According to The Vegan Society, interest in ‘veganism’ increased seven fold in the five years between 2014 and 2019, and in the last count by the non-profit organisation, there were 600,000 vegans living in the UK.
If you’re new to eating plant-based foods, one of the most common questions you’re likely to get asked is where you get your protein from. The answer is simple: you can get all the protein you need from a well-planned diet that includes lots of plant-based sources like tofu, beans, lentils, seeds and spinach.
That said, a protein powder can make sure you’re getting enough of the good stuff every day, especially if you’re keeping fit in lockdown and are hoping to make some gains in the muscle department. Here, we’ve found a handful of the best to whizz into your smoothies.
1. Form Nutrition Performance powder, Vanilla flavour, £26 for 520g (formnutrition.com)
Protein powders have a bit of a bad reputation for being chalky and unpalatable. This post-workout powder is incredibly smooth and doesn’t add that tell-tale unsavoury taste to your shakes. It’s made with brown rice and hemp protein, delivering 30g of protein with each serving (the British Nutrition Foundation advise the RNI for adults is 0.75g of protein per kilogram bodyweight, per day).
What we really like about this protein is that it’s also combined with curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory found in turmeric, and BCAAs, which are thought to increase muscle growth and reduce exercise fatigue. The vanilla flavour mixes really well with oat milk, bananas and peanut butter, but it also comes in a tasty Tiramisu flavour too.
2. Innermost Health Protein, Chocolate flavour, £29.95 for 600g (liveinnermost.com)
This chocolatey post-workout treat should ideally be taken within 45 minutes of exercise, or you can sip it as a daily drink to help top-up your protein intake. Because of its sweet flavour, it lends itself well to baking, and you can add it into cake recipes and chilled protein balls.
Innermost says they’ve specifically blended their pea protein with brown rice protein, as it contains all nine essential amino acids. A complete protein is one that has all of the essential amino acids, which can be tricky for vegans to find.
We also like that they’ve added adaptogenic ingredients into the mix, like Japanese medicinal mushrooms shiitake, maitake, reishi and cordyceps. Adaptogens are known for their ability to help the body and brain to fight stress.
3. Bulk Vegan Protein Powder, Unflavoured, £14.99 for 500g (bulk.com)
This smooth and silky powder uses pea protein, brown rice protein, pumpkin protein, flaxseed powder and quinoa flour to deliver 23 grams of protein per serving. As it’s unflavoured, it’s really versatile and can be added to pancakes, porridge and overnight oats, as well as veggie-packed protein shakes.
Crucially, it’s free from soya, dairy, gluten and any nasty additives, so it’s a great option for anyone with tricky dietary requirements.
4. No1jrish Pure Vegan Plant Protein, Salted Caramel, £24.99 for 525g (no1bootcamp.com)
There’s a generous 24.4 grams of protein per scoop of this powder, which uses a combination of pea, pumpkin and hemp protein.
Handily, the powder also includes 32% of your recommended daily intake of B12, a vitamin that’s only naturally found in animal products. B12 is an important nutrient that helps to regulate the nervous system and make DNA, the genetic material found in our cells.
Even though it’s salted caramel flavour, there’s less than a gram of sugar per serving in the powder, so you can satiate your sweet tooth without the energy spike and crash you get from raiding the treat cupboard.