Sometimes you just need a little protein on the go, especially if you follow a vegan or plant-based lifestyle. With new vegan protein bars and shakes popping up everywhere, how do you know which ones are no better than a Snickers bar and which will keep you fueled for the next few hours?
First, you need to make sure it has at least 10 grams of protein. Bars that are mostly carbohydrate-based (I’m looking at you, granola bars) are just going to leave you hungry soon after and are not adequate for refueling after a work out. Next check out the ingredients. Does it contain sucralose, high fructose corn syrup, palm kernel oil, or sugar alcohols like mannitol, erythritol, or xylitol? Do most of the ingredients sound like food or a science experiment?
Now for the real test: does it taste great or leave your mouth feeling like you swallowed a mouthful of dirt?
Some of these bars I received for free at expos or were sent by the company and some I bought myself. I was not monetarily compensated for any review. The following vegan protein bars make our “best list” based on taste, ingredients, and nutrient content.
I’m hooked. GROW bars have jumped on the “sprouted” superfood trend and are the only bars I know of that are using sprouted raw watermelon seeds as the main ingredient. They taste great and have only 8 total ingredients. This is the best of the best in the vegan protein bars category.
This bar has a soft texture and the added bonus of probiotics and antioxidants from real fruits and veggies. The pumpkin spice flavor was my favorite. They have a few less favorable ingredients like evaporated cane juice, palm kernel oil, and agave but you also get an added bonus from superfoods like maca and camu powder, mangosteen, acai, and chorella.
You want something that tastes like a decadent dark chocolate candy bar or truffle? Square Organics is your bar. I couldn’t believe how tasty these things are, especially given that I don’t love the taste of many plant-based protein bars. In Orlando, you can find them at Whole Foods, Lucky’s Market, and some of the bigger, nicer Publix. The sugars are a little higher than some of the other bars on this list (11-13g), but like I said, they taste like candy. The chocolate-coated cherry coconut is my favorite. Square is offering 20% off any order on their website with the discount code “MEGAN20”.
Zing bars were made by registered dietitians who couldn’t find an adequate snack to recommend to their clients on the go. They’re non-GMO and get most of the protein from a nut blend, rice protein concentrate and pea protein. Zing gets major bonus points for covering 15% of daily iron needs—something many vegans need to supplement. The only downside is that you probably have to go to a specialty store like Whole Foods to find them.
The Bar Shack (Custom Made Protein Bars)
Have a food allergy and can’t find a vegan bar that meets your needs? Need something that fits your unique macronutrient requirements? Or just want to make your own bar with your favorite flavors? You can customize each and every ingredient, with every superfood you can think of. You get to name your bar and pick a label too, which is pretty awesome.
Nugo slim packs in 18 grams of protein for 180 calories. The main protein source is soy. You’ll love the chocolate mint if you like the taste of dark chocolate. The downside of these bars is they are pretty dry and crumbly and I would pick the other bars if it was a straight up taste test. The upside is that they tend to be cheaper and a little easier to find. Note that not all flavors of Nugo Slim are vegan.
Primarily made from nutrient rich hemp hearts, these hearty bars are great for vegans and carnivores and have the added bonus of healthy omega 3 fats.
Vega bars are the highest calorie bars on the list at 260 calories and are designed for those with an active lifestyle. They get their protein from organic sprouted whole grain brown rice protein and pea protein and have bonus nutrients from alfalfa, and SaviSeed. Perfect for post-workout recovery.
This bar is made mostly of an organic ancient grain blend of chia, oats and quinoa. You get the extra benefit of omega 3s and fiber from the chia but you have to like the texture of chia seeds to enjoy it.
I love their fun flavors like Superfood Chocolate Chip cookie, Chocolate + Tart Cherry + Pistachio, and Apple Chunk + Cinnamon + Nutmeg. You can get them online for about $30 per box (12 bars). They use pea protein as their protein source and monk fruit as a sweetener. I liked the texture better when I kept them in the fridge.
Do you have a bar that you think belongs on this list? Let us know!