7 Best Vegan Protein Sources

These plant-based protein sources are important on a vegan diet.

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Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

How to Get Protein If You're Vegan

Inadequate protein intake is a concern that comes up over and over again with vegan diets. I remember when I was vegan years ago, it was annoying how frequently protein would become a topic of conversation. As a dietitian, I’m here to tell you that yes you can absolutely get enough protein as a vegan. It’s just going to take a bit of planning to make sure you’re getting a variety of protein sources throughout the day. For adults, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein is .8 grams per kilogram of body weight. That number will increase depending on how active you are, and it’s recommended to use 1.0, 1.3, and 1.6 grams per kilogram for individuals with minimal, moderate and intense physical activity. Putting this into perspective, if someone weighs 185 pounds, you would divide that by 2.2 to get the kilograms. In this case, it’s 84 kilograms multiplied by 1.0 (for a minimally active person), so this person's needs are 84 grams of protein per day.


Legumes are an affordable way to up your plant-based protein and include beans, peas and lentils. Both canned and dried are similar in nutrition and last in the pantry for long periods of time. 1 cup of lentils has 18 grams of protein, while 1 cup of black beans has 14 grams of protein and 1 cup of chickpeas has 12 grams of protein. There is such a wide variety of legumes, so switch them up when cooking and add them to your salads, soups and stews.


Made from soybeans, tofu has different levels of firmness and takes on whatever flavors you cook it with. The firmness also impacts protein content, since tofu that is more dense and has less water tends to pack more protein. For example, 3 ounces of silken tofu has just 4 grams compared to 6 grams of protein in firm tofu. There are also "super firm" or "high protein" varieties that have up to 15 grams per serving. Tofu is incredibly flexible in the kitchen and goes well in all types of savory dishes. You can even get creative and incorporate silken tofu into smoothies and desserts.


Also made from soybeans, tempeh has an earthy, savory flavor that works well in a variety of cooked dishes. 4 ounces of tempeh contains a whooping 22 grams of protein and can be added as a meat alternative in salads, stews and soups. It has a firm texture and so you can easily dice or slice it depending on what you’re making.

Soy Milk and Yogurt

In case you haven’t realized by now, soy products are a great way to maximize protein intake. One cup of soy milk can have around 12 grams of protein, while 3/4 cup of soy yogurt can have around 7 grams. One easy way to incorporate these is in smoothies, but they can also be used to make anything from hot chocolate to oatmeal.


Made from wheat gluten, seitan has a meaty texture and works great in a variety of savory dishes. It takes on whatever flavors you cook it in and some seitan products already come seasoned for easier cooking. 3 ounces packs around 18 grams of protein.

Nuts and Seeds

A great option for snacking but also as an add-on to things like oatmeal and smoothies, nuts and seeds offer variety in texture and flavor. Cashews, which are commonly used to make nut cheeses and spread, have around 5 grams of protein in 1/4 cup. Almonds have around 6 grams and walnuts have around 5 grams per 1/4 cup. Seeds like chia seeds offer a similar amount of protein, with 2 tablespoons of chia offering around 6 grams of protein.

Whole Grains

Lastly, whole grains are another way to up protein intake. 1 cup of cooked brown rice has 5 grams of protein, while 2 ounces of whole wheat pasta has around 8 grams. Although grains don’t have as much protein as foods like tofu and beans, they’re a great way to complement those foods and provide a number of other nutritional benefits.

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