Making Sense of Protein Powders – Pea, Hemp and Brown Rice Vegan Protein Powder

Making Sense of Protein Powders - Pea, Hemp and Brown Rice Vegan Protein PowderPhoto by Caroline

Soy is a vegan protein but many people cannot consume it for a variety of reasons: allergies, breast cancer history or medication interactions are the most common. But if someone is interested in eating a plant based or vegan diet, where do they turn to for a protein supplement?

Pea Protein Powder

Fortunately, there are as many options for vegan protein powders as there are vegan food sources of protein. Vegans can get plenty of protein via peas, lentils, beans, nuts and seeds. Vegan protein powders include some of these same food sources, like pea protein for example. Pea protein powder can be an excellent stand in for whey when baking protein pancakes and muffins.  Sun Warrior is a popular brand of vegan pea based protein powder. You can add it to shakes like this Cacoa Cherry Power Smoothie from Lindsey at Itz Linz or to make these energy boosting Pumpkin Spice Protein Truffles from Sarah Jane at FitBetty.

Hemp Protein Powder

Hemp is another great source of protein that we might surprise you. Hemp is very close to a complete protein, making it a great alternative for those with who can’t tolerate soy. It contains all the essential amino acids but in limited quantities. This means blending it with other proteins to give your body adequate amounts of all the essential amino acids. This also helps improve taste. Personally, I can’t do hemp protein powder all by itself. It has a very “earthy” taste that I don’t find very appealing.  I personally consume it in a protein powder blend called True Vitality. True Vitality also has algae based DHA, an Omega 3 fatty acid that is hard to get if you don’t consume fish.

Brown Rice Protein Powder

Another surprising protein source is brown rice. When I say rice you think of carbs, right? Brown rice protein powder, however, is manufactured to separate out the proteins to create a powder that is about 70% protein. Rich in glutamine, which promotes muscle recovery, brown rice protein powder can also make a great post workout shake alternative. Brown rice powder can be a bit gritty so it works best in shakes you actually put in a blender. I also like to blend it with the “sorta homemade yogurt” (from the Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions) book I make to boost the protein level before adding my blueberries.

While those are the three most common plant based protein powders, there are others to experiment with. With all protein powders, taste is also a big factor. If you can buy a few single serving packets to try out before you invest in a large tube or ask to borrow a scoop from someone when they extol the virtues of their favorite brand.

There are new protein powders and protein products (protein pudding anyone?) hitting the shelves all the time. What new protein powder have you tried with great success? Which ones are you curious about?

  • Linz @ Itz Linz

    great explanation of the protein powders! thanks for including my smoothie! :) :)

  • Sarah J. Darlow-Parker

    Great post! I have been using sacha inchi powder as a grain-free protein powder lately, too, and it doesn’t taste too bad. Thanks or sharing my pumpkin truffle recipe! :)

  • Pamela Hernandez

    Thank you for sharing it with me!

  • Pamela Hernandez

    Thanks for sharing the recipe with me!

  • Jody R. Goldenfield

    Great post Pamela!!!

  • Pamela Hernandez

    Thank you! I really appreciate that. :)

  • tim casentini

    love the post pamela, i learnt a lot! i am lactose intolerant and allergic to many ingredients, so pea protein and hemp are great alternatives. if you’re interested in pea protein, check out my website

    i do reviews of pea protein brands there!

  • Pamela Hernandez

    Thanks Tim!

  • tim casentini

    keep up the great work! if you’re interested in some pea protein reviews check out the link!

  • Ruth Valerio

    Thanks for this post. I’m trying to find a good way of getting protein into my twelve-year old daughter who has decided to go vegetarian. She doesn’t eat nuts sadly and there are only so many eggs a girl can eat! I was very interested to come across rice and pea protein blends. My question is, do I have to buy packets of the protein powders, or can she just eat rice and beans? Thank you.

  • Pamela Hernandez

    The answer is yes. She, like any of us, needs a variety of nutrients from a variety of sources. Protein powder can be an excellent supplement but eating “real food” is important. Beans of all varieties plus lentils, peas and edamame, chia seeds and hemp seeds can be great sources of plant based protein.

  • Ruth Valerio

    great, thank you