25 Best Vegan Protein Sources for Plant-Based Diets

vegan protein sources chart

One of the biggest myths surrounding a plant-based diet is that it’s difficult to find vegan protein sources when you cut out animal products.

Protein has become a bit of a dietary obsession for many people, especially those who are passionate about health and fitness. While protein is not a miracle nutrient, it’s still an essential part of a balanced and healthy diet.

Many people worry that you can’t get enough of this important macronutrient on a plant-based diet since animal products like meat are credited as the main sources of protein for humans.

If you’re thinking about going vegan or reducing your intake of animal products, getting enough protein as a vegan should be the least of your worries.

Vegan protein sources are out there — there’s protein in every edible plant you can think of. In fact, there are more vegan protein sources than non-vegan protein sources.

Think about it: There are tens of thousands of edible plants. Each one made up of the three macronutrients — carbohydrates, fat, and protein. That means there are thousands of different ways to get protein on a vegan diet.

Before we dive into the top vegan protein sources, let’s clear up a few misconceptions:

  • Yes, it’s 100% possible to get enough protein on a vegan diet.
  • Not only is it possible, but it’s actually very easy to meet your protein needs as a vegan.
  • You don’t need as much protein as you think. The average woman and man need about 46g and 56g of protein per day, respectively, according to WebMD.
  • There are many complete vegan protein sources, meaning they contain all the essential amino acids.
  • While some vegan protein sources don’t contain all the essential amino acids, plant foods can be combined to create complete vegan proteins.

Get your notepad ready because you’re going to want to jot down these vegan protein sources for your next grocery trip. Regardless of whether you’re vegan or a total meat lover, everyone can benefit from the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients in these sources of non-meat protein.

1. Chickpeas, 14.7g protein

bowl of garbanzo beans (aka chickpeas)
Chickpeas contain 14.7g of plant-based protein.

Chickpea nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1 cup of cooked chickpeas contains:

  • 14.7g protein
  • 263 calories
  • 5.83g fat
  • 40.4g carbohydrates
  • 13.1g fiber

You say, “garbanzo beans.” I say, “chickpeas.” However you say it, these fun-shaped legumes are one of the best ways to meet your daily protein needs.

Legumes are a go-to vegan protein source for vegetarians and vegans because they’re naturally high in protein and other nutrients.

Chickpeas are a favorite vegan protein source because of their mild but delicious flavor and versatile texture.

Chickpeas are also accessible, affordable, and easy to prepare. You can buy them pre-made in cans almost anywhere. Check your grocery store for a bulk section, and you can buy dried chickpeas in bulk and batch cook them in a pressure cooker, like the Instant Pot.

Think you’ve never had chickpeas before? Think again. Chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus and falafel, and they’re commonly used in Indian and Mediterranean inspired cuisine.

High-protein vegan chickpea recipes

2. Peanut Butter, 7g protein

creamy peanut butter
Peanut butter contains 8g of plant-based protein.

Peanut butter nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter contain:

  • 7g protein
  • 190 calories
  • 16g fat
  • 7g carbohydrates
  • 2g fiber

Every time you enjoyed a PB & J sandwich as a kid, you were consuming a vegan protein source without even thinking about it.

While peanut butter is typically labeled as a fat, it’s also high in protein.

Pro tip: Many store bought nut butters contain a lot more ingredients than just nuts. The next time you need to stock up on peanut butter, try a sugar-free, no salt added peanut butter with minimal ingredients.

High-protein vegan peanut butter recipes

3. Nutritional Yeast, 5g protein

bowl of nutritional yeast flakes
Nutritional yeast contains 5g of plant-based protein.

Nutritional yeast nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast contains:

  • 34 calories
  • 5g protein
  • 0g fat
  • 3g carbohydrates
  • 2g fiber

Many people swear by this vegan protein source and have even given it the nickname, “nooch.” Make sure to get the fortified version as it contains more vitamins and minerals than non-fortified ones.

Basically, nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that’s often compared to the taste of Parmesan cheese. It’s also high in protein. Fortified nutritional yeast is an especially great source of vitamin B12 for vegans.

How to incorporate this unique vegan protein source? Use it as a seasoning on savory meals. If you’re enjoying a salad, soup, or nourish bowl, simply sprinkle a couple tablespoons of nutritional yeast on the top.

You can also create your own vegan Parmesan-style cheese and nacho cheese sauce using nutritional yeast.

High-protein vegan nutritional yeast recipes

4. Lentils, 16.2g protein

red, green, brown, and black lentils
Lentils contain 16.2g of plant-based protein.

Lentils nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1 cup of cooked lentils contains:

  • 16.2g protein
  • 207 calories
  • 0.68g fat
  • 36.1g carbohydrates
  • 14.2g fiber

The great thing about vegan protein sources is that they’re some of the most affordable foods in the world. Take lentils, for example.

When you do the math, each serving costs less than a buck. We’re talking cents for more than one-third of your daily protein requirements.

Like beans, there are several different types of lentils. The main ones are red lentils, brown lentils, black lentils, and green lentils. This vegan protein source is popular in Indian dishes, but lentils are extremely versatile.

High-protein vegan lentil recipes

5. Edamame, 18.5g protein

cooked edmame shown with and without the shell
Edamame contains 18.5g of plant-based protein per 1 cup cooked and shelled.

Edamame nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1 cup of shelled and cooked edamame contains:

  • 18.5g protein
  • 188 calories
  • 8g fat
  • 13.8g carbohydrates
  • 8g fiber

Soy comes in many forms — some forms of soy are less processed than others. Edamame is a great example of the whole foods version of soy.

When soybeans are very young and immature, before they’re actually soybeans, they’re referred to as edamame.

Edamame is very similar to green peas in a pod in terms of how they look. Both the green pod and the beans inside are edible and full of protein.

There are many ways to enjoy edamame. This vegan protein source is particularly popular in Asian cuisine. You can toss edamame in stir-fries, make a crispy snack out of them, or season them as a side dish.

High-protein vegan edamame recipes

6. Spirulina Powder, 2g protein

spirulina powder
Spirulina powder contains 2g of plant-based protein per teaspoon.

Spirulina nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1 teaspoon of spirulina powder contains:

  • 2g protein
  • 10 calories
  • 0g fat
  • 1g protein
  • 0g fiber

That super dark green stuff that makes your smoothies look like swamp water? Yes! In addition to being a great vegan protein source, spirulina powder is packed with nutrients.

Spirulina powder has one of the highest amounts of protein per 100 grams coming in at 66.7g vegan protein. It’s nearly impossible to consume that much spirulina in one sitting, but you can realistically pack in a couple spoonfuls throughout the day.

Simply add spirulina to smoothies, juices, and other beverages. You can even get creative and make spirulina smoothie bowls, oats, protein balls, and more.

Sure, this isn’t the best tasting vegan protein source, but it’s an easy and healthy way to pack in more vegan protein.

High-protein vegan spirulina recipes

7. Quinoa, 8g protein

main types of quinoa include white quinoa, red quinoa, and black quinoa
Quinoa contains 8g of plant-based protein per 1 cup cooked.

Quinoa nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1 cup of cooked quinoa contains:

  • 8g protein
  • 222 calories
  • 3.5g fat
  • 39.4g carbohydrates
  • 5.18g fiber

Quinoa is the underdog of vegan protein sources. It’s not the most popular grain, but it’s super high in protein.

More importantly, quinoa is a complete vegan protein. This is extra impressive because it doesn’t have to be combined with other vegan protein sources to achieve all of the essential amino acids.

So the next time you have to choose between rice and quinoa, try quinoa. To be more specific, try tricolor quinoa, which is a combination of red, white, and black quinoa.

High-protein vegan quinoa recipes

8. Tofu, 21.8g protein

fried tofu cubes
Tofu contains 21.8g of plant-based protein per 1/2 cup unprepared.

Tofu nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1/2 cup of unprepared tofu contains:

  • 21.8g protein
  • 181 calories
  • 11g fat
  • 3.5g carbohydrates
  • 2.9g fiber

A list of vegan protein sources wouldn’t be complete without tofu. Plus, it’s time to end the stigma that tofu is bland.

On its own, tofu isn’t full of flavor. However, it has a wonderful texture, and it absorbs flavors like a sponge. You can also cut tofu in many different shapes or even crumble it to resemble scrambled eggs.

Tofu is a healthy vegan protein source that doubles as a vegan meat alternative. Some people even add tofu to protein shakes for extra vegan protein.

High-protein vegan tofu recipes

9. Kidney Beans, 14g protein

kidney beans
Kidney beans contain 14g of plant-based protein per 1 cup cooked.

Kidney beans nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1 cup of cooked kidney beans contains:

  • 14g protein
  • 200 calories
  • 0g fat
  • 38g carbohydrates
  • 16g fiber

To no one’s surprise, beans are an excellent source of vegan protein. Kidney beans are especially healthy and have tons of nutrients, including a whopping amount of protein.

Who said vegan protein sources have to be expensive? Kidney beans are one of the most affordable and accessible vegan protein sources. You can get a can of kidney beans for less than a buck at any grocery store. Buy them in bulk to make your dollar go even further and stock up on vegan protein sources for cheap.

Plus, kidney beans are super versatile and are already in some of your favorite dishes. Make a big batch of chili, soup, or spicy red beans with this vegan protein source and your meal prep is done for the week.

High-protein vegan kidney bean recipes

10. Hemp Seeds, 9.5g protein

hemp seeds
Hemp seeds contain 9.5g of plant-based protein per 3 tablespoons hulled.

Hemp seeds nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 3 tablespoons of hulled hemp seeds contain:

  • 9.5g protein
  • 166 calories
  • 14.6g fat
  • 2.6g carbohydrates
  • 1.2g fiber

Wait, aren’t seeds supposed to be sources of healthy fats? Yes, but seeds, including hemp seeds, are also great vegan protein sources.

Unlike other vegan protein sources that require you to eat 1 cup per serving, hemp seeds pack in a lot of protein in small portions.

You can easily pack in a few tablespoons of hemp seeds per day by sprinkling them on smoothie bowls or salads. You can also make dressings and other creamy sauces with hemp seeds.

High-protein vegan hemp seed recipes

11. Oats, 6g protein

oats
Oats contain 6g of plant-based protein per 1 cup cooked.

Oats nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1 cup of cooked oats contains:

  • 6g protein
  • 166 calories
  • 3.56g fat
  • 28.1g carbohydrates
  • 4g fiber

There are basically two breakfast options sweeping the vegan nation: smoothies and oats. Both are delicious, but one reigns supreme as an amazing vegan protein source—oats!

Now, that isn’t to say you can’t pack in a ton of vegan protein with smoothies, but oats definitely have their place in your pantry. They’re full of protein and, like smoothies, you can add other vegan protein sources for a high-protein vegan breakfast.

Oats are like a blank canvas waiting to be flavored. You can go classic with sweet toppings like maple syrup, almond milk, and fruit. But oats can be savory, too. They’re super versatile, cheap, and protein-packed. Time to get creative with oats!

High-protein vegan oat recipes

12. Pumpkin Seeds, 8g protein

pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds contain 8g of plant-based protein per 1/4 cup.

Pumpkin seeds nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1/4 cup of raw pumpkin seeds contains:

  • 8g protein
  • 160 calories
  • 14g fat
  • 3g carbohydrates
  • 2g fiber

When you carve a pumpkin, the “guts” are full of white seeds. The white part is actually a shell. When you remove the white shell, you get green pumpkin seeds. Also known as “pepitas.”

Pumpkin seeds double as a delicious topping and a vegan protein source. When comparing protein per gram, pumpkin seeds rank as one of the highest vegan protein sources!

This vegan protein source complements both sweet and savory meals, like topping smoothies, oats, and nourish bowls.

When buying pumpkin seeds, make sure to look for the words “raw, shelled/hulled, and unsalted.”

High-protein vegan pumpkin seed recipes

13. Walnuts, 5g protein

shelled walnuts
Walnuts contain 5g of plant-based protein per 1/3 cup raw.

Walnuts nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1/3 cup of raw walnuts contains:

  • 5g protein
  • 220 calories
  • 22g fat
  • 5g carbohydrates
  • 2g fiber

Walnuts aren’t just for banana bread and chocolate chip cookies. When incorporated into your diet, walnuts make for an excellent vegan protein source. They’re also a great source of healthy fats and omegas.

You can snack on them or use them to top your meals. Add this vegan protein source on top of smoothie bowls, salads, and nourish bowls.

Walnuts are also becoming a popular meat replacement. Sounds crazy, but walnuts can be used to make taco meat, veggie burgers, meat loaves, meat sauces, and more.

High-protein vegan walnuts recipes

14. Black Beans, 16g protein

black beans
Black beans contain 16g of plant-based protein per 1 cup cooked.

Black bean nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1 cup of cooked black beans contains:

  • 16g protein
  • 240 calories
  • 0g fat
  • 44g carbohydrates
  • 12g fiber

Ever had black bean soup? Or Mexican black beans? What about black bean burgers? Every time you’ve enjoyed black beans, you were enjoying a rich vegan protein source.

Like other beans, black beans are very high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, yet they’re naturally low in fat.

High-protein vegan black bean recipes

15. Sunflower Seeds, 6g protein

sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds contain 6g of plant-based protein per 1/4 cup raw.

Sunflower seed nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1/4 cup of raw sunflower seeds contains:

  • 6g protein
  • 180 calories
  • 15g fat
  • 6g carbohydrates
  • 3g fiber

Sunflower seeds (a.k.a. the best salad topper ever) are both a gas station favorite and a stellar vegan protein source.

Unlike the salted kind found in gas stations, the kind of sunflower seeds we’re talking about are raw, unsalted, and hulled. They’re full of nutrients, including vegan protein.

Sunflower seeds are addicting, so you can easily eat a serving (or several). The grams of vegan protein will add up quickly!

Throw this vegan protein source on top of your favorite meals or eat them plain because they’re THAT good. You can also use sunflower seeds to make creamy dressings, vegan cheeses, and even non-dairy milks.

High-protein vegan sunflower seed recipes:

16. Almonds, 6g protein

almonds
Almonds contain 6g of plant-based protein per 1/4 cup.

Almonds nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1/4 cup of raw almonds contains:

  • 6g protein
  • 170 calories
  • 15g fat
  • 6g carbohydrates
  • 4g fiber

Almonds have been a cult favorite in the health and fitness world for ages. And for good reason — this overt fat is full of nutrients and makes for a vegan protein source that nearly everyone loves.

This vegan protein source is especially great for snacking on-the-go. You can enjoy almonds whole, slivered, or chopped to add a crunchy texture to your meals.

You can also replace white flour with flour made from almonds.

High-protein vegan almond recipes

17. Flax Seeds, 5g protein

flax seeds
Flax seeds contain 5g of plant-based protein per 1/4 cup.

Flax seeds nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1/4 cup of flax seeds contains:

  • 5g protein
  • 160 calories
  • 9g carbohydrates
  • 12g fat
  • 8g fiber

Dr. Michael Greger, the founder of NutritionFacts.org and the Daily Dozen Challenge, recommends that everyone consume at least one tablespoon of flax seeds every single day. Flax seeds are nutrient-dense and an excellent vegan protein source.

You can consume several tablespoons of flax seeds daily by tossing them in smoothies, oatmeal, salads, nourish bowls, etc.

You can consume flax seeds whole or ground depending on your preferences.

Flax seeds are also helpful in egg-free baking. Simply combine one tablespoon of flax seeds with two tablespoons of water and you’ve got yourself a vegan binding agent! Just let the mixture soak for a few minutes.

High-protein vegan flax seed recipes

18. Cashews, 5g protein

cashews
Cashews contain 5g of plant-based protein per 1/4 cup raw.

Cashews nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1/4 cup of raw cashews contains:

  • 5g protein
  • 160 calories
  • 9g carbohydrates
  • 14g fat
  • 1g fiber

Like other nuts, there are tons of ways to enjoy cashews. Grab a handful for a snack high in vegan protein or incorporate them as toppers for your meals.

Vegans have figured out an incredibly unique way to use this vegan protein source. Soak cashews overnight or for 30 minutes in boiling water. This will serve as the base for creamy sauces and vegan cheeses.

High-protein vegan cashew recipes

19. Chia Seeds, 5g protein

chia seeds
Chia seeds contain 5g of plant-based protein per 3 tablespoons.

Chia seeds nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 3 tablespoons of chia seeds contain:

  • 5g protein
  • 150 calories
  • 13g carbohydrates
  • 9g fat
  • 10g fiber

Noticing a pattern here? Overt fats like nuts and seeds are also excellent sources of vegan protein! This includes chia seeds, which are a small but mighty vegan protein source.

Chia seeds aren’t just for Chia Pets. They’re packed with fiber and protein, and they’re super easy to incorporate into your diet.

The easiest way to eat chia seeds is by tossing them in a smoothie or on top of a salad. You can also soak chia seeds with natural sweeteners to make chia pudding.

Like flax seeds, chia seeds can also substitute eggs in baking.

High-protein vegan chia seeds recipes

20. Amaranth, 9g protein

amaranth
Amaranth contains 9g of plant-based protein per 1 cup cooked.

Amaranth nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1 cup of cooked amaranth contains:

  • 9g protein
  • 250 calories
  • 46g carbohydrates
  • 3.9g fat
  • 5g fiber

Amaranth is full of starchy deliciousness. It’s not as popular as other grains, such as rice and quinoa, but it’s just as nutritious. Not to mention how much protein is packed in each serving of this vegan protein source.

If you’ve never had amaranth before, it’s worth a try. Some people describe the taste as earth and the texture as sticky. Because of this, it’s not as versatile as other grains, but with a little creativity, you can grow to love this vegan protein source.

Seasoned amaranth lovers can use this vegan protein source like you would other grains. If you’re new to amaranth, however, you’ll want to ease your way into it. Try popping amaranth like popcorn or make a simple amaranth porridge recipe.

High-protein vegan amaranth recipes

21. Tempeh, 33.7g protein

tempeh
Tempeh contains 33.7g of plant-based protein per 1 cup.

Tempeh nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1 cup of tempeh contains:

  • 33.7g protein
  • 319 calories
  • 12.7 carbohydrates
  • 17.9g fat

You can think of tempeh as the slightly less processed cousin of tofu. Both are made from soybeans, but tempeh has a chewier texture since the soybeans are closer to their whole form. Tempeh is also fermented while tofu is not.

Soy-free tempeh is also available if you have allergies. Just look for tempeh made from whole grains instead of soybeans.

Not sure how to make tempeh? Try marinated tempeh strips in a sandwich or on top of a salad. Tempeh cubes are also great on top of grains and veggies.

High-protein vegan tempeh recipes

22. Barley, 5g protein

barley
Barley has 5g of plant-based protein per 1/4 cup uncooked.

Barley nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1/4 cup of uncooked barley contains:

  • 5g protein
  • 354 calories
  • 77g carbohydrates
  • 1g fat
  • 14.6g fiber

Barley, wheat, and rye are whole grains that contain gluten, so people with gluten intolerances should not consume barley products. You may be familiar with this high-protein grain as a salad topper or key ingredient in some soups.

You’ll notice that barley is very low in fat, making it perfect for high-carb, low-fat vegan diets. Some people like to substitute rice with barley since it’s lower in calories.

High-protein vegan barley recipes

23. TVP, 12 protein

textured vegetable protein (TVP)
Textured vegetable protein (TVP) contains 12g of plant-based protein per 1/4 cup uncooked.

TVP nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1/4 uncooked cup of TVP contains:

  • 12g protein
  • 80 calories
  • 7g carbohydrates
  • 0g fat
  • 4g fiber

Textured vegetable protein (aka TVP) is literally defatted soy flour. When you buy TVP, it looks a little bit like croutons. It comes dehydrated, so you’ll need to rehydrate it with warm water or vegetable broth. Then, it makes a great meat substitute in tacos, meat sauce, chili, etc.

Since it’s low in calories, fat, and carbs, TVP is a great protein source for vegan diets. Just be sure to spruce it up with some spices and seasonings otherwise it will taste very plain.

High-protein vegan TVP recipes

24. Soybeans, 31.3g protein

soybeans
Soybeans contain 31.3g of plant-based protein per 1 cup cooked.

Soybeans nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1 cup of cooked soybeans contains:

  • 31.3g protein
  • 401 calories
  • 14.4g carbohydrates
  • 27.5g fat
  • 10.4g fiber

The seasoned vegan is no stranger to soy — tofu, tempeh, TVP, and now soybeans. While soy milk and soy meat replacements are more commonly consumed than whole soybeans, this particular bean is unique since it’s low in carbs and contains a notable amount of fat.

If you’re looking for a low-carb vegan protein source, try soybeans and other soy products.

High-protein vegan soybean recipes

25. Green Peas, 4g protein

green peas
Green peas contain 4g of plant-based protein per 1/2 cup.

Peas nutrition facts

According to the USDA, 1/2 cup of peas contains:

  • 4g protein
  • 70 calories
  • 12g carbohydrates
  • 0g fat
  • 5g fiber

While peas are usually thought of as a side dish that pairs perfectly with carrots, peas are surprisingly high in plant-based protein. Next time you want to take dinner to the next level, add peas to sauces, soups, stir fries, and other sides to up the vegan protein without much effort.

High-protein vegan green peas recipes

More Vegan Protein Sources

There are TONS of vegan protein sources out there. These are just 25 to get you started.

What other vegan protein sources are out there? Well, here’s a few other places to pack in some vegan protein:

  • Non-starchy vegetables like broccoli and asparagus
  • Starchy vegetables like white potatoes and sweet potatoes
  • Healthy fats like avocado and coconut
  • Leafy greens like arugula, spinach, and collard greens
  • Legumes like split peas and white beans
  • Vegan meat alternatives like seitan and store-bought vegan meat alternatives
  • Vegan protein powders made from peas, hemp, and brown rice

What vegan protein sources are you eager to try? Let us know in the comments below!

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12 Comments

  1. Great resource for those of us new to obtaining our protein from plants. Really pleased I found your article. Clear and very informative. Thank you.

    1. Hi Andrew,

      I’m glad you found this guide to vegan protein sources helpful! It’s an adjustment when you’re new to plant-based proteins, but there really are many options to try.

      Thanks for reading,
      Lacey

  2. Your post has great info but the grams of protein are not based on similar quantities so it is extremely difficult to evaluate the data.
    All your servings should be an equal value, like 100g, to make this good reading.

    1. Hi Glenn,

      Thanks for your comment! The data is arranged based on realistic serving sizes for each respective food item. For example, you wouldn’t consume 100 grams of spirulina powder even though that would yield almost 67 grams of plant-based protein.

      Warmly,
      Lacey

    1. Excellent article however the poster lacks the serving needed to achieve the protein Instance the chickpeas says 14.7 g but it doesn’t say you need a cup for those grams. I would love to put this poster on my fridge as a quick reference, but I’d have to keep coming back to this article to see how much I need.

      1. That is a great idea! I’m glad you find this post on vegan protein sources helpful. Thank you for the feedback on how to make it even better.

    1. Hi Pauline,

      Thank you for your comment! Since you’re new to the vegan lifestyle, learning about different vegan protein sources is super important. I’ve been vegan for almost 5 years now, and I’m still discovering new foods and recipes. Luckily a plant-based diet is so diverse!

      xo,
      Lacey

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