- Posted by Phytomaniac
- On October 9, 2017
Organic pea protein can be a major contributor to a vegan bodybuilder’s protein intake. It is easily digested by most users, and it is a clean protein source. Organic pea protein contains all of the essential amino acids, but it long been known to be low in both methionine and cysteine. In itself, this fact is not a problem. Organic pea protein may be the backbone of a vegan bodybuilder’s protein intake, but it should not be the only source. As one of varied sources of protein, though, organic pea protein is hard to beat.
Complementary Protein Sources
There are many other ways besides organic pea protein for vegans to incorporate cysteine an methionine into their diets. Plenty of vegan foods are high in semi-essential cysteine (lentils, oat bran, spirulina, etc.). There are fewer vegan foods that are higher in methionine than organic pea protein, but there are some (spirulina, sesame seed flour, soy protein isolate, etc.).
The key to proper protein consumption for vegan bodybuilders is to vary its sources. Our bodies require amino acids to construct new proteins. We can only make some of those amino acids ourselves, and the rest we must get through our diets. Eating a variety of fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains and seeds, in addition to supplementing with organic pea protein, virtually ensures we are consuming a complete assortment of the essential amino acids.
Why Buy Organic?
The reasons for buying organic pea protein and other organic products are twofold: First, there is the idea that putting foods treated with less chemicals into the body is the safest way to approach nutrition. Second, there is the belief that we should each accept responsibility for limiting our own negative impacts on the Earth. Consuming more organic food and supplements takes care of both issues.
Reducing Your Footprint
If we are to be better stewards of our planet, it stands to reason that we must find ways to make agriculture more sustainable and less impactful on the environment. For example, the modern use of commercial, nitrogen-rich fertilizers has led to large dead zones in downstream waters like the Gulf of Mexico. The dead zones result from algae blooms, which are fed by the copious amounts of nutrients in farm runoff.
Organic fertilizers are, by definition, less nutrient-dense than chemical fertilizers. The nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK) ratios of organic multi-nutrient fertilizers are usually all in the single digits, whereas chemical fertilizers have NPK ratios with much higher values. They may be more effective and last longer, which appeals to the average farmer, but they remain in the environment longer as well, giving them ample time to wreak havoc on the ecosystem.
In contrast, organic fertilizers dissolve into the soil quicker and are better taken up by plants. Their nutrients get more fully used on the farm, and they therefore leach into runoff streams to a lesser extent. Buying products like organic pea protein is a simple way to be a part of the solution to the epidemic of aquatic dead zones, and there are other ways still that chemical fertilizers harm the environment.
2. Chemical Pesticides
Like fertilizers, chemical pesticides offer cheap, long-lasting pest control solutions to the modern farmer. However, these pesticides usually kill insects indiscriminately. When the beneficial, predatory insects and parasites that keep the numbers of pests in check die off, pests are free to take over a crop as soon as the chemical pesticide dissipates. The cycle continues perpetually, which is why the producers of organic pea protein avoid these chemicals.
3. Organic Pest Control
Organic farms, such as those producing the stock for organic pea protein, rarely use any pesticides at all. Rather, they keep the big guns in reserve for times when pests run amok. Organic pest controls tend to preserve the predatory and parasitic species that target pests, both below the soil surface and above it. When these species flourish, there is often no need for pesticides. The biological activity in the soil becomes more homogenous, and plants prosper.
Your Body, Your Temple
Organic foods like organic pea protein may be higher in Omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and other nutrients than similar foods grown through conventional methods. It almost always contains significantly less pesticide residue and heavy metals than plants grown non-organically. Most of the modern pesticides used on farms are deemed safe for human consumption, but there remains much controversy regarding their health effects, especially in terms of multi-pesticide cocktails.
No one knows what the ultimate effect of modern pesticides will ultimately be on the health of consumers. Anyone quick to trust their use, though, would do well to consider the history of the now-banned pesticide DDT. Once considered a miracle substance, DDT was used extensively on American farms in the 1940s and 50s. However, evidence of its ill effects on people and the environment mounted, and it was banned in 1972. Despite this, Americans are still exposed to residual DDT in the environment.
USDA Organic Certification
The USDA offers labeling for products like organic pea protein that meet its criteria for organic certification. Any natural or synthetic substances used to grow the stock for organic pea protein must conform to the USDA’s list of allowable and prohibited substances. At present, the federal government has no requirements for organic labeling. Manufacturers can call any product organic if they wish. However, use of the USDA Organic label on products not at least 95-percent organic may result in a fine of $11,000. This label is a veritable guarantee that the organic pea protein in question actually was grown organically.
Organic Pea Protein Powder
Zen Principle is a supplement company committed to using natural, mainly organic ingredients in all of its products. Its Organic Pea Protein powder is made in small batches in the U.S., and is made with yellow peas sourced from U.S. and Canadian farms. It is also USDA Organic certified.
This organic pea protein powder provides 23 grams of protein per 30-gram serving, and there are 15 servings in a 1-pound container. Each serving also contains just 2.6 grams of carbs, 1.8 grams of fat, 120 calories and 4.15 grams of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). Best of all, this unflavored organic pea protein powder contains only peas. There are no additives, fillers, sugars or sugar substitutes. It has a delicate, earthy flavor, and it blends well in a shaker cup.
Being unflavored, Zen Principle Organic Pea Protein powder also mixes seamlessly into soups and stews to bring up the protein content of those dishes. Despite being a small, lesser-known company, Zen Principle is making a name for itself in the fitness community. Simple ingredients with honest advertising and a lack of hype is a recipe for success in a marketplace crowded with overpromising manufacturers.
- Certified organic pea protein
- Mixes thoroughly in water
- Sugar and additive-free
- Competitively priced
- Lacks name recognition
- No flavored options available
Natures Plus has nearly half a century worth of experience in the vitamin and supplement market. The company expresses a commitment to quality and backs all of its products with a full money-back guarantee — for both retailers and consumers. Its USDA-certified organic pea protein powder is just one of a plethora of vegan protein powders the company manufactures.
Natures Plus Organic Pea Protein is unflavored, and there are 25 servings in each 1-pound container. Each 20-gram serving provides 15 grams of protein and just 75 calories. Its 2 grams of carbohydrates are a bit more than some of its competitors but still negligible. It also contains 1.5 grams of fat.
This organic pea protein powder also contains quinoa, which boosts the methionine content of the product. There is also a proprietary enzyme blend, which aids in the digestion of protein. Anyone looking for the purest of the pure organic pea protein powders may consider these added ingredients to be extraneous, but they each serve a function otherwise left to other parts of the diet or supplements.
- Complete money-back guarantee
- Contains enzymes that aid digestion and absorption
- Made by a reputable manufacturer
- An affordable source of organic pea protein
- Provides added methionine, which peas lack
- No way of knowing the source of the peas
- Contains ingredients other than organic pea protein
Terrasoul is a mom-and-pop nutrition company based in Texas. Its success is predicated on transparent sourcing of ingredients and on prioritizing lab testing and quality control to ensure its customers get exactly what they expect in their organic pea protein.
Terrasoul Pea Protein Powder is USDA-certified organic. Each tablespoon of this organic pea protein powder contains 8 grams of protein and 37 calories, and there are 68 servings in a 1.5-pound package. It has no fat and no carbohydrates, and Terrasoul offers a money-back guarantee for quality.
This organic pea protein powder easily dissolves in water, and it has a mild though noticeable taste. It is sourced from peas grown and processed in China, unlike some of its competitors that source from North America. Terrasoul claims its organic pea protein powder is thoroughly tested by third-party labs, but its overseas sourcing does raise alarm bells for some consumers. However, this organic pea protein powder sports the USDA Organic label, which is a virtual guarantee of truly organic origins.
- Produced by a mom-and-pop company
- One-ingredient product
- Extremely affordable organic pea protein
- Mixes well in water
- Money-back guarantee
- Sourced in China
- Mild flavor, but it stands out drastically
Now is one of the most well-known supplement companies in the business. It boasts awards from some of the top fitness and nutrition publications, including from Vegan Health and Fitness magazine and Vegetarian Times. It is a large company, with 50 years in manufacturing products such as organic pea protein powder.
Now Sports, the division of Now that makes its sports-nutrition products, makes one of the more affordable organic pea protein powders available. Each 23-gram serving of Now Sports Organic Pea Protein Powder contains 11 grams of protein and only 80 calories. Its Natural Vanilla variety is one of several flavored organic pea protein powders that the company makes. It also makes an unflavored version like most of its competitors. This USDA-certified organic pea protein powder also contains 2.3 grams of BCAAs.
Unlike some of its competitors, Now does not specify the country of origin for the peas used in the production of its organic pea protein. Also, the flavored varieties contain a few grams of added sugars, stevia, and natural flavors. With 30 servings, in each 1.5-pound container, though, it is one of the most affordable organic pea protein powders available.
- Affordable nutrition
- Multiple flavors available
- Made by a reputable manufacturer
- All-natural organic pea protein
- Mixes well and completely dissolves in water
- No way to know the origin of the peas
- Added sugar, not just stevia
NorCal Organic is a small company that has long made organic dairy products from farms in northern California that utilize humane practices for all its cattle. NorCal’s organic pea protein powder is made from yellow peas sourced exclusively from organic Canadian farms, and that is the sole ingredient.
NorCal uses no enzymes or hexane in producing its organic pea protein powder. This results in a product with more BCAAs than many of its competitors — 4.8 grams. Each 26-gram serving contains 100 calories and 22 grams of protein. There is a scant 1 gram of carbohydrates (as dietary fiber) and 1.5 grams of fat. There are 35 servings in each 2-pound package of this organic pea protein powder.
NorCal Organic pea protein powder mixes easily in water, and it lacks the chalky aftertaste that commonly detracts from products such as this. It adds only a mild flavor to smoothies, allowing the other ingredients to shine. Its simple packaging is a bit of a pain, as the ziplock is difficult to seal, especially if powder gets into the seams, but this is an issue easily solved by reusing another container.
- Mild, almost unnoticeable taste
- Contains more BCAAs than much of its competition
- Competitively priced
- Single-sourced organic pea protein
- No sugar and no additives
- Packaging is frustrating to use
- No flavored version
Organic pea protein is as good a choice for vegan bodybuilders as there is available. It provides all of the essential amino acids while helping athletes meet the requirements of a high-protein diet. Organically grown foods like this are higher in healthy fats and antioxidants, and they contain less pesticides and heavy metals than conventionally grown foods. They enable us to be better stewards of limited land resources, as well.
Of the few USDA-certified organic pea protein powders on the market, NorCal Organic’s version shines brightest. It is single-sourced from Canadian farms, where organic labeling is strictly regulated, and peas are the only ingredient as well. With a BCAA content nearing 5 grams, this organic pea protein also allows vegan bodybuilders to eliminate the added cost of BCAA supplements. It blends well and has such a mild flavor that it deserves a spot in anyone’s protein lineup.