It is not uncommon to hear people asking: “where do vegans get their protein?”.
There is this idea that vegans lack protein when in reality, there are so many vegan protein alternatives out there that are both delicious and versatile.
We’ve put together a list of vegan foods that are high in protein so you no longer have to question where vegans get their protein and whether it’s enough to meet daily protein requirements.
Let’s dive in.
How to calculate your daily protein requirements?
Calculating your daily protein requirements is super easy. The average adult needs around 1g of protein per 1 kg of body weight per day. So someone that weighs 60kg will need 60 grams of protein per day. Simple!
People that are more active need a higher intake of protein per day. Athletes will typically consume double that of an average person, taking in 2g of protein per 1kg of body weight per day. So if you’re ever unsure on how much protein to have don’t worry. Make sure you are getting the basic amount and consume more depending on your needs, especially if you are looking at vegan protein alternatives.
Vegan foods that are high in protein
There are plenty of healthy vegan proteins and greens that will help you hit your protein target, stay healthy, and feel great.
In this section, we’ve selected 8 of the best and most versatile vegan protein-rich foods.
Tofu - 21g of protein per cup
Tofu is the most common plant protein out of all vegan protein alternatives and is made from soybeans. Fortunately for us, soybeans count as a whole protein. Meaning they provide us with all those essential amino acids our bodies need. This is why tofu acts as a great replacement for meats like chicken and turkey. It fits within most of our favorite dinner and lunch options so easily it’s hard not to switch them out.
You can get two types of tofu. Firm tofu makes a scrumptious meat substitute in curries or stir fry’s. Firm tofu is an amazing vegan protein for salads. You can bake little cubes of tofu with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a tiny bit of soy sauce and toss it in your salad.
Or you can use silken tofu, the unpressed form of tofu that is soft and wobbly to the touch. A bit like jelly, it’s a great vegan protein for breakfast as silken tofu can be used to imitate scrambled eggs. It’s also great for desserts as it gives a creamy and well, silky texture to your creations.
Tempeh - 31g of protein per cup
Tempeh is another plant-based source of protein that comes from soybeans. Tempeh and tofu are very similar products, but tempeh is known to have a subtle nutty flavor and a lot more texture. Out of all the vegan protein alternatives, it’s the best replacement for white fish and works wonderfully in Asian dishes.
Seitan – 92g of protein per cup
Seitan is another vegan food that is commonly used to make most of those quirky vegan “meat” products you see in grocery stores today. It contains the highest amount of protein amongst all sources of plant proteins out there, making it one of the best plant-based protein options out there. Just be careful when checking your food labels to make sure there are no nasty additives helping it to prolong its shelf life!
Seitan is known to have a mild flavor that tastes like portobello mushrooms and a texture that resembles chicken. It can be transformed into pretty much any meat-like food with the right spices and styling skills! It’s important to note that despite being very high in protein, seitan does lack some of those essential amino acids we mentioned before. So to get the most out of it be sure to combine it with other protein sources such as nuts, peas, or whole grains for a well-rounded meal.
Beans - 15g of protein per cooked cup
Beans are perfect for sourcing both carbohydrates and proteins in meals, allowing for you to focus more on the additional veggies in your meals (or just make extra room for dessert).
All varieties of beans are abundant in protein making them a great staple for your main meals either as the centerpiece, or just a side course. We suggest swapping in beans for dishes like chili where the beans work perfectly in place of mincemeat, or pair nicely with a side of rice for additional protein. Other high protein beans such as chickpeas have also been known to make a superb substitute for tuna- check out this recipe for inspo!
Lentils - 18g of protein per cooked cup
Much like beans, lentils provide both protein and carbohydrates. Lentils are a super cheap option that you can store in your cupboard and save for those nights where you just want to throw something together working best in lasagnas or curries. They work wonderfully when you’re trying to bulk up your meals and work best in large dishes making them ideal for cooking in big quantities if you have little ones or are wanting to cook a feast for friends.
Peas - 9g of protein per cooked cup
Peas are a quick and easy addition to any meal. As we mentioned earlier, they’re a great source of plant protein and iron. They are rich in the amino acid arginine which helps with repairing and building muscle. That’s why you’ll often find it as the main ingredient for most vegan protein powders on the market right now! But if you’re not sure about buying vegan protein powder, then it’s well worth making peas your go-to for additional fiber and vitamin boost. Not only are they great for throwing into dishes, but they’re also packed full of vitamins A, B, C, and E.
Nuts and Seeds - 4g of protein per tablespoon
Nuts and seeds make a great vegan snack thanks to their high protein and healthy fat content. Unprocessed nut butters and unsalted varieties of nuts are readily available everywhere these days. It’s super convenient to chuck in the shopping cart to avoid temptation from some of the unhealthier options. A palm full of nuts or tablespoon serving of nut butter can add a little protein kick to smoothies, breakfast recipes or even just enjoy solo.
Check out some of our favorite MiiRO snacks that contain creamy nut butters you’re guaranteed to fall in love with! We use delicious plant-based nuts that not only turbo-charge all our chocolate bars with about 7g of protein but also will make you feel full for longer, with no empty calories.
Spirulina - 4g of protein per tablespoon
You may have heard of this green superfood from your favorite health brand or influencers – and for good reason! Spirulina is bursting with a whole list of amazing vitamins, minerals, and proteins. Add it to your morning smoothies for that early morning protein boost. Consuming protein helps us to feel fuller for longer, so be sure to consume a good amount of protein early in the day to avoid any crashes you might experience later. Your body will thank you for it!
Plant-based protein vs animal based proteins. Is plant-based protein better?
The argument here is that plant proteins are natural. They are vitamin rich sources of protein in comparison to animal-based sources which are often accompanied by high levels of sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol, as well as many nasty additives.
It’s safe to say that protein can be adequately sourced from plants. Sure, it’s easy to get protein from animal products, but it’s just as easy to get it from plants- especially when you know where to look for it.
If you are looking to improve your health and steer away from nasty foods that leave you feeling bloated, lethargic and guilty, choosing a plant-based alternative might be best for you.
Testing out vegan protein alternatives is worth it. Eating high-protein vegan foods means that you can guarantee a higher intake of both vitamins and nutrients.
Start by cooking the meals you’re familiar with and switch out meat with one of the alternatives we’ve mentioned. You’ll soon get the hang of meat-free cooking and meet your daily protein requirements in no time.