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Top 18 Vegetarian & Vegan Protein Sources

Top 18 Vegetarian & Vegan Protein Sources
Claire Muszalski
Registered Dietitian2 years ago
View Claire Muszalski's profile
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Ditching the meat and dairy, but not sure you’ll meet your protein requirements? Stop worrying, right now. There are plenty of plant-based sources of protein for you to sink your teeth into.

Are vegans deficient in protein?

While most vegans are likely not deficient in protein, they just need to pay more attention to choosing high protein plant-based foods to include regularly in their meals. While vegans avoid meat, dairy, eggs, and other traditional animal-based sources of protein, there are many plant-based protein food sources and supplements that meet daily protein requirements. 

How much protein do vegans need?

The DRI (daily recommended intake) for protein doesn’t change for vegans. The official recommendation for adults is 0.8-1.2 grams of protein per kg bodyweight per day. Those who are less active need around 0.8g per kg bodyweight, and those who are active may need 1.2g per kg.1 If you are trying to bulk or add muscle, some sources recommend up to 2g/kg body weight per day.2 

1. Quinoa

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah, for the record!) is arguably one of the greatest protein (and carbohydrate) sources for vegetarians and vegans. It's couscous-like consistency makes it highly versatile for use in salads, casseroles and even breakfast bowl recipes, like the one above.

Quinoa is also high in iron, fibre and magnesium, which makes it the perfect wholefood.

Macros (100g):Protein - 14gCarbohydrates - 64gFat - 6g

2. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds have grown in popularity as of late, due to their high omega-3 content — higher than any other plant-based food. Their consistency when mixed with liquid makes them excellent in recipes, especially as a substitute for eggs.

They are also packed with iron, zinc, and calcium, as well as lots of antioxidants. Check out these 3 chia pudding recipes for inspiration.

Macros (100g):Protein - 17gCarbohydrates - 42gFat - 31g

Creamy Peanut Butter Noodles | 15-Minute Vegan-Friendly Dinner

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Get more info on the benefits of chia seeds here...

3. Soy

Soy beans are a great addition to any salad, recipe and are great to snack on too. There are lots of products derived from soy beans, such as tofu, tempeh, and edamame beans.

It's one of the greatest sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans and is often also used in protein shakes.

Macros (100g):Protein - 36gCarbohydrates - 30gFat - 20g

4. Beans

There are dozens of varieties of beans, from black beans, to pinto beans. They make an excellent salad, and can be combined with other food such as rice to make a tasty dish high in protein and complex carbs.

The macros listed are for black beans.Macros (100g):Protein - 22gCarbohydrates - 62gFat - 1.4g

5. Hempseed

Hempseed is an excellent source of protein, high in magnesium, zinc, iron and calcium. It contains large amount of all nine essential amino acids, as well as fatty acids such as omega 3

They are most commonly consumed in supplement form. The macro-nutritents for our Hemp Protein are:

Macros (100g):Protein - 50gCarbohydrates - 26gFat - 12g

6. Nuts

Nuts, such as almonds, peanuts, cashews etc. are all excellent sources of protein. They can also be bought in the form of nut butters.

The macro-nutrients for peanuts are as follows:

Macros (100g):Protein - 26gCarbohydrates - 49gFat - 16g

7. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are highly versatile legumes, packing essential amino acids with a high protein content.

They are also used to make hummus, which is a great topping/dip for any snack.

Macros (100g):Protein - 19gCarbohydrates - 61gFat - 6g

8. Green Peas

Great tasting, one of your fruit and veg additions and low in calories. They don't have as much protein as some of the other items on the list, but for a vegetable, they have excellent macronutrient ratios:

Macros (100g):Protein - 1.8gCarbohydrates - 7gFat - 1.2g

9. Peanuts

Peanuts are an excellent vegan source of protein. They can also be bought in the form of nut butters. 

The macro-nutrients for peanuts are as follows: 

Macros (100g): 

Protein – 26g 

Carbohydrates – 49g 

Fat – 16g

Try these creamy peanut butter noodles that are totally vegan...

10. Almonds

A great alternative for those who can’t eat peanuts, almond products are everywhere - from almond flour to almond butter, you can find many ways to enjoy this vegan protein source. Look for raw, unsalted for the most nutritious option. 

Macros (100g): 

Protein – 20g 

Carbohydrates – 20g 

Fat – 50g

11. Walnuts

With a distinct flavour and shape, walnuts are a vegan protein source that’s used often as an addition to salads (or desserts). They’re calorie dense and great for when you need to boost your calorie intake for the day. 

Macros (100g): 

Protein – 14g 

Carbohydrates – 14g 

Fat – 64g

12. Cashews

Another popular alternative to peanuts, cashews are great in a trail mix for a boost of energy and healthy fats and even excellent mixed in smoothies - if you have a high-powered blender, they add a creamy, sweet flavour. 

Macros (100g): Protein – 18g

Carbohydrates – 30g 

Fat – 44g

13. Brussels Sprouts

Packed with phytonutrients and fibre, Brussels sprouts are also a good vegetable source of vegan protein. While they’re lower per 100g than beans or some other vegetables, they’re so low in calories that you can eat more of them without going over your goals. 

Macros (100g): 

Protein – 3.4g 

Carbohydrates – 9g 

Fat – 0.3g

14. Sweet Corn

Corn is a sweet vegetable that’s also a sneaky vegan protein source. Boiled without salt and butter is the best way to prepare fresh corn, while plain popped corn can be taken as a snack (changes macros). 

Macros (100g): 

Protein – 3.4g 

Carbohydrates – 21g 

Fat – 1.5g

15. Oat Bran

While we mostly eat quick oats or rolled oats, oat bran is the whole grain source of vegan protein with the highest protein content. Oat bran can be added to oatmeal or eaten as a cereal. 

Macros (100g): 

Protein – 17g 

Carbohydrates – 66g 

Fat – 7g

16. Wild Rice

Swap out your white or brown rice for wild rice if you want to increase your sources of vegan protein. Low in calories, wild rice is a great side dish to up your protein intake for the day. 

Macros (100g): 

Protein – 4g 

Carbohydrates – 21g 

Fat – 0.3g

17. Couscous

If you get tired of rice and quinoa, swap them for couscous, a pasta-like grain that’s a good source of vegan protein to add as a side dish to your meals or include in your soups and stews. 

Macros (100g): 

Protein – 3.8g 

Carbohydrates – 23g 

Fat – 0.2g

18. Vegetarian/Vegan Supplements

Many of the protein sources listed here can be bought in supplement form, soy, protein shakespea protein etc. These offer a higher protein content than the raw forms, and are quick, easy and convenient to consume. 

A tasty and convenient way to get your protein in, our Vegan Blend made from pea and fava bean isolate comes in five delicious flavours, including chocolate and turmeric latte. The macro-nutrients are: 

Macros (100g):

Protein – 73g 

Carbohydrates – 14g 

Fat – 1.8g 

Take home message

You don’t have to be a lean, mean, chicken eating machine to make gains today. There are so many vegan protein sources and so many recipes to help you find meals you love using them. 

Train up your chef skills and implement a few of these high protein sources into your meals, and make the ve-gains of your dreams.
Want some more inspiration? Check out these vegan recipes...

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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you're concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Nutrient recommendations: Dietary reference intakes (dri). NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Retrieved September 24, 2021, from 
  2. Helms, E. R., Aragon, A. A., & Fitschen, P. J. (2014). Evidence-based recommendations for natural bodybuilding contest preparation: nutrition and supplementation. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition11(1), 1-20. 
Claire Muszalski
Registered Dietitian
View Claire Muszalski's profile

Claire is a Registered Dietitian through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a board-certified Health and Wellness Coach through the International Consortium for Health and Wellness Coaching. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master’s degree in Clinical Dietetics and Nutrition from the University of Pittsburgh.

Talking and writing about food and fitness is at the heart of Claire’s ethos as she loves to use her experience to help others meet their health and wellness goals.

Claire is also a certified indoor cycling instructor and loves the mental and physical boost she gets from regular runs and yoga classes. When she’s not keeping fit herself, she’s cheering on her hometown’s sports teams in Pittsburgh, or cooking for her family in the kitchen.

Find out more about Claire’s experience here.