It’s not easy finding high quality sports supplements that are vegetarian friendly. I know because I am a vegetarian. But these do exist and in this guide I’ll pick out the best protein shakes for vegetarians, focusing on an array of different types and also looking at protein bars and other foods.
As you probably know if you have tried looking for vegetarian protein powders yourself, it can be bit of a minefield, so hopefully this will be able to help make your life easier.
Is Whey Protein Vegetarian?
Whey is vegetarian, so whey protein should be vegetarian, but there are rarely any statements to the fact on the product labels. In the past there have been claims that whey protein powders use non-vegetarian friendly ingredients, either as bulking agents or as ways to increase the protein content. I don’t know how true this is, but it’s hard to find a definitive answer and it is rather strange that they don’t all carry statements to the effect of “suitable for vegetarians”.
If, like me, you want to stick to using protein powders that carry this statement, then you have a few options. The first is to stick with the protein powders that do not contain whey. These include brown rice protein, soy protein, egg protein, hemp protein and pea protein. These are all vegetarian protein powders and most of them are also vegan.
There are many different brands out there selling these and you can also buy them as bulk, unflavored powders. One of the better ones is Pulsin, who are one of the kings of vegetarian protein powders, but bear in mind that there are many issues with such powders. They can be grainy, they can make you gassy and they don’t also contain as much protein per serving. They also tend to be expensive.
If you want to stick with whey proteins and casein proteins and to be 100% sure they are suitable for vegetarians, then take a look before.
True Vegetarian Protein Powders
Far too many sites mis-label supplements as vegetarian protein powders and only when you look at the product pages and the ingredients do you see that that’s not the case. For instance, you’ll see Mutant Whey listed under many “vegetarian protein powders” sections, but when you look at the ingredients it warns against contamination with shellfish. It’s a minefield, and the truth is that this contamination may also be occurring in the products that label themselves as suitable for vegetarians, but there is no way to guard against that.
One of the few top products that can be called a vegetarian protein powder is ON Gold Standard. This is the king of protein powders also happens to be suitable for vegetarians. As far as I know, this applies to all flavors. Take a look at our review of ON Gold Standard to see what the best flavors are.
Mars Protein and Snickers Protein (Not Vegetarian)
I have seen a lot of requests for these bars by vegetarians. They see that Mars and Snickers are suitable for vegetarians and because these protein bars are supposed to be similar, they think they are vegetarian friendly as well. But they are not.
The ingredients aren’t very clear about this and there is no gelatin listed there, which leads people to believe it’s okay. But you will notice “Hydrolyzed Collagen” listed as a main ingredient and what’s Hydrolyzed Collagen by another name? You guessed it, gelatin. So, if you’re wondering what makes Mars and Snickers protein bars non-vegetarian, that’s your answer.
It’s a bummer, I know. But there are other great tasting protein bars that are vegetarian friendly.
Vegetarian Protein Bars
Some of the best vegetarian protein bars are the ones produced by Pulsin. These are available in several flavors, including Maple and Peanut. They can be a little dry and the protein is often half of what you will find in other bars, but they are small and they are full of healthy ingredients, so they are complete bars.
The Syntha 6 bar by BSN is listed as being vegetarian friendly on many sites, but it’s not. You’ll also see Hydrolyzed Collagen on this ingredient label, which means it’s not suitable for vegetarians.
There are genuine vegetarian friendly protein bars out there though. These include Sci Mx Pro 2 Go, which has 20 grams of protein, and XL Nutrition Xtra. See Supplement Companies for info on these.
Vegetarian Mass Gainers
Here on You-Reviews we have not been overly kind to mass gainers in the past, as you can se on our Best Mass Gainers page and indeed on every other page that covers these products. They are overkill and that’s not healthy, especially if you’re not an athlete and you don’t really have room for all of those extra calories and empty carbs.
Still, each to their own and if you are a vegetarian and you are looking for a mass gainer that is suitable then here are a few options.
- CNP Professional Pro Mass: One of the top supplement companies out there, this is a great product that seems to be one of the few vegetarian mass gainers. There are 400 calories per serving and 35 grams of protein. There aren’t as many empty Kcals as there are in other vegetarian mass gainers either, so it’s all good.
- Reflex Nutrition Instant Mass: I like Reflex. They don’t always get a lot of respect and they don’t create products with big, bold labels and marketing schemes, which is perhaps why they are not as well known. But they always deliver a good product and have a lot for veggies, including this vegetarian mass gainer. It offers 54 grams of protein and stacks of calories, making it a true mass gainer.
- BulkPowders/My Protein: If you live in the UK, as many of our readers do, then you can get the Vegan Mass Gainer from BulkPowders, who can always be relied upon to deliver.
- MyProtein: MyProtein also have their own versions and they ship everywhere, but they are very slow and customer service is not the best. I buy there on occasion myself and actually have an order being processed at the time of writing. But it has been a week since the “expected dispatch date” and it’s still waiting in their warehouse. Prices are good, quality is good and if they could sort out the delivery and customer service they would be a great company overall.