Protein as a Vegan:
- Looking to get your protein as a vegan, but not sure where to find it? Don’t worry – there are lots of options!
- Check out this chart of vegan protein sources below to learn what you can eat to get the protein you need.
- Note that this list contains only vegan sources of protein – if you’re concerned about getting all your essential amino acids as a vegan, make sure you’re also eating some quinoa and beans.
Animal protein vs. plant protein
If you’re trying to increase your protein intake without including meat, fish, dairy, or eggs in your diet, it can be hard to know what vegan options are out there.
In some cases, they can be just as healthy (if not more so) than animal protein options. Certain plant-based sources of protein are also better for your health and for the environment than others.
We’ve compiled a handy chart that details which vegan protein sources offer an array of nutrients—and which ones could use improvement.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of vegan proteins; we may have missed some crucial ingredients or omissions that are important to you. Let us know if you think we missed anything and we will add it!
Soy, beans and peas
The good news is that there are lots of vegan sources of protein out there. Soy and beans, in particular, have all of your bases covered.
Soybeans are one of the highest-protein foods on Earth, with 34 grams in just half a cup! They’re also one of nature’s richest sources of calcium. Black beans (also known as turtle beans) are packed with protein, too; they’ve got 15 grams per cup!
It can be tough to get enough B vitamins from plant-based foods alone, but both soy and black beans deliver. One cup of cooked soybeans has 2.5 milligrams of vitamin B1, or thiamine, which helps keep your brain sharp and helps convert carbohydrates into energy.
Beans are rich in another essential vitamin for vegans: vitamin B6. One cup of cooked kidney beans has almost 20 percent of your daily value for it—not bad for a food that’s low in calories and fat!
Nuts, seeds and grains
Legumes, soy products, tofu and veggie meats are some of your best protein sources. Just one cup of chickpeas contains 18 grams of protein; plus, it’s packed with fiber and iron. Chia seeds—the next big thing in smoothie bowls—contain about 13 grams per tablespoon.
If you’re eating a plant-based diet for health reasons or because you’re an environmentalist (or both), then you’ll be glad to know that nuts and seeds have been shown to boost heart health as well as bone density.
Plant-based proteins also tend to be lower in saturated fat than their animal counterparts; plus, most contain zero cholesterol. On top of that, they taste good!
Tofu, tempeh, seitan
All great sources of protein that are 100% vegan and totally delicious. And they’re not even your only options! To ensure you’re getting enough protein, check out our guide to all-vegan proteins below.
Our chart illustrates how many grams of protein each food has per serving and its total calories, helping you pick out your favorite sources of plant-based protein.
And don’t forget – it takes more than just veggies and legumes to reach daily protein requirements. Mixing in some dairy and fish is an easy way to sneak extra nutrients into your diet while still staying true to your vegan diet!
Broccoli, kale and spinach
As you might expect, these leafy greens are good sources of protein. An average head of raw broccoli has about 3.5 grams; a cup of cooked kale has 4 grams, and spinach clocks in at 5 grams per cup.
Among other veggies high in protein are Swiss chard (3.6 g per cooked cup), bok choy (3 g per cooked cup) and Chinese cabbage (2.8 g per cooked cup).
The vegetable with highest protein content is soybeans: an average three-ounce serving packs 9 grams, or 18 percent of your daily value. Soy milk is also rich in protein: one cup has 8 grams.
You can also get a decent amount of protein from beans—including black beans (7 g per cup), lentils (18 g per half-cup serving) and chickpeas (7 g per half-cup serving)—and from nuts such as almonds (7 g per ounce).
Hemp milk and almond milk
More often than not, alternative milks like hemp and almond milk have at least some protein. For example, one cup of unsweetened vanilla hemp milk packs an impressive 8 grams of protein.
Hemp is also considered a complete source of plant-based protein, meaning it contains all essential amino acids in adequate amounts.
But be sure you’re reading labels carefully—some of these milks contain more sugar than others! If you need more help finding vegan protein sources that are perfect for your goals, check out our roundups:
Vegetarian Sources of Protein You Should Be Eating and 20 Healthy High-Protein Foods for Vegans . There’s also an abundance of apps for iPhone and Android that make it easy to track your nutrients.
7 oz (200 g) of dark chocolate can contain between 50 and 70% of your recommended daily intake of magnesium. Magnesium is an essential nutrient for healthy brain function and it even helps promote better sleep.
If you don’t eat enough protein, getting enough magnesium can be difficult, especially on a vegan diet. Eating more magnesium rich foods like dark chocolate is one way to help ensure you’re not at risk for deficiency.
In addition to being a good source of magnesium, dark chocolate also contains antioxidants that may have protective effects against heart disease and stroke.
Not all seeds are created equal, and chia is one of those magical little nutritional powerhouses. They’re packed with protein and healthy fats, and they make a great substitute for eggs in baking recipes.
Try tossing them into muffins, or subbing them for your usual egg replacer when baking vegan treats. One egg = 1 Tbsp ground seeds + 3 Tbsp water + 2 minutes in the microwave! You can also add ground chia seeds to smoothies, oatmeal, pancakes, soups and more.
Here’s an easy recipe: Chia Seed Pudding . To get you started, here are some other tasty ways to use chia seeds. (Remember: It takes about 15-20 grams of protein per day to maintain muscle mass.)