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Vegan Protein Powders Review; Heavy Metals, Optimi Mushrooms, New Favorites & New Lessons

I've been through a TON of different Vegan Protein Powders.

First of all, I'm not vegan or vegetarian. But I used to find that whey protein powder would cause gut problems & uncomfortable bloating (I've discovered this no longer happens but the habit is there now...) So I made the switch & enjoyed the results. That was about 12 years ago.

I spent the good part of those years (9 or more...) using Vega. I LOVED everything about this product. Taste, texture, consistency & the ingredients. Alas - after more than 2 lawsuits due to third party testing finding non-compliant heavy metal levels outlined by the California Proposition 65...I decided to go searching for something new.

If you want to read those reports (& Vega's rebuttal, see these links)

Vega's rebuttal is pretty convincing in my opinion, but at this point I'm still not certain about switching back.

The tough part is - the heavy metals or contaminants could be found in many of these other brands...and just not enough of them have been tested by third parties. There are a few, so far, listed with clean, high quality ratings on places like the Lab Door & Consumer Reports websites. But protein powders also have the other attributes (texture, taste, price, ect) that dictate whether or not its an enjoyable or effective vegan protein powder.

Quality testing that is done on both vegan & animal protein powders most often find the animal protein powders with less environmental contaminants. It almost makes me want to switch back over. No matter where a vegan protein powder sources their soil-grown ingredients from, they are always going to state that they order them from a number of reputable sources that are subject to rigorous testing (I would know...I emailed & asked a bunch of companies - they all sing the same tune.) If you have a average/mid to low priced vegan protein powder - those plant based protein sources are most likely sourced from China. Their soil contamination level is known to be rather high for North American standards. It has no relationship with the ingredients being organic or fair trade. It could still have lead, cadmium or other toxins in them at levels harmful to humans if consumed at a certain rate over a long duration of time.

Now for the new one's I've tested over the recent months:

For the past year I've settled on Progressive's Harmonized Fermented Vegan Protein. The added touch of fermenting peas is known to strip the 'lectins' off of peas, which is said to cause leaky gut, (the lectins, not the peas) leading to many common health problems & general inflammation. I've stuck with it due to higher quality nutrient mix, especially for the price point. The texture is pretty similar to Vega & the vanilla flavor isn't obnoxiously sweet.

I'm not even going to link the Iron Vegan brand. The texture alone makes this product awful. I regret ordering it. I'm not even sure if I'll make pancakes with it. The powder is like chalk & the air born dust that comes from just opening the bag sucks. The flavor is overly sweet. I want a protein shake. Not a McD's milkshake that spikes my glucose into the diabetic range.

Now - the new kid on the block...blew my mind. It's from a company called Optimi. They have made a protein powder with all of the most popular mushrooms on the market.

This product has 22 grams of vegan protein along with Cordyceps, Organic Lion's Mane, Organic Chaga, Organic Reishi and Organic Turkey Tail mushrooms. It covers all of the main bases.

The 20 servings in the container (a full scoop) with all of that mushroom power plus the protein for it's price point around $46 CAD is astonishing to me.

I'm so frugal - what I'm currently doing is using a half scoop of the Optimi & adding it to my full scoop of Progressive protein powder in my shakes. I just want to stretch it out. Especially considering the mushroom I seek the most is the Lionsmane for cognitive function & 540 mg is a ton per serving. I see improved cognitive & neurological results from half that on a daily basis.

It's worth mentioning that I pre-prep my protein shakes 4-5 days at a time in magic bullet containers. Just add water & change the lid to the blender part & voila.

My shakes ALWAYS include ground flaxseed (kept in the fridge), collagen, turmeric, creatine & I typically like to add fresh ginger - but my partner has a giant tub of powdered ginger that is way more convenient than fresh (fresh tastes better, though shaving the skin off ginger is annoying.) Lately I've been adding hemp hearts. They were left over from doing keto & are stacked with great nutrients. So I may as well use them.

There you have it folks. Hopefully you found something helpful!

***Remember that protein shakes & meal replacements are not the same thing. Make sure you have a solid reason for using protein shakes, even if it is to lower your daily caloric intake. Know you purpose so you don't sabotage results you're looking for.


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Julia is a Holistic Health Consultant, holding a Double Diploma in Community Support & Addictions Work, is a Certified Transformation Specialist, Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach & a Lvl 2 Reiki Practitioner. She specializes in Trauma Informed Practice & Resiliency Coaching and Holistic Pregnancy & Postpartum Health Coaching. 

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