Protein is the most popular macronutrient at the forefront of some of the most fiercely debated nutrition discussions, especially concerning the vegan diet.

Protein is a vital macronutrient necessary for optimal regulation of the body’s organs and tissues as well as playing a critical role in the majority of cellular functions.

In this current digital age where everyone can voice their opinion on food, it can be hard to sift through what is fact and what is fiction.

Unfortunately, many people still believe that by relying on plants without eating meat, you will become protein deficient and that there aren’t enough amino acids in plant foods to meet your daily “complete protein” needs.

This misinformation has already been shown to be false as reach has proven that it is more important to look at amino acid intake on a per-day basis rather than per single food or per meal.

Meaning by mixing a variety of plant foods throughout the day, your body will pool together all the essential amino acids necessary to easily surpass your recommended daily protein intake and deliver the effects of “complete protein.”

To help all vegans and vegetarians increase their plant-based protein intake, we have created a list of the best vegan protein sources to help you achieve your daily protein needs, bringing nutritional balance with only plants.

Best vegan sources of protein for optimal nutritional balance

Nuts and seeds highest in protein

best vegan sources of protein - hemp seeds
Hemp seeds

Nutrition per 1 oz (28g):

Macronutrients: Fat 13.8g, Carbohydrates 2.5g, Protein 9g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate)31.2mcg – 8% DV, Vitamin E 0..2mg – 2% DV
Minerals: Magnesium 198.8mg – 47% DV, Zinc 2.8mg – 26% DV, Iron 2.3mg – 13% DV

Health Benefits of pumpkin seeds

Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritious seeds on the planet. Each ounce of hemp seeds provides up to 18% of your recommended daily amount of protein.

Hemp seeds are also very high in omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to help lower pressure and reduce risk of heart disease.

Studies have shown that hemp seeds have many benefits, from decreasing the risk of heart disease and lowering blood pressure through to reducing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and contributing to healthier skin.

Hemp seeds can be used in a protein shake to boost recovery or in a fresh green smoothie to increase nutrient properties and nutritional balance to your diet.

Pumpkin seeds

Nutrition per 1 oz (28g):

Macronutrients: Fat 13.9g, Carbohydrates 3g, Protein 8.6g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate) 16.5mcg – 4% DV, Vitamin E 0.6mg – 4% DV
Minerals: Iron 2.5mg – 14% DV, Potassium 229.8mg – 5% DV, Zinc 2.2mg – 20% DV

Health Benefits of hemp seeds

Pumpkin seeds, with their unique green color and unordinary seed shape, are one of the best seeds to add to your diet to increase your plant based protein intake.

1 ounce of pumpkin seeds is packed with amino acids and provides enough grams of protein to fulfill 17% of your daily needs.

Studies have shown pumpkin seeds to be beneficial for fighting inflammation thanks to the antioxidants contained within as well as having a positive effect on prostate health.

There are many great uses for this healthy green seed in the kitchen, from being added to vegan cakes and bread or simply just roasting them with some tasty seasonings. If you are looking to boost your intake of essential nutrients, try out our roasted pumpkin seeds recipe.

Almonds

Nutrition per 1 oz (28g):

Macronutrients: Fat 14.2g Carbohydrates 6.1g Protein 6g
Vitamins: Vitamin E 7.3g – 49% DV, Vitamin B9 12.5mCg – 3% DV
Minerals: Calcium 76.4mg – 6% DV, Magnesium 76.7mg- 18% DV, Zinc 0.9mg – 8% DV

Health benefits and uses for almonds

Almonds are probably the most popular nuts in the vegan diet and are a great source of protein. Almonds provide 6 grams of protein per ounce, fulfilling over 10% of your minimum protein needs with just a handful of nuts.

Almonds are high in vitamin E, which is great for your skin and hair, while also being packed with fiber, which helps with healthy bowel movements and optimal digestive health.

Some tasty ways to incorporate almonds into your vegan diet can be through delicious nut butter or simply roasted in the over with a touch of salt.

Another popular plant-based alternative to get some extra almonds in your diet is almond milk, especially the fortified kind can provide a significant plant-based calcium boost on a vegan diet by simply adding to your morning oat bowl or using it in your favorite fruit smoothies or protein shakes.

Vegetables highest in protein

Green peas

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 0.6g, Carbohydrates 21g, Protein 7.9g
Vitamins: Vitamin C 58mg – 64% DV, Vitamin K 36mcg – 30% DV, Vitamin A 55.1mcg – 6% DV
Minerals: Zinc 1.8mg – 16% DV, Iron 2.1mg – 12% DV, Potassium 353.8mg – 8% DV

Health Benefits of peas

Green peas may be one of the most popular peas on the planet, used throughout a vast range of cultures in a variety of unique dishes and one of the top vegan protein sources.

They provide 7.9 grams of protein per cup of peas, which fulfills ~15% of your daily needs while also being high in many essential nutrients, including potassium, iron, and zinc.

Green peas are a low glycemic index plant food that can help lower and regulate blood sugar levels. They are also high in fiber which helps to support long term digestive health.

Some fantastic uses for this versatile green vegetable are in vegan salads and vegetable stir-fries, which can help boost the protein content. If you are feeling creative, why not try a vegan pea pesto to go along? with your favorite choice of pasta.

Soybean sprouts

Nutrition per 100g:

Macronutrients: Fat 7.1g, Carbohydrates 9.4g, Protein 13.1g
Vitamins: Vitamin C 12mg – 13%, Vitamin B9 (folate) 127mcg – 32% DV
Minerals: Zinc 2.1mg – 19% DV, Potassium 567mg – 12% DV, Magnesium 96mg – 23% DV

Health Benefits of soybean sprouts

Soybean sprouts are one of the most popular bean sprouts around, most commonly used in Korea. They are extremely high in protein as well as vitamin C, folate, and iron. 

Every 100 grams of soybean sprouts provides 13.1 grams of protein, fulfilling 23% of your minimum protein needs and helps to increase your intake of essential amino acids.

The lower phytic acid levels help to increase nutrient absorption while the high heme-iron content has been shown to help reduce symptoms of iron deficiency.

In the vegan kitchen, soybean sprouts are predominantly used in stir-fried dishes and work fantastically in tofu vegetable stir fry.

Try out our favorite plant-based stir fry recipes today and add in some soybean sprouts for their protein and extensive mineral benefits.

Spinach – cooked

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 0.5g, Carbohydrates 6.8g, Protein 5.3g
Vitamins: Vitamin A 943.2mcg – 105% DV, Vitamin E 3.7mg – 25% DV, Vitamin C 17.6mg – 20% DV
Minerals: Magnesium 156.6mg – 37% DV, Iron 6.4mg – 36% DV, Calcium 244.8mg – 19% DV

Health benefits and uses of spinach

Spinach is one of those greens that work splendidly in a wide range of recipes from green juices and green smoothies to vegan salads and vegetable stir-fries, and with 11% of protein in every cup of cooked spinach, making it fantastic for muscle growth, as well as weight loss and weight maintenance. This makes spinach a staple in any vegan kitchen.

Let’s not forget it’s got a very high vitamin K content, which has been shown to have positive effects on bone metabolism

Try out this delicious energy boosting green smoothie recipe to get some healthy protein and essentials nutrients in your diet.

Grains highest in protein

Oats
Oats

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 10.8g, Carbohydrates 103.4g, Protein 26.3g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate) 87.4mcg – 22%, Vitamin B1 (thiamin) 0.2mg – 14% DV
Minerals: Magnesium 276.1mg – 66% DV, Zinc 6.2mg – 56% DV, Calcium 84.2mg – 6% DV

Health benefits of oats

In our opinion, oats deserve to be in the superfood category along with plant-based foods like kale and wheatgrass. The uses and nutritional profile of oats are simply amazing. 

Not only are oats high in complex carbs and fiber, but each single cup of oats is able to provide up to 45% of daily protein needs.

This makes oats wonderful for the health-conscious vegan trying to stay fit and lean while maintaining optimal digestive health.

When it comes to omega-3 fatty acids, oats have the highest content out of all grains. Each cup provides 173mg of alpha-linolenic acid and 5% of the essential fatty acids EPA and DHA.

The uses for oats, especially on a vegan diet are endless. They are the base of the fantastic oat bowls you see everywhere, they can be used in bread, in biscuits, and can even be added to vegan protein shakes to boost the nutritional content. Try to incorporate oats into your diet to reap all the wonderful benefits of this amazing grain.

Buckwheat

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 5.8g, Carbohydrates 121.6g, Protein 22.5g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate) 51mcg, Vitamin B1 (thiamin) 0.2mg – 14% DV
Minerals: Zinc 4.1mg – 37% DV, Iron 3.7mg – 21% DV, Magnesium 392.7mg – 94% DV

Health benefits of buckwheat

Buckwheat, despite its name, is a gluten-free grain that contains a superb nutritional profile and is a wonderful source of protein.

For every cup of buckwheat, you’ll get around 22.5 grams of protein, making this a great plant-based protein source after a workout, aiding in muscle recovery and repair.

Buckwheat also has one of the best amino acid profiles for a vegan food helping to dispel the myth that you can’t get good protein without meat.

Studies on buckwheat have shown that its benefits are vast, from helping to lower blood sugar levels, through to decreasing blood pressure and supporting a healthy heart.

Some of the best vegan uses of buckwheat are in plant-based porridge and vegan pancakes. It can also be used as a replacement for brown rice, white rice, or quinoa to go along with a vegan bean curry or vegetable stew.

Spelt

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 1.6g, Carbohydrates 51.3g, Protein 10.7g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate) 25.2mcg – 6% DV, Vitamin E 0.5mg – 3% DV
Minerals: Zinc 2.4mg – 22% DV, Magnesium 95.1mg – 23%, Iron 3.2mg – 18% DV

Health benefits and uses of spelt

Spelt, an ancient grain similar to wholewheat grains, that is highly nutritious and a magnificent vegan protein source.

Each cup of spelt provides 10.7 grams of protein, fulfilling 20% of your minimum protein requirements.

Studies have shown that grains like spelt are excellent for helping to prevent heart disease and have also shown potential to lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Spelt works wonders in a whole range of vegan recipes, from plant-based mushroom risotto to spelt salads, It easily helps you get enough protein on a vegan or vegetarian plant-based diet.

Beans and lentils highest in protein

Lupin Beans (lupini beans)

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 4.8g, Carbohydrates 16.4g, Protein 25.8g
Vitamins: Vitamin C 1.8mg – 2% DV, Vitamin B9 (folate) 97.9mcg – 24% DV
Minerals: Zinc 2.3g – 21% DV, Magnesium 89.6mg – 21% DV, Iron 2mg – 11% DV

Health benefits and uses for lupin beans

Lupin beans are extremely high in protein, providing over 50% of your daily recommended protein per cup of lupin beans! Who says you can’t get protein on a vegan diet.

They are also a wonderful source of magnesium, which is vital to a healthy heart as well as being high in iron, which is crucial to nearly all bodily functions.

Lupin beans with their high protein content work fantastic with any rice dish which, when combined, creates a meal full of complete protein and essential nutrients.

Try out some of our favorite vegan bean recipes and use lupin beans as the base to increase your plant-based protein intake.

Edamame

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 8.1g, Carbohydrates 13.8g, Protein 18.5g
Vitamins: Vitamin K 41.4mcg – 34% DV, Vitamin C 9.5mg – 11% DV, Vitamin E 1.1mg – 7% DV
Minerals: Zinc 2.1mg – 19% DV, Magnesium 99.2mg – 24% DV, Iron 3.5mg – 20% DV

Health benefits and uses for edamame

Edamame is a nutritious green bean, high in magnesium, and vitamin E while also being a rich source of protein. Edamame provides a huge 18.5 grams of protein per cup and contains a wide range of amino acids that are not typically found in other vegetables.

Edamame also contains a sufficient amount of omega 3 essential fatty acids, which can help to lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of heart disease and provide a significant dose of plant-based calcium aiding in bone health.

A few easy ways to incorporate this tasty bean into your vegan diet and increase your daily amount of protein is through a hearty vegan salad, a vegetable curry, or a vegan miso tofu bowl.

Lentils

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 0.8g, Carbohydrates 39.9g, Protein 17.9g
Vitamins: Vitamin C 3mg – 3% DV, Vitamin K 3.4mcg – 3% DV
Minerals: Zinc 2.5mg – 23% DV, Potassium 730.6mg 16% DV, Iron 6.6mg – 37% DV

Health benefits and uses for lentils

Lentils, the tasty seeds from the legume family, are one of the best plant-based protein sources available in a vegan diet. For every 1 cup of lentils, you get 17.9 grams of protein, fulfilling 32% of your recommended protein needs.

Lentils are also packed with polyphenols, which are beneficial micronutrients that help improve gut health and prevent neurodegenerative diseases.

The high fiber content of lentils also helps maintain a healthy digestive system and manage optimal weight with each 1 cup of lentils able to provide 63% of your daily fiber needs.

Some of the best lentil recipes for vegetarians and vegans include lentil soup, roti, and lentil curries.

Firm Tofu (fortified)

Nutrition per 100g:

Macronutrients: Fat 8.7g, Carbohydrates 2.8g, Protein 17.3g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate) 29mcg – 7%
Minerals: Zinc 1.6mg – 14% DV, Calcium 683mg – 53% DV, Iron 2.7mg – 15% DV

Health benefits and uses for firm tofu

Firm tofu is one of the best nutrient-rich plant-based sources of protein found on a vegan diet. Each 100 grams serving provides 17.3 grams of protein, covering over 25% of your recommended daily amount.

Tofu comes with an extensive range of essential amino acids making tofu fall into the “complete protein” category.

It contains a significant amount of isoflavones, which are a beneficial plant compound that has been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Its also high in iron, magnesium, and protein, which are all essential nutrients needed on a vegan diet.

Tofu is also one of the most versatile foods, so it has an extensive range of recipes that you can get creative with. From an egg replacement in a delicious scrambled tofu through to seasoned crispy tofu strips to have with a vegetable stir-fried rice or vegan salad. It works as a magnificent meat substitute and is a brilliant food source to ensure you get complete protein in your vegan diet without harming any animals.

Adzuki beans

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 0.2g, Carbohydrates 57g, Protein 17.3g
Vitamins: Vitamin B9 (folate) 278.3mcg – 70% DV, Vitamin B6 0.2mg – 13%
Minerals: Potassium 1223.6mg 26% DV, Zinc 4.1mg – 37%, Magnesium 119.6mg – 28% DV

Health Benefits of adzuki beans

Adzuki beans are an east Asian bean known for their high protein content and a fantastic range of nutrients and are one of the best vegan protein sources on the planet.

Each one-cup serving of adzuki beans is able to provide 35% of the daily protein needs.

They also provide a large number of b vitamins and minerals, including but not limited to vitamins b9, b6 zinc, iron, and magnesium. The magnesium content is one of the highest out of all plant-based food sources providing 28% of your daily needs with each cup.

Thanks to the high fiber content at 67% of the recommended daily amount, adzuki beans end up being a great way to maintain a healthy digestive system while supporting gut health.

One of the best ways to incorporate these fabulous beans into your diet is with our tasty vegan black beans stew, helping you boost your magnesium, protein, and fiber all in one delicious dish.

Chickpeas

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 4.2g, Carbohydrates 45g, Protein 14.5g
Vitamins: Vitamin C: 2.1mg 2% DV, Vitamin E: 0.6mg 4% DV, Vitamin K: 6.6μg 5% DV
Minerals: Zinc 2.5mg – 23% DV, Iron 4.7mg – 26% DV, Magnesium 78.7mg – 19% DV

Health Benefits of chickpeas

Chickpeas are one of our favorite high protein vegan food sources thanks to the wide range of ways they can be incorporated into your diet. They are the staple of popular vegan hummus recipes and are used to balance out many delicious vegan curries and plant-based stews.

Chickpeas provide 14.5 grams of protein per cup, helping you 20% of your protein RDA needs while increasing your intake of beneficial amino acids.

Recent studies show that chickpeas may be great for lowering the risk of obesity and helping to maintain healthy bodyweight, which is likely due to the high amount of fiber and protein.

Chickpeas are also a fantastic source of zinc, iron, and magnesium, all of which are essential nutrients needed on a vegan diet, so try to make chickpeas one of the regular plant foods in your diet to make the most of the nutritional benefits.

Fruits highest in protein

Passionfruit

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 4.2g, Carbohydrates 45g, Protein 14.5g
Vitamins: Vitamin C: 2.1mg 2% DV, Vitamin E: 0.6mg 4% DV, Vitamin K: 6.6μg 5% DV
Minerals: Zinc 2.5mg – 23% DV, Iron 4.7mg – 26% DV, Magnesium 78.7mg – 19% DV

Health Benefits of wild passionfruit

Passionfruit is one of the most exquisite tropical fruits available that is not only rich in antioxidants but provides 16% of your recommended daily amount for magnesium and 10% of your minimum protein needs with just one cup.

Passionfruit is also extremely high in vitamin C, making it great for immune system health and preventing inflammation

For a unique tropical fruit smoothie packed with magnesium, passionfruit should be one of your go-to food choices. 

Try out our tasty pineapple and passion fruit smoothie to boost your protein intake with delicious tropical fruit.

Guavas

Nutrition per 1 cup:

Macronutrients: Fat 1.6g, Carbohydrates 23.6g, Protein 4.2g
Vitamins: Vitamin C 376.7mg – 419% DV, Vitamin E 1.2mg – 8% DV
Minerals: Potassium 688.1mg – 15% DV, Magnesium 36.3mg – 9% DV, Zinc 0.4mg – 3% DV

Health Benefits of Guavas

Guavas are a fantastic tropical fruit known for their vibrant color, delicious flavor, and multiple health benefits. 

Guavas are extremely high in vitamin C, which is great for the immune system, they are also high in vitamin E, making them a brilliant fruit for healthy skin hair and nails.

The high antioxidant content can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, while the wide range of nutrients in guava has been shown to help lower blood sugar levels

Surprisingly guavas are one of the best sources of omega-3 in the fruit category, providing 185mg of alpha-linolenic acid per cup and around 5% of your essential fatty acid needs in the form of EPA and DHA.

Guavas also provide 8% of your minimum protein needs with every cup serving, making them a terrific fruit to add to your morning smoothie or your post-workout protein shake.

Avocados

Nutrition per 1 avocado (average):

Macronutrients: Fat 29.5g, Carbohydrates 17.1g, Protein 4g
Vitamins: Vitamin K 42.4mcg – 35% DV, Vitamin E 4.2mg – 28% DV, Vitamin C 20.1mg – 22% DV
Minerals: Potassium 688.1mg – 15% DV, Magnesium 36.3mg – 9% DV, Zinc 0.4mg – 3% DV

Health Benefits of avocados

Avocados are probably one of the top foods on every vegan’s top 10 list thanks to their creamy texture and palatable flavor.

They are also one of the best source of vitamin K (great for bone health) and E (good for healthy hair) while also being high in both omega-3 (223mg) and omega-6 (34mg)

Although avocados are high in healthy fats, the high level of soluble fiber is excellent for weight loss, weight maintenance, and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. 

The high monounsaturated fat content is great for heart health, reducing inflammation, and lowering the risk of cancer.

1 avocado provides 8% of your minimum protein needs, making fresh avocado a brilliant addition to a homemade plant-based protein shake. The avocado turns the protein shake into a deliciously creamy smoothie while adding a helpful protein boost to aid in muscle recovery.

Plant based protein supplements

A simple yet very effective way to increase your plant-based protein intake is through vegan protein supplements. The two most popular options are vegan protein shakes and vegan protein bars. The best vegan protein shakes will provide you with around 15-20 grams of plant protein per serving and will generally source their protein from soy protein, rice protein, hemp or pea protein. For those with digestive issues or a higher level of food intolerances, a rice protein or pea protein formula will be the best choice.

When it comes to vegan protein bars, they are generally used as a snack and a good source of protein, dietary fiber, and carbohydrates to fulfill your recommended daily requirements. Most plant based protein bars use the same range of protein sources as vegan protein powders, predominantly soy, hemp, rice, and peas, but many companies also use nuts to add beneficial fats and alternative flavors. If you have food intolerances, aim for vegan protein bars that are gluten-free, soy-free, and nut-free with minimal additives. It’s also a good option to pick bars that have minimal additives, using mainly fruits as a sweetener.

Check out our top recommendation for the best vegan protein bars and vegan protein shakes to add some healthy plant-based protein to your diet.

Feeling inspired?

Why not try some of our fantastic vegan recipes high in protein and read our definitive vegan protein guide to learn everything you need to bring nutritional balance to your vegan diet. 

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