The 50 Best Vegan Protein Sources
July 17, 2020 by Alice Lang
Worried about getting enough vegan protein sources into your plant-based diet? If meeting your daily vegan protein quota is the only thing holding you back from taking the plant-based plunge, youre in for a pleasant surprise.
Getting enough protein on a vegan diet is easy once you know what youre looking for. From nut butter and seeds to legumes and beans, there are so many affordable, tasty and versatile high-protein vegan protein foods on offer. Youve probably got a few hanging out in your kitchen already!
If youre looking to kickstart a healthy, satisfying and protein-packed vegan diet, this complete guide to the 50 best vegan protein sources has you covered.
Plant Protein Has Health Benefits
Favouring plant protein over animal protein may be doing your health a world of good, particularly in regards to reducing your risk of chronic disease.
Based on data analysed from a nationwide nutrition survey in the US , meat consumption has been positively associated with obesity particularly abdominal obesity . More recently , a nationwide survey on cardiovascular risk factors in Luxembourg came to similar conclusions, stating a lowered animal protein intake may be important for maintenance of healthy body weight .
Higher plant protein intakes have also been shown in studies to be protective of both metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes , and are inversely associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. On the other hand, high animal protein intake is positively associated with cardiovascular mortality .
What Fruit Is High In Protein
10 fruits that are the highest source of protein 01/11What fruits are the highest in protein? Proteins are called the building blocks of life. 02/11Prunes. Prunes have an adequate amount of protein that helps you to fill the lack of proteins in your body. 03/11Peaches. 04/11Kiwi. 05/11Figs. 06/11Blackberries. 07/11Jackfruit. 08/11Guava.
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How To Get More Protein Into Your Plant Based Diet:
Below is a table of plant based sources of protein, and their protein content per average serving size. It is a good idea to aim to include a serving of plant protein with every meal.
¼ cup = 4 tablespoons ½ cup = 8 tablespoons 1 cup = 16 tablespoons
The Concise New Zealand Food Composition Tables , 2014.*USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, 2016.
Whole Grains Rich In Protein
Whole grains are another staple of a well-balanced, plant-based diet. They provide a wealth of fiber, vitamins, minerals and, you guessed it, protein.
Many grains, as mentioned before, have amino acid profiles that are quite complementary to those of vegetables. Combining the two in a meal is a delicious and nutritionally sound idea.
The table below shows a list of whole grains rich in protein. The numbers are for 100 g / 3.5 oz of raw/dry grains.
|7.50 g||6.22 g|
Of course, many processed foods are made with grains, so youll find that, whole-grain flours, pasta, and baked goods are also plant-based foods rich in protein.
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Are All Proteins Equal
Proteins are essential macro-nutrients for your body. But the term protein itself refers to chains of one or more amino acids the brick of proteins.
There are 20 amino acids that the body needs to function, and 9 of them are called essentials, which means they cant be synthesized, created by the body.
The 9 essential amino acids must then come from your food.
All proteins, regardless of their source , are made of various combinations of amino acids.
As a result, not all proteins will bring the right ratio of each amino acid, let alone the right quantity of essential amino acids.
Therefore, whatever the amount of protein you take, it is essential to diversify the sources to ensure that your body will get the right amount of each of its essential and non-essential amino acids.
Use our vegan protein sources chart to mix your vegan sources of protein!
How To Cook With Plant
When using a plant-based protein, take into consideration that its cooking properties can differ from that of an animal-based protein. For instance, if using canned beans in a chili in place of raw ground beef, you wont need to sauté the beans. Flavor will differ, too. You may get less umami that savory sense of taste. So, in addition to the plant-based protein, consider punching up taste other ways, like including mushrooms, soy sauce, or other umami-rich ingredients, says Newgent.
Asche shares similar advice. Plant-based proteins, such as tofu and tempeh are incredibly easy to make, but they need to be seasoned or marinated. If you try to just cut up some tofu and grill it in a pan, chances are youre not going to enjoy it, she says.
Just how much protein you can get from plant-based sources can vary. Below is a look at the protein in common sources, along with some low-fuss recipes to help you ease your way into eating more protein from plants.
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How Can I Get Protein Without Eating Meat
How to get protein without the meat Pulses. Pulses are an inexpensive protein choice, are high in fibre and a source of iron. Soya beans. Unlike other pulses, soya beans are a complete protein, comparable in quality with animal protein, but are low in fat and contain fibre and iron. Quinoa. Nuts. Seeds. Cereals and grains. Quorn Dairy.
Protein Is One Of The Most Talked
People have been led to believe that protein is such an essential nutrient that one must actively pursue foods that contain high amounts of it, even when those foods, such as meat and dairy, compromise our health in so many ways. We have also been led to believe that only animal-based foods contain sufficient protein and, furthermore, that we need to eat those foods to avoid becoming protein deficient. The reality is that protein deficiency is almost exclusively seen in people suffering from a calorie deficiency. In these cases, there will be an overall nutrient deficiency, not just protein deficiency, and when this happens the concern should be getting more calories and all nutrients, and not just more protein.
As for how much protein a person needs, the answer is the amount that a diet of whole, plant-based foods provides. Are you concerned about not getting enough protein? Dont be. All whole, plant-based foods have protein. People thrive on a plant-based diet without ever going out of their way to find sources of protein. Indeed, weve evolved over millions of years without ever aiming for a source of this or any other nutrient.
You should not concern yourself about how much protein youre getting any more than you should worry about the perfect number of breaths you should take in a day.
Here are some of the best plant-protein sources in our list:
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We Are Transforming Spent Barley What We At Evergrain Call Saved Barley Into One Of The Worlds Most Sustainable Accessible Plentiful Sources Of Plant
EverGrain is due to come online this summer with a scaled facility out of St. Louis, MO, producing EverPro, a soluble plant-based protein that is highly compatible with pea protein. The company is also exploring plant-based protein and fiber ingredients that can be used in meat alternatives, breads and pastas.
As the worlds largest brewing company, AB InBev depends on high-quality barley from thriving communities and healthy ecosystems to brew our beers. Every year, 1.4 million metric tons are left over, or spent through the brewing process, said Ties Soeters, chief product owner at EverGrain. Given the global scale, protein quality and market advantage, the team at EverGrain saw a unique opportunity to unleash the power of upcycled nutrition to meet the increasing global demand for plant-based products.
This certification is well timed as consumers begin actively seeking products that carry the certification. Many people view purchasing products with the upcycled stamp as a way to make an impact on the planet with their dollars spent on food and beverages.
Take Two, an Upcycled Certified barley milk made from EverPro, is one such product available in market today. The UFA recently announced that demand for the certification has already exceeded original projections, and the 141 packaged goods and ingredients with this designation are now projected to prevent more than 703 million pounds of food waste annually.
The Possible Benefits Of Trading Meat Protein For Plant Protein
One perk of eating animal protein is that these sources are complete meaning they provide the nine essential amino acids our bodies cant make, according to the Cedars-Sinai Blog. But there are benefits to trading or reducing your meat consumption and filling up on plant proteins, including:
Losing weight When followed properly, plant-based diets, such as a vegetarian diet, may help you lose weight, according to a review of 12 randomized controlled trials published in January 2016 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
Helping the environment Swapping meat for plants to get your protein fix can similarly benefit the environment, notes an article published in December 2018 in Nutrients.
Boosting your heart health When it comes to red meat, the benefits of relying on plant alternatives for protein arguably get even more impressive. Some studies have linked red meat with an increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, partly due to the saturated fat content, Sessions says.
Meanwhile, other research, like a meta-analysis published in April 2014 in JAMA Internal Medicine, reveals that compared with omnivorous dieters vegetarians had lower diastolic and systolic blood pressure numbers. Those benefits can lead to a healthier ticker, lowering your risk for heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
No one needs to eat red meat to be healthy, Sessions says.
Why Choose More Plant
Shifting dietary patterns to reduce meat consumption and include more protein plants can bring great benefits to both our health and the planet.
Besides having a lower environmental footprint, whole plant foods, such as pulses, legumes and vegetables tend to provide more fibre and antioxidants while being lower in saturated fat, sodium and cholesterol compared to animal proteins such as meat and dairy. This is part of the reason why research suggests that people who eat more plant-based tend to have a lower risk of some diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.1
You can read more about the benefits of plant-based diets here.
Trying to eat more plant-based can also make us more creative in the kitchen and reach for foods or ingredients that otherwise we would not consider. This will not only introduce us to a surprising new range of flavours and textures, but also expand the range of beneficial nutrients and compounds that we get from our diets!
Cheese Is High In Protein Should Vegetarians Looking To Up Their Protein Eat A Lot Of Cheese
I advocate eating cheese and nuts within the context of a healthy diet, but they wouldn’t be my top sources of protein. When it comes to dairy, fat-free Greek yogurt and skimmed or semi-skimmed milk are better proteins and theyre lower in calories than cheese, which also contains a lot of saturated fat.
Following a vegetarian or vegan diet can go wrong if youre having high-fat cheese and too many nuts because you can gain weight.
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Animal Vs Vegan Protein Sources: How Do They Compare
In the battle of beef vs. bean, many assume that vegan protein foods simply cant compete with their animal counterparts. This is largely down to the difference in their amino acid composition. When you consume proteinbe it animal or plantyour body breaks it down into organic compounds called amino acids. These amino acids are used to help with numerous essential body functions and processes, from tissue repair to nutrient absorption.
There are 20 amino acids in total, but only 9 are considered essential to your diet. This is because your body cant produce them, so they must be consumed in the food that you eat. If youre wondering how this relates to the animal vs vegan protein debate, this is where it should allcome together.
Complete protein sources contain all9 of the essential amino acids that your body cannot create on its own. Incomplete protein sources only contain some of them.
- Animal proteins contain all 9 essential amino acids, making them complete
- Most vegan protein sources lack one or more amino acids, making them incomplete
New to a plant-based diet? Read our complete guide on how to go veganit takes you through everything you need to know.
Types Of Vegan Protein Sources
The good news is there are many tasty ways to enjoy vegan sources of protein. Ranging from nuts and seeds, soy products, legumes and grains which all vary in the amount of protein. This guide provides non-animal-based protein options, many being gluten-free, for those who live a vegetarian and vegan lifestyle or would like to incorporate more plants into their diet.
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Protein Combining Myth Busting
It was once thought that you must consume plant sources of proteins with limiting essential amino acids at the same meal, however, the body actually contains a pool of essential amino acids, which can be used to complement proteins received from the diet. Recent literature tells us that combining proteins at the same meal is unnecessary the important thing is to simply meet energy needs and consume a variety of plant foods each day .
Vegetarian Foods Packed With More Protein Than Meat
You already know that protein is an important part of a healthy, balanced diet. But when you dont eat a lot of meat, it can feel difficult to get in your recommended daily intake of protein. Whether youre a vegetarian, vegan or just an occasional meat-eater, theres good news: You can get just as much protein as all the carnivores out there. Start by chowing down these seven foods.
1. Black Beans
They contain 15g of protein in just a 1-cup serving, more than the amount in a chicken drumstick. Not only are black beans a great source of protein, but theyre also an excellent source of fiber and vitamins and mineralsplus theyre low in fat and have no cholesterol. Use them instead of chicken in a quesadilla.
Much like beans, lentils check some important boxes for herbivores. One cup of cooked lentils has nearly 18g of protein more than the amount in a hamburger and also contains a lot of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This curried red lentil soup is ready in about an hour.
A fermented soybean product, tempeh is a tasty substitute for bacon or chicken. In fact, a cup of tempeh has about 33g of protein by comparison, a slice of bacon has just under 4g of protein. Try a smothered tempeh sandwich.
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For Omnivores Looking To Lose Weight A High
Higher-protein diets are definitely beneficial when it comes to weight loss, helping to preserve lean muscle mass and promote fat loss. I promote it with my bariatric patients, especially if they’re going to be exercising.
You can quite easily lose weight on a vegetarian and vegan diet because youre eating more fibrous foods and less saturated fat, and if you swapped from a hamburger to a Quorn burger you can save 150 calories. Consuming 100 fewer calories on a consistent, daily basis adds up to a massive amount. But on the flip side, there are lots of junk vegan foods which provide a lot of calories.
What Happens If I Take Too Much Protein
There are a few side effects of eating too much protein. Most of them are fully reversible, though.
- Weight gain: the body tends to store excess protein as fat.
- Bad breath: if your protein intake is done parallel with lower carb intake, your body might be in ketosis, often leading to bad breath.
- Dehydration: there is a possible link between protein intake and lower hydration levels, but that is not entirely proven.
Note that you might find many other side effects linked to proteins, but many of these side effects are due to the type of protein consumed. Essentially, animal-based proteins are linked to an increased risk of kidney damage, cancer, heart disease, and calcium loss. But on a vegan diet, these risks have not been found!
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Why Do We Need Protein
Protein is an essential part of our nutrition, making up about 17% of the bodys weight and it is the main component of our muscles, skin, internal organs, especially the heart and brain, as well as our eyes, hair and nails. Our immune system also requires protein to help make antibodies that are required to help fight infections, and protein also plays a role in blood sugar regulation, fat metabolism and energy function.
Protein foods actually break down into 22 naturally occurring amino acids, which are known as the building blocks of protein. Of these, nine are known as essential amino acids, which means we must get them from food, as the body cannot make them itself. Protein is also a good source of a range of vitamins and minerals such as zinc and B vitamins. As a vegan, its important that all these amino acids are included in the diet to provide optimum nutrition.
The key to getting the right amount of protein, and all the necessary amino acids, is to combine different grains with different vegetables and pulses such as beans and rice, or tofu with broccoli. Variety is key when it comes to being vegan, and not using substitute products such as vegan cheese to make up any deficiency as they are technically a processed food and offer little health benefit.
Read more about how to eat a balanced vegan diet.