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15 High Protein Vegan Foods To Never Run Out Of Ideas

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Vegan foods have a reputation for not providing enough protein. If you are a vegan or are considering becoming one you might have wondered yourself what are some high-protein sources of plant-based foods.

While there is no doubt that protein is an essential part of a healthy diet, there is also a disproportionate concern about how much we actually need.

In fact, most Americans adults eat about 100 grams of protein per day or roughly twice the recommended amount.

For vegans, there is definitely high-protein plant-based foods available to fulfill all your protein needs.

Moreover, contrary to popular belief, most of them contain all the essential amino acids. and, combining these foods below helps to balance their amino acid content and make them even more complete.

What are the best high-protein vegan foods?

When it comes to high-protein vegan foods, the main difference vs. animal-derived proteins is that plant-based protein sources are usually accompanied by some carbohydrates and/or fats.

This is why when we talk about ‘high-protein’ vegan foods we refer to those that have more protein content vs. other macronutrients.

In the list below you’ll find whole and healthy high protein vegan foods ranked from more-protein-per-serving to less-protein-per-serving.

We have also included a list of some of the most popular “fake meat products” that are available today as a meat substitute. These products, however, are not the healthiest so we recommend eating them in moderation.

The 15 Best High-Protein Vegan Foods

Here are 15 plant foods that contain a high amount of protein per serving.

1. Seitan

Seitan (pronounced “say-tan”) is a vegan meat substitute made entirely out of hydrated gluten, the main protein found in wheat.

Seitan is a common protein source for vegans and is frequently used as a substitute for dishes that would otherwise use meat. It is also used as a base for vegan burgers or sausages.

It has a savory-nutty taste, but similarly to tofu, it can be prepared in many different ways since it acquires the flavors of the spices and others ingredients you use.

In its ‘raw’ state seitan is usually baked into a loaf-shape and then cut into slices or strips. But unlike many soy-based mock ‘meats’, it resembles the look and texture of meat when cooked. It can be pan-fried, sautéed, and even grilled.

The high-wheat content means that it should be avoided by people with celiac or gluten intolerance. For others, it can be a protein-rich healthful meat substitute.

You can usually find seitan in the refrigerated section of most health food stores, or make your own from scratch with vital wheat gluten using this recipe.

With 27 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). seitan is the richest plant protein source on this list.

Protein
per Cup Cooked
Protein
per 100g
Protein
per 200 Calories
63g27g36g

2. Tofu

Tofu is a soy-based food that’s made from curdling soy milk and forming it into a solid block.

Since soybeans are considered a whole source of protein, tofu provides the body with all the essential amino acids it needs.

It is naturally gluten-free, high-protein, land low in fat, and calories.

It is a popular source of protein among vegans since it is super versatile and it takes on the flavor of the dish it is prepared in so you can literally add it to any meal for extra protein.

high protein vegan foods
Tofu with cucumber

Some common ways to eat tofu are sauteed with veggies and noodles, pan-fried with a salad or added in soups. My favorite way to eat however is scrambled, if you haven’t tried it yet I invite you to give it a try.

Tofu is a very healthy food but somewhere along the road, it got a bad reputation. If you want to read about all the health benefits of tofu, make sure to check out this article.

And if you want to try my favorite tofu recipes and find out what tofu tastes like, you can check out this one.

Protein
per Cup Cooked
Protein
per 100g
Protein
per 200 Calories
20g17.3g19g

3. Tempeh

Another popular vegan food made out of soybeans is tempeh which is a fermented soy product use frequently as a meat replacement.

Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian food made where soybeans are fermented, or broken down by microorganisms.

Similarly to tofu or soybeans, tempeh also offers a complete source of protein with all the essential amino acids your body needs.

high protein vegan foods

Tempeh has a dry and firm but chewy texture and a slightly nutty taste but it also absorbs the flavors you add to it. It can be steamed, sautéed or baked or even eaten raw.

Unless you have a soy allergy, (in which case you should avoid it), tempeh is a popular and high-protein choice among vegans.

Protein
per Cup Cooked
Protein
per 100g
Protein
per 200 Calories
30.8g18.5g20g

4. Soybeans

Not surprisingly, soybeans are antoher high-protein vegan food.

Ironically, products derived from soybeans tofu, tempeh, and soymilk are more commonly consumed than the beans themselves.

But, soybeans are a very healthy, high-protein source than can be eaten whole which is how they are often eaten in Asia.

high protein vegan foods

Soybeans are among the best sources of plant-based protein and Like any other dried beans, can be cooked stovetop, in a pressure cooker or even in a slow cooker (crockpot).

They can take a very long time to cook, so you may prefer using a pressure cooker or slow cooker.

Not only are they rich in protein but soybeans are also a great source of various vitamins, minerals, and beneficial plant compounds, such as isoflavones.

Protein
per Cup Cooked
Protein
per 100g
Protein
per 200 Calories
29g16g20g

5. Lentils

Lentils are a great source of vegan protein. Whether it is red, green, brown, or yellow lentils, they all provide high-protein content that can be added to stews, salads, curries, soups, or even used as a ‘mince’ replacement.

I personally love using lentils to prepare a vegan ‘bolognese’ sauce. Besides their protein content, lentils provide plenty of fiber, and key nutrients, such as iron and potassium.

Lentils also contain good amounts of slowly digested carbs which keep you full for longer and do not give you a sugar ‘crash’.

high protein vegan foods

Furthermore, and a single cup of lentils contains almost 50% of your RDA of fiber intake. The type of fiber found in lentils has been shown to promote a healthy gut.

They also contain a good amount of antioxidants.

In conclusion, lentils are nutritional powerhouses and should be a part of every vegan diet.

Protein
per Cup Cooked
Protein
per 100g
Protein
per 200 Calories
18g9g15.5g

6. Split Peas

Split Peas are another vegan food with high-protein content.

They can be of two types: green and yellow. Green split peas are sweeter and less starchy than the milder yellow split peas.

Actually, split peas and regular green peas come from the exact same plant but, when processed, split peas get peeled, dried, and skinned, and that skin-removal step promotes a natural split in the pea.

Since they’re more compact than their full, green siblings, they offer even more protein per ounce.

high protein vegan foods

Moreover, their high protein content has turned split peas into a common source for plant-based protein powder.

Split peas are a nutrient-dense food, offering nutrients such as vitamins A and B, potassium and magnesium.

Protein
per Cup Cooked
Protein
per 100g
Protein
per 200 Calories
16g25g13.3g

7. Black beans

Like many other beans, black beans are a great source of plant-based protein and a staple in vegan diets.

Like other beans, black beans contain resistant starch, a type of starch that is not broken down like other carbohydrates and thus does not raise your blood sugar as much

Compared to many other high-carbohydrate foods, black beans have a lower glycemic index which may help reduce the risk of diabetes and weight gain.

high protein vegan foods

They are also excellent sources of complex carbs, fiber, iron, folate, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, and several beneficial plant compounds.

You can add black beans to your diet by making a tasty bowl of homemade chili, eating them with rice like is popular in Central America, or making some delicious vegan burritos.

Note: other types like pinto or kidney beans have similar benefits and nutritional values.

Protein
per Cup Cooked
Protein
per 100g
Protein
per 200 Calories
15.2g21g12.g

8. Chickpeas

Another legume that is high in plant-based protein is chickpeas.  A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving provides about 3 grams of protein, which is similar to the protein content in black beans and lentils

Some studies suggest that chickpeas have a better protein quality vs. other legumes since they contain almost all the essential amino acids, except for methionine.

For this reason, chickpeas are not considered a ‘complete’ protein source. But that doesn’t mean they are not a great vegan protein source. You can ‘complete’ the amino acids in chickpeas by pairing them with another protein source like whole grains.

high protein vegan foods

Chickpeas can be eaten hot or cold, added to stews and curries, or even cooked in the oven for a crunchy snack.

However, my personal favorite is hummus, which is a delicious paste made from chickpeas and tahini (sesame seed paste).

Protein
per Cup Cooked
Protein
per 100g
Protein
per 200 Calories
11g19g12.6g

9. Nutritional Yeast

Also known as ‘nooch‘ nutritional yeast is loved by most vegan for its ‘cheesy’ flavor and versatility. (We add it to everything)

As a vegan, nutritional yeast hast the most similar taste to cheese I have found. But also I might not remember what cheese tastes like so don’t take my worth for it.

While it is technically the same type of yeast that’s used to bake bread and brew beer, they are very different products.

Nutritional yeast is grown specifically to be used as a food product and has a strong cheesy, nutty, or savory flavor.

It is a complete protein offering all nine essential amino acids that we must get from food.

One tablespoon contains 2 grams of protein which might seem little but you can easily use 3-4 tablespoon per dish.

high protein vegan foods

Nutritional yeast is produced specifically for the nutritional benefits that it provides and it gets its name from the protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants it contains.

Fortified nutritional yeast contains high amounts of vitamin B12 which can be very helpful to help prevent B12 deficiency.

You can find nutritional yeast as flakes, granules, or powder in the spice section or bulk bins of grocery stores.

Some ways to use nutritional yeast include sprinkling it on popcorn instead of salt, making a vegan cheese sauce for pasta, or using it to prepare scrambled tofu in a super-combination.

Protein
per Cup
Protein
per 100g
Protein
per 200 Calories
32g46.4g26.6g

10. Hemp Seeds

Hemps seeds also known as hemp hearts have the major nutritional benefit of being a ‘complete protein’, meaning that they contain all nine of your essential amino acids.

In fact, it contains all 20 essential amino acids, both essential and non-essential. For this reason, hemp is one of the best plant-based protein sources of all kinds.

Despite coming from the cannabis plant, it does NOT contain any traceable amounts of THC, which is the principal psychoactive constituent of the drug marijuana.

Hemp also contains essential fatty acids necessary for skin health, energy production, nervous system function, brain development, heart health, and immune system support.

high protein vegan foods

Hemp seed is also a plentiful source of fiber, and vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc, and potassium.

Hemp seeds have a very subtle flavor and can be added to smoothies, dips, spreads, salads, or even soups.

Since hemp is such a great source of plant-based protein, There is now a great variety of hemp protein supplements you can find on the market.

Protein
per Cup
Protein
per 100g
Protein
per 200 Calories
40g33g11g

11. Oats

Oats are known to be a very healthy food but they are also an easy and delicious way to add protein to your plant-based diet.

Although oats are not considered a complete protein, they do contain higher-quality protein than other commonly consumed grains like rice and wheat.

The major amino- acid in oats, at 80% of the total content, is avenalin, which isn’t found in any other grain but is similar to legume proteins.

Half a cup (120 ml) of dry oats contains approximately 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber.

high protein vegan foods

The best part about oats is probably their versatility. The classic breakfast staple is the perfect base for a different creation or topping every day. You can add anything from nuts to seeds and fruits and even protein powder for a protein-packed edition.

Additionally, You can use oats in a variety of recipes ranging from oatmeal to veggie burgers. They can also be ground into flour and used for baking.

Protein
per Cup Cooked
Protein
per 100g
Protein
per 200 Calories
10g13g7.2g

12. Ezekiel Bread and Other Sprouted Breads

Yes, you can eat bread while getting your protein needs!

Ezekiel bread is a nutrient-dense alternative to traditional bread. is made from organic, sprouted whole grains and legumes. These include wheat, millet, barley, and spelt, as well as soybeans and lentils.

Sprouting grains and legumes increases the amount of healthy nutrients they contain and reduces the amount of anti-nutrients in them

Studies also show that sprouting grains can increase their amino acid content. Lysine is the limiting amino acid in many plants, and sprouting increases the lysine content which helps boost the improve the bread’s amino acid profile and overall protein quality

high protein vegan foods

Two slices of Ezekiel bread contain approximately 8 grams of protein, which is slightly more than the average bread.

It might not seem like a huge protein content but if you are gonna eat bread you might as well get one with better nutritional value.

In this sense, Ezekiel bread is a great alternative for bread lovers who want a better way to eat toast or sandwiches. Even better if you add some protein spreading it with some hummus or nut butter.

Protein
per 2 slices
Protein
per 100g
Protein
per 200 Calories
8g10g7.5g

13. Quinoa

Quinoa is a complete protein meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids.

Although quinoa is often referred to as an ancient grain, it doesn’t grow from grasses as other cereal grains do.

This is why quinoa is technically considered a “pseudocereal.”

But beyond the technicalities, quinoa can be prepared or ground into flours similar to other more widely popular grains.

high protein vegan foods

Since it has a fairly plain texture, it is is also super versatile and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.

Quinoa looks a lot like couscous but is way more nutritious.

Besides being a good source of complex carbs, It is full of nutrients like fiber, iron, magnesium, and manganese.

It is is an awesome substitute for rice and it can also be used to make muffins, fritters, quiches, and breakfast bowls.

Quinoa is also gluten-free so it can be used as a substitute for celiac-friendly flours.

Protein
per Cup
Protein
per 100g
Protein
per 200 Calories
8g4.4g7.3g

14. Nuts and Nut Butters

Not only are nuts and nut butters great sources of healthy fats but they also contain an important percentage of protein worth mentioning.

Depending on the nut, one ounce (28 grams) contains between 5–7 grams of protein.

Is important to consider that nuts have a high-fat content and, for that reason, are more calorically dense than other foods on this list and should be consumed in moderation.

Nuts and seeds are also great sources of fiber, iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, vitamin E, certain B vitamins. and antioxidants.

high protein vegan foods

When choosing which nuts to buy, keep in mind that blanching and roasting could damage the nutrients in nuts. So favor raw, unsalted versions when possible.

Protein
per Cup
Protein
per 100g
Protein
per 200 Calories
25-27g18-20g6.5g

In the same way when shopping for nut butter, try choosing those without added ingredient to avoid the oil, sugar, and excess salt often added to some brand varieties.

15. High-Protein Vegetables

We all know vegetables are good for us and we should be eating lots of them.

But besides providing us with essential vitamins and minerals, vegetables can also be a good source of plant-based protein. Especially, dark-colored, leafy greens.

Since vegetables have a lot of volume per calorie/protein it’d be hard to eat enough of them to get to meet daily protein requirements.

However, when added to your meals, they can help increase your protein intake, particularly when combined with other protein-rich foods.

Vegetables with the most protein include broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, kale, and mushrooms.

They contain about 4–5 grams of protein per cooked cup. Try eating some vegetables with your lunch and dinner as a side salad or adding them to your smoothies.

Protein
per Cup
Protein
per 100g
Protein
per 200 Calories
4-5g3-4g10-12g

Potatoes

If you are a potato lover, you’ll be happy to know that this delicious foods are also a great source of protein.

Potatoes have a reputation as a starchy carb but are also a good source of nutrients, and high-quality protein because of their superior amino acid composition.

They even exceeded the recommended amino acid levels for lysine, methionine, threonine, and tryptophan. Amino acids, especially lysine play a vital role in muscle repair. 

high protein vegan foods

For years, potatoes have gotten a bad reputation due to inaccurate scientific feedback and marketing.

Past studies claiming potatoes were unhealthy failed to include all the details like the fact that volunteers were eating large amounts of French fries and potato chips. Fries and chips are logically unhealthy and promote weight gain, obesity, and even illness.

However, current research indicates that white potatoes are actually an excellent plant food part of a healthy diet.

The carbohydrate or starchy part of the potato ranks high on the glycemic index which means it enters the bloodstream faster making them an excellent pre-workout snack for endurance athletes.

Protein
per Unit (big)
Protein
per 100g
Protein
per 200 Calories
8g2g5.3g

What about vegan protein supplements?

While it is totally possible to meet your daily protein needs through plant-based whole foods, vegan protein supplements can be a good addition to your diet if your lifestyle requires it.

For an average adult who doesn’t engage in any type of intense exercise, the recommendation is that around 15% of your calories come from protein but changes in some cases.

For people who engage in regular and intense physical activity such as athletes or bodybuilders, the recommendation increases to 25%.

In this case, consuming a vegan protein shake can help meet a higher daily requirement with more ease.

Or if you are trying to lose weight, consuming a protein supplement can also be a way of reducing your calories without sacrificing your protein needs.

Lastly, if just want to live a healthy plant-based diet you do not need to stress about protein as eating a balanced diet of whole-food will give you all the protein you needs along with other essential nutrients.

Plant Protein Vs. Animal Protein

Beyond the ethical and environmental reasons for veganism, there is still some controversy in terms of health about the superiority or Plant Protein Vs. Animal Protein or vice-versa.

The truth is, your body doesn’t differentiate where your protein comes from. It cares about the quality of your protein in terms of essential amino acids and what other nutrients (or harmful components) it contains.

This is because of the 20 different amino acids our bodies need, it can create 11 of them (called “non-essential amino acids”), but the other 9 we must get the other 9 from food (called essential amino acids).

Animal Protein

Animal proteins, such as meat, eggs, and milk, are complete proteins, meaning they provide all of the essential amino acids our body needs.

But on the flip side, several studies have linked red meat consumption to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and early death.

Further studies have shown that eating processed red meat such as sausages, hot dogs, salami, bacon, and canned meat may actually increase the risk of dying from heart disease.

Plant protein

As mentioned in the list above, Ithere are many vegan foods that provide ‘complete’ protein, meaning they contains all 9 essentials aminoacids.

These plants can be excellent sources of protein, often with fewer calories and fewer potentially harmful effects than animal products.

Others vegan high-protein foods might not contain all 9 aminoacids but you can easily ‘fix’ that by complementing them with others foods. E.g. Beans with rice make a complete portein.

Your body doesn’t’ know if you are getting the amino acids from one food or from two, as long as you eat them.

More importantly, studies show that people on vegetarian or vegan diets (which often rely on plant protein) are at a lower risk of certain diseases including cancers, type 2 diabeteshypertension, obesity, and ischemic heart disease.

Can you build muscle with vegan protein foods?

Yes! While vegan bodybuilders have been doing this for years, now it has also been proved by science.

The results of a new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that vegan protein is just as beneficial for muscle mass and strength as animal protein.

Researchers looked at the health records of nearly 3,000 men and women ages 19 to 72, as well as food questionnaires that the participants filled out.

They found that people who consumed the least amount of protein overall also had the lowest measures of muscle mass and strength.

But the type of protein people ate had no impacts on musculoskeletal health, for men or for women.

Can vegans get complete proteins?

Absilutely, many of the foods we have mentioned in the list above are complete protein such as quinoa, tofu, tempeh, soybeans and Ezekiel bread.

Additionally, vegans can get complete protein by combining two ‘incomplete’ sources of protein that contain all 9 essential amino acids. e.g. beans and rice which are a common combination make a complete protein.

High Protein Vegan Foods | Takeaway

Considering the big variety of high-protein vegan foods, it should be surprising that vegans are still asked where they get their protein from‘.

As we have shown in this article, there is no shortage of plant-based protein sources to meet your daily needs.

If you are eating a healthy diet with a variety of plant-based whole foods, you don’t need to worry to much about your protein since you are most likely getting as much as you needs.

And if you are an athlete or bodybuilder looking to want to increase your protein intake, you can also supplement it with vegan protein powder.

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