Have protein bars, will travel! Busy days, strenuous activities, growing bodies, and knowing hunger pains all demand quick, high-quality fuel. Satisfying such a diverse range of needs all at once, often while on the go, is no small task. While there are endless plant-based sources of protein, vegan protein bars are one of the easiest answers, providing shelf-stable snacks packed with the vital plant-based nutrition you need to stay strong.
You could eat a different protein bar every day of the week and never have the same one twice. The number of options currently available are staggering, before even taking limited edition flavors into account. There’s no one-size-fits-all option, so let’s decode these labels and find which is best for you!
Now let’s go crush some vegan protein myths now, shall we?
Energy bars as we know them today are a fully modern phenomenon. More like candy bars than emergency rations, these sweet treats off the convenience of grab-and-go nutrition in a dessert-like package. The term itself was first coined in the early 1950s, marketed exclusively to hardcore athletes.
The irony of it is that these earliest offerings contained more scraps than prime cuts, utilizing the leftover whey protein from processing cheese and other dairy products. Even as ingredient awareness improves, there are several things to avoid when shopping for vegan protein bars.
When shopping for protein bars, there are a few important things to look for. Exactly what you prioritize will depend on your specific needs, and it may take some trial and error to find exactly what it takes for your unique body to thrive. Keep an eye on these essential stats.
Of course, that’s the name of the game here! You may be surprised to see some supposed “protein” bars only have 5 grams of protein, which is about the same as genuine candy bars. That might be enough for a small snack though, so your mileage may vary. Plant-based protein sources can include soy, peas, rice, hemp, chia, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, beans (like lupini, chickpeas, and fava beans,) peanuts, cashews, and more.
Whole foods are naturally high in fiber, which increases satiety. Processed snacks might try to fill the gaps with ingredients like inulin (chicory root fiber) which is harder for some people to digest. Aim for at least 3 grams of fiber per serving and be careful not to overdo it if you’re not used to eating a lot of fiber normally.
If you’re using protein bars as easy meal replacements, make sure they have comparable nutrition you might find in a light meal. That means a healthy array of vitamins and minerals that will help you reach your daily recommended allowance.
Sugar tends to be controversial, which is why many manufacturers prefer natural, unrefined sweeteners like maple syrup or coconut sugar instead. Sugar-free sweeteners like stevia and monkfruit are popular ways to sweeten energy bars without adding excess calories, but some people feel these can become cloying or bitter in large quantities. Artificial sugar alcohols like saccharine and sorbitol are best avoided, especially for those with sensitive stomachs.
The global protein bar market is a multi-billion-dollar industry that shows no sign of slowing down. It would be impossible to cover even a small fraction of the plant-based brands available today, but we do have some front runners winning the race when it comes to both flavor and function.
For an environmentally-friend snack, you can do no better than GoMacro. Defined by clean ingredients made from 100% renewable energy and a 100% carbon neutral factory, even the wrappers are recyclable, and caddies are compostable. Naturally, it helps that they taste great, and come in smaller kid’s versions as well.
Made from only fruits and nuts, there’s nothing to hide on these short ingredient lists. LARABARs have the added benefit of widespread mainstream distribution, so you have an equally good chance of finding these in your neighborhood boutique corner store as a random gas station off the highway. They aren’t messy to eat, don’t melt, in come in over two dozen flavors, making them a godsend to weary travelers everywhere.
Original Clif Bars have more in common with soft baked cookies, while Builder Bars are classic layered protein bars in extra-large proportions. Both are easily found in most stores, including Trader Joe’s, for very affordable prices.
Each of these eight flavors are inspired by cakes and cookies, but there’s no sugar rush to follow each serving. Instead, you’ll get 15 grams of protein, 11 to 13 grams of dietary fiber, and only 10 grams of sugar in ever bar. Now that’s truly good, inside and out!
If you wish protein bars tasted more like candy bars, you’re in lucky. NuGo makes chocolate-dipped puffed rice protein bars that you’ll want to eat for dessert. The Chocolate Pretzel flavor is a crowd favorite!
Say goodbye to chalky, highly processed snacks and ALOHA to premium, organic, all-natural ingredients. Flavors span from tropical coconut almond to cozy chocolate fudge brownie, and everything in between. If you still want to play with your food, there’s a wealth of recipe ideas for dressing up your favorites, too.
Made and backed by nutritionists, you can rest assured that these are no glorified candy bars. There are specific varieties developed for keto diets and a separate line of minis to accommodate smaller appetites. Whether you prefer yours “choco covered” or “nekkid,” there’s a chewy, subtly crunchy treat for you in store here.
Packing in a whopping 16 grams of fiber and 20 grams of protein on average, these dessert-inspired bars may sound like lightweights, but they don’t mess around. Birthday cake, complete with rainbow sprinkles, chocolate chip-studded cookie dough, and chocolate-dipped mint are bestsellers for obvious reasons.
Emphasizing good fats from high-quality whole food sources, these keto-friendly treats are made from a base of cashews, peanuts, almonds, coconut oil, pea protein, chia, and flax seeds. There are seven flavors to make you feel radiant from the inside out.
With 10 grams of organic plant-based protein per bar and only 150 calories, these organic bars provide clean, delicious nourishment whenever and wherever you want. For a balanced snack, a pre-workout boost, or even to put in your kids’ lunch boxes, these vegan protein bars are the perfect solution! Satisfy your cravings with these soft, sweet treats anytime.
Equal parts, crispy, crunchy, and chewy, these bars are made up of puffed soy crisps bound together by a light icing glaze. Once marketed as “nutrition bars for women,” they double down on the four key nutrients missing from most diets: calcium, vitamin D, iron, and folic acid. That said, they’re delicious and an excellent addition to anyone’s diet, regardless of gender.