13 best sources of protein for vegans

Being Vegan is no more a fad. The world’s focus is shifting towards adopting a more compassionate and sustainable way of living but there is one persistent question that stops many (read – fitness enthusiasts) from going meat-free – Where will I get my protein from? The truth is there are several powerful sources of protein for vegans. Read further to find out the best sources for vegans which can be used to make healthy and tasty vegan meals.

According to a study conducted by The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (1) –  A high protein vegetarian diet plan can easily suffice the protein requirement of a child, adult, pregnant, and breastfeeding woman.

In fact, plant-based protein is effective in lowering body weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol. It also helps to build muscle, boost immunity, improve gut health, and satiety.

Here is a list of 13 best protein sources for vegans to help keep your meals healthy, tasty, and interesting –

1. Soy

A vegan superfood, Soy is one of the best protein sources of plant-based protein. It contains all essential amino acids, Vitamin K1, Folate, and other micronutrients (2). It is available in several forms and is a versatile part of Asian vegetarian protein meals.

2. Tofu

A meat-free protein alternative, Tofu is made by pressing together bean curds and is rather bland in taste. A 3.5 oz serving offers 8 grams of protein and 15 percent of daily calcium requirement (3). Adding it to burgers and chilies raises their taste quotient.

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3. Tempeh

An excellent vegan protein for gut health, Tempeh is made from fermented soy proteins. It has about 20 grams protein/3.5 oz serving (4). It has a chewy texture and earthy flavor and is easy to incorporate into your diet. Marinate it, sauté it, bake it, add into soups and salads, the options are endless.

4. Edamame

Made of immature soybeans, Edamame is made of 11 percent protein, antioxidants, and Vitamin K (5). A little sweet in taste, this vegan protein is a popular ingredient of low carb eating plans. Itis usually enjoyed as a vegan snack, added in stews and noodle dishes.

5. Quinoa

One of the most popular plant-based proteins, Quinoa is packed with all essential amino acids, iron, micro vitamins, minerals, and fiber (6). A gluten-free grain-like seed, it is a delicious alternative to rice. Quinoa also has a low glycemic index which helps in managing blood sugar levels. It is an exciting addition to smoothies, desserts, and salads.

6. Chickpeas

The king of the Beans and Legumes group, Chickpeas are one of the oldest and best protein sources for vegans. Did you know that one cup of cooked Chickpeas offers 15 gms of protein which is the same as 2 oz of meat (7)? Having a special diet rich in beans and legumes keeps you fuller, lowers bad cholesterol, and cuts down on belly fat. The yummy dip Hummus is one of the most popular ways to have this plant-based protein.

7. Nuts

The ideal fitness snack, nuts are a powerhouse of essential fats, amino acids, and antioxidants. Peanuts, Almonds, Pistachios, walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashew nuts all contain over 4 gms of vegan protein (8). They help in weight loss, promote digestion, and improve skin health. Replacing croutons, delicious toppings for smoothies, cereals, bread, and various forms of butter – Nuts are truly a vegan’s best friend.

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8. Lentils

The good old lentils are one of the best protein sources for vegans and used extensively in Asian, African, and Canadian cuisines. One cup of cooked lentil has about 17 gms of protein, B vitamins, potassium, and fiber (9). Their anti-inflammatory properties strengthen the heart and boost immunity. Easy to cook, lentils can be eaten as salads, dahls, and soups.

9. Seeds

Flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, these tasty snackable are an excellent source of plant-based protein (10). They can be easily incorporated into vegetarian protein meals, salads, smoothies, and trail mixes. They soothe digestion, diminish symptoms of PMS, skin infections, and regulate blood circulation.

10. Oats

A whole-grain grown in North America, Oats is a good source of fiber, antioxidants, and protein (15 percent of dry weight) (11). A staple in fitness special diets, it can be consumed in many ways – bread, granola bars, muesli, pancakes, fritters, and baked goods. A gluten-free ingredient, Oats helps in managing diabetes, constant hunger pangs, relieving symptoms of asthma, hypertension, and boosts immunity.

11. Green veggies

There is a reason why mom used to make you finish your green vegetables. They are storehouses of all the good stuff. Dark veggies like watercress, Alfalfa sprouts, Spinach, Bok Choy, Green peas, Kale, Brussel sprouts are an excellent source of vegan protein. They contain all essential vitamins, minerals, potassium, zinc, iron, and magnesium (12) and make yummy ingredients for salads, sandwiches, and smoothies.

12. Ezekiel bread

The healthiest kind of bread that you will get, Ezekiel bread is made of various kinds of sprouting lentils and seeds like wheat, barley, millet, and soybeans (13). This organic, sugarless bread contains high vegan protein content and is denser than normal bread. Its high fiber content regulates gut health and cholesterol level.

13. Spirulina

A blue-green cyanobacterium/algae that grows in both fresh and saltwater, Spirulina is one of the most nutritious foods on earth and one of the best sources of protein for vegans. It contains all essential amino acids, omega 3, omega 6 fatty acids, and antioxidants (14), which helps reduces blood pressure, allergic rhinitis, and may even have anti-cancer properties. Spirulina is available in the form of powder/tablets which can be consumed either in water or with some juice.

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Sonam Gulati
Sonam Gulati
Sonam Gulati - A wife, a mom, a dog-mom, a fitness enthusiast (in no particular order) has been practicing yoga for the last 12 years. Her journey began due to chronic back pain (thanks to a long sitting job) and post-natal depression. The pain birthed an urge to find a strong body and mind (for herself, for her child) and ended up transforming her. Working through deep-rooted feelings and trauma, releasing them layer by layer, her life today is a testament to the healing power of Yoga and how it enables a mind, body, and soul union. She has been writing on various aspects of health and relationships for over 8 years, journaling through her journey.

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