The Best Sources to Get Protein On a Vegan Diet
The vegan diet is growing in popularity as more people are turning to plant-based eating to support overall health. However, one of the biggest concerns with a vegan diet is getting enough protein. But fear not: with the right food choices and variety, you can get enough vegan protein to support your daily needs of about 0.8 grams per kg of body weight per day.
Using meal planning to your advantage can also be a great hack to make sure you are getting enough protein each day. You can pre-plan your meals, being mindful of how much vegan protein is in each recipe, but more on that later.
Best Sources of Protein on a Vegan Diet
When following a vegan diet, there are various ways to meet your daily protein requirements. While most plant-based foods on their own aren’t considered complete, you can make sure you're getting all the essential amino acids by enjoying a variety of protein-rich plant foods.
Here are some of the best sources of vegan protein to add to your vegan diet.
1. Tofu, Tempeh, Edamame
Tofu, tempeh, and edamame are all soy-based vegan protein sources that are staples in a vegan diet. Tempeh offers 15 grams of vegan protein in a 3-ounce serving. Tofu provides eight grams of protein in a 3.5-ounce serving, and edamame packs more than 18 grams of protein in a one-cup serving. All three of these are ideal sources of vegan protein and can be easily added to a plant-based meal plan.
Try one of these easy meals that include these soy-based vegan foods.
- Creamy banana protein milkshake: Did you know that adding tofu to smoothies makes them extra creamy? Plus, it packs in extra protein, which will help keep you full between meals. This creamy banana protein milkshake is a go-to breakfast choice for plant-based eaters who need something nourishing in a pinch. While the recipe calls for almond milk, you can substitute in you favorite non-dairy milk.
- Pear and cucumber salad with caramelized rosemary tempeh: Add a protein boost to your salad with this pear and cucumber salad. It features a uniquely delicious caramelized rosemary tempeh, which is the perfect protein-rich addition to your lunch or light dinner.
- Lightly salted edamame: With only two ingredients, this edamame recipe makes for a quick and nutritious snack. Simply boil the edamame and sprinkle with sea salt for a low calorie, high-protein snack.
Chickpeas are another great source of vegan protein. They boast 14 grams of protein in just one cup, as well as 12 grams of fiber. Chickpeas can be found in hummus recipes, and you can even find chickpea pasta to use in place of traditional wheat-based pasta for added fiber and protein.
Here are some of our favorite meals that highlight this versatile ingredient.
- Sweet potato chana masala: If you like Indian food, this is a must-try vegan dish. Made with chickpeas for an added protein and fiber boost, this makes a flavorful and filling dish.
- Carrots with creamy lemon-coriander hummus: Chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus, and this is a great dip for fresh veggies like carrots, bell peppers, and cucumbers. It's great to make a big batch in advance, so you can easily enjoy a healthy snack throughout the week.
- Cinnamon chocolate bark with roasted chickpea crunch: Who says healthy eating isn’t delicious? This chocolate bark is a plant-based eaters dream dessert that adds a protein and fiber boost from the chickpeas, making it a treat you can feel good about enjoying.
One cup of cooked lentils has 9 grams of plant protein. Lentils are also rich in dietary fiber and low in calories and fat, making them a great addition to a balanced vegan diet. Get creative and make a vegan “meat” sauce with lentils, marinara sauce, and garlic, or add them over a salad for a protein boost.
These two savory lentil dishes are easy to make and great to prepare in advance for a busy week ahead:
- Egyptian red lentil soup: Lentils are great for making soup. They add bulk, protein, fiber, and are filling. This red lentil soup is lightly spiced and great eaten hot or chilled.
- Ginger red lentil daal: Here’s a deliciously flavorful lunch or dinner recipe that’s rich in colorful vegetables, anti-inflammatory properties, and vegan protein. One serving contain 29 grams of protein, which will help you stay full until your next meal.
Peanuts are a great way to increase the amount of vegan protein in your diet - and they're cheap! They can be enjoyed in homemade trail mix; as peanut butter on toast; blended into a smoothie; or added to salads and stir-frys as a crunchy topping. In a 3.5-ounce serving of peanuts, you will get close to 26 grams of vegan protein. In two tablespoons of peanut butter, you can pack in seven grams of vegan protein.
Here are some delicious ways to get peanuts into your plant-based diet.
- No-bake chocolate peanut oat cookies: Looking for a healthy treat? Try making these vegan chocolate peanut oat cookies that add vegan protein and healthy fat to your diet. They are refined sugar-free and full of fiber, making them a guilt-free treat.
- West African peanut soup with kale and brown rice: This West African-inspired soup is a great option for a protein-rich lunch or dinner. It’s perfect for the cooler months when you need something a little heartier to nourish the soul.
Quinoa is one of the few plant-based foods that’s considered a complete protein, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids. In just one cup of cooked quinoa, you can get eight grams of complete protein. Pair that with some beans or lentils, and you have yourself a protein-rich vegan meal.
Here are some delicious plant-based meals that feature this vegan superfood.
- Quinoa banana bowl with almond butter drizzle: Quinoa isn't just for lunch and dinner! Made with protein-packed almond butter, this breakfast bowl will help keep you full until lunch.
- Make-ahead coconut & quinoa porridge: This tropical dish can be prepared ahead of time, making it perfect to enjoy for breakfast on-the-go or as a quick afternoon snack.
- Curried avocado quinoa bowl: Spice things up with a curried avocado quinoa bowl, which includes healthy fats from the avocado to create a well-balanced, plant-based meal.
If you are following a plant-based diet, or plan on going vegan, know that there are many different vegan protein sources available. With a balanced diet and well formulated meal plan, you can easily get your daily protein needs from vegan-friendly foods. One of the best ways to make sure that you are getting enough protein is to meal plan. PlateJoy takes the hassle out of meal planning and provides you with custom weekly vegan meal plans that are protein-rich and nutrient-dense. With your weekly meal plan, you’ll also be provided with a shopping list, which takes the stress out of grocery shopping.
Get started with your customized plant-based meal plan that fits your flavor preferences, and provides all the protein and macronutrients you need to live a healthy vegan lifestyle.