20 Plant-Based Protein Powerhouses for Vegans and Vegetarians

While following a vegetarian or vegan diet, it is essential to figure out the protein content in plant-based foods
While following a vegetarian or vegan diet, it is essential to figure out the protein content in plant-based foods( Source : pinterest )

Protein is an important nutrient in any diet, however, it is particulary important in plant-based diets as often meat is the source of protein. When following a plant-based diet, ensuring enough protein content in the food is essential.

Fortunately, plenty of plant-based protein sources are available to provide you with the necessary nourishment. Here, we will discuss 20 plant-based sources of protein, which are especially valuable for vegans and vegetarians.

Benefits and Risks of Plant-Based Proteins

Finding a balance that allows you to take advantage of the benefits of plant-based protein while still meeting your nutritional needs is essential when you're trying out a new diet.

You should also consider the risks associated with this lifestyle so that you can compensate for such deficiencies.

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  • Including plant-based proteins in your diet can promote heart health.
  • Plant-based proteins can aid digestion and stabilize blood sugar levels.
  • Choosing plant-based proteins can contribute to overall well-being.
  • Plant-based proteins have a lower caloric density, which can support weight control.
  • Choosing plant-based proteins aligns with ethical values by promoting animal welfare and reducing environmental impact.


  • Plant-based proteins do not contain all essential amino acids.
  • Vegans need to consume a variety of protein sources to meet their requirements.
  • Relying solely on plant-based protein can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
  • Supplementation or strategic dietary choices may be necessary for vegans.
  • Newcomers to a vegan diet may experience digestive discomfort due to increased plant protein intake.

1. Tofu

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Tofu, made from soybeans, is a versatile protein source that can be grilled or blended into smoothies. It absorbs flavors, making it a favorite in various cuisines. Soybeans are the source of protein found in tofu, a common ingredient in plant-based diets.

Soybeans provide all the essential amino acids our bodies need, making them a complete protein source. Its adaptability and protein content make it an important protein source for vegans who want to enjoy various delicious meals while meeting their daily protein requirements.

2. Mushroom

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Mushrooms are a rich, low-calorie source of fiber, protein, and antioxidants. Mushrooms may also mitigate the risk of developing severe health conditions like Alzheimer's, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. 

Depending on the type of mushroom, you can get around 2-3 grams of protein per cup from varieties like shiitake, portobello, and oyster mushrooms.  For vegans and vegetarians, incorporating mushrooms into their diet can help increase their overall protein intake while providing other beneficial nutrients.

3. Beans

Vegan Beans are a great source of protein in a plant-based diet
Vegan Beans are a great source of protein in a plant-based diet( Source : thefirstmess )

Beans, including kidney beans, green beans, or chickpeas, are rich in protein and fiber. These foods are high in protein and fiber, up to 20 grams per cooked cup. Beans can be incorporated into various dishes, from soups and salads to stews and spreads.

This combo aids in feeling full and satisfied and supports healthy digestion and blood sugar levels. Moreover, beans provide a valuable source of protein that's naturally low in fat and can be instrumental in building and maintaining muscle mass.

4. Tempeh

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Tempeh is a fermented soy product that boasts a dense protein content. It's also high in probiotics and offers a chewy texture. It is a plant-based protein source that stands out due to its high protein content, typically ranging from 15-20 grams per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving.

Additionally, it is a fermented product that contains probiotics that promote gut health. Its nutty flavor and unique texture make it a versatile ingredient in various dishes, including stir-fries and sandwiches.

5. Seeds

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Seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame seeds are protein-rich. These protein sources can be easily sprinkled with salads, yogurt, or smoothies for an extra protein boost. Their protein content varies by type but ranges from 5 to 9 grams per 1-ounce (28-gram) serving.

Seeds are incredibly versatile and can be incorporated into a variety of dishes. These offer a convenient and nutrient-dense way to enhance protein intake while enjoying a satisfying crunch and a broad spectrum of health benefits.

6. Almonds

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Almonds are not only a delicious and versatile snack but also a great source of protein. They can be enjoyed as whole nuts, almond butter, or almond milk, providing protein, healthy fats, and fiber.

Almonds are a convenient and nutrient-dense option for vegans and vegetarians seeking to boost their protein intake. Beyond protein, almonds offer healthy fats and dietary fiber, contributing to feelings of fullness and aiding digestion.

7. Potatoes

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Potatoes might be surprising on this list, but they contain protein, especially when consumed with the skin. They're also a good source of complex carbohydrates and fiber.

Potatoes are often associated with being high in carbohydrates, but they also contain protein, especially when consumed with their skin. The skin of potatoes is rich in nutrients, which includes protein. This vegetable can add to protein intake in a varied diet and offer complex carbs and fiber for digestive health and energy.

8. Plant-Based Milk

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Plant-based milk makes an excellent protein source in cooking, especially in recipes that require milk, such as oatmeal or pancakes. These alternatives can be a perfect way for vegans to increase their protein intake.

Many non-dairy milk alternatives are infused with extra nutrients, such as vitamins and protein. While some plant-based milk may have a lower natural protein content, the added fortification compensates for it. These milks can also make protein-rich smoothies by using it as a base and adding other protein sources like seeds or nuts.

9. Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is often used as a replacement for cheese
Nutritional yeast is often used as a replacement for cheese( Source : simple-veganista )

Nutritional yeast is not only known for its cheesy flavor but also for being a complete protein source. Nutritional yeasts are often used to enhance the flavor of various dishes. It is a valuable ingredient for vegans and vegetarians with limited access to animal protein sources.

It can be added to various dishes, including pasta, salads, and even popcorn, to enhance their flavors while providing an additional protein boost.  Incorporating nutritional yeast into meals adds depth of taste and helps achieve a well-balanced protein intake for those who adhere to plant-based diets.

10. Seaweed

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Seaweed, like nori and spirulina, contains a surprising amount of protein, essential minerals, and vitamins. It's commonly used in Asian cuisine and can be added to salads or as a wrap.

Seaweed is a fantastic source of protein, iodine, calcium, iron, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Compared to other vegetables, it contains a notable amount of protein. It is an excellent addition to the diets of vegans and vegetarians who are looking to incorporate a diverse range of nutrients into their meals.

11. Oats

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Oats are not just for breakfast; they can be enjoyed in various forms, such as oatmeal, granola, muesli, and baked goods like muffins and cookies. They provide protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. 

Additionally, they are high in fiber and complex carbohydrates, providing lasting energy and promoting digestive health. They have a good amount of protein, making them a great source of plant-based protein.

12. Pasta

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Whole-grain pasta made from legume flour or whole wheat can contain more protein than traditional pasta. Vegans can look for options like chickpea pasta or lentil pasta.

Legume pasta combines the benefits of protein from legumes and the versatility of pasta. These options are a substantial source of plant-based protein for vegans as these have multiple health benefits as compared to traditional pasta.

Incorporating legume-based pasta into one's diet is a great way to combine protein and carbs in a single meal, providing overall nutritional balance.

13. Broccoli

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Broccoli contains more protein than you might think. Vegans and Vegetarians can enjoy it as a side dish or add it to stir-fries and salads.

With its low-calorie content and abundance of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, broccoli is an excellent option for a plant-based diet. Its protein content and other nutritional benefits makes it an essential part of plant-based diets.

Whether enjoyed on its own, added to stir-fries, or included in salads, broccoli provides a nutritional boost that can help meet protein needs and promote overall health.

14. Avocado

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Avocado contains protein and nutrients, including various vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Its a nutrient-dense addition to sandwiches, salads, and dips. Aside from its creamy texture and healthy fats, avocado provides a small but significant amount of protein.

Avocado might not be a top protein source, but it can help vegans get more protein. Moreover, the presence of monounsaturated fats in avocados can promote heart health. This versatile fruit can be added to various dishes, such as sandwiches, salads, and dips. 

15. Vegan Meat or Mock Meat

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Vegan meat or mock meat are great alternatives for protein sources made from soy or peas. These alternatives often mimic the taste and texture of animal-based meats. Individuals transitioning to a plant-based diet or wanting to reduce their meat intake may find vegan meat alternatives a convenient and familiar way to obtain protein. 

Choosing vegan meat or mock meat products can allow vegans and vegetarians to enjoy familiar dishes while meeting their protein requirements. 

16. Sprouted Breads

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Sprouted breads are made from sprouted grains and are a good source of protein. Sprouted grains are packed with nutrients as germination enhances their nutritional content. 

Ezekiel bread is a complete protein source containing all nine essential amino acids. This is especially helpful for vegans and vegetarians who often need to combine different plant-based protein sources to ensure they acquire all crucial amino acids. 

17. Peanuts or Peanut Butter

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Peanuts and peanut butter offer a satisfying dose of protein. Vegans or vegetarians can spread peanut butter on toast, add peanuts to salads, or enjoy them as a snack. Peanuts are a great source of protein and healthy fats for vegans and vegetarians.

Whereas, peanut butter is a tasty and versatile plant-based protein option. The healthy fat content in peanuts and peanut butter complements their protein content, providing essential nutrients and promoting satiety. 

18. Lentils

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Lentils are a popular choice among vegans and vegetarians due to their high protein content, with green, red, and yellow varieties offering around 9 grams of protein per half-cup cooked serving.

Lentils also contain dietary fiber, which can promote feelings of fullness and aid in weight management. They are versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to salads, making them a valuable addition to plant-based diets for their protein and amino acid content.

19. Vegan Yogurt

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Vegan yogurt is a popular dairy-free alternative rich in probiotics and protein. A healthy alternative to dairy yogurt, soy-based yogurts are worth trying.

Fortified with 6-8 grams of protein per serving, it's a great breakfast or snack option for vegans and vegetarians. Soy-based yogurts are a great source of protein and essential amino acids, making them a nutritious addition to your diet. 

Enjoying vegan yogurt is a tasty way to get the nutrients you need for muscle maintenance, immune function, and good gut health.

20. Leafy Greens

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Leafy greens such as spinach, collards, cabbage, and others are essential protein sources for vegans and vegetarians due to their nutrient density. While they may not have as high a protein content as other foods, they contribute valuable amino acids and micronutrients. 

Incorporating a variety of leafy greens into your diet can help contribute to your overall protein intake while providing essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Plant Based Protein vs Animal Protien

Plant-based and animal proteins have distinct differences in nutritional content and potential health impacts. Plant proteins are heart healthier than animal proteins in terms of health concerns.

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The following are some differences between plant proteins and animal proteins in your diet:

  • Plant proteins are derived from legumes, nuts, seeds, grains, and vegetables, while animal proteins come from meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products.
  • Plant proteins are often lower in saturated fats and cholesterol compared to animal proteins.
  • Animal proteins offer complete amino acid profiles, while plant proteins may lack specific amino acids.
  • Plant proteins can be rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, while animal proteins are rich in essential nutrients like vitamin B12, iron, and zinc.
  • Some animal proteins can contain higher levels of saturated fats and cholesterol, contributing to health concerns like heart disease and obesity.

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