20+ Vegan Protein Foods Options You Should Know
If you are wondering about changing your lifestyle and opting for a vegan diet, you're probably worried about getting enough protein. Fortunately, there are various food options that serve as solid protein sources for vegans.
The traditional idea of eating animal products to get enough protein is not considered valid as various research and studies have suggested that protein exists in all kinds of different plants. In this article, we will discuss the top vegan protein sources that will fulfill your daily requirements.
Daily Requirement Of Protein
Protein is an extremely important building block for your bones, muscles, skin, and red blood cells. We need protein to build our muscles, as well as make our hair, antibodies, enzymes, blood, and more.
According to the Dietary Reference Intake report for macronutrients, the recommended daily intake of protein is around 0.8g per kilogram of our body weight. This means that the average adult man should consume about 56 grams of protein per day, and a woman should eat about 46 grams.
However, that depends and varies on any goals you may have such as building muscles. So, be extra careful while choosing food to get protein. Now, let's explore the foods that are rich in plant-based proteins.
Mycoprotein is a type of protein that comes from a naturally occurring fungus called Fusarium venenatum. It is a meat replacement product that can be available in a variety of forms like patties, burgers, cutlets, and strips.
Therefore, eating mycoprotein is an easy way to add more protein to your diet. It contains all the essential amino acids your body requires to make enough protein. Mycoprotein consists of 11 grams of protein per 100 grams along with other essential vitamins and micronutrients.
Another nutrient-rich diet is lentils which contain essential fiber, protein, and other key vitamins. There are several categories of lentils that are widely consumed worldwide and have good nutritional value.
They are packed with B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and potassium and are made up of more than 25% protein. This is the reason why lentils are considered the best source of protein for vegans and an excellent meat alternative. Per 100 grams of cooked lentil, it consists of 9.02 grams of protein along with fat, fiber, and carbohydrates.
From sunflower seeds to hemp seeds, seeds are a great plant-based protein option to add to your diet. In addition to being rich in protein, they also contain essential fatty acids, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
When consumed in a moderate amount in everyday diet, seeds can help reduce blood sugar level, as well as maintains cholesterol and blood pressure. Moreover, seeds are low-calorie plant proteins that give you omega-3 fatty acids too.
- Chia Seeds: 17 grams of protein per 100 grams
- Flaxseeds: 18 grams
- Hemp Seeds: 33 grams
- Pumpkin Seeds: 19 grams
- Sunflower Seeds: 21 grams
Whole grains like quinoa are complete proteins as they contain all nine essential amino acids. It is gluten-free and is filled with nutrients like protein, zinc, and fiber as well as antioxidants, and can be easily prepared at home.
This whole grain has gained huge popularity in the United States and other Western countries. There are typically three types of quinoa; red, black, and white. There are 143 calories in 100 grams of cooked quinoa with 2.22 grams of fat, 26.35 grams of carbs, and 5.01 grams of protein. It also contains folate, magnesium, zinc, and iron.
Amaranth is an ancient grain that is small just like quinoa and also a protein-rich food. It is shaped like a small pearl, which can stand out in soups and can implemented on the side as well. Besides being versatile, this nutritious grain is gluten-free.
One cup of cooked amaranth (246 grams) of amaranth contains 9.3 grams of proteins, along with Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Iron, selenium, and copper. It is also a good source of health-promoting antioxidants component and could also aid weight loss by providing essential nutrients.
Buckwheat is considered one of the finest sources of plant protein and is gluten-free. It is loaded with the goodness of fiber, and minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, vitamin B6, niacin, and folate.
One cup (168 grams) of roasted or cooked buckwheat groats contains, 5.68 grams of protein, 33.5 grams of carbohydrate, and 4.5 grams of fiber. It plays a great role in maintaining overall health, it is great for digestion, weight management, and improving heart health. This superfood can be incorporated into making bread, pancakes, and several baked items.
7. Kidney Beans
Kidney beans are one of the staple food items in the American kitchen. The common variety of beans includes white, cream, red, purple, spotted, stripped as well and mottled. They are mainly composed of carbs and fiber and also serve as a good source of protein.
Eating at least a half-cup of beans per day can improve overall health as per nutritionists. Per 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of boiled kidney beans, it contains 8.7 grams of protein. Kidney beans are also rich in various vitamins and minerals, including Molybdenum, Folate, Iron, Copper, Manganese, Potassium, and Vitamin K1.
8. Tofu and Tempeh
Tofu and Tempeh are the staples of vegan nutrition, both of them are made from soybeans and are amongst the best protein-rich vegan foods. Tempeh is made by fermenting and cooking mature soybeans while Tofu is made from bean curds.
Tofu and Tempeh are versatile foods that can go with almost any food recipe, ranging from burgers to soups and chilis. They are filled with iron, calcium, and 10-19 grams of protein per 100 grams. Also, Tempeh also contains a good amount of probiotics, B vitamins, and minerals such as phosphorus and magnesium.
9. Sprouted Grains
Sprouted grains, a whole-grain seed that has just begun to sprout. The whole grain is typically soaked for up to 24 hours and then nurtured in a warm and moist environment. This healthy plant-based protein food is commonly used in bread, chips, pasta, and pizza crust.
The percentage of nutrients found in sprouted grains is much higher than in regular whole grains and aids in various health benefits. Commonly found nutrients include folate, iron, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, and protein. There are altogether 29 calories in 100 grams of sprouted grains along with 3.59 grams of protein, 4.69 grams of carbs, and 0.48 grams of fat.
Nuts are some of the healthiest food options on the planet, especially if you're looking for a protein with other essential nutrients. Nuts are high in fat, which is considered healthy for the heart and lower cholesterol levels. They also contain fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin E, which is good for the skin and heart.
They are versatile, easy to incorporate in a variety of dishes, and a good source of plant-based protein for vegans. However, they are high in calories so, the American Heart Association recommends eating only four servings of unsalted nuts per week.
- Peanuts: 7.31 grams of protein per 1-ounce serving
- Almonds: 6 grams
- Pistachios: 5.72 grams
- Cashews: 5.16 grams
- Walnuts: 4.32 grams
- Hazelnuts: 4.24 grams
- Brazil Nuts: 4.06 grams
- Pine Nuts: 3.88 grams
11. Brown Rice
Brown rice is a nutritious, gluten-free, high-fiber food that can provide you good amount of plant-based protein. It also contains valuable phytochemicals like essential amino acids, fiber, minerals, and flavonoids. Compared to white rice, it also provides various health benefits.
One cup of brown rice contains 5 grams of protein, 44 grams of carbs, and 3.5 grams of fiber. This whole grain is also a great source of folate, riboflavin, potassium, and calcium. This nutrient-dense food can be incorporated into everyday diet mainly during dinner or lunchtime.
Spelt is an ancient cereal grain, that is related to barley, rye, and wheat. Spelt has similar nutrition profiles as wheat and contains gluten as well, and should be avoided if you are following a gluten-free diet. This nutrient-dense whole grain is high in protein and has a nutty flavor.
Moreover, it also contains various health benefits and is easy to incorporate into daily diet. Per 1 cup (194 grams) of cooked spelt, it consists of 10.7 grams of protein, 51 grams of carbs, and 7.5 grams of fiber. Additionally, it also contains copper, selenium, and thiamin, also it has higher antioxidant properties as compared to wheat.
Just like the other soy-derived products mentioned in this article, soybean itself is also an excellent source of plant-based protein. It provides all the essential amino acids along with dietary fiber and other essential micronutrients.
One cup that cooked soybeans provides around 31 grams of protein and the consumption of soybean protein can be linked with a decrease in cholesterol levels. Soybeans can be cooked and used in sauces, stews, as well as soup. Some also like to consume it as snacked by roasting it.
Chickpeas which are also known as garbanzo beans are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and fibers. It also offers a variety of health benefits such as weight management, improved gut health, and reduced risk of disease.
For people who do not consume meat, a tasty dish of chickpeas and rice can contribute a generous amount of protein to their everyday diet. One cup of cooked chickpeas (164 grams) offers 14.5 grams of proteins along with carbs, fiber, folate, copper, iron, magnesium, selenium, zinc, and potassium. The protein in chickpeas will help promote fullness, keep your appetite under control, and play a great role in weight management.
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is a popular supplement among vegan or vegetarian diets. This oldest life form on earth was initially used by the Aztecs to help boost endurance. As of now, it has gained a superfood status and is a powerhouse of plant-based protein called phycocyanin.
A single tablespoon (7 grams) of dried spirulina powder offers 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of carbohydrates. It also contains a great amount of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, copper, and iron. This nutrient-dense food also contains 1 gram of fat along with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Another staple food found in American kitchens, potatoes also provide a moderate amount of plant-based protein. Potatoes are primarily composed of carbs and when cooked potatoes with skin, they provide vitamins and minerals such as potassium and vitamin C.
The total amount of protein found in 100 grams of boiled potatoes is 1.9 grams. The protein found in potatoes is low but the quality of protein is extremely high, higher than that of soybeans and other popular legumes, making them a great addition to your daily diet.
Vegetables are healthy food options that can help complete a balanced diet are typically rich in various nutrients and are low in calories. Vegetables can provide a great source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
You can enjoy vegetable as your side dish, salad, soup or simply eat by boiling it. However, it is important to understand that protein content may change depending on the way you prepared each plant based food. Following is the total content of protein in 1 cup of cooked vegetables:
- Broccoli: 2.5 grams
- Brussels Sprouts: 5.64 grams
- Corn: 4.3 grams
- Spinach: 5.3 grams
- Kale: 3.5 grams
- Collard Green: 5.2 grams
Another plant-based protein food Seitan is a low-carb, high-protein plant-based meat substitute. This food contains 75 grams of total protein per 100 grams of the macronutrients. This means adding a small quantity of this food can enhance the protein content of a vegan meal.
Seitan is made entirely from gluten and contains all nine essential amino acids. This protein-rich food is often sold in slices, cubes, or strips but the good thing is it is easy to make at home as well. You can include seitan in sandwiches, or stir fry, and can be cooked with vegetables as well.
19. Vegan Milk
Vegan milk is generally made from beans, nuts, seeds, and grains. The most popular milk varieties are almond milk, soy milk, pea milk, and oat milk others include coconut milk, cashew milk, and hazelnut milk. As compared to all other vegan milk, soymilk is a great source of protein.
Below is a list of plant-based milk options with protein content per cup:
- Soy Milk: 8 grams of Protein per cup
- Pea Milk: 8 grams
- Oat Milk: 2.5 grams
- Hemp Milk: 4 grams
- Flax Milk: 8 grams
- Almond Milk: 1 grams
- Coconut Milk: 5 grams
- Cashew Milk: 4 grams
20. Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is a great source of protein and B vitamins, it is considered to be the superhero of many vegan recipes. Just like other plant-based protein food sources, it also contains all nine essential amino acids. While it is rich in various nutrients, it is also fortified with essential nutrients.
As per WebMD, a 2-tablespoon serving of nutritional yeast contains a total of 50 calories, and 8 grams of protein, along with fiber carbohydrates, and fat. This superfood is great for supporting the immune system, heart health, and lessens fatigue when consumed in the right proportion.
Other Vegan Protein Foods Includes
23. Green Peas
25. Wild Rice
30. Black Eyed Peas
31. Jowar (Sorghum)
32. Hummus and Pita
33. Vegan Yogurt
36. Impossible Burger
37. Black Beans
38. Whole Wheat Bread
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