When you go vegan, one of the first things you may think about is how to make sure you’re getting enough protein. Luckily, there are tons of sources of plant-based proteins that you can easily incorporate into your diet! I’ll break down the best sources for vegan protein, including nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, and soy and explain what you need to consider when choosing a protein source.
If you’re reading this in January, Happy Veganuary! Maybe you’re new to veganism or just want to incorporate more plant protein into your life and want the low down In this article, I’ll break down the best sources for vegan protein, including nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, and soy and explain what you need to consider when choosing a protein source.
Protein is an important building block for your bones, muscles, skin, red blood cells, and more. This is why you often hear of people increasing their protein intake when they are trying to build muscle! Protein is also essential to helping your body repair tissue, regulate hormones, and create enzymes to digest your food
The FDA recommends that adults consume 50 grams of protein per day as part of a 2,000 calorie diet. For a more precise number, you can use the minimum Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), which is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
One thing to consider about plant-based proteins is that not all of them are complete proteins. A complete protein contains all 9 essential amino acids, which are amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own, while an incomplete protein may be missing one or more essential amino acids.
Just because a protein isn’t complete doesn’t mean it is less than though, you can ensure you get the complete spectrum of essential amino acids by varying your protein sources. Animal protein contains all 9 essential amino acids, so this may not be something you’re used to considering when you first switch to a vegan diet, but it is simpler than it seems! For example, rice and beans are great to pair together because beans are low in the essential acid methionine and high in lysine, while rice is low in lysine and high in methionine.
Nuts are a great source of vegan and vegetarian protein whether eaten as-is, as nut butter or even ground into flour. They are also a great source of healthy fats, fiber, and vitamins and minerals. Below is the protein breakdown for a few of my favorite nuts:
From chia seeds to sunflower seeds, seeds are a great plant-based protein option. In addition to being high in protein, they also contain essential fatty acids, fiber, and vitamins and minerals. Here are a few of the best high-protein seeds:
Legumes are one of the most commonly thought of vegan protein sources, and for good reason! Some examples of legumes include beans, lentils, and peas. They are a great source of fiber and high in vitamins and minerals. Below you’ll find the protein content for some of the most common legumes:
Soy is a popular source of vegan protein because it can be used in so many different ways, and it is one of few plant-based proteins that contains all 9 essential amino acids – meaning it is a complete protein! Whether you’re drinking soy milk or eating fresh edamame, soy is a great addition to a vegan diet. Below is the protein content of some of the most popular soy-based foods:
When we think of grains, carbs are often the first thing that comes to mind, but did you know that many whole grains are also a great source of protein in addition to being high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals? Below you’ll find some of the best high-protein whole grains.
In addition to naturally occurring plant-based proteins like nuts, seeds, and grains, there are also a number of vegan meat substitutes designed specifically to replace animal protein. These options pack a big protein punch. Below are a few of the most common options!
Nutritional yeast is a cousin to the brewer’s and baker’s yeast that has a cheesy taste. It is allergen-friendly, rich in nutrients, and a good source of protein to boot! 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast will provide you with 8 grams of plant-based protein.
While typically not as high as the other options listed in this article, vegetables can also be a great source of vegan protein! Of course, vegetables are also high in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Eating a large variety can help give you a great range of nutrients. Below are the highest protein vegetable sources:
As you can see, the potential sources for plant-based proteins are more than plentiful. I hope that this guide has helped you learn more about vegan sources of protein and find some new foods to try!
Below are a few of my favorite vegan dishes that are high in protein!
(please note that health professionals were consulted to confirm the validity of these statements. Although jessicainthekitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Jessicainthekitchen.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.)