A common concern about vegetarian and vegan diets is that they may lack sufficient protein. But vegans can get protein from various plant sources, though some may be better than others.
The vegan diet
However, certain plant foods contain significantly more protein than others, and
In addition, while well-planned vegan diets made up of mostly minimally processed foods are considered beneficial for all stages of life, those
A note on “processed foods”
Remember that the term “processed foods” includes a wide variety of products, many of which are more convenient and less expensive than other foods. Not all foods that undergo processing are considered unhealthy or harmful.
Learn more about different levels of food processing here.
Poorly planned or highly processed vegan diets
The following are 18 plant foods that contain a high amount of protein per serving. That said, speak with your doctor to see if you can benefit from supplements and fortified foods to bridge any nutritional gaps that might arise.
Also known as wheat meat or wheat gluten, it contains about
Seitan is also a good source of selenium and contains small amounts of iron, calcium, and phosphorus. However, because it’s made from gluten, the main protein in wheat, people with gluten-related disorders should avoid it.
All three originate from soybeans, which are considered a whole source of protein, providing your body with all the essential amino acids it needs.
Edamame is also rich in folate, vitamin K, and fiber, which
On the other hand, tempeh contains probiotics, B vitamins, and minerals, such as magnesium and phosphorus.
Furthermore, the type of fiber found in lentils has been shown to feed the good bacteria in your colon, which can help promote a healthy gut. Lentils
In addition, lentils are rich in folate, manganese, iron, antioxidants, and other health-promoting plant compounds.
Kidney, black, pinto, and most other varieties of beans are extremely important staple foods across cultures and contain high amounts of protein per serving. This also includes chickpeas.
Most types of beans contain
Learn more about legumes.
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast, which is sold commercially as a yellow powder or flakes.
Half an oz (16 g) of this complete source of plant protein provides
Spelt and teff belong to a category known as ancient grains. Other ancient grains include einkorn, barley, sorghum, and farro.
Spelt is a type of wheat and contains gluten, whereas teff originates from an annual grass, meaning that it’s naturally gluten-free.
Both are excellent sources of various nutrients, including complex carbs, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. They also contain B vitamins, zinc, and selenium.
Hemp seeds come from the Cannabis sativa plant, which is sometimes maligned for belonging to the same family as the cannabis plant.
However, hemp seeds contain only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound that produces the psychoactive effects of cannabis.
Although hemp seeds aren’t as well-known as other seeds, they contain
What’s more, a serving of green peas covers more than 25% of your daily fiber, thiamine, folate, manganese, and vitamin C and K needs.
Green peas are also a good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and several other B vitamins.
This blue-green algae is definitely a nutritional powerhouse.
Spirulina also contains high amounts of magnesium, riboflavin, manganese, potassium, and small amounts of most of the other nutrients your body needs, including essential fatty acids.
According to some test-tube and animal
Still, we need more human studies before we can draw conclusions on all of spirulina’s health claims.
Heads up: Adding more plant-based protein to your diet doesn’t mean giving up cultural foods
It’s a common misconception that veganism and other plant-based ways of eating must be Eurocentric or exclude non-western foods.
However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Check out these resources to learn more about incorporating plant-based principles in a diet that embraces cultural foods:
Although amaranth and quinoa are often referred to as ancient or gluten-free grains, they don’t grow from grasses like other cereal grains do. For this reason, they’re technically considered pseudocereals.
Nevertheless, similarly to more commonly known grains, they can be prepared or ground into flours.
They are also good sources of complex carbs, fiber, iron, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Ezekiel bread is made from organic, sprouted whole grains and legumes. These include wheat, millet, barley, and spelt, as well as soybeans and lentils.
Two slices of Ezekiel bread contain approximately
Sprouting grains and legumes
Soy milk is made from soybeans and is usually fortified with vitamins and minerals. Not only does it contain 6 g of protein per cup (244 g), but it’s also an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 (
However, keep in mind that soy milk and soybeans do not naturally contain vitamin B12, so picking a fortified variety is a good idea.
Additionally, some types may contain added sugar, so it’s best to opt for unsweetened varieties whenever possible.
Eating oats is an easy and delicious way to add protein to any diet.
Half a cup (40 g) of dry oats provides approximately
Although oats are not considered a complete protein, they do contain higher quality protein than other commonly consumed grains like rice and wheat.
A cooked cup (164 g) provides nearly
Learn how to avoid arsenic in wild rice
Nuts, seeds, and their derived products are great sources of protein.
One ounce (28 g) contains 5–7 g of protein, depending on the variety. For example, almonds
Nuts and seeds are also great sources of fiber and healthy fats, along with iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin E, and certain B vitamins. They
When choosing which nuts and seeds to buy, keep in mind that blanching and roasting
Although all fruits and vegetables contain protein, some contain more than others.
Although technically a grain, sweet corn is another common food that contains about
Fresh fruits generally have a lower protein content than vegetables. Those containing the most include
Mycoprotein is a non-animal-based protein derived from Fusarium venenatum, which is a type of fungus. It’s often used to produce meat substitutes, including veggie burgers, patties, cutlets, and fillets.
Its nutritional value can range a bit depending on the specific product, but most contain
However, keep in mind that some products made with mycoprotein may also contain egg whites, so be sure to check the label carefully if you’re following a vegan diet or avoiding eggs for other reasons, such as food allergies.
What vegan foods are high in protein?
Seitan, tofu, beans, and lentils can provide protein in a vegan diet.
How can a vegan get 100g of protein a day?
In order to get 100g of daily protein, a person following a vegan diet typically needs to vary their plant protein sources and include multiple protein sources in one meal. These can include seitan, which contains
What is a good source of protein that isn’t meat?
Some plant-based foods, such as soybean products, seitan, beans, and lentils contain high amounts of protein. You can also find protein in nuts, whole grains like quinoa and amaranth, and hemp seeds. People following a vegan diet may need to plan in order to reach their daily protein goals.
Still, some people may be interested in increasing their plant protein intake for a variety of reasons.
This list can be used as a guide for anyone interested in incorporating more plant-based proteins into their diet.
Just one thing
Try this today: Including a protein-rich ingredient in each meal or snack is a great way to boost your protein intake. Try topping salads with tofu, sprinkling nutritional yeast over popcorn, or pairing fresh fruit with nut butter to squeeze some extra protein into your diet.
Learn more about starting a plant-based diet here.