What Can Vegans Eat for Protein?

Medically Reviewed on 10/4/2021
vegan protein
Vegan protein comes from plant-based sources and is a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Vegans can meet their protein needs entirely from plant-based sources if they plan carefully. A well-balanced vegan diet rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds will provide plenty of protein to an average person. The recommended daily intake is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. However, some experts recommend slightly higher amounts for plant-based eaters, up to one gram of protein per kilogram body weight.

The table below lists the best vegan protein sources. Apart from the below, edamame, tempeh, tofu, soy milk, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and quinoa are good sources of protein. Additionally, protein powders and supplements can also help vegans meet their protein requirements.

Table. List of vegan protein sources
Vegan protein source Examples
  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Coconut
  • Filberts (Hazelnuts)
  • Macadamia
  • Peanuts
  • Pecans
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachio
  • Walnuts
  • Pumpkin
  • Seed sprouts (alfalfa seeds, lentils, peas, and soybeans)
  • Sesame
  • Squash
  • Sunflower
  • Beans such as black, broad, kidney, lima, navy, pea, and soy
  • Black-eyed peas (Cowpeas)
  • Chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • Lentils
  • Peanuts
  • Peas
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgur
  • Cracked wheat
  • Corn
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Rice
  • Rye
  • Triticale
  • Wheat
Nut butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Almond butter
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Garden peas
  • Potato with skin
  • Corn
  • Kale

What is protein?

Protein is one of the three macronutrients, along with carbohydrates and fats. It is crucial to our body's overall structure, function, and metabolism. Each protein is composed of a distinct sequence of amino acids. These amino acids serve as the building blocks for larger protein structures.

There are 20 different amino acids, of which nine are called essential amino acids (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine) because the body cannot make them.

Common functions of protein in the diet may include:

  • Collagen, keratin, and elastin are all structural proteins found in the muscles and other tissues.
  • Proteins, such as insulin, can act as chemical messengers or hormones to transmit signals for various body functions.
  • Proteins aid in the transport of nutrients throughout the body. Hemoglobin, for example, is a protein that transports oxygen from the lungs to body tissues.
  • Antibodies and immunoglobulins are proteins that are part of our immune system.
  • Proteins act as enzymes that help indigestion.

Apart from the above, here are a few more advantages of including protein-rich food in your diet:

  • Reduces appetite and hunger levels
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Improves bone strength
  • Increases muscle mass and strength
  • Helps in weight loss goals
  • Boosts energy levels
  • Aids in cell and tissue health

What are the benefits of sticking to vegan protein sources?

A complete protein source includes all nine essential amino acids, which are all required for a healthy diet. The main benefit of eating animal protein is that it contains all the nine essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce. However, there are some advantages to sticking with plant-based proteins, such as:

  • Plant-based diets that include protein may help you lose weight if followed correctly.
  • One of the most important advantages of relying on plant-based protein sources is that they improve your heart health.
    • Plant-based diets have the most positive effects on low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol levels.
    • The American Heart Association advises replacing saturated fats with healthier fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat that can improve cholesterol levels.

It is possible to get your fix of the amino acids your body requires from plant-based proteins by eating a diverse diet. Protein deficiency is a risk that most people should not be concerned about. If you consume enough calories throughout the day, you are almost certainly meeting your required amount of protein. Diets that are too low in calories risk being deficient in protein along with other nutrients.


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

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Medically Reviewed on 10/4/2021
13 of the Best Vegetarian and Vegan Protein Sources: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/13-of-the-best-vegetarian-and-vegan-protein-sources/

Protein in the Vegan Diet: https://www.vrg.org/nutrition/protein.php

High Protein Foods for Vegans: https://www.webmd.com/diet/high-protein-foods-vegans#1