When I first adopted a plant-based diet, I wasn’t sure how to best replace animal products with vegan ones.
Fortunately, it turned out to be easy to get enough protein without meat, fish, dairy, or eggs. Even better, I quickly discovered that vegan protein sources are delicious and incredibly easy to prepare.
The average person needs approximately 0.45–0.73 grams of protein per pound of body weight (1.0–1.6 grams per kg) daily, depending on your physical activity level. That’s about 70–113 grams for a 155-pound (70-kg) individual (1Trusted Source).
Because there are so many protein-rich plant foods, you can easily get enough protein on a vegan diet. Plus, experts agree that a well-planned plant-based diet provides all of the nutrients you need, including protein (2Trusted Source, 3Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
Here are some of the best vegan sources of dietary protein, plus a helpful chart.
Nuts and seeds are naturally rich in protein.
You can enjoy them on their own, blended into nut butters, mixed into yogurt, oatmeal, or trail mix, or added to smoothies, salads, grain dishes, and homemade veggie burger patties.
Here’s the amount of protein found in a 1-ounce (28–30-gram) serving of various nuts and seeds (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source, 8Trusted Source, 9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source):
- Walnuts: 4.5 grams
- Almonds: 6 grams
- Cashews: 4.5 grams
- Chia seeds: 6 grams
- Flax seeds: 6 grams
- Hemp seeds: 9.5 grams
- Sunflower seeds: 5.5 grams
- Pumpkin seeds: 8.5 grams
A small, 1-ounce (28–30-gram) serving of various nuts and seeds offers roughly 4–9 grams of protein. You can eat them raw or add them to various foods, such as a smoothie, oatmeal, or salad.
A growing number of nondairy milks are available today, but not all of them are great sources of protein.
If you’re hoping to use nondairy milk as a source of protein, be sure to buy one of the varieties below. These can be used just like dairy milk in coffee, soup, and batter for baked goods, as well as smoothies, cereal, and cream sauces.
- Soy milk: 6 grams
- Pea milk: 8 grams
Soy and pea milk are among the most naturally protein-rich nondairy milks, packing 6–8 grams per cup (240 mL).
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Legumes, which include beans, peas, and lentils, are great sources of protein for people on plant-based diets.
Plus, you can eat cooked legumes on their own, as part of a marinated grain salad (or other salads), and in burritos, quesadillas, soups, and nachos.
The list below outlines the protein content of 1/2 cup (80–93 grams) of a variety of canned legumes (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source):
- Black beans: 8 grams
- Pinto beans: 7 grams
- Chickpeas: 7.5 grams
- Kidney beans: 8 grams
- Lentils: 8 grams
- Peas: 8 grams
Legumes like beans, peas, and lentils are packed with protein. Eat these as a side dish or in burritos, soups, and salads.
Vegan meats go beyond packaged plant-based burgers and hotdogs.
Soy foods like tofu and tempeh work well in breakfast scrambles, roasted in the oven, and in stir-fries, burritos, and sandwiches. Seitan, a savory protein made from vital wheat gluten, is great in soups, salads, grain dishes, tacos, and sandwiches.
- Tofu (3 ounces or 85 grams): 4 grams
- Tempeh (3/4 cup or 100 grams): 13 grams
- Seitan (3 ounces or 100 grams): 19 grams
- Beyond Meat meatballs (5 total, 100 grams): 20 grams
- Impossible Burger (1 patty, 113 grams): 19 grams
Soy foods, seitan, and various prepackaged vegan meats offer 4–20 grams of protein per serving.
Grains are a lesser-known source of plant protein but offer a great way to supplement your protein intake.
You can use cooked grains as the base of a meal, incorporate them into homemade veggie burgers and granola bars, top salads and soups with them, stuff bell peppers with them, and eat them in breakfast bowls and burritos.
Here’s the protein content of a 1/2 cup (100–126 grams) of several popular grains when cooked (26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source, 29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source, 32Trusted Source):
- Quinoa: 4.5 grams
- Brown rice: 3 grams
- Amaranth: 4.7 grams
- Millet: 3.5 grams
- Oats: 3 grams
- Spelt: 6 grams
- Teff: 4.9 grams
Whole grains are an excellent choice to supplement your protein intake. Spelt, teff, amaranth, and quinoa are all particularly high in protein.
All fruits and veggies contain small amounts of protein, but some more than others.
Fruits and vegetables are most often enjoyed raw, cooked, or blended into smoothies and sauces. You can enjoy them at any meal or snack.
Similar serving sizes of high protein fruits and veggies pack the following amounts of protein (33Trusted Source, 34Trusted Source, 35Trusted Source, 36Trusted Source, 37Trusted Source, 38Trusted Source, 39Trusted Source):
- Broccoli (1 raw cup or 90 grams): 2.5 grams
- Sweet potato (1 medium-sized, cooked, 150-gram potato): 2 grams
- Artichoke (1 small veggie, 90 grams): 3 grams
- Spinach (3 raw cups or 85 grams): 2 grams
- Banana (1 fruit, 125 grams): 1.5 grams
- Blackberries (1 cup or 145 grams): 2 grams
- Guava (1 cup or 165 grams): 4.5 grams
Incorporating more fruits and veggies into your diet is a great way to meet your protein needs. Guava is particularly rich in protein.
Many people on vegan diets wonder how to get enough protein.
You’ll be glad to know that plenty of protein-rich plant foods provide more than enough of this nutrient to meet the recommended daily needs.
For example, legumes and vegan meat alternatives — and even certain nondairy milks, whole grains, and fruits and veggies — are great sources of protein on plant-based diets.
Just one thing
Try this today: One of my favorite high protein vegan dishes is a tofu breakfast scramble.
To make it, sauté your favorite chopped veggies (I like broccoli, bell pepper, onion, and garlic) with a little olive oil, then season them with turmeric, black salt, and nutritional yeast, and add a block of crumbled extra-firm tofu until it’s warm.
Optional additions include baby spinach, diced tomatoes, and vegan shredded cheese.