10 Best Vegan Protein Sources

February 26, 2024
Amelia [Writer]

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Power up your plant-based diet! Dive into our guide on the 10 Best Vegan Protein Sources! Whether you're a seasoned vegan or just dipping your toes into the world of plant-based eating, these protein-packed options are sure to become staples in your kitchen!

10 Best Vegan Protein Sources

There's a common myth about vegan diets: that they don't provide enough protein for a healthy lifestyle. But the truth is, it's totally doable to get all the protein you need each day on a plant-based diet—you just need to know where to find it! We're dishing out the top 10 Best Vegan Protein Sources that will keep you feeling energized + vibrant. Whether you're a seasoned vegan or just dipping your toes into the world of plant-based eating, these high-protein vegan foods are sure to become staples in your kitchen!

High protien foods like lentils, buckwheat and nuts in bowls on a dusty pink background.

One of the most common questions vegans + vegetarians hear is --- "Where do you get your protein?" Since transitioning to a more plant-forward lifestyle, I've taken the time to explore this question --- The good news is, finding protein sources is surprisingly simple + easy! There are countless high protein vegan food options to keep you feeling satisfied while meeting all your protein needs!

If you're on the lookout for vegan + vegetarian food inspiration, I highly recommend checking out more of Orchids + Sweet Tea. There are plenty of protein-packed dishes to explore, like the Vegan Jamaican Power Bowl, Vegan Coconut Chickpea Curry, Baked Vegan Black Bean Tacos, Spicy Vegan Chili, and plenty more for you to dive into!

Jump to:

Why Do We Need Protein?

Protein is essential for our bodies because it helps with muscle growth + repair, supports cell function, aids in enzyme production, regulates hormones, strengthens the immune system, facilitates nutrient transport, maintains fluid balance, and promotes healthy hair, skin, and nails. It's a vital component of a balanced diet, supporting various physiological functions crucial for overall health and well-being.

High protein legumes in white bowls.

How Much Protein Do We Need?

So, how much protein do we really need? Well, it kind of depends on stuff like how active you are, your weight, and what you're aiming for health-wise. But as a general rule, for us adults, shooting for about 0.36 grams per pound of body weight, (0.8 grams of protein per kilogram) per day is a decent starting point!

That means that the average sedentary man should eat about 56 grams of protein per day, and the average woman should eat about 46 grams.

So, let's break it down:

  • For example, say you weigh around 154 pounds (70 kilograms) and you're not super active, that's roughly 56 grams of protein per day.

But if you're hitting the gym a lot or trying to bulk up, you might need a bit more protein in your diet. When you're super active and exercising a lot, your body may need extra protein to support muscle repair and growth. So, it's a good idea to adjust your protein intake accordingly to ensure you're giving your muscles the fuel they need to thrive y'all!

Different high protein nuts in small white bowls.

Best Vegan Protein Sources

1. Nuts

Nuts are super versatile and make for a great high-protein vegan food --- They are great snacks or meal additions to keep your protein and energy levels up all day long.

Here are some top nut proteins:

  • Almonds. 3g of protein for every six almonds
  • Walnuts. around 3g of protein for every three whole walnuts
  • Brazil nuts. 4g of protein for every six Brazil nuts
  • Cashew nuts. 3g of protein for every 10 cashew nuts

Also, keep an eye out for peanut butter + nut butter as another easy protein source. Just make sure to check the label for 100% nuts with no added oils, salt, or sugars. Try my nut-loaded No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Balls, Protein Peanut Butter + Jelly Overnight Oats and Chocolate Cranberry Almond Snack Bars.

Seeds in small wooden bowls on a blue background.

2. Seeds

Seeds are an awesome way to boost protein intake! I enjoy sprinkling them onto salads, adding them to soups, and mixing them into breakfast foods like oatmeal and chia pudding. It's seriously such a great hack for adding nutrition and flavor to meals!

Here are some top seed proteins:

  • Hemp seeds. 5g of protein per heaped tablespoon
  • Ground linseed. 3g of protein per heaped tablespoon
  • Pumpkin seeds. 4g of protein per tablespoon
  • Chia seeds. 2g of protein per tablespoon
  • Sunflower seeds. 3g of protein per tablespoon
  • Sesame seeds. 3g of protein per tablespoon
  • Flax seeds. 2g of protein per tablespoon

3. Soy

Soy is super versatile and can be used in so many ways, from soy milk to tofu. It's packed with protein and can adapt to all sorts of recipes!

  • Tofu. 9 g protein per 3 ounces
  • Soy milk. 7 g protein per 1 cup
  • Tempeh. 17 g protein per ½ cup
  • Shelled edamame. 9 g protein per ½ cup
Tofu and soybeans on a wooden table and chopping board.

4. Beans

For vegans aiming to boost their protein intake, beans are a go-to! They're the wallet-friendly foundation of many plant-based dishes. I love to toss them into tacos + chili.

  • Black beans. 15 g per 1 cup
  • Kidney beans. 15g of protein per 1 cup
  • Pinto beans. 15.4g of protein per 1 cup
  • Navy beans. 15g of protein per 1 cup
  • Lima beans. 15g of protein per 1 cup

All measurements are for cooked legumes.


5. Nutritional Yeast aka 'Nooch'

Don't be intimidated by the scientific name of nutritional yeast! Fondly known as "nooch" in the vegan community, it's a yellow inactive yeast with a distinctive cheesy, umami flavor. I love using it in creamy vegan pasta like this Creamy Vegan Cajun Pumpkin Alfredo Pasta.

As an added bonus, it's a fantastic vegan source of vitamin B12.

  • Nooch. 2 grams per 1 tablespoon.
Vegan source of protein green peas in shell in a white bowl.

6. Peas

These little pea-sized gems are one of the best high-protein vegan foods and are packed with goodness! Peas are high in protein, loaded with vitamin A, and a great source of potassium and fiber. I love tossing green peas into grain bowls like this Savory Chickpea Quinoa Buddha Bowl and veggie soups for an extra boost of flavor and protein!

Green peas. 8 g per cup.

7. Chickpeas

The humble chickpea is incredibly versatile—I use them in curries, for whipping up hummus, soups, sandwiches, pizzas—you name it! I always make sure to keep them on hand at all times.

  • Chickpeas. 14.5 g per 1 cup


Oats on a table with a gold spoon.

8. Whole Grains

I'm a huge fan of whole grains—they're not only healthy but also packed with nutrients. I typically base most of my recipes around using or adding a whole grain. Wild rice is incredible, and recently, I've been loving farro for its delicious taste and nice texture. And of course, quinoa is always a great choice--- Try my Vegan Quinoa Fried Rice.

  • Quinoa. 8 g protein per 1 cup
  • Wild rice. 6.5 g protein per 1 cup
  • Oats. 6 g protein per 1 cup
  • Buckwheat. 5.5 g protein per 1 cup
  • Brown rice. 5 g protein per 1 cup
  • Barley. 4.5 g protein per 1 cup
  • Farro. 8 g protein per 1 cup
Brown lentils in a bag a great vegan source of protein.

9. Lentils

Packed with 18 grams of protein per cooked cup, lentils are an AMAZING source of both protein + fiber. Plus, the type of fiber found in lentils is great for feeding the good bacteria in your gut, helping to keep your digestive system healthy.

  • Green lentils. 18 grams per 1 cup
  • Brown lentils. 18 grams per 1 cup
  • Red lentils. 18 grams per 1 cup

Ready to give your gut some love? A healthy gut does wonders for your digestion, skin, and mood. Check out 11 Best Foods to Improve Gut Health.

10. Potatoes

Ah, the humble potato! Yep, folks, I'm here to tell you what you've been waiting to hear—go ahead and enjoy all the fries you want! Haha. But seriously, it's important to note that not all potatoes are created equal, yet you can still get a decent hit of protein from your favorite spuds. Now, that's a win! Try out my Crispy Cajun Sweet Potato Fries, Ultra Creamy Cheesy Garlic Vegan Mashed Potatoes, and Vegan Sweet Potato Crumble Bread for your protein-loaded potato fix!

  • Russet potato. 8 g per large spud
  • Red potato. 7 g per large spud
  • Sweet potato. 2.5 g per medium spud

There you have it—  I hope these 10 Best Vegan Protein Sources help you to choose the best high-protein vegan foods. If you are looking for any meal inspiration check out my "What To Eat This Week" series for some seriously delicious + healthy eats.

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If you've given any of these 10 Best Vegan Protein Sources a try or given any recipes on my website a go, I'd truly appreciate it if you could share your experience by leaving a ⭐ star rating and dropping your thoughts in the 📝  comments below. Your feedback means a lot, and I love hearing from you on your wellness journey!

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