins
I mentioned in the previous section that stacking vegan protein powder products is a good idea. By combining pea and rice protein, you will get the full range of essential amino acids.
The missing link in the plant protein can also be solved by taking hemp protein, which is the only plant-based option that covers the full range of amino acids.
I also like to switch things around a little just to make sure that my body doesn’t get too used to just one source of protein.
Is pea protein powder good for you?
Yes, pea protein powder is good for you as it is rich in amino acids that are easy to digest. It is the most popular source of protein for vegans and used by non-vegan athletes as a replacement for whey.
Is pea protein hard to digest?
No, pea protein is not hard to digest, but many people confuse this topic because it does take longer to absorb than whey. One reason for this is that whey has often been extracted using chemicals that partially break it down, but this isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Does pea protein cause inflammation?
No, pea protein doesn’t cause inflammation, and a lot of research actually points to the opposite being the case. Some people often misunderstand the fact that large doses of pea protein can cause bloating, but that is not the same as inflammation.
Does pea protein make you gain weight?
No, pea protein doesn’t make you gain weight unless you are in a muscle bulking phase to get leaner. Generally speaking, plant-based vegan protein is actually less likely to cause weight gain, because it contains fewer calories.
Which Pea Protein Should You Pick?
As you can see above, I have read through more online review comments than I can count, and there just seems to be one product I constantly go back to: Transparent Labs.
From a nutrition perspective, it has everything you need without any of the crappy baggage that so many protein powder supplements these days include.
While I personally don’t stick to a vegan diet, I still think it is a better idea than relying on whey or casein. Give it a try and let us know on social media how it worked out for you.
Transparent Labs Organic Vegan
Our #1 Pea Protein Powder