15 Vegan Protein Sources

It still seems to be the common misconception that you can’t get enough protein on a plant-based diet.

Well, that’s just not the case.

When it comes to vegan nutrition, these grains, beans, seeds, and vegetables high in protein can provide you with all you need. You can include these plant foods in your vegan diet so that you feel at ease when it comes to getting enough protein.

There are also some healthy recipes to help you integrate these foods into your daily vegan menu.

vegan nutrition Quinoa Plant-Based Protein

Grains

1. Quinoa

1 cup of cooked quinoa contains 8g of protein.

2. Oatmeal

1 cup of cooked oatmeal = 6g of protein.

Other higher sources of vegan protein from grains include amaranth, whole grain or sprouted bread, and brown rice.

Recipe to try: Red Beans & Quinoa

vegan nutrition Lentils Plant-Based Protein

Beans

3. Soybeans

1 cup of boiled soybeans = 29g of protein (also incl. soymilk, tempeh, tofu, etc.).

4. Lentils

1 cup of boiled lentils = 18g of protein.

5. Chickpeas

1 cup of boiled chickpeas = 15g of protein.

6. Black beans/pinto beans

1 cup of boiled black/pinto beans = 15g of protein.

7. Green peas

1 cup of cooked green peas = 8g of protein.

Recipes to try: Lentil Shepherd’s Pie or Vegan Falafel Recipes.

vegetables high in protein Brussel Sprouts Plant-Based Protein

Greens

8. Spinach

1 cup of boiled spinach = 5g of protein.

9. Brussel sprouts

1 cup of boiled brussel sprouts = 4g of protein.

10. Kale

1 cup of chopped kale = 2.9g of protein.

These and other greens such as broccoli and lettuce are vegetables high in protein, you just need to eat them in larger volume. Don’t worry, they’re low in calories, but high in nutrients!

Recipe to try: Broccoli Potato Soup

vegan nutrition Black Walnuts Plant-Based Protein

Nuts

11. Almonds

2 tbsp of almonds = 4g (1/4 cup is 8g) of protein (incl. almond milk, etc).

12. Black walnuts

2 tbsp of black walnuts = 3.8g (1/4 cup chopped is 7.5g) of protein.

Peanuts are another vegan protein-rich food, with peanut butter having 8g of protein per 2 tablespoon..

Recipe to try: Pumpkin Pie Chocolate Chip Cookies (made with almond butter)

vegan nutrition Sesame Seeds Plant-Based Protein

Seeds

13. Hemp seeds

1 oz of hemp seeds contains 10g of protein.

14. Sesame seeds

2 tbsp of sesame seeds = 3.2g of protein (also incl. tahini, etc).

15. Sunflower seeds

2 tbsp of sunflower seeds = 3g (1/4 cup 6g) of protein.

Other good sources of vegan protein from seeds include chia and flax seeds.

Recipes to try: Roasted Red Pepper Hummus or Vegan Falafel Recipes.

excellent sources o fvegan protein-VeganStreet

Sample Meal Plan with Protein Content

Breakfast:

2 cups cooked Oatmeal                      12g (316 cal.)

1 tbsp brown sugar                                    (51 cal.)

1/2 cup soymilk                                    4g (65.5 cal.)

2 pieces whole grain toast                7.2g (138 cal.)

2 tbsp jam                                                   (112 cal.)

[plus 2 medium Bananas                  2.6g (210 cal.)]

Lunch:

1 cup cooked broccoli                            4g (31 cal.)

1 cup cooked beets                             2.2g (59 cal.)

2 medium Baked Potatoes                   6g (322 cal.)

[or 3 medium Baked Potatoes             9g (483 cal.)]

2 tbsp ketchup                                             (38 cal.)

Dinner:

1 cup cooked mixed vegetables        5.2g (118 cal.)

[or 2 cups cooked mixed vegs        10.4g (236 cal.)]

2 1/2 cups brown rice                      12.5g (540 cal.)

2 medium Sweet Potato                       4g (224 cal.)

[or 3 medium Sweet Potatoes             6g (336 cal.)]

Total:                                                 57.1g protein (1976.5 calories)

[Total:                                               64.7g protein (2615.5 calories)]

The recommended daily allowance (RDA)* for protein is:

  • Adult women need about 46 grams a day (71 grams, if pregnant or breastfeeding)
  • Adult men need about 56 grams a day.

Typically, to personalise the amount of protein you would need, the recommended daily intake is 0.8 x [your body weight in kilograms] OR 0.36 x [your body weight in pounds].** So, for a 56kg (125 lbs) individual that would be (0.8 x 56kg) = 45g of protein per day, or for a 72.5kg (160 lbs) person, (0.8 x 72.5) = 58g of protein. Work it out for yourself and see how much you need to be getting, at the very least it will provide a rough estimate or starting place.

However, it should be noted that the emphasis on protein and protein intake is often far over-stated. With conflicting information out there, at times it can be confusing as to how much protein you should really be getting. But, it’s important to know that too much protein can be harmful to your health. You don’t need to go out of your way to get enough protein. If you’re eating plenty whole, plant foods, you should be set.

The above are all estimates, to use as a guideline. You can adjust the protein and calorie requirements to suit your needs, and of course focus on choosing foods that you enjoy. The sample menu also helps to show that you can get all of your daily protein requirements with common plant foods. Without even including the protein content of the condiments, it is still relatively easy to get more than the RDA for protein.

As you can see, the grams of protein from a variety of foods do add up. So, you don’t need to get it all from one source. And you certainly don’t need to eat tons of beans to get enough plant-based protein. Heck, you don’t really need to eat any beans on a daily basis as far as protein goes. But, if you are looking for a bit more vegan protein, just add in some more oatmeal, lentils, quinoa, or even a large salad to the above sample menu.

*RDA amounts taken from WebMD.
**RDA calculations taken from PCRM.

If you’re interested in getting more personalised meal plans or help planning your weekly menus, you can contact TheVeganJunction for plant-based mentoring.

Resources and further reading:

The Protein Myth (PCRM)
Protein: Are You Getting Enough? (WebMD)
25 Vegan Sources of Protein (Care2)
When Friends Ask: Where Do You Get Your Protein?  (The McDougall Newsletter)
Protein in the Vegan Diet (The Vegetarian Resource Group)
Top 6 Plant Based Proteins (Food Matters)
Animal vs. Plant Protein by T. Colin Campbell (NutritionStudies)

More plant-based health resources to check out:

Transitioning to Vegan
9 Plant Foods High in Calcium
Vegan Health Questions Answered & Resources
Vegan and Plant-Based Mentoring
Plant-Based Health Resources

Find Featured Vegan Recipes here on TheVeganJunction, including many protein-rich meals:

Red Beans & Quinoa
Lentil & Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
Vegan Falafel Recipes
Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Sweet Potato Hummus
Ratatouille Fusilli & Broccoli Potato Soup

For more nutrition info and recommended recipes, follow TheVeganJunction on Twitter  and on Facebook TheVeganJunctioncom.

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The Vegan Junction

Where healthy, active, and ethical living meet.

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