“Where do you get your protein?” It’s the first and most common question vegans are asked about their plant-based diet. This is an especially relevant topic for athletes who follow a vegan diet and have higher protein requirements. Many people are not aware that you don’t have to consume animal products like meat, eggs, and dairy to get all your macronutrients. Vegan protein can be found in a wide variety of plant-based foods.
The 10 best vegan protein sources
Which foods are highest in plant-based protein? We’ve put together a list of the top vegan protein sources of vegan protein for you:
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Whether they are red, yellow, or brown, lentils are packed with protein and essential nutrients. They are high in fiber (100 g contain 8 g of fiber), which means they keep you full for hours and can help regulate body weight. (1) Lentils are also rich in plant-based iron. This is important for anyone suffering from an iron deficiency.
Tofu is produced from fermented soy beans and can be used in a multitude of creative dishes in vegan cooking. This plant-based protein can be steamed, grilled, fried, or baked. You can eat it in chunks, crumble it (e.g. tofu scramble), and if you purée it, tofu is the perfect base for delicious creams, smoothies, and sauces.
3. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are one of the best vegan protein sources out there. But keep in mind –– 100 g of pumpkin seeds have almost 500 calories, thanks to their high fat content. They are not a low calorie snack. Sprinkle some seeds in your breakfast granola or over your salad at lunch for a little extra crunch.
Oats are a breakfast favorite –– they’re a perfect base for granola, banana pancakes, or piping hot porridge. The high fiber content keeps you full for longer, and oats are packed with B vitamins.
Did you know that you can make non-dairy milk at home with oats and water? Mix finely ground oats with water, a date, and a pinch of salt. Then pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer.
Seitan –– made from wheat gluten –– is an especially valuable vegan protein source. The consistency is similar to meat and it can be used as a substitute in a lot of meat dishes. You can make seitan at home or just buy it in the supermarket (make sure it’s organic).
Important: If you eat a gluten-free diet, avoid this vegan food.
White, black, kidney beans…there are many different kinds of pulses, and they’re a great high protein food. Try them in chili sin carne, burritos, salads, or super moist chocolate brownies –– you can’t go wrong with beans. Make sure you’ve always got some stored in your pantry.
A handful of almonds with an apple is the perfect snack to stave off food cravings. Ever tried almond butter on a slice of whole grain bread?
These nuts are loaded with unsaturated fats and vitamins –– such as vitamin E and magnesium –– and have been shown to have a positive effect on cardiovascular health. (2)
Tempeh is produced from boiled, fermented soy beans, which are then shaped into solid, nutty-flavored blocks. This soy product is one of the best vegan protein sources available and is rich in minerals like magnesium, iron, potassium, and phosphorus. Like tofu, tempeh can be used in a wide variety of ways and is found in many vegan recipes.
Technically, quinoa is not a grain but a pseudo-cereal, and it’s a must have in a plant-based diet. Not only is it high in vegan protein and complex carbohydrates, it’s also high in micronutrients like magnesium, iron, potassium, and zinc. You can use quinoa as a side dish like rice, make a warm breakfast porridge out of it, or get creative with different types of salads.
If you eat a plant-based diet, then you probably can’t imagine a life without chickpeas. These pulses are known for their high protein and fiber content. Use them in curries, salads, or turn them into creamy hummus!
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to ensure that you get enough vegan protein in a plant-based diet. Integrate all of these tasty foods into your meals regularly and you’ll have no problem getting all the macro and micronutrients you need.