14 Top Protein Sources for Vegans

Updated on July 30th, 2020
best vegan protein sources

Protein is vital to your workouts and recovery, your health, and your brain function; without it, you wouldn’t function at your best, and your body wouldn’t be able to support you in the long-term. However, the trouble with the view of protein in the world is where we’re sourcing most of our protein from animals.

Regardless of different opinions out there about adding meat as a part of our regular diets, we can’t deny that meat consumption is causing significant health, environmental,  and humanitarian problems. When we put all the things together, we start looking for a real, sustainable alternative. Say hi to plant protein!

Misconception About Protein in a Plant-Based Diet

There is a misconception that we should take different kinds of foods to form complete proteins in our bodies. While this shouldn’t necessarily be set aside altogether, it’s also not as important as we once believed. There are many complete sources of vegan forms of protein that we can consume.

Our bodies can also build complete proteins when we take various higher protein foods, even if those foods aren’t necessarily taken together (such as beans and rice, a classic example of protein pairings).

However, one struggle is that many people aren’t sure how to replace the meat on their menu with vegan protein foods they’ll enjoy and love as good as meat. So, the simple thing is to stop focusing on just what our plates look like at dinner.

Try these best vegan protein sources and see just how satisfying they really can be!

Here’s the best vegan protein sources list

1. Lentils

Lentils are a protein favorite of many, particularly those on vegan and vegetarian diets looking to quickly pump up the protein. Lentils add nine gms of protein to your meal per 1/2 cup, along with nearly 15 grams of fiber! 

2. Tofu

What used to be seen as an annoying vegan protein source has now been transformed into everything from entrees to breakfast, and yes, even desserts too.

This protein source’s central attractive nature is that it can be flavored; however, you want to add a rich, chewy texture or creamy texture to your food depending on if you buy soft or firm tofu. 

3. Black Beans

Black beans(1) are among the best vegetarian protein sources and most abundant sources of antioxidants and even the finest beans of all legumes and beans. Their dark color indicates their potent antioxidant content, and they also have less starch than some other beans.

A straightforward way to enjoy them is to make black bean burritos, but that’s not the only way to eat them. 

4. Quinoa

With 8 grams per cup, this seed-like gluten-free grain is a fantastic protein source, antioxidants, magnesium, and fiber. You can bake it, cook it, and even stir into stir-fry dishes and more. 

5. Amaranth

Amaranth is similar to teff and quinoa in its nutritional content, though much smaller in size. This ancient seed (also a pseudo-grain ) adds seven gms of protein to your meals in just 1 cup of cooked amaranth. It’s also an excellent source of magnesium, B vitamins, and iron. 

[Also Read: Amaranth Grain Benefits]

6. Soy Milk

Hate soy or love soy, it’s actually the controversial tiny legume. Soy milk, in organic form, can be a part of a regular diet. It is one of the best non-meat protein sources. There are conflicting studies regarding its impact on cancer, but various studies show it can help prevent cancer rather than cause it (unlike meat).

The key is not to buy it in the form of highly processed soy protein isolates and to buy non-GMO soy. Try soy milk, which packs eight grams of protein in just 1 cup, offers four grams of heart-healthy fats, and is high in phytosterols that support good heart health. Buy unsweetened, organic,  as the healthiest option. 

[Also Read: Benefits of Soy Milk]

7. Green Peas

Packed with fiber and protein, peas are so tasty! They contain eight grams of protein per 1 cup, so add a little of these yummy treats throughout the day. Bonus,  peas are also high in leucine, an amino acid critical to weight loss and metabolism that’s tough to find in many plant-based foods. 

[Also Read: Green Peas Benefits]

8. Artichokes

Containing 4 grams of protein in just half a cup, artichoke hearts are a great way to boost protein, fiber, and they are filling but low in calories. 

9. Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are a complete protein that is hard not to like. Packing 13 gms in just 3 tablespoons, these little seeds are easy to include anywhere. 

[Also Read: Hemp Seeds Benefits]

10. Oatmeal

Oatmeal has triple the protein of brown rice with more fiber and less starch. It’s also a great source of calcium, magnesium, and B vitamins. 

11. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are one of the most ignored proteins and iron sources out there, containing 8 grams of protein per quarter cup. They’re also an excellent magnesium source, not to mention crunchiness and oh pretty tasty! 

[Also Read: Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds]

12. Chia Seeds

Chia, what can’t be done by this super seed? Chia has five grams of protein per two tablespoons and is also a wholesome protein source. 

13. Tempeh

Tempeh is a fermented variant of soy that is rich in protein, high in probiotics, and simple to digest. Loved by many people, it’s a meaty ingredient you should at least try. 

14. Hemp Milk

Hemp milk is becoming ever popular, just like other plant-based milk. You can try buying it at the store or make your own at home. Hemp milk packs 5 grams in 1 cup. You can prepare your own by blending quarter cup hemp seeds with two cups of water, straining, and using like you do with almond milk.

No need to soak hemp seeds like you do almonds and adjust the ratio of water to seeds, depending on how creamy and rich you’d like your milk.

Bottom Line

The key to receiving the adequate amount of vegan protein, and all the necessary amino acids, is to combine different grains with different pulses and vegetables such as rice and beans, or broccoli with tofu.

Variety is essential for being vegan, and not using products such as vegan cheese to make up any deficiency as they are processed food and offer little health gains.

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