8 Vegan Protein Bars to Help You Power Through the Day with Energy
Vegan protein bars have long been giving their animal product-containing equivalents a run for their money when it comes to flavor, convenience, and nutrition. But not all vegan protein bars are created equal when it comes to ingredients, texture, taste, and suitability to individual plant-based eating regimens or lifestyles—for example, a long-distance runner might be looking for a protein bar that’s also high in healthy carbs.
When you’re shopping for vegan protein bars, make sure to pay attention to the ingredient list and nutrition profile, so you know what you’re getting in every bite. Better yet, take your pick from our round-up of eight different varieties to find out which ones to pack in your purse and which ones to pitch in the compost bin.
The first taste that hit me when I bit into this bar was neither peanut butter nor apples, but rosemary. Come again? I checked the ingredients, and sure enough, rosemary extract is on the list. The herb has been used since ancient times to boost concentration and digestion, but here it also provides an herbaceous balance to the sweetness of organic honey and dried apples while brightening up the heartiness of oats. So, it tastes more sophisticated than your average protein bar, and with 210 calories, 7 grams of protein, and 3 grams of dietary fiber, it’s a great way to start your day or enjoy after a workout.
Bananas and almond butter are a fantastic combination on their own, but how do they measure up in a protein bar? The answer, according to GoMacro Macrobar’s Prolonged Power Banana + Almond Butter, is pretty good. Made with organic, non-GMO, gluten and soy-free ingredients, the bar’s blend of pea and brown rice protein, sunflower seeds, and organic walnuts will help keep you full for hours, while the natural sweetness of banana is enhanced with a light touch of coconut sugar and cinnamon.
This bar ranks a little lower on the health meter than the competition solely because it has a bit less protein than others on our list. However, the 6 grams it does contain comes naturally from almonds and peanuts. Combined with antioxidant-rich ingredients like honey and dark chocolate (which contains happiness-increasing tryptophan!), and mineral-rich sea salt, this bar tastes like it came from the candy counter while satiating hunger and providing a boost of energy.
Like many Americans, I believe that the combination of chocolate and peanut butter is one of our country’s foremost culinary achievements, so I had high hopes for this bar—especially since it also packs 21 grams of protein and 16 grams of dietary fiber at only 190 calories. But the base ingredients—a blend of brown rice and pea protein, and soluble corn fiber—give it a gritty texture that can’t be ignored.
Lärabar makes their delicious fruit and nut-based bars out of just a few wholesome, easy-to-pronounce foods—for example, the Peanut Butter Cookie bar from their “Original” line contains only three: Peanuts, dates, and sea salt. Lärabar Protein bars are based on the same principles and include a hefty serving of vegan pea protein. The bad news; the grainy protein powder in the Apple Cobbler bar seemed to overwhelm its flavor. The good news; all Lärabars are vegan, so there are plenty of other options to satisfy your hunger.
Hemp seeds are growing in popularity for their rich nutritional profile; they’re loaded with dietary fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids, among other vitamins and minerals. In this bar, they’re blended with only four other flavorful ingredients—apricots, almonds, vanilla, and Himalayan sea salt. Though this bar is a little low on protein (containing only 4 grams per serving), it’s lightly sweet and salty taste and its suitability for vegan, paleo, and gluten-free eating regimens alike make it worthy of a mention.
Made with superfoods such as inflammation-reducing dried cherries and omega-3 and calcium-rich chia seeds, this oat-based bar is gluten-free, soy-free, and dairy-free, but has plenty of flavors. Its whopping 39 grams of carbs makes it a great choice for endurance athletes, but anyone minimizing sugars or following a plant-based keto-style eating regimen might want to find another option.
Made with organic ingredients including dates, vegan protein powder, and fair trade chocolate, these coconutty bars are so loaded with flavor you’d be forgiven if at first taste your instinct was that they’re more splurge than a staple. Each gluten-free, soy-free bar contains 10 grams of protein and 9 grams of fat, with only 90 mg of sodium. And if you want a little nosh but you’re not hungry enough for an entire bar, try GFB’s Dark Chocolate Coconut Bites.