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25 Vegan Sources for Protein

25 Vegan Sources for Protein

If you’ve been vegan for any length of time, there’s a pretty good chance that someone’s asked you the ubiquitous question, “How do you get enough protein?” It’s a common misconception that you need animal products to get enough protein into your diet. In fact, many plant foods are loaded with protein, and if you incorporate 2-3 protein sources into each meal, chances are your protein levels will be a-OK.

Need proof that vegans aren’t hurting for protein? Just take a look at the recent popularity of veganism among bodybuilders! When you’re doing heavy weight training like bodybuilders do, you need to take in a lot more protein than the average recommendations. If it was that hard to get enough protein on a vegan diet, chances are we wouldn’t see so many bodybuilders talking about the benefits of a vegan diet!

The amount of protein you need in your diet depends a lot on your body weight and what activities you do. Americans in general eat far more protein than we need each day. The RDA for protein is .8 grams per kilogram of body weight. So, if you weigh 140 pounds, you’d need 51 grams of protein per day (140 pounds = 63.5 kg, and 63.5 X .8 = 50.8).

Like I mentioned above, you just need a couple of protein sources at each meal, and you’re golden. Depending on the protein sources you choose, you can even have just one source at a meal, if it’s high in protein. What I don’t want to do is confuse this idea with protein combining, a common practice that is totally unnecessary.

the myth of protein combining

The Myth of Protein Combining

You can probably track the idea of protein combining back to the book Diet for a Small Planet. The idea is that plant foods don’t contain “complete” proteins, and you need to combine certain plant foods at each meal to make sure you’re getting enough complete proteins.

Proteins contain amino acids, which are necessary for good health. There are nine amino acids that our bodies need to function, and animal products contain all nine. However, most plant-based protein sources are missing one or two amino acids, and different ones are missing different amino acids.

What makes a good myth is a kernel of truth, right? It’s true that you need to eat a variety of proteins to make sure you’re getting all of the amino acids your body needs, but it’s not as hard as protein combining methods make it seem. You don’t need all nine at the same meal, and it’s even OK if you don’t get them all every single day. If you stick to a variety of protein sources, like the ones on the next page, you’ll be golden. Hey, maybe you’ll even try your hand at bodybuilding!

 

vegan protein sources

25 Vegan Protein Sources

There are plenty of vegan protein sources, and if you make sure to eat a variety of these throughout the week, you won’t need to worry about getting enough protein!

I understand that not everyone is going to eat all 25 of these. This list is a jumping off point to give you some options to get going. Beans, whole grains, and even fruits and veggies contain protein, so if your favorite foods aren’t on this list, I suggest using a resource like the USDA Nutrition Database to check out their protein contents.

  1. Tempeh -  41 g per cup
  2. Lentils – 18 g per cup
  3. Plain soymilk – 11 g per cup
  4. Edamame – 20 g per cup
  5. Seitan – 19 g per 3 ounces
  6. Tofu – 20 g per 1/2 cup
  7. Peas – 9 g per cup
  8. Brown rice – 5 g per cup
  9. White rice – 4 g per cup
  10. Cooked broccoli – 4 g per cup
  11. Sunflower seeds – 6 g per 1/4 cup
  12. Quinoa – 9 g per cup
  13. Cooked spinach – 5 g per cup
  14. Avocado – 4 g per cup
  15. Whole grain bread – 7 g in 2 slices
  16. Black beans – 15 g per cup
  17. Cashews – 5 g per 1/4 cup
  18. Cooked semolina pasta – 8 g per cup
  19. Chia seeds – 5 g per 2 tablespoons
  20. Flax seeds – 4 g per 2 tablespoons
  21. Bulgur – 5.5 g per cup
  22. Peanut butter – 8 g per 2 tablespoons
  23. Sunflower seed butter – 5.5 g per 2 tablespoons
  24. Baked red potato – 3 g per cup
  25. Barley – 3.5 g per cup

Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list, and I’d love to hear from you guys! What plant-based foods do you rely on for protein?

Sources:

Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, Health, Vegan, Vegetarian, , , , , ,

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Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe is a freelance writer and vegan crafter living in Atlanta, Georgia. Her life’s mission is to make green crafting and vegan food accessible to everyone! Like this article? You can follow Becky on Twitter or find her on Facebook!

251 comments

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4:45AM PDT on May 25, 2014

Everything is valuable

10:47AM PDT on Apr 22, 2014

Silliness

7:55AM PDT on Mar 28, 2014

A good list. It just shows how easy it is to get enough protein from plants. Most people don't really need that much protein and you can get enough without even thinking about it (as these meal plan samples show: http://plenteousveg.com/how-do-vegans-get-protein/). what CAN be an issue for vegans is calcium and iron. And all vegans of course need to take a B12 supplement.

7:00AM PST on Mar 6, 2014

Thanks - eat almost all these foods - so good to know I'm gettig enough protein, especially as a veggie breStfeeding mom :)

10:30PM PST on Feb 15, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

11:38AM PST on Jan 30, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

9:42PM PST on Jan 25, 2014

Thank you so much!!

7:39PM PST on Jan 24, 2014

Thank you.

5:21AM PST on Jan 22, 2014

good info, thanks

12:05AM PST on Jan 21, 2014

This is good information, thanks.

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