Everyone needs some protein every day – there’s no way around it! Our bodies require it to function and stay healthy, though requirements do vary. The average adult may need around 50 or 60 grams a day, but that can change based on weight, lifestyle, and activities. Bodybuilders and athletes, for example, may need upwards of 100 grams to maintain their desired physique and energy levels.
Regardless of how much you need, protein is always going to be a part of a healthy diet. For some people, it can be difficult to get enough depending on dietary restrictions, allergies, intolerances, or even preferences. The most obvious source of protein is meat, but that’s obviously out of the question for anyone committed to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. Protein bars are another popular source as they are convenient, portable, and often quite delicious.
The problem with protein bars is that they’re often full of sugar and other questionable ingredients just to get you to the 10 or 20 grams per bar that everyone expects. Unfortunately, finding good quality protein bars can be quite tricky, and even more so if you require vegan protein bars. This list of tasty, healthy, and convenient plant-based protein bars is a great place to start, as the products rely on quality, good-for-you ingredients, and excellent levels of plant-based protein.
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The Best Plant-Based Protein Bar Brands
1. GoMacro Protein Bars
GoMacro Protein Bars are clean, lean, and entirely plant-based. They’re certified vegan, non-GMO, gluten-free, soy-free, kosher, and FODMAP friendly. They are made with only the highest-quality, sustainable ingredients such as brown rice and pea protein, and organic coconut sugar.
The company and their impressive products were born when co-founder Amelia Kirchoff was diagnosed with cancer. She decided to adopt a healthy, plant-based lifestyle as a way to help fight the disease and her daughter was on board. Together, they researched, experimented, and ultimately founded GoMacro and the clean, raw, healthy bars we have today.
They have a large selection of flavors, all of which use real foods to create the varied flavors and textures. For example, the chocolate peanut butter bars have organic peanut butter, organic peanuts, and organic, plant-based chocolate chips. The cashew caramel bar has organic cashew butter, organic cashews, organic flax, and organic cinnamon.
Each bar contains 11 grams of protein and about 270-280 calories. This is about average for a protein bar and works nicely as a mid-day pick-me-up, a post-workout snack, or a nice complement to a breakfast meant to start the day off right.
2. Larabar Protein
Larabar Protein Bars are exactly what you want your plant-based protein bars to be. The bars are made primarily with peas and nuts, creating flavors that are made to bust cravings in a healthy way. Each flavor contains only eight ingredients or less and is dairy-free, vegan, and non-GMO.
Larabar has a simple story. Founded by a passionate women named Lara, she held the belief that real foods should be fun, tasty, and easily accessible. She began working on her idea and tested many different recipes on friends and family until one finally got consistently good reviews. From there, she developed Larabar and the several delicious flavors we have today.
The almond butter chocolate brownie flavor is the protein-focused version of the bars with 11 grams of protein. The ingredients include dates, almonds, pea protein, cocoa powder, sea salt, and plant-based, semisweet chocolate.
Other flavors include peanut butter cocoa, regular peanut butter, and chocolate chip. The other ones offer slightly less protein at 4-7 grams but are still a powerhouse of clean, raw nutrition.
3. Health Warrior Pumpkin Seed Bars
Health Warrior Pumpkin Seed Bars have pumpkins seeds as the first ingredient. Pumpkin seeds are highly underrated as a tasty snack and source of protein. They’re pretty high in protein as seeds go and are also chock-full of other nutrients. The bars are lower in protein than some other options at seven grams, but they’re also lower in calories at about 190.
Other than pumpkin seeds, ingredients include coconut oil, almonds quinoa, sea salt, cocoa powder and extract, and real coconut flesh, as well as coconut nectar. The bars are all certified organic, non-GMO, and gluten-free. Flavors include dark chocolate, dark chocolate coconut almond, honey sea salt, and dark chocolate peanut.
They also have a line of chia seed bars that are lower in protein but offer plenty of fiber and other powerhouse nutrients, all within just 100 calories.
4. BHU Keto Protein Bars
BHU Protein Bars are not only packed with healthy, plant-based protein, but they’re keto-friendly. Keto is an interesting diet that many have found success with. It’s effective when done right and for the right amount of time but it can be hard finding things that fit into the diet – especially something so convenient like a protein bar.
These bars are also vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, certified organic, and contain no artificial ingredients. They have several flavors to choose from, but base ingredients include things like organic cashews, organic tapioca fiber, organic chocolate, organic pea protein, organic MCT oil, and organic vanilla. They offer 11 grams of protein and about 240 calories.
The bars are also shipped with cold packs and it's recommended you keep them refrigerated. This is another testament to the clean, raw, additive-free nature of the bars.
5. No Cow Protein Bars
No Cow Protein Bars were initially made to be dairy-free specifically. The bars were created and the company was founded by Daniel Katz, who was passionate about food, fitness, and health from a young age. He also had the drive to turn his ideas into reality, which is how he’s become so successful. Because of his busy schedule and frequent workouts, he ate a lot of protein bars but lamented the lack of dairy-free options, which is what he preferred. So, he made his own.
After much tweaking and trial and error, the final product is now not only dairy-free but completely vegan.
There are 12 flavors available, with protein content ranging from 20-22 grams per bar. This is high compared to many bars, making them perfect for plant-based enthusiasts who love to exercise, work out, and build muscle!
Ingredients include brown rice and pea protein along with almonds, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, natural flavoring, and a few others. The bars are also gluten-free, non-GMO verified, soy-free, and kosher.
Homemade Protein Bars
While these plant-based protein bars are all excellent choices for many lifestyles, sometimes it’s worth it to make your own, too! This way, you can control exactly what goes into the bar, how much protein it contains, and what flavors you want.
Making your own protein bars may sound daunting and there are certainly some complex recipes out there, but some are also super simple! Try one of these ones to get started:
Simple No-Bake Nut Bars
This easy recipe features a short list of simple ingredients: dates, rolled oats, chia seeds, almond milk, salt, vegan protein powder, and your choice of nut butter. The nut butter you choose will dictate much of the flavor, so there are plenty of variations here!
It’s as easy as blending everything together and letting them firm up in the freezer. The recipe guides you through the process to ensure you add the ingredients in the correct order for optimal consistency. It also goes over the benefits of each ingredient and some optional additions you can make like flax, chocolate, or dried fruit!
No Powder Bars
While protein powder is very useful, there are many reasons you may not want to use it in your bars! If that’s the case, this recipe is a fantastic powder-free alternative that’s still pretty simple, though it does require some baking time.
The ingredients include bananas, almond milk, chickpeas, nut butter, maple syrup, rolled oats, and chopped, toasted nuts of your choosing! Instead of toasted nuts, you could also use seeds or a combination of both. Pumpkin seeds are particularly high in protein, but any will work!
Despite needing the oven, there are still only four easy steps here. Blend, stir, and bake is all you need!
The nutrition info will fluctuate a little bit depending on which kinds of butter and nuts/seeds you choose, but these bars contain about 10 grams of protein and 229 calories if served in the recommended size. There’s also lots of fiber and they’re very dense thanks to the nuts and chickpeas. This makes them a great breakfast replacement and an effective pick-me-up when you’re on the go.
Lastly, the recipe will still work if you wish to omit the nuts. This lowers the protein content a little but it may be necessary for certain work or school environments!