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8 Great Sources of Vegan Protein

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  • Veganism 101

    Veganism 101

    Someone who follows a vegan diet does not eat or use anything that came from an animal. This means that vegans do not eat meat, fish, or poultry, and do not consume or use animal by-products like eggs, dairy products, honey, fur, leather, silk, or cosmetics or soaps that contain animal products.

    One concern some people have with a vegan diet is that it is too low in protein, since many high-protein foods come from animal sources. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adult women need an average of 46 grams of protein per day, and men need an average of 56 grams per day. As long as you maintain a balanced and varied diet, it is quite easy to get all the protein you need on a vegan diet. 

    Learn about vitamin B deficiency »

  • Risks of a Vegan Diet

    Risks of a Vegan Diet

    People who follow a vegan diet are at risk for becoming iron and vitamin B12 deficient since they are not consuming meat or other animal products, which are rich in both nutrients. Luckily, iron can be found in many plant sources, and many packaged foods are fortified with B12.

    Vegetarians may also consider taking zinc supplements because zinc is not found in large amounts in plant sources. The American Heart Association recommends taking between 15 and 18 mg per day. Be careful with oversupplementation, however, as too much zinc is not a good thing and can lead to a copper deficiency.

  • 1. The Magic Beanstalk

    1. The Magic Beanstalk

    Beans really are a magical food! They’re packed with protein and, because there are so many varieties, the meal and snack possibilities are endless!

    One cup of cooked soybeans contains a whopping 23 grams of protein. A cup of cooked French bean, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, lima beans, or chickpeas has between 13 and 15 grams.

    For an easy snack, enjoy 1/3 cup of hummus, which contains 7 grams of protein, with fresh veggies like carrots and bell peppers.

  • 2. Got Soy Milk?

    2. Got Soy Milk?

    Alternative milks have become fairly popular over the last few years. They are widely available and about the same price as dairy milk. 1 cup of soy has 7 to 9 grams of protein.

    If you’re crunched for time, enjoy your soy milk with your morning cereal, but if you have a few minutes, make yourself a breakfast smoothie.

    One great smoothie recipe is blending 2 cups fresh or frozen strawberries, two ripe bananas, and ½ to 1 cup of soy milk. Enjoy!

    (Recipe from Vibrant Vegan)

  • 3. Tofu

    3. Tofu

    Tofu, which is made from soybeans, is a popular alternative source of protein, and is very versatile because of its mild taste. 4 ounces of tofu contains 9 grams of protein, and can easily be used in breakfast, lunch, or dinner recipes.

    For a snack or light lunch, combine 4 ounces of chopped, extra firm tofu with salsa, tomatoes, onion, and avocado in a wheat tortilla. Season with black pepper or hot sauce for an extra kick!

  • 4. Quinoa, the Super Grain

    4. Quinoa, the Super Grain

    Quinoa is a delicious grain with a slight nutty flavor. It also contains 9 grams of protein per cup (cooked), is easy to digest, and is a good source of iron.

    You can easily replace rice with quinoa or use it in place of pasta to make a grain-based salad. For example, mix some cooked quinoa with chopped kale and diced vegetables — such as carrots, zucchini, and tomatoes — and drizzle with lemon juice for a tasty dinner with an extra vitamin punch.

    (Recipe from The Simple Veganista)

  • 5. Sprouted Grain Bread

    5. Sprouted Grain Bread

    Using sprouted grain bread as part of your breakfast or lunch is an easy, tasty way to work protein into your meal.

    Two slices of sprouted grain bread contain 10 grams of protein, making it a healthy alternative to wheat breads. Spread some almond butter and mashed avocado over the toasted bread, and drizzle with lemon juice. If you like a little spice, sprinkle some crushed red pepper on top.

  • 6. Lentils

    6. Lentils

    Lentils can be another versatile source of protein for vegans. One cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein. You can enjoy lentils as a soup or in a bean salad. For a dinner the whole family will love.

    You could also try your hand at lentil chili, with vegetables like red bell peppers and as much spice as you can handle!

    (Recipe from Whole Foods)

  • 7. Nut Butters

    7. Nut Butters

    Two tablespoons of peanut or almond butter can contain up to 8 grams of protein, making them a perfect ingredient for a protein-filled snack. Spread your favorite nut butter over apple slices. If you have kids that also follow a vegan diet, toast a vegan whole grain English muffin (or a couple slices of sprouted grain bread), spread peanut or almond butter on one side, and your favorite vegan berry-flavored jam on the other for a toasted PB&J.

  • 8. Tempeh

    8. Tempeh

    Tempeh could be considered the holy grail of protein packed foods, and it’s an especially great source for vegans. It is made from soybeans, like tofu, but processed a different way so it provides even more of a protein punch. One cup of tempeh contains a whopping 30 grams of protein! It is also a good source of calcium and iron. Tempeh has a firm texture and a nutty mushroom flavor, but easily adapts well to many recipes.

    Sautee your tempeh with olive oil over medium heat until the tempeh is browned. Add to vegetables sautéed in oil and seasoned with garlic, a little bit of crushed red pepper, and soy sauce to make an easy and delicious dinner!