How Do Vegans Get Protein from Plants?: 19 Protein-Rich Foods for Vegans

July 17, 2022

how do vegans get protein

Newly instituted vegan dieters often fear giving up on eggs, meat, and dairy and wonder how do vegans get protein?

They think that the new diet would severely limit their protein source.

However, that is not true! The plant-based diet has abundant protein-rich food that substitutes for all non-vegan food.

So, if you are a vegan or thinking about going vegan, you need not worry too much about your protein intake.

The plants have plenty!

There are always whole grains, beans, vegetables, pulses, etc., to turn to.

We’ll be an in-depth look at the best protein-heavy food that the vegan world has to offer.

But why are we so worried about proteins?

Are they an essential part of the diet?

Let us understand in the following subsection!

why is protein important

Why Is Protein Important?

Protein is a quintessential part of our diet, which accounts for almost 17 percent of the total body weight.

It makes up the hair, eyes, nails, skin, muscles, and internal organs, especially the brain and heart.

Our immune system is also dependent on protein.

It aids in creating antibodies that are required to fight against infections and bacteria.

Protein also plays an essential role in fat metabolism, blood sugar regulation, and energy function.

Protein’s role in the body can be summed up as follows:

  • Body’s growth and development
  • Repairing and building the cells and tissues
  • Necessary for all body’s fluid, skin, hair, nails, bone, muscle, and internal organs
  • Regulating body processes like blood clotting
  • Breaking down the 22 naturally occurring amino acids

Vegans should make amino acids an essential part of their diet to get optimum nutrition.

The best way to achieve this with the right amount of protein is to consume grains, vegetables, and pulses.

Veganism does not mean limited food choices.

Variety is the key to a vegan diet as long as substitute products like vegan bacon and cheese are avoided.

How Much Protein Do People Need?

A person’s protein requirement must be measured according to weight, sex, age, and physical activity.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommends the following amount of protein for different groups of people:

Sex Group – Age (in years) Protein (g) recommended daily allowance (RDA)
M/F 2–3 13
M/F 4–8 19
M/F 9–13 34
F 14–18 46
M 14–18 52
F 19–30 46
M 19–30 56
F 31–50 46
M 31–50 56
F 50+ 46
M 50+ 56

However, these are merely guidelines; people can discover that they’ve different requirements.

For example, a work-from-home employee will have fewer protein needs than an athlete.

In general, the RDA suggests an intake of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body mass per day (g/kg/d) for a regular, non-active person.

However, the intake would be higher for an active person or someone trying to build body mass.

The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends 1.2–1.4 g/kg/d protein for endurance athletes and 1.6–1.7 g/kg/d protein for strength athletes.

Besides athletes, pregnant and lactating women are also required to increase their protein consumption.

According to the online journal Nutrients, they should consume at least 10% more protein.

enough vegan protein

Can You Get Enough Protein as a Vegan?

In an omnivorous diet, protein is straightforward to come by.

Steak, meat, milk, and eggs are all protein-rich options for non-vegans.

The new vegan dieters often fear losing out on sufficient protein owing to a lack of these products.

However, the truth is – a plant-based diet has an abundance of protein.

Compared to other nutrients like iron and vitamin B12, it is far easier to find and consume.

According to scientific journals, some vegans even exceed their daily requirements due to their overwhelming presence in the diet.

Variety is the key to amino acids but even in the case of protein consumption.

It is because vegan protein varieties are low in amino acid leucine.

Leucine is essential for protein synthesis, which ultimately leads to the buildup of muscle mass.

So, if you’re building muscle while on a vegan diet, you’ll need more challenging dietary diligence.

However, is it possible to consume too much in haste to consume protein?

Overconsumption of protein has often been associated with dairy or processed meats.

Prolonged high intake was said to have contributed to bone loss and even kidney damage.

The claim has now been refuted, suggesting that very little evidence supports such dire claims.

High-protein may have effects on those suffering from kidney dysfunction or other condition.

Otherwise, for healthy people, mass protein intake is beneficial; it prevents bone and muscle loss.

19 Vegan Sources of Protein

With the protein-related questions out of the way, we can finally find the answer to “how do vegans get protein?”

The answer is relatively easy – from nuts, seeds, pulses, and legumes to beans, grains, and vegetables, vegans have a vast assortment of options that grants them protein without getting monotonous with the taste.

The 19 wealthiest and healthiest sources of protein are:

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are versatile and can be consumed as a part of any meal.

Some of the best protein-rich options are:

Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are highly nutritious.

It takes only one tablespoon of the seeds to give almost 2g of protein.

These seeds can be eaten on an empty stomach, in breakfast, sprinkled over as seasoning, or eaten as a dessert. It also acts as a replacement for eggs in a vegan diet.

This is because they’re highly hydrophilic and can expand when soaked for 20 minutes.


Raw, unsalted almond promises a rich serving of 20.33 g of protein per 100 g and almost 5.76g per ounce.

At the same time, almond butter holds almost 20.96g per 100g and 6.71g of protein every 2 tablespoons.

Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are perhaps the most nutritious option out of the bunch.

They contain 31.56g of protein per 100g which is almost 5g per heaped tablespoon.


Pulses and legumes make a great source of affordable and low-fat plant protein while also providing a wide variety.

The best options are:


Be they green, brown, or red lentils, adding just half a cup to any curry, soup, or taco will give you around 12 grams of protein.

The boiled lentils retain 9.02g of protein per 100g.


Chickpea, also called the garbanzo beans, has almost 8.86 g of protein per 100g if boiled.

Regular chickpea is rich with 14.5g of protein.

Alternatively, chickpeas are also used as an ingredient to make hummus or curry.

The hummus is rich in protein and contains over 8.18g per 100g.


Peanuts are a light snack with a lot of protein hidden underneath.

It is rich with almost 25.8g of protein per 100g.

An ounce will give you around 7.31g.

Peanut butter is another vegan alternative with 22.5g of protein in 100g and 7.2g in 2 tablespoons.


Soybeans serve as an ingredient in several products, including tempeh and tofu.

These alternatively serve as an ingredient for protein-rich dishes.

On its own, raw soybean has almost 12.95g of protein per 100g, while cooked soybean has 16.92g.

The half cup of raw version contains 16.6g of protein, whereas the cooked version has 15.65g of protein.



Vegetables are always a reliable vegan source of protein, as they’re readily available.

Some of them include:


Broccoli isn’t a very high protein vegetable, but when it is used as an ingredient, its protein amount increases manifold.

While raw broccoli has 2.82g of protein per 100g, it increases to 2.84g per 100g when cooked.


Oil-cooked mushroom has 3.74g of protein per 100g and around 5.98g per cup.

Mycoprotiens are an essential part of a vegan diet and are often used as an alternative to meat.

A mycoprotein is also a rich source of protein taken from fungi.

It retains 11g of protein per 100g.

However, certain mycoproteins are made using eggs.

Vegans should be careful while buying it.

Green Peas

Green peas are often wrongly undermined in their ability to act as a protein-rich source.

A cooked cup of pea contains almost 9 grams of protein.

Besides the protein, it is also rich in iron, phosphorus, zinc, copper, etc., while also fulfilling 25% of your daily thiamine, fiber, folate, and manganese requirements.

Whole Grains

Whole grain contains an entire kernel, implying that the grain remains intact.

It is an excellent protein source that can sneak into every dish, from breakfast to dinner.

Whole grains are naturally protein abundant but add vitamins, fiber, and minerals to your diet.

Rich protein sources from whole grains are:


Cooked quinoa is a decent source of protein and offers 4.38g per 100g.

A cup of quinoa is the equivalent of 7.45g of protein.

The most popular way to eat quinoa is by making its salad.

But the grain can be tweaked to make a healthy porridge breakfast or a kale patty.

Some vegans also prefer to eat it as a stew, made with squash, prunes, and pomegranate.


From raw oats, you can get 13.2g of protein per 100g, while a cup will contain 10.7g.

However, soaking the oats before consumption is recommended to make digestion easier.


While seitan might not be a whole grain, it is a meat alternative made from wheat gluten.

Since it is so high in gluten, celiac, and gluten intolerant, people should avoid it.

Fried seitan contains 11.28g of protein per 100g.

As a meat substitute, it is used in making sandwiches, stir-fry, and stew.

It must be properly seasoned, braised, and simmered before consumption as raw seitan tastes unpleasant and has a bad texture.


Kidney, black, and pinto beans are rich dietary sources of proteins, which are used as a staple across the world.

The beans can be consumed directly by boiling or as a curry.

They include:


Kidney beans are the richest source of protein out of all other alternatives, as they have 25.9g of protein per 100g.

They are a commonly consumed type of beans with high fiber and folate.


Black beans offer a slightly lower amount of protein than kidney beans, with a serving of 24.4g per 100 g.

The beans help increase the body’s immunity and manage the sugar level.


Pinto beans have the least amount (although still significant) of protein.

They contain 23.7g of protein per 100g. Studies have shown that these beans help lower cholesterol levels by decreasing intestinal absorption and liver production.

other sources of protein

Other Sources of Protein

Besides these categorical sources of protein, there are some more protein-rich products that vegans can consume.

These include:


Tofu, a protein-heavy product, is made by pressing the soybeans together in a similar fashion to cheesemaking.

It doesn’t have any flavor on its own.

Instead, it absorbs the flavor of the other ingredients it is cooked with.

The product offers 12.7g of protein per 100g.

Soy Milk

Soy milk is derived from soybeans and is filled with vitamins and minerals.

It is an excellent alternative for vegans who avoid cow milk.

The milk contains 2.6g of protein per 100 g or 6 grams per cup (244 mL).

It is a highly versatile product that can be drunk on its own or used for cooking or baking.


Spirulina, blue-green algae, is the powerhouse of nutrition. Just 14g (two tablespoons) of the algae contains 8 grams of proteins.

Per 100g, it packs 57.5g of protein, an enormous amount among all vegan options.

It also has potent antioxidants, anti-cancer, and anti-inflammatory properties.

The Bottom Line

As you must’ve noticed, the answer to how do vegans get protein comes pretty easy.

It is possible only because of vegans’ wide variety of options.

As a vegan, you’ll have an array of choices to make your pick from.

While the amount of protein vegans need to consume seems less, it can make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful diet.

It also plays a vital role in building muscles and strengthening your body.

So, if you do not want to suffer because of just one nutrient and compromise your health, incorporate these 19 foods into your diet right now.

Also, do you think vegans should incorporate non-vegan supplements like vegan cheese and bacon in the diet to obtain protein?

Let us know in the comments!

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