Protein bars are a fantastic way to add extra nutrients to your diet. They’re also filling and are extremely portable. But, how do you find the best vegan protein bars?
There are countless plant-based protein bars out there but most of them aren’t that good for you.
Instead, they rely on natural sugars, fruit and agave nectar to bind them together. Others are packed with artificial ingredients, including binders, flavors and sweeteners.
The bars in this list are different. They’re the best of the best. They are all relatively low in sugar and are a decent source of protein.
What’s more, they rely on whole food ingredients - and are popular among vegans.
What are you waiting for? Check them out!
1. No Cow Protein Bars
Flavors: Lemon Meringue Pie, Blueberry Cobbler, Carrot Cake, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Chunky Peanut Butter, Mint Cacao Chip, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Raspberry Truffle
No Cow specifically focuses on making protein bars (and protein cookies) that are nutritionally sound. The bars contain 22 grams of protein, 17 grams of fiber and only 1 gram of sugar. Their ingredients list is also impressively short.
There are 200 calories in a bar. That’s a reasonable amount for the protein you’re getting. The macronutrient combination also means these bars could work well for a low-carb or perhaps even a keto diet.
The bars are popular and there are plenty of flavors to choose from. The biggest limitation is simply the price. You are paying more per bar than with many other entries on this list.
Additionally, No Cow does rely on sugar alcohols, which are a type of low-carb sweetener. Many people can tolerate them but some do have a negative reaction.
2. Papa Steve’s No Junk Raw Protein Bars
Flavors: Apple Cinnamon Pecan, Banana Oat Dark Chocolate Chip, Cranberry Almond, Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew, Dark Chocolate Coconut, Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond, Mint Chocolate Chunk, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
Papa Steve’s is intent on avoiding many of the ingredients you find in other brands. The end result is hearty protein bars that don’t rely on fillers or additives.
The nutrients vary based on flavor, but you’re getting around 16 grams of protein per bar, along with 15 grams of fiber and 10 grams of sugar. The bars are 300 calories each – so they might be too calorie-rich for a simple snack. Despite that, they’d work well in some situations.
With this company, choosing your flavors carefully is important. Some contain more sugar than others. There are also some non-vegan flavors in the mix. You’ll want to avoid those if you’re looking for vegan options.
One other thing. The bars tend to be paleo-friendly. That’s not the case for many other companies.
3. Vega Protein Snack Bar
Flavors: Chocolate Caramel, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Blueberry Oat & Coconut Almond
With roughly 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber per serving, these protein bars are pretty powerful as snacks. They’re also relatively low in calories, with the Chocolate Caramel version containing just 180 calories for a 45-gram serving.
Vega is also an exceptionally good brand, one that already focuses on vegan food. Their products always get good reviews, including these protein bars.
The bars also include extra ingredients to add to the nutritional value, such as chia seeds, almond butter, and cocoa powder.
That being said, the bars do contain 11 grams of sugar and 21 grams of carbs. They’re also relatively processed, with ingredients like sunflower lecithin, natural flavor and palm kernel oil.
4. Vega Protein Bars
Flavors: Chocolate Peanut Butter, Salted Caramel
Vega also has a second main type of protein bar, designed for performance. This one contains 20 grams of protein, making it much more filling, along with 4 grams of fiber.
This time, the calorie count is 290 and there are 16 grams of sugar per serving (26 grams of carbs).
The numbers are higher, but the bar is designed more as a meal replacement or a sports product, not as a snack.
The limitations here are similar to the Vega snack bars. These bars are still fairly high in sugar and are more processed than we would like. But, if you want 20 grams of protein, they’re not a bad choice.
One other thing, reviews. Of the two Vega options, these bars don’t fare as well. They still get good reviews but the responses are more mixed.
This may be partly to do with the protein content. Many people find that high protein bars don’t taste good or are difficult to eat.
5. Garden of Life Organic Performance
Flavors: Peanut Butter Chocolate, Chocolate Fudge, Chocolate Mint, Sea Salt Caramel,
Garden of Life is a second high-powered vegan company and their products tend to get great reviews. These protein bars offer 20 grams of protein per serving, along with an impressive 9 or 10 grams of fiber.
The style is similar to what Vega offers. This means the bars rely on natural ingredients but they are relatively processed.
They’re also high in carbs, with 33 grams of carbs per serving. Still, there is more fiber than normal, so the net carbs aren’t as bad as they first seem. The sugar content is relatively low too – at 8 grams. That’s not too bad for a bar with 20 grams of protein.
6. Raw Rev Glo
Flavors: Peanut Butter, Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Creamy Peanut Butter & Sea Salt, Double Chocolate Brownie Batter, Crunchy Peanut Butter & Sea Salt, Dark Chocolate Espresso Crunch, Dark Chocolate Cashew & Mint, Mixed Nuts, Caramel & Sea Salt
At around 180 calories, these bars are a good choice in many situations. The company is a smaller one but that’s not always a bad thing. If nothing else, their bars are popular and feature on many recommended lists.
The 46-gram bars contain 11 grams protein and 13 grams of fiber. Those aspects should make them filling. There are only 3 grams of sugar too, which is very good.
11 grams of protein isn’t the most amazing amount – but it’s more than enough for a snack.
The ingredients list is appealing too and includes sprouted flax seeds, organic chia seeds, and virgin coconut oil. The goal is to provide various superfoods and associated health benefits.
This brand actually has two different sets of products. There is a second one called Raw Rev Organic that may sound more appealing. But, those bars aren’t as powerful. They only have around 5 grams of protein and contain 17 grams of sugar. So, they’re basically a candy bar.
7. Dale’s Raw Foods
Flavors: Blueberry Macadamia, Café Mocha, Carrot Cake, Cherry Pistachio, Chocolate Almond Coconut, Chocolate Cheesecake, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cinnamon Roll, Cookie Dough and many more.
Where to Find: The company’s website only
Dale’s Raw Foods has an impressive array of flavors (we only listed around half of them). The bars are also made fresh each day and then shipped out.
The style is unusual but it clearly works. The company is even considered one of the best choices for protein bars. Key advantages include the following:
- 100% raw
- 90% organic ingredients
- Avoids soy, stevia and wheat
- No GMO ingredients
- No artificial flavors or preservatives
- Relatively short ingredients list
Nutrients vary per flavor. But, for their Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bar, you’re looking at 22 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber and 256 calories. The bars only contain 6 grams of sugar, which mostly comes from organic dates and coconut nectar.
The lack of preservatives does have one limitation – the bars don’t last as long as you might expect. Their shelf life is just 30 days.
This can be extended to 60 days if you refrigerate them and 90 days if you freeze them. Either way, the limited shelf life could be an issue, especially if you want something to take with you on the go (or if you don't eat protein bars all that often).
8. Orgain Organic Protein
Flavors: S’mores, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip
These bars are perfect if you want something a little lighter. They have around 10 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber, along with 5 grams of sugar. Each bar is just 140 calories – making these more versatile than many other entries on the list.
The bars are also organic, soy-free and gluten-free. Reviews tend to be positive, with many people loving the flavors.
This is another brand that uses sugar alcohols. If you’re sensitive to these, consider a different type of protein bar.
Our Top Choice
Everyone has different preferences and needs – so there is never a single best product. But, of all the items in this list, we recommend either the No Cow Protein Bars or the Papa Steve’s No Junk Protein Bars.
Both companies have a strong emphasis on quality and on avoiding additives. Of the two, No Cow offers a better nutritional profile, with 22 grams of protein and only 1 gram of sugar per serving. But, the ingredient selection from Papa Steve’s is powerful and the bars may be more relevant in some cases.
What Are Vegan Protein Bars?
As you will have seen from the list, vegan protein bars can come in many different types.
To get the most benefits, you need to choose your bars carefully.
Key Things to Look For
Regardless of whether you choose a bar from this list or something else, there are some key areas to consider. These determine whether a bar is a good choice or not.
Focus on whole food ingredients wherever possible. Avoid bars with too many additives or long ingredients lists.
You should already be familiar with most or all of the ingredients on the product label.
2. Protein and Fiber Content
You’re focusing on these bars for the protein they contain – so don’t settle for any bar that’s low in protein. Ideally, you want at least 7 grams of protein per serving, more if it is a high-calorie bar.
A similar thing is true for fiber. Look for bars that have at least 3 grams of fiber. This isn’t as essential but fiber does help promote health and plant-based protein bars can be a good source of fiber.
Calories are always controversial. You don’t need to count calories to lose weight. But, being aware of them can still be important.
Protein bars can be calorie-dense and they’re very easy to eat. So, you do need to pay attention.
As a general rule, somewhere between 150 and 200 calories is a good choice if you want the bar as a snack. If you’re planning to replace a meal (which we don’t recommend), you could choose a bar that’s higher in calories.
Of course, the best calorie intake for you will depend on your diet and lifestyle.
People who are very active will need more calories. You might also need more if you’re not getting enough nutrition elsewhere.
Sugar can be sneaky and too much of it isn’t good for your health.
Don’t just trust the marketing either. Some companies will make claims like ‘no added sugar’ – simply because they use a large amount of fruit instead. Some sources of sugar might be healthier than others but sugar is still sugar.
Keep an eye on the macronutrient distribution too. Some protein bars will be relatively high in carbs. Others will be higher in fats, with relatively few carbs.
We’re not going to debate the merits of fats versus carbs here (although, Nutrition Stripped has an interesting article on the topic, as does Healthline). Either way, you need to choose a bar that matches your nutrition goals.
To do so, you’ll need to keep an eye on the macronutrients and the ingredients label.
Are Protein Bars Healthy?
Okay, okay. Protein bars are heavily debated. Many people love them. They’re fast, easy and often taste great. You simply pop them in your bag and you know you’ve got an appealing snack whenever you need it.
But, of course, there are issues too.
The bars are more processed than a whole food snack, like a handful of nuts. They are often calorie-dense and they can taste amazing. Those factors make them easy to overeat. Plus, protein bars encourage snacking on the go, which isn’t always a good thing.
So, are vegan protein bars healthy?
The simple answer is yes, as long as they complement your current diet and lifestyle. For example:
- Be careful about replacing meals with protein bars. The bars are rarely satisfying enough and won’t typically give you all the nutrients that you need.
- Be aware of the calorie content. A protein bar will typically contain many more calories than a banana or peanut butter on an apple. That’s an issue if you’re only using it as a simple snack.
- Don’t overuse them. Protein bars are a great snack, on occasion. But, most people shouldn’t have them every day.
- Relate them to your exercise. If you work out often, you may need to rely on protein bars more heavily. You might also want to time them around when you work out, such as immediately before or after.
After all, protein does offer many health benefits. It helps to keep you full and is particularly significant for muscle maintenance and development.
Protein bars aren’t for everyone. Some people don’t like the concept, others find that they just get hungry immediately after having one.
But, if you’re one of the many people who love protein bars - the items featured in this list are all great choices.
They’re not just for vegans either. The bars will work well on many different diets. Some will even be suitable for low-carb or keto diets (just check the carb count first). If nothing else, they’re something new to try and there are plenty of brands and flavors to choose from.
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