“But where do you get your protein from?” Sound familiar? We’ve decided to lay this question to rest once and for all by creating our list of the 50 best vegan protein sources.
Whether you’ve been a vegan since birth or are just beginning your plant based journey, getting enough protein as a vegan is important. Thankfully there is a wide range of high protein vegan foods to choose from.
Struggling for inspiration and are unsure how to add more plant based protein to your diet? We’ve included a number of our favourite recipes to help get you under way. All protein values listed are per 100g
1. Adzuki Beans – 20g
Grown in East Asia and the Himalaya, adzuki beans are a nutrient packed vegan protein source. This small, red bean is packed full of fibre, iron, B-vitamins and magnesium. Adzuki beans can be worked into a chilli, or even used to make a delicious vegan shepherd’s pie!
2. Alfafa Sprouts – 4g
Alfafa sprouts are a great way of getting protein as a vegan. When the alfafa seed germinates it creates a shoot which is then harvested as an alfafa sprout. Alfafa sprouts can help to prevent diseases linked to ageing thanks to their high levels of antioxidants and vitamin K. Need some inspiration? Take a look at this vegan brushetta.
3. Almonds – 21g
Native to the Indian subcontinent, Middle East and North Africa, almonds aren’t in fact nuts, but instead, a type of seed. Almonds can help to reduce hunger and are a perfect snack for those on a high protein vegan diet. Almonds contain lots of healthy monounsaturated fat which can help protect the heart by maintaining beneficial HDL cholesterol levels.
4. Artichokes – 3.3g
Artichokes are full of fibre and possess the highest antioxidant count of any vegetable. Fantastic for gut health, artichokes contain the prebiotic inulin making them one of the best plant protein foods. Take a look at this fantastic “pulled” artichoke sandwich
5. Asparagus – 2.2g
Cultivated by the Ancient Egyptions, Greeks and Romans this vegetable delicacy now even has its own festival! Asparagus is high in folic acid as well as a great source of potassium, fibre, vitamins A, B6 and C. The high levels of the amino acid asparagine make asparagus a natural diuretic which may help to prevent urinary tract infections.
6. Barley – 12g
Did you know, Roman Gladiators were often vegan? They were known as “hordearii” which translates as “the barley men”. A fantastic natural vegan protein, barley contains high levels of iron, B6, magnesium and brain boosting selenium. Want to fuel yourself to take on the brainless hordes asking about your protein intake gladiator style? Try this thyme mushroom pearl barley risotto.
7. Black Beans – 21g
Cultivated in South America for thousands of years, black beans are an incredible plant based protein source. High in fibre and a good source of folic acid, magnesium, potassium and iron, black beans have even been shown to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. 50 Awesome black bean recipes.
8. Black Eyed Peas – 3g
No, we’re not talking about the famous band, even if Will-I-Am recently has gone vegan. Traditionally eaten in the Southern US on New Years Day for good luck, black eyed peas are highly anti inflammatory and high in thiamine, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper. This fantastic vegan protein can help you go about your day with a little extra Boom Boom Pow! (Sorry not sorry) Try this Caribbean black eyed pea stew.
9. Borlotti Beans – 23g
Also known as the cranberry bean, borlotti beans have a sweet flavour and smooth creamy texture. An excellent way of getting protein as a vegan, borlotti beans are a fantastic addition to stews soups and even burgers.
10. Broccoli – 2.8g
Containing twice the levels of vitamin C of an orange, this superfood is also a fantastic source of vitamin A, calcium and a whole host of antioxidants. Linked with a wide range of health benefits, if you pushed broccoli to the side of your plate as a child, it might just be time to welcome it back into your life.
11. Brussels Sprouts – 3.4g
They may be laden with a bad reputation , but brussels sprouts provide a great way of getting protein as a vegan. First cultivated in Belgium in the 16th century, brussels sprouts are a great source of vitamin C. Think this high protein veggie is just for Christmas? Think again.
12. Buckwheat – 13g
High in fibre and magnesium, buckwheat is a daily staple for millions of Russians and Eastern Europeans. Buckwheat’s flavour is earthy and nutty and its a great way of getting protein as a vegan. Never cooked with buckwheat before? Take a look at this cashew buckwheat curry recipe for an awesome vegan protein meal.
13. Cashew Nuts – 18g
Native to north east Brazil, cashews are one of our all time favourite vegan protein sources. These crescent moon shaped delights are good sources of vitamin E, K and B6. Cashews nuts are incredibly versatile and can even be made into delicious vegan cheese!
14. Chia Seeds – 17g
“Chia” translates as “strength” from the ancient Mayan language. These incredible seeds were used to fuel warriors and runners and were so valued that they were even used as a currency. Containing more omega 3 then salmon as well as high levels of calcium, phosphorus and zinc, chia seeds are a great source of protein for vegans.
15. Chickpeas – 19g
Originally from the Mediterranean and middle east, chickpeas are a top vegan protein source. High in fibre and perfect in a curry, the left over juice from a can of chickpeas can even be turned into an incredible egg replacement!
16. Dark Chocolate – 5g
High quality vegan chocolate has a massive range of health benefits, but did you know it can help with your protein intake? Look for darker bars and those sweetened with alternatives like palmyra jaggery to avoid the sugar and get maximum benefit.
17. Couscous – 3.8g
The food so good they named it twice, couscous is a good source of vegan plant protein. A north African staple, couscous makes a fantastic alternative to rice or pasta. Giant couscous with asparagus and lemon.
18. Flax seeds – 18g
Also known as linseeds, flaxseeds have been consumed for as long as 9000 years making them one of the worlds oldest superfoods. High in protein, fibre and omega 3, eating flax seeds can be beneficial for everything from your skin to your digestion.
19. Green Beans – 1.8g
Another vegetable with protein that you might have pushed off your plate as a child. There are roughtly 150 varities of green bean in the world. High in fibre and a rich source of vitamins and minearls, green beans may reduce the risk of heart disease. Want to welcome green beans back into your life? Check out this vegan green bean casserole.
20. Hazelnuts – 15g
This heart healthy brain boosting nut is one of the most nutrient rich vegan protein snacks you can add to your diet. Eating hazelnuts has been linked with a reduction in LDL cholesterol as well as improving memory and reducing anxiety. Protein doesn’t have to be plain, try this cacao and hazelnut cheesecake recipe.
21. Hemp seeds – 31g
Hemp seeds are a great source of protein for vegans containing an incredible 31g per 100g. hemp seeds are rich in Gamma-linolenic acid(GLA) which can help control inflammation, body temperature and proper hormone health.
22. Hummus – 8g
The earliest recorded humus recipe has been found in cookbooks written in cairo in the 13th century. Hummus is made using cooked chickpeas blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic. Hummus is becoming so popular that it has spawned its own meme page and many tobacco farmers are now switching to growing chickpeas to match the demand. Make your own hummus.
23. Kale – 4.3g
Kale is grown year round in the UK and is part of the cabbage family. This leafy green nutritional marvel has for too long been the punchline to bad jokes about veganism, but now its having its moment in the sun. Anti-inflamatory, high in iron vitamins A, C and K and healthy vegan protein, kale is great in a side salad or even a vegan lasagne.
24. Kidney Beans – 24g
Named after their resemblance to our kidneys, these beans are an integral part of north Indian cuisine where they are known as rajma. Take care when cooking as raw kidney beans are toxic. Undeterred? here’s a great vegan chilli recipe.
25. Lentils – 9g
This small and unassuming looking member of the legume family is a vegan nutrition powerhouse. High in fibre, iron and magnesium lentils are one of the best vegan protein sources around. Take a look at these amazing lentil burgers.
26. Lupin Beans – 36g
A great way to up your protein intake, lupin beans have been cultivated for over 4000 years. Popular with everyone from the Ancient Romans to Native Americans, lupin beans provide a good source of fibre, calcium, iron and magnesium. Do take care if eating lupin beans for the first time as they can cause an allergic reaction.
27. Macadamia Nuts – 8g
Native to Australia, macadamia nuts are named in honour of Dr John Macadam, a noted scientist and the secretary of the philosophical institute of Australia. With 8g of healthy vegan protein per 100g, macadamia nuts make a fantastic snack or a great addition to vegan cookies.
28. Mung Beans – 24g
Packing 24g of plant protein per 100g, mung beans make a great addition to your kitchen cupboard. From the same family as beans and lentils, mung beans have been part of Chinese cuisine for thousands of years. Ever so slightly sweet in flavour, mung beans can be used to make everything from soup to falafel.
29. Mushrooms – 3.1g
The humble mushroom. A biological marvel and one of the best plant based protein foods. We would need an entire blog post to even scratch the surface of the health benefits provided by different kinds of mushrooms. Want to learn more? Check out the 6 ways mushrooms can save the world. Just looking for dinner? Try this vegan mushroom pie.
30. Nutritional Yeast – 60g
Nutritional yeast is also known as “nooch” “yeshi” and even “hippie dust“. Call it what you will, but this magic ingredient is one of the top vegan protein sources on the scene at the moment. An ideal replacement for sprinkling grated cheese it is often fortified with B12.
31. Oats – 17g
100g of oats will provide you with 17g of protein as well as 26% of your daily iron and a whopping 44% of your magnesium. Containing the powerful soluable fivre Beta-Glucan which can help reduce cholesterol, a simple bowl of oats is also a powerful vegan protein meal.
32. Peanuts – 26g
Peanuts may not be true nuts, but that doesn’t stop them from being one of the best vegan protein sources around. Widely grown in the tropics and subtropics, peanuts are high in vitamin E and a good way of getting protein as a vegan. Vegan peanut butter mousse
33. Peas – 5g
For so long peas have been an afterthought, a last minute addition to put some green on your plate. Now, peas are finally being recognized as one of the the best vegan protein sources. High in fibre and antioxidants as well as containing 66% of your RDA of vitamin C in 100g, peas have even been shown to help prevent stomach cancer.
34. Pecans – 9g
High in healthy fat and boasting a fantastic antioxidant load, snacking on pecans is a fantastic way of getting enough protein as a vegan. As well as being absolutely delicious, a diet high in pecans has been shown to reduce the amount of fat in the bloodstream. Feeling peckish, try this easy vegan pecan pie.
35. Pine Nuts – 14g
Perhaps best know for their use in pesto, pine nuts are high in protein and have a delicate and sweet taste. This iron and magnesium rich natural vegan protein can even be made into vegan cream “cheese”.
36. Pinto Beans – 21g
Refried pinto beans can make a fantastically comforting and warming vegan protein meal. These small, fibre rich beans pack a serious nutritional punch, containing the flavanoid kaempferol which has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and even anti cancer effects.
37. Pumpkin Seeds – 19g
Pumpkin seeds may be small, but they’re jam packed full of amazing nutrients. Full of healthy fats, pumpkin seeds are one of the best natural sources of magnesium which can help to control blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. Plant protein doesn’t have to be plain, how about some vegan pumpkin seed brownies?
38. Quinoa – 14g
Quinoa was a sacred crop to the Inca who called it “the mother grain” or “Chisaya Mama”. Consumed by warriors to increase stamina and spiritual awareness, each year the first seed would be ceremoniously planted by the God-King. An incredible vegan complete protein, quinoa contains all 20 amino acids, including the 10 essential acids the body cannot produce.
39. Seitan – 75g
Seitan has been popular in China and Japan since the 6th century and is said to have been developed as a meat replacement for Buddhist monks. Made from wheat gluten, seitan packs a seriously impressive 75g of protein per 100g making it one of the best sources of protein for vegans. Incredibly versatile, you can make your own seitan and then use it in what might be the best vegan burger ever.
40. Spinach – 2.9g
Spinach may only contain 3g of all natural plant based protein per 100g but it was still popeyes food of choice. Why? Some say it has a lot to do with misplaced decimal point when the nutritional values were being calculated. Either way, spinach is an excellent source of iron, vitamins A and K, potassium, magnesium and calcium and tastes delicious in vegan ricotta cannelloni.
41. Spirulina – 57g
Spirulina is a blue green edible algae. Its incredibly high bio-availability makes it one of the best ways of getting protein as a vegan. Absurdly healthy, spirulina has over 1500 peer reviewed scientific articles evaluating its health benefits. Sprinkle just a little spirulina into a smoothie or onto your morning porridge to add a powerful dose of protein, vitamins and minerals to your diet.
42. Split Peas – 25g
Made using dried, peeled and split peas, this high protein vegan food is fantastic in a stew, or even in spicy split pea patties.
43. Sun-dried Tomatoes – 5g
This one took us by surprise too. Tomatoes will be dried in the sun for 4-10 days, during which time they will lose up to 90% of their original weight. 100g of sun-dried tomatoes will provide you with 5g of protein, 20% of your daily magnesium and a massive 169% of your vitamin C.
44. Sunflower Seeds – 21g
A fantastic protein source, sunflower seeds are also full of essential fatty acids, copper and vitamins B and E. Healthy fats like those found in sunflower seeds can help you balance hormones in your body and stay feeling fuller for longer whilst vitamin E is essential for protecting against free radical damage and heart disease.
45. Sweet Corn – 3.2g
46. Tahini – 17g
A loan word from the Arabic “tahana” – to grind, tahini is made from toasted and ground sesame seeds. Popular in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, tahini is a fantastic natural vegan protein.
47. Tempeh – 19g
Originally from Indonesia and known as “meat of the field” tempeh is made from soy beans. Unlike in tofu, tempeh is made from whole soy beans which are pressed together and then fermented to form a block. This fermentation process unlocks the nutritional potential of the soya beans and allows them to be digested by the human stomach. A complete vegan protein, tempeh contains all of the essential amino acids. Here’s a vegan tempeh chilli recipe.
48. Tofu – 8g
Tofu is said to have been discovered some 2000 years ago when a Chinese cook accidentally curdled soy milk. Containing high levels of calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc, tofu is now a standard high protein vegan food. It should be noted, that there is currently some controversy over just how healthy soy based products are. As with all things, its best to look at all the evidence and make up your own mind.
49. Walnuts – 15g
Rich in protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, walnuts are a great vegan prtein source. The omega 3 found in walnuts can help improve neurogenesis in the brain as well as helping to boost your mood.
50. Wild Rice – 15g
Historically grown and eaten in North America, India and China, wild rice was a sacred component of several Native American cultureswho knew it as “manoomin” or “good berry”. Containing high levels of energy boosting magnesium, vitamin B6 and Iron, wild rice is a great vegan protein substitute to regular or wholegrain rice.
So there we have it, the vegan protein question answered once and for all. The next time someone asks you, feel free to link them to this article. Hopefully this list has inspired some of you to try some new foods and helped others move towards a kinder and more sustainable vegan diet. If you’ve enjoyed this article, sign up to our weekly mailing list for more of the same. If you can think of any foods we’ve missed out, let us know in the comments below!
What’s your favourite vegan protein?