It’s important to find the best vegan protein sources since eating vegan or vegetarian is becoming more popular. Thus, more and more people are concerned about getting enough nutrients from their plant-based diet. As a vegan, you can easily meet your daily protein requirements. What’s the secret? Balance is key.
If you become a junk food vegan, you may experience low energy and protein deficiency. Purely eating frozen vegan waffles and chips will not supply enough protein (or almost any other nutrient) for your body to function properly. If you use the best Vegan protein sources and fill your plates with colorful produce, hearty grains, and satisfying potatoes, you should have no problem meeting your daily protein requirement.
List of Best Vegan Protein Sources
This comprehensive guide features some of the best vegan protein sources free of milk, eggs, and meat. Here you’ll find some classics, like beans and tofu, as well as some often-overlooked foods, like green peas and wild rice, that are also loaded with protein.
Plant-based diets can include soy protein. Add protein to your diet with tofu, tempeh, edamame, and soy milk. There is no need to associate vegan protein with mystery “meat” loaf or processed patties. Make a stir-fry with tempeh or tofu, steam some edamame for an appetizer, or top your cereal with soy milk. Soy foods, such as tofu, are heart-healthy, and soy isoflavones may help reduce muscle damage during exercise.
2. Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is affectionately called “nooch” by the vegan community, so its scientific-sounding name shouldn’t scare you off. The yeast has a yellow appearance and a unique cheesy, umami-rich flavor. It is a great vegan source of vitamin B12, and it has 4 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons. Vegans need to supplement vitamin B12 because it is commonly found in animal products. If you eat a vegan diet, talk to your doctor to ensure you’re getting enough nutrients. Add nutritional yeast to your sauces or dressings, sprinkle it on pasta or popcorn, or stir it into your next meal.
It is a staple of plant-based diets. It is made with wheat gluten, the main protein in wheat, which gives it a chewy, hearty texture similar to meat in some dishes. Seitan contains 20 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving. In your local grocery store or health-food store, you can buy precooked seitan next to the tofu or you can make it yourself by purchasing vital wheat gluten.
4. Whole Grains
Whole grains are easy to consume morning, noon, or night, and they can add extra protein to meals even though we generally think of them as carbs. In addition to delivering fiber, vitamins, and minerals to your diet, many varieties are naturally high in protein. Try a bowl of oatmeal in the morning, a quinoa salad for lunch, and wild rice-stuffed peppers for dinner to boost your grain intake.
5. Green Veggies
Green vegetables provide more than just vitamins and minerals when it comes to protein. Protein-rich foods such as spinach, Brussels sprouts, and green peas will balance out your plate. Greens are also antioxidant-rich, full of fiber, and low in calories. You can also add cooked spinach to pasta, add green peas to a curry, or roast Brussels sprouts for a crispy side dish.
6. Sprouted Bread
This whole-grain baked good also contains a hefty amount of protein, as sprouted grain bread is sometimes called Ezekiel bread since it is branded after the popular brand name. You get 10 grams of protein in just one sandwich slice depending on the brand you purchase that’s an incredible amount of protein without even adding the fillings. Sprout-grain bread can also be used for toast, breakfast strata, or breadcrumbs.
Despite its unhealthy incarnations (looking at you, french fries, and loaded potato skins), the humble potato is an excellent addition to your diet. There are 8 grams of protein in one russet potato, as well as more potassium than in a banana and fiber. Red and sweet potatoes also contain protein, but their amount is not as high. All types of potatoes can be mashed, roasted, baked, or scalloped.
The budget-friendly base for many plant-based dishes, legumes are a staple for vegans seeking to bulk up their protein intake. Legumes include beans and lentils, both of which are excellent sources of plant protein. Depending on the type, lentils can contain up to 18 grams of protein per cup (cooked), and beans can contain between 10 and 18 grams. You can use lentils as a taco filling, a chili base, or a curry base. One of our favorite ways to prepare beans is to blend them into hummus, make fritters, or top baked potatoes with them.
It isn’t just birds that eat seeds. Seeds can contribute to a healthy vegan diet in many ways, from sesame seeds whirred into tahini to flax seeds sprinkled over oatmeal or baked into bread. Hemp, flax, and chia are also good sources of plant-based omega-3 fats. For those with nut allergies, seeds are an excellent protein option. Make a chia seed pudding, spread sunflower-seed butter on toast, or mix tahini with salad dressing.
A plant-based pantry would not be complete without several types of nuts, which are equally easy to eat on their own or to include in recipes. You should eat 1.5 ounces of nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butter several times a week, according to the American Heart Association. Despite the small serving sizes, each is packed with protein. Packing pre-portioned bags of almonds for grab-and-go snacks. Whisking peanut butter into sauces, and sprinkling walnuts on top of your salad are all simple ways to use this container.