Whether you’re out for a hike or just need a quick pick-me-up between meals, protein bars fit the bill. But finding a vegan protein bar that’s tasty and vegan? That’s a little trickier.
Protein bars are everywhere these days, but identifying delicious, nutritious plant-based options takes a little more investigation. Many manufacturers’ recipes include whey protein or honey. Others are packed with sugar and artificial ingredients which destroy any nutritional benefit.
To help you find the perfect on-the-go snack, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite bars that include vegan-friendly protein sources and taste great, too!
First, Why is Protein Important?
Protein is one of your body’s three macronutrients. (Carbohydrates and fats are the others.) Made of amino acids, proteins are the most commonly found molecules in body cells. Our bodies use proteins for almost every cellular activity, including:
- Metabolic reactions
- Immune response
- Cellular repair
- Blood cell creation
Your body can make most of the amino acids it needs, but there are nine we must get through our diets. For vegans, that means eating a variety of plant-based sources of protein like nuts, legumes, soy, seeds and grains.
How Much Protein Do We Need?
In short, it depends. Protein provides energy just like carbs, but our bodies don’t store proteins in the same way. Therefore, you need to eat protein every day to be healthy. The amount you need to consume depends on various factors such as your age, weight, level of physical activity, health issues and other factors. That’s why it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how much protein humans need. The USDA’s Dietary Reference Intake calculator is a useful tool to estimate the amount of protein you need each day as well as fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and calories.
Vegan Protein Sources
Vegans have many options for sources of protein.
Made by extracting protein from yellow peas, pea protein powder is great for any diet. It’s a great source of iron and aid in muscle growth and heart health.
Nuts have numerous health benefits and are a great source of protein. Nuts with the highest amount of protein per 28-gram serving include:
- Almonds (6 grams)
- Pistachios (6 grams)
- Hazelnuts (6 grams)
- Cashews (5 grams)
- Walnuts (4 grams)
Sunflower seed protein
A 1/4 cup serving of sunflower seeds offers 5.5 grams of protein, so these seeds are a protein powerhouse. They are also high in selenium and vitamin E.
Isolated from soybeans, soy protein is an excellent source of protein for anyone following a vegan diet. Naturally cholesterol free and low in saturated fats, soy protein is also a great source of fiber.
Brown rice protein
You may think of rice as a carb, but it’s filled with protein, too. Brown rice can be ground into a powder to use in baked goods, shakes and other preparations. Along with its 5 grams of protein per cup, brown rice protein powder offers a mild flavor that makes it perfect for many recipes.
Offering beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, hemp protein is made by grinding hemp seeds into a powder. It contains each of the nine essential amino acids our bodies need to function properly. A 1/4-cup serving of hemp protein includes about 15 grams of protein.
A cup of cooked quinoa provides about 8 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. Since it offers all nine essential amino acids and is gluten-free, quinoa is a perfect source of protein for people with celiac disease or similar conditions.
Chia seed protein
Chia seeds provide lots of nutritional benefits with very few calories. A one-ounce serving provides 4 grams of protein along with 9 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, 11 grams of fiber but only 137 calories.
Are Plant-Based Protein Bars Good for You?
They certainly can be. Picking the right plant-based protein bar can provide nutritional benefits. Consider what goes into a bar when determining its nutritional value. Nutritious vegan protein bars include unrefined grains, dried fruits, nuts and a binder to hold everything together. Avoid artificial fibers and isolate binders like corn syrup.
Which Popular Energy Bars are Vegan?
Clif Bars: With the exception of the Peanut Butter & Honey variety, all Clif bars are vegan.
Rx Bars: All Rx Bars include pasturized dried egg whites so they are not vegan.
Kind Bars: Most Kin Bars use honey as a binder so they cannot be considered vegan.
Quest Bars: Quest Bars include milk and whey proteins so they are not vegan.
Vegan Protein Bar Brands
Vegan Protein Bar Recipes
Making your own protein bars is a great way to control the ingredients and include your favorite type of plant protein. There are no-bake recipes as well as those that require time in the fridge or on the stovetop. You can even find recipes that sneak in veggies!
No. Quest Bars include milk and whey proteins.
Most are. The Peanut Butter & Honey variety is not vegan.
No. Rx Bars include pasteurized dried egg whites.
No. Most Kind Bars use honey as a binder.