You’ve decided to go vegan but you’re worried about getting enough protein. Don’t fret, there are plenty of plant-based sources that can give you a healthy dose of protein to power you through the day. The good news is, you don’t have to subsist on salads alone. Some of the tastiest best high protein vegan foods are also the highest in protein. We’ve rounded up 10 of the best high protein vegan foods so you can keep your energy levels up and your taste buds happy. Whether you’re looking for protein-packed snacks, meals, or ingredients to add extra oomph to your recipes, you’ll find something on this list to satisfy your craving.
Tofu: A Plant-Based Protein Powerhouse
Tofu is a vegan’s best friend. This soy-based food is packed with protein and versatile enough to use in endless recipes.
Tofu comes in different forms: soft, firm, and extra-firm. Soft tofu works well in dressings, dips and desserts. Firm and extra-firm tofu are ideal for stir fries, grilling and baking. Extra-firm tofu can be breaded and baked or grilled as a meat substitute.
A 1⁄2 cup serving of firm tofu contains about 20 grams of protein. That’s over 1/3 of your daily needs! Tofu is also high in iron and manganese, and contains no cholesterol.
The best part is how easy tofu is to cook with. You can:
•Marinate and bake it for tofu “wings”
•Blend silken tofu into creamy salad dressings, dips and smoothies
•Stir fry cubes of firm tofu with veggies and serve over rice or noodles
• Grill tofu slabs as a burger substitute
Add tofu to your meals a few times a week and you’ll boost your protein intake in a flash. Your muscles and body will thank you for this plant-powered boost!
Seitan: The Wheat-Based Wonder
Seitan is made from wheat gluten, the protein found in flour, and it’s a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids our bodies need.
To make seitan, wheat flour is washed with water to separate the starch and bran from the gluten. What’s left is a chewy, meaty plant-based protein that can be cooked in many of the same ways as meat. Pan-fry seitan with some tamari or vegetable broth to make veggie chik’n, or chop it up for stir fries. You can also bake, grill or broil seitan.
Seitan has a texture similar to meat and absorbs flavors well, so it works great in many Asian and Western-style dishes. Look for pre-made seitan at health food stores, or make your own using vital wheat gluten flour and vegetable broth. Homemade seitan may be more budget-friendly since vital wheat gluten can keep for a long time.
With 25 grams of protein per 3 ounce serving, seitan provides an excellent source of plant–-based protein for vegans and vegetarians. Add some beans or lentils and you’ll have a complete, high-protein vegan meal. Seitan – it’s wheaty, meaty and packed with protein. Why haven’t you tried it yet?
Nut Butters: Go Nuts for Protein
Nut butters are a vegan’s best friend when it comes to protein. Just two tablespoons of peanut or almond butter contain 8 grams of protein.
Peanut butter is likely the most popular nut butter and for good reason. In addition to its protein power, it’s also high in healthy fats, B vitamins, niacin, and magnesium. Look for natural peanut butters with no added sugar and oils. Other nut butters like almond, cashew and sunflower seed butter also provide a good amount of protein and nutrition.
•Spread it on bread, bananas or celery for a quick snack.
•Add it to smoothies for extra nutrition and thickness.
•Use it in place of tahini in hummus and salad dressings.
• Mix it into yogurt or oatmeal for extra protein.
The variety of nut butters available today is amazing. Experiment with different types and flavors to find one that suits your tastes. However, they do tend to be high in calories, so enjoy them in moderation. vegan diet and help ensure you’re getting enough protein and healthy fats.
Lentils and Beans: Fiber and Protein All-Stars
Lentils and beans are nutritional powerhouses, packed with fiber, protein, and various vitamins and minerals.
Lentils are tiny legumes that come in brown, red, and green varieties. A single cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of fiber. Lentils are also high in iron, folate, phosphorus, thiamine and several B vitamins. They have an earthy, hearty flavor and hold up well in soups, stews, and salads. Lentil soup or stew is always a comforting, filling meal.
Beans like chickpeas, black beans and kidney beans provide a whopping 15-20 grams of protein and 10-15 grams of fiber per cup. They contain antioxidants, iron, folate, magnesium and potassium. Beans make a satisfying addition to burritos, tacos, chili, and veggie burgers. Hummus, made from chickpeas, is a protein-packed dip or spread. Beans do require soaking and longer cooking times, but canned beans offer a quick and convenient alternative when time is limited.
Whether you prefer lentils, beans, or both, adding them to your diet a few times a week is an easy way boost your protein and fiber intake. Keep a variety on hand for salads, soups, and spreads for a perfect vegan protein source .
Vegan Protein Powders: Boost Your Smoothies
Vegan protein powders are a quick and easy way to boost the protein in your smoothies. Look for a powder with at least 20 grams of protein per scoop, derived from plant-based sources like:
- Pea protein: Extracted from yellow peas, pea protein is a popular vegan option. It’s high in branched-chain amino acids which help build muscle.
- Rice protein: Made from brown rice, rice protein powder is hypoallergenic but may be lacking in certain amino acids. Often combined with pea protein.
- Hemp protein: Derived from hemp seeds, hemp protein is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids but lower in protein than other options.
- Nut butters: Almond butter, peanut butter and sunflower seed butter can add protein, healthy fats and a creamy texture to smoothies. Just a spoonful will do.
Blend one to two scoops of your favorite vegan protein powder into your morning smoothie for a protein boost to power you through your day. You can also add extras like nut butters, avocado, leafy greens or berries to create a balanced, nutritious meal in a glass.
Buckwheat, also known as kuttu, is a gluten-free seed that packs a serious protein punch. Containing approximately 6 grams of protein per half cup, buckwheat groats provide all nine essential amino acids our bodies need.
- Buckwheat is hearty, nutty, and earthy. Cook the groats in water until soft and chewy to make a porridge, or toast them in a dry skillet to bring out their nutty flavor before adding to salads.
- Buckwheat flour can be used as a substitute for regular flour in pancakes, crepes, and soba noodles.
- The flour has a slight bitterness, so combining it with sweeter flours like rice or oat flour helps balance the flavor in baked goods.
- For a quick protein-filled snack, toast the raw buckwheat groats in a skillet with a little oil and tamari or soy sauce.
Buckwheat deserves a spot on your regular grocery list. This nutritious pseudo-grain will boost the protein content of any meal and add an hearty, nutty flavor to your favorite foods. Discover new ways to cook with this wholesome ingredient.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that is a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids our body needs. Just one teaspoon contains 4 grams of protein.
Spirulina is a nutritional powerhouse. It’s high in:
- Iron: Essential for red blood cell production and preventing anemia.
- Vitamin B12: Important for DNA synthesis, red blood cell formation and neurological function.
- Gamma linolenic acid: An anti-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid.
- Antioxidants: Like vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene and chlorophyll which help fight free radicals and support good health.
Add spirulina powder to:
- Smoothies: For extra nutrition and protein. Start with 1/2 teaspoon and work your way up.
- Salad dressings and dips: Adds a blue-green hue and earthy flavor.
- Energy bars and balls: Boosts the nutrition and binds ingredients.
- Juices: 1 teaspoon per cup of juice. The flavor blends in well with vegetable and fruit juices.
Spirulina is a naturalsource of nutrients for vegans and a great way to boost your health. No wonder it’s considered one of the most potent superfoods on the planet. Add just a little to your diet each day and enjoy the benefits of this protein-packed blue-green algae.
Amaranth is a gluten-free ancient grain that is high in protein and other nutrients. Amaranth grains are small, round, and tan or brown in color. When cooked, amaranth has an earthy, nutty flavor and a porridge-like consistency.
Amaranth is considered a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids our bodies need. Just one cup of cooked amaranth contains over 9 grams of protein, more than quinoa or brown rice. Amaranth is also high in fiber, iron, magnesium and manganese.
To cook amaranth:
- Rinse 1 cup of amaranth grains.
- Combine with 2 to 3 cups of water or broth in a pot and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover and simmer until grains are tender and have absorbed all the liquid, about 20 minutes.
- Fluff with a fork and season to taste. Serve as a side dish, or add to yogurt, salads, or granola.
You can also pop amaranth like popcorn. Simply heat a skillet over high heat and add amaranth seeds one tablespoon at a time. Cover and shake frequently until the seeds start popping. Remove from heat, uncover and continue shaking until the popping slows down. Season with salt and enjoy as a snack.
Amaranth is a nourishing ancient grain that deserves a place in any vegan diet. Try substituting amaranth flour for up to 1/3 of the flour in recipes for muffins, cookies and breads. Your body and taste buds will thank you.
Soybean Best High Protein Vegan Foods
Soybeans are little nutritional powerhouses for vegans. They are high in protein and contain all nine essential amino acids our bodies need. Just one cup of cooked soybeans has 29 grams of protein, which is more than half of the daily requirement of protein for the average person of mature age.
Made from coagulated soy milk, tofu is a popular meat substitute. It has about 10 grams of protein per half cup and takes on the flavor of whatever sauce or spices it’s cooked in. Tofu can be grilled, baked, stir-fried or blended into smoothies.
These immature soybeans are protein-packed, with 17 grams per cup. Boiled or steamed and usually served in the pod, edamame makes a perfect snack. The beans have a mild nutty flavor and buttery texture.
With about 7 grams of protein per cup, soy milk contains the same amount of protein as cow’s milk. It works as a replacement for cow’s milk in cereals, coffee, and recipes. Look for unsweetened versions with calcium and vitamin D added.
Made from fermented whole soybeans, tempeh is a protein powerhouse with 31 grams per cup. It has a firm texture and slightly nutty flavor. Tempeh can be grilled, baked or sautéed and used in place of meat in many dishes.
A fermented soybean paste, miso contains about 2 grams of protein per tablespoon. Used to flavor soups, stews, marinades and dressings, a little miso goes a long way in adding a savory kick. Red miso tends to be more salty, while white miso is slightly sweet.
Vegan meat/ Mock meat
Vegan meat, also known as mock meat, aims to mimic the taste and texture of meat from animals. As a vegan, it can satisfy your craving for familiar flavors and textures. Some of the most popular vegan meat brands are:
Beyond Meat – Their plant-based burgers and sausages are made from pea protein and beetroot juice to mimic the taste and bleeding effect of beef. Find them in the freezer aisle.
Lightlife – They offer vegan hot dogs, burgers, sausage, and more made from pea protein, coconut oil, and beetroot powder. Many products are soy-free and gluten-free.
Gardein – From chicken strips and fish filets to beefless burgers and meatballs, Gardein has lots of options. Made from soy, wheat gluten, pea protein and vegetable oils. They aim to replicate the texture and mouthfeel of meat.
Morningstar Farms – Although not all vegan, they offer vegan burgers, chicken nuggets, corn dogs and more made from soy, wheat gluten and vegetables. Found in the freezer section.
Tofurky – Specializing in plant-based turkey and deli meat alternatives, Tofurky uses tofu, wheat gluten and nut yeast. They offer holiday roasts, veggie burgers, hot dogs, deli slices and more.
Vegan meats provide a source of protein and nutrients, with health and sustainability benefits. While not always equal to meat nutritionally, including them in a balanced diet can be part of a healthy vegan lifestyle. The options for vegan meat alternatives keep improving, making it easier to follow a plant-based diet.
As you can see, there are plenty of delicious whole food options to boost your protein intake on a vegan diet. No more excuses that it’s too hard or protein sources are lacking. With foods like tempeh, nutritional yeast, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and grains in your arsenal, you’ll be pumping up the protein in no time. Mix and match these foods in meals, smoothies, snacks to keep things interesting. Your body and mind will thank you, and the planet will too. Eating more plant-based protein is better for your health and the environment. Now get out there and enjoy these protein-packed vegan foods – your muscles will be glad you did!