A Comprehensive Chart of Vegan Protein Sources
Protein keeps your body healthy and functioning properly.

Because there are plenty of plant-based protein-rich foods, it is easy to get enough protein without meat, fish, dairy, or eggs.

A diet rich in whole plant foods can get you on the right track to lowering the risk for many chronic illnesses and help you get better health overall.

Other than recommended daily intake of protein, talk to your doctor or dietitian to make sure your diet includes adequate amounts of:

6 best plant-based sources of protein

  1. Legumes
    • This includes beans (kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, and chickpeas), peas, and lentils that can be consumed as part of a marinated grain salad, in burritos, quesadillas, soups, and nachos.
    • They may help lower cholesterol and promote healthy gut bacteria.
  2. Soybeans and other soy products
    • Tofu and tempeh can be consumed in breakfast scrambled, roasted in the oven, and stir-fried or made into burritos and sandwiches.
    • Edamame is soybeans that have not been fully matured. This is found in popular dishes, such as sushi, or can be consumed as a standalone snack or meal.
  3. Grains
    • Cooked grains are a good way to supplement your protein intake and can be used as the base of a meal, incorporating them into homemade vegetable burgers and granola bars and to top salads and soups.
    • Some of the popular gains include quinoa, brown rice, corn, oats, millet, amaranth, spelt, and teff.
  4. Nuts and seeds
    • They are a great source of protein and unsaturated fats and a heart-healthy snack and protein-rich food for vegetarians.
    • They can be consumed on their own or blended into butter, mixed into yogurt, oatmeal, or trail mix, or added to smoothies, salads, grain dishes, and homemade vegetable burger patties.
      • Nuts: Almond, walnut, cashews.
      • Seeds: Flax, chia, hemp, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds
  5. Plant-based beverages or nondairy milk
    • Soy, oat, and pea milk have nearly as much protein as cow’s milk.
    • Similar to dairy milk these can be used in coffee, soup, batter for baked goods, smoothies, cereal, and cream sauces, or consumed directly.
  6. Vegetables and fruits
    • They may not be the most abundant sources of protein, but a diet heavy in vegetables can give you a decent amount of protein.
    • They are most often enjoyed raw, cooked, or blended into smoothies and sauces.
      • Vegetables: Potatoes, broccoli, sweet potato, asparagus, kale, spinach, artichoke, mushroom.
      • Fruits: banana, blackberries, avocado, and guava.
    • Other foods with surprisingly good sources of protein include brussels sprouts and sweet corn.

QUESTION

According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

Comprehensive chart of vegan protein sources

Table 1. A comprehensive chart of vegan protein sources
Source Quantity of protein provided
Legumes (80 to 93 grams)
  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • 8 grams
  • 8 grams
  • 7 grams
  • 8 grams
  • 7.5 grams
  • 8 grams
Soy products
  • Tofu (85 grams)
  • Tempeh (100 grams)
  • Seitan (100 grams)
  • 4 grams
  • 13 grams
  • 19 grams
Grains (100 to 126 grams)
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Brown rice
  • Spelt
  • Amaranth
  • Teff
  • Millet
  • 4.5 grams
  • 3 grams
  • 3 grams
  • 6 grams
  • 4.7 grams
  • 4.9 grams
  • 3.5 grams
Nuts and seeds (28 to 30 grams)
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • 4.5 grams
  • 6 grams
  • 4.5 grams
  • 6 grams
  • 6 grams
  • 9.5 grams
  • 5.5 grams
  • 8.5 grams
Nondairy milk (240 mL)
  • Soy milk
  • Pea milk
  • 6 grams
  • 8 grams
Vegetable and fruits
  • Broccoli (90 grams)
  • Sweet potato (150 grams)
  • Artichoke (90 grams)
  • Spinach (85 grams)
  • Banana (125 grams)
  • Blackberries (145 grams)
  • Guava (165 grams)
  • 2.5 grams
  • 2 grams
  • 3 grams
  • 2 grams
  • 1.5 grams
  • 2 grams
  • 4.5 grams

What is a protein?

Protein is made up of a chain of different amino acids.

These 20 amino acids are classified into three groups:

  1. Essential. Cannot be produced naturally by the body and must be obtained through food.
  2. Nonessential. Naturally made by the body from essential amino acids or through the normal breakdown of proteins.
  3. Conditional. Required in times of illness and stress.

Protein keeps your body healthy and functioning properly. Your body needs protein to build muscle, burn fat, and repair tissue.

17 ways protein benefits your body

  1. Forms the building blocks of muscles, tissues, bones, cartilage, nails, skin, and hair
  2. Helps with youthful skin and joints
  3. Helps your body repair cells and make new ones
  4. Works as a fuel for energy production
  5. Carries oxygen throughout the body
  6. Transports nutrients to cells and tissues
  7. Boosts metabolism
  8. Helps curb unhealthy cravings
  9. Produces enzymes that digest food
  10. Maintains bone density and lowers the risk of osteoporosis (bone loss)
  11. Plays a key role in hormone regulation
  12. Helps lower blood pressure
  13. Lowers bad cholesterol levels, which lowers the risk of heart disease
  14. Helps produce antibodies to fight infections and illnesses
  15. Boosts the immune system through the production of T cells and B cells
  16. Helps wounds heal faster by reducing inflammation and creating new tissues
  17. Speeds up recovery after exercise and injury

SLIDESHOW

Diet-Wrecking Foods: Smoothies, Lattes, Popcorn, and More in Pictures See Slideshow

How much protein do I need daily?

Protein is a macronutrient needed in relatively large amounts for optimal health. The amount of protein that should be consumed in a day depends on two factors.

  1. Body weight: According to the recommended daily allowances (RDA) set by the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board, you should eat about 0.36 grams of protein for every pound of body weight a day.
  2. Daily calorie intake: About 15 percent of your daily calorie intake should come from protein. So, for a 2,000-calorie diet, about 300 of those calories should come from protein.

Not consuming enough protein in the diet may lead to various health issues, tissue breakdown, and muscle loss. Adequate intake of protein is particularly important during periods of rapid growth or demand, such as childhood, adolescence, pregnancy, and breastfeeding.

Table 2: Daily protein requirements by age (Source: Dietary Guidelines for Americans)
Age Daily protein requirement
Children younger than 4 years 13 grams
Children 4 to 8 years 19 grams
Children 9 to 13 years 34 grams
Female teens 14 to 18 years 46 grams
Male teens 14 to 18 years 52 grams
Female adults older than 19 years 46 grams
Male adults older than 19 years 56 grams

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Medically Reviewed on 6/23/2022
References
Image Source: iStock image

Cleveland Clinic. 13 of the Best Vegetarian and Vegan Protein Sources. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/13-of-the-best-vegetarian-and-vegan-protein-sources/

Shubrook N. The 10 best vegan protein sources. BBC goodfood. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/best-sources-protein-vegans

PeTA. Top 10 Vegan Protein Sources. https://www.peta.org/living/food/top-10-vegan-protein-sources/