I’ve been eating mostly vegan for several years now. And one of the most common questions you get as a vegetarian or vegan is where do you get your protein? So, I’ve decided to devote this post to showing you just how not lacking in protein a vegetarian or vegan diet is.
Provided you’re eating a varied diet, you will not struggle one bit to get enough protein in you. Here’s 20 plant based sources of protein that you can easily fit into your meals, and that’ll give you a quick answer when someone asks: Where do you get your vegan protein?
Where Do You Get Your Vegan Protein?
I add lentils to my salads, have them in stews and curries with coconut milk, put them in bean patties or mix them into veggie spaghetti sauce. Lentils pack 26 grams of protein per 1/2 cup of dry lentils.
2. Black Beans
Same as above, I add black beans to a little bit of everything – salads, stews, curries, bean patties etc. 1 cup of cooked black beans provides 15 grams of protein.
3. Chickpeas and hummus
I love, love, love chickpeas. It’s definitely high on my list of go-to protein sources and I eat them several times a week. As with other beans I add them to my salads, in stews, patties or make hummus to dollop generously on salads, as a dip, or as a spread on toast or crackers. 1 cup of chickpeas will give you 14.5 grams of protein.
Quinoa is among my favourite grains to add to salads. I’ll either go with quinoa, bulgur or some kind of bean pasta in my salads. The great thing about quinoa is that it contains all eight amino acids, including lysine, which makes it a complete protein, similar to animal proteins. 1 cup provides 8 grams of protein.
Not only is oatmeal a good source of veggie protein, it’s also such a great meal because it can be endlessly varied. I love playing around with toppings, adding fruits, berries, nuts, seeds, or nut butters (even more protein!). And it’s a cheap and quick go-to breakfast or snack. 1/2 cup of cooked oatmeal contains 5 grams of protein.
6. Nut butters
I’ve always been a fan of nut butters. Banana with peanut butter? YAAAS. PB&J? Double yaas! These days there are so. many. nut. butters available. Almond, cashew, walnut, pumpkin seed, hemp seed… you name it! My favorites are almond and peanut butter or ones with other goodies mixed in. My most recent favorite is from NuttZo that packs a mix of different nuts and seeds and chocolate! 2 tablespoons of peanut butter provides 8 grams of protein.
7. Green Peas
I’ve recently got back into eating green peas. I buy organic frozen green peas, thaw them and then throw them into salads, stews or curries. Just like with other beans. 1/2 cup of peas packs around 4 grams of protein.
8. Edamame Beans (soy beans)
I love soy beans. They’re great just as they are sprinkled with a little bit of sea salt or in salads. They’re definitely a protein packed snack with 7 grams of protein per cup.
I’ve been a fan of broccoli my entire life. It’s the perfect vegetable because it’s both great as a side and works well cooked into stews. Broccoli is one of those I just throw into whatever, rice bowls, stews, salads, or as a side with a little bit of salt. 1 cup of broccoli provides about 3 grams of protein.
Tempeh is fermented soya beans. Perhaps it sounds gross, and I can appreciate that it’s not for everyone, but it’s all in how you prepare and season it. I like frying it up and spicing it appropriate to whatever I’m going to be eating it with. I recently made a taco salad with taco seasoned tempeh. 3 oz / 85 grams of tempeh contains 16 grams of protein!
Tahini is a kind of nut butter made of ground up sesame seeds. It works well as a spread on toast or crackers or mixed into stews or sauces. A favorite of mine is to make a salad dressing with tahini and lemon. 2 tablespoons of tahini packs 6 grams of protein.
I eat a lot of tofu, because I like it. Just like with many of the other sources listed here, tofu is very versatile. It can be used in place of a patty in a burger, in a stir fry, stew or curry with coconut milk. I usually chop up plain or smoked tofu and mix into salads. My favorite is this smoked tofu, which I eat in all kinds of ways, even thinly sliced as “ham” on sandwiches. Plain tofu has 8 grams of protein per 3 oz / 85 grams.
13. Artichoke hearts
Artichoke hearts are delicious as they are for a snack, in salads, or as a side dish. And you’ll get 2.5 grams of protein per cup.
14. Bean pastas
Bean pastas are relatively new on the market. Most of them are made of soy beans or black beans but you can also find lentil based pastas. Personally, I like the flavour of them, and they’re a nice alternative to classic pasta as they provide the carbs you need but pack a bit of extra protein too. 2 oz / 50 grams of uncooked pasta contains about 22.5 grams of protein.
15. Hemp Seeds
Hemp comes both as seeds or as a powder, popularly used as a vegan protein powder. I personally prefer the seeds, I think the powder tastes a little bit too… earthy. The seeds just give a nice little bit of crunch and are great as toppings on yogurt, oatmeal or in salads. 2 tablespoons provide 5 grams of protein.
16. Chia Seeds
Just like with hemp seeds, chia seeds are great sprinkled on just about anything. I’ve also rolled raw balls in chia seeds, and when mixed with water they form a gelatine-like consistency making them great as a substitute for eggs in baking or for chia seed pudding. Chia seeds contain about 5 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons.
Popey wasn’t lying! Spinach does make you strong. Or at least it’s got good protein in it. I’m sure you can find ways to get more spinach into your meals, did you know you can mix it into smoothies? It doesn’t leave a taste so you can easily “hide” it in smoothies. 1 cup of spinach provides about 3 grams of protein.
Spirulina is a blue green algae that might sound (and look) a bit scary, but it’s great to use in smoothies and even gives them a kind of sweet flavour if mixed with berries, banana or other tropical fruits. Not only is spirulina packed with protein, it’s also got 80 percent of your daily iron needs in just one tablespoon and it’s a complete amino acid source. One tablespoon of Spirulina has 4 grams of protein.
19. Veggie “Meats” or Mock Meats
I eat quite a bit of mock meats just because it’s quick and easy. I usually get veggie meatballs from Astrid & Aporna that I mix with oat cream from Oatly to make a nice gravy or sauce and then serve it with pasta. I also often buy veggie mince to make spaghetti sauce and I’ll occasionally get veggie sausages too. Mock meats will obviously vary in their amount of protein based on what they are made of, but I guarantee you’ll find sufficient amounts of protein in them all as they’re commonly soy based and as we know from above – soy beans are full of protein!
20. Pea Protein Powder
If you’re still not satisfied with the abundance of protein in all the sources listed above, then there are vegan protein powders too! I’ve tried a couple of them and the one I’ve liked the best is pea protein. But there’s a whole plethora of vegan proteins out there so you’ll have to try them to see what you like best.