Vegan energy bars are bars made without any animal product. When it comes to energy bars (or anything, really), “vegan” isn’t just a buzzword. There are many health benefits of opting for vegan energy bars, even if you don't subscribe to a vegan diet. If the phrase “vegan energy bar” is completely meaningless to you, this blog post will hopefully enlighten you on the benefits of eating plant-based bars.
What does it mean to eat vegan?
Whether they do it for religion or personal beliefs, dietary restrictions, environmental reasons, or something else, people decide to eat vegan for many different reasons. Veganism takes vegetarianism one step further by eliminating not just meat and fish, but all animal products, including dairy and eggs. Some hardcore vegans stay away from fur and leather products, as well. One thing the vegan community often disagrees on is whether or not honey is vegan, since it is produced by bees. Vegan energy bars are made without milk and dairy products, and often without honey to be considered “truly vegan”.
Aren’t most energy bars vegan?
No, many energy bars contain ingredients that classify them as non-vegan — these ingredients may include honey, milk, whey protein, or egg. Whey protein is a byproduct of the cheesemaking process that contains substantial amounts of amino acids. Brands use whey protein (or milk, or egg) in their bars because they provide protein, which many people look for when they’re shopping for an energy bar.
Does a vegan energy bar have protein?
Yes! Many types of vegan energy bars have a substantial amount of protein, even if they don’t contain dairy or egg. Protein comes from many different sources, especially these ingredients, which you’ll often find in vegan energy bars:
Whole grains: Not all grains are created — no, processed — equal. Overprocessed grains, like refined flour, contain very little nutritional value. Unfortunately, some energy bars are made with refined flours and ultimately aren’t much better for you than a candy bar. Look for energy bars made with whole grains, like oats. Refined grains are stripped of the outer layer (bran) and germ, which contain fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, phytochemicals, healthy fats, and other minerals. As a result, refined grains have almost no nutritional value, and are essentially “empty calories”.
Although this isn’t always the case, if a bar is labeled as “gluten free”, more often than not it’s made with healthy, whole grains like oats.
Nuts and seeds: Not only are nuts high in protein, they contain omega-3s, magnesium, and are rich in vitamins. They also contain healthy fats that promote heart health.
Soy protein isolate: Although the name sounds science-y, soy protein isolate is simply protein isolated from soy. Soy protein isolate is made from defatted soybean flakes, and is a healthy source of protein, as it contains no cholesterol and almost no fat.
Peanut flour: This may be another ingredient you haven’t heard of before, but it’s commonly used in vegan foods to boost protein content. Peanut flour is just peanuts ground up and defatted — so it provides all the protein you get from peanuts, but without the fat content. It’s delicious, too!
Benefits of plant-based protein
According to the National Institute of Health, “protein from plant sources tends to be lower in saturated fat, contains no cholesterol, and provides fiber and other health-promoting nutrients.” Plant-based proteins also keep you fuller longer and contain more fiber than animal-based proteins. They also tend to be lower in calories and fat. Not only does fiber keep you satiated, it also promotes healthy digestion and regulates bowel movements.
By reducing your intake of dairy and eggs, not only do you reap the benefits of plant-based protein, you’re also helping the environment. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that animal agriculture in the U.S. generates more than three times the amount of raw waste that Americans produce annually.
Tahoe Trail Bars are 100% vegan, making it easy for you to incorporate plant-based protein into your diet.
If you're into cycling, we have a post for you on the best energy bars for cycling. We recommend you check it out.
While we don’t like to generalize, many energy bars that are available today are highly processed and use unhealthy preservatives. Chances are, if an energy bar company intentionally made their bar with only vegan products, they are being very intentional about each of their ingredients to make sure they’re the highest quality. Eating vegan is a personal choice, and we’re not here to tell you what your diet should look like. But, we can assure you that our vegan energy bars are made with the best ingredients that you can feel good about eating.