A person following a plant-based or vegan diet can easily get enough protein. A typical vegan is probably already eating many of the top 8 high-protein vegan foods listed below, as well as getting every other necessary nutrient.
Vegan protein is better than animal protein because it does not contain the harmful cholesterol and saturated fat that animal proteins do. Additionally, vegan protein contains fiber, but meat and dairy do not.
All plants have some protein, though some have much less than others. Certain vegan high-protein foods contain much more. The human body uses protein to form muscle, build and repair tissue, as an energy source, and to move nutrients through the body.
Contrary to popular belief, getting enough protein is not hard. Depending on sex, weight, and activity level, we only need about 46-150 grams of protein per day. These top 8 high-protein vegan foods are a great way to hit your daily protein requirement as a vegan.
Seitan has 75 grams of protein per 100 grams. Seitan is also known as “wheat meat,” and tastes similar to chicken or beef, and can be seasoned and used in the same ways. Seitan is great sliced like lunch meat, in stir fry, with rice, breaded like a cutlet.
Seitan is an excellent source of selenium, iron, and calcium. It is high in protein while being low in fat and carbohydrates. It is a higher calorie vegan food, so depending on individual fitness goals, this should be noted. Seitan can be purchased ready to eat, even pre-seasoned, or it can be made at home very inexpensively using vital wheat gluten flour.
2. Soybeans (Tofu, Tempeh, Edamame)
Regular tofu has 8 grams of protein per 100 grams, and the firmer the tofu, the more protein it contains as it is more compact. Tempeh has 20 grams of protein per 100 grams, and frozen, unprepared edamame has 11 grams of protein per 100 grams.
Tofu and tempeh are great for grilling, and all are wonderful crumbled and added into a veggie burger or loaf, as well as in stir-fry or fried rice. Tofu can be pureed and made into pudding; edamame can be enjoyed as a healthy quick snack; and tempeh being fermented makes it great for gut health. Tofu is a great vegan source of calcium.
Raw lentils have 24.6 grams of protein per 100 grams. This legume is an excellent source of both protein and iron. Just make sure to eat them with some form of Vitamin C to help your body properly absorb the iron.
Lentils are great to use as the meat in a Bolognese sauce, as the meat in meatballs, in soups or stews, and with rice. You can also find high amounts of potassium in lentils.
4. Beans (Kidney, Black, Pinto, Chickpea, etc.)
Kidney beans, black beans, and pinto beans have around 21-25 grams of protein per 100 grams, and chickpeas have 20.5 grams of protein per 100 grams. Not only are beans excellent fiber sources, but they are also protein powerhouses. Beans are excellent sources of iron and potassium.
Beans are excellent in salads, with rice, and chickpeas can be baked crispy for a wonderful snack. Chickpeas can also be ground into flour and used to make protein pancakes or other baked goods.
5. Nutritional Yeast
Depending on the brand, nutritional yeast contains around 50-55.6 grams of protein per 100 grams. Nutritional yeast is a powder that can also be fortified with Vitamin B12, D, and others, and is surprisingly also high in protein.
It has a nutty cheesy taste. It can be sprinkled on whatever you are eating, added to soups, stews, rice, or even sauces. Nutritional yeast makes a great vegan cheese sauce. Adding in ¼ cup of nutritional yeast with vital wheat gluten to make our #1 high-protein vegan food, seitan, elevates the protein and nutritional profile even further.
Uncooked spelt contains 14.6 grams of protein per 100 grams and uncooked teff contains 13 grams of protein per 100 grams. These ancient grains are not simply alternatives to wheat, they are also great sources of vegan protein. Spelt and teff contain fiber and iron.
Whole spelt is wonderful in soups, chilis, and salads. When ground, these grains can be used to make baked goods. They are also wonderful as a hot cereal or porridge. Whole teff is great in soup, stuffing, and rice, and both are great cooked with other grains.
Teff is a great source of calcium and potassium. Spelt is a great source of manganese, vitamin B3 (Niacin), as well as zinc and magnesium.
7. Hemp Seeds
Hulled hemp seeds have 31.6 grams of protein per 100 grams. Not only are hemp seeds full of omega fatty acids, but they are also packed with protein. You can also find calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and folate in hemp seeds.
Hemp seeds are great in overnight oats, on top of yogurt or pudding, mixed into chia pudding, sprinkled onto toast and sandwiches or salads, even as hemp seed butter.
8. Green Peas
Raw, mature, split green peas contain 23 grams of protein per 100 grams. Peas are an underrated source of protein that have recently been turned into high-protein vegan “milk.”
They are excellent in fried rice, as a side dish, even pureed to make a guacamole style dip. Peas are great sources of calcium, magnesium, iron, and Vitamin B6.
Most vegans have been asked the question, “where do you get your protein?” Vegans get their protein from plants, many of which are high in protein. The top 8 high-protein vegan foods discussed, i.e. seitan, soybeans, lentils, beans, nutritional yeast, spelt and teff, hemp seeds, and green peas, are inexpensive and easy to find.
Plant-based protein is the cleanest source of protein. It is full of extra nutrition like fiber without the saturated fat and cholesterol of meat and dairy. Getting enough protein as a vegan is not only healthy but far superior to animal-based protein sources.
About the Author
Kristen is a vegan, a foodie, and a gym rat. She enjoys travel with her family, as well as reading and writing and researching nutrition and health. She works as an executive assistant from home, but also freelances as a recipe creator and recipe video producer, as well as a content writer. You can find Kristen on Instagram, Twitter, and on her blog Vegan Flowers Forever.