One of the questions I get asked the most as a vegan is, “Where do you get your protein from?” (As if we’re all gonna shrivel up and die without a steak, am I right?)
So today, I thought we’d have a little chat about the best vegan protein sources you can find.
Because let’s face it, you can get more than enough protein without meat. (Surprise!)
You see, when it comes to protein, there are more options than you might think.
Let’s get into it.
High Protein Foods For Vegetarians
1. Legumes: Beans, Lentils, and Peas
Ah, legumes, you gotta love ’em. These bad boys are full of protein and versatile enough to be used in various dishes (you know how much I love the variety!). Some of my fave legumes include:
- Chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans): Hummus, anyone? Or maybe some delicious falafel? Yes, please!
- Black beans: Taco night, am I right?
- Lentils: Great for soups, salads, and even veggie burger patties.
- Green peas: Did you know these little green gems pack a mean protein punch? Throw them into some stir-fry or pasta, and you’re good to go!
2. Tofu, Tempeh, and Seitan: The Holy Trinity of Vegan Protein
There’s a reason these three superstars are beloved by vegans everywhere. Tofu, tempeh, and seitan are all packed with protein, and they can be prepared in sooo many ways that even the pickiest eaters can find something to enjoy.
Here’s a bit more info on each of these protein powerhouses:
- Tofu: This versatile soybean-based food can be scrambled, grilled, stir-fried—the list goes on! Check out this epic tofu recipe collection if you want more inspo.
- Tempeh: Think of tempeh as tofu’s cool older sibling. It’s made from fermented soybeans and boasts a stronger flavor and firmer texture. Great in stir-fries, sandwiches, and salads!
- Seitan: Made from wheat gluten (sorry, gluten-free friends), seitan is often used as a meat substitute due to its chewy texture. Wanna give it a go?
3. Nuts and Seeds: Nature’s Little Protein Pills
When in doubt, go nuts! Or seeds, for that matter. They’re tiny, but they sure pack a punch! I always keep some in my pantry for snacking or adding to meals. Some of my personal faves include:
- Almonds (nuts)
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
4.Quinoa: The Mighty Grain
You know when you’re playing a video game and you stumble upon a super item that gives you crazy powers?
Well, meet quinoa, the super grain of the food world.
This little powerhouse isn’t just packed with protein, it’s a complete protein meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs (who needs meat, right?).
And guess what? This isn’t its only superpower!
Quinoa is also incredibly versatile. You can use it in salads, soups, stir-fries, you name it. Heck, you can even use it in breakfast dishes.
Ever tried a quinoa porridge?
If not, you’re seriously missing out!
Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Veggies for protein? Really?” But hear me out
While veggies might not pack as much protein per serving as, say, tofu or tempeh, they can still be a valuable part of your protein.
Especially if you’re someone who likes to mix things up (I mean who wants to eat tofu every day, right? Oh, just me then? ).
Take broccoli for instance it contains a decent amount of protein? And don’t even get me started on spinach!
Edamame are young, green soybeans that are packed with protein
These little guys are often served in Japanese restaurants as an appetizer (I bet you’ve eaten them without even realizing how good they are for you!).
They are delicious and super versatile you can steam ’em, boil ’em, roast ’em, or even eat ’em raw. And get this: one cup of prepared edamame provides about 17 grams of protein. That’s more than what you’d get from four large eggs!
But wait, there’s more!
Edamame also contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source (just like quinoa, remember?). How great is that?
So skip the chips and dip and go for some edamame instead. Your body (and your jeans) will thank you!
So you see, protein is not a problem for us vegans. We’ve got lots of protein-packed options at our disposal, and they’re all delicious, versatile, and cruelty-free.
High-protein vegan meals
Who needs chicken, eggs, or steak for a protein-packed meal when we have the power of plants!
Here is some serious vegan meal inspo!
- Tofu Scramble : It’s like a morning omelette, but better. You know why? Because it’s packed with veggies and spices, and let’s not forget that protein-rich tofu giving eggs a run for their money. Plus, no chickens were hassled in the making of this meal.
- Lentil Soup : , it’s like a warm hug in a bowl. You’re gonna slurp up every last bit of this hearty, healthy, and hella good plant-based dish.
- Black Bean Burgers : Now, these aren’t your regular, ol’ boring veggie burgers. These babies are made from black beans, which are not just a great source of protein, but also seriously tasty. Add some avocado, lettuce, and a decent dollop of salsa
- Chickpea Salad : . It’s so good
- Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers : Quinoa is a complete protein. So you’re getting all those essential amino acids in one deliciously stuffed pepper.
How to get 40 grams of protein without meat
No meat? No problem. Simply incorporate these high-protein foods in your diet
These foods are high in protein and (and taste amazing too — score!).
- Lentils: lentils provide a whopping 18-20 grams of protein per cooked cup. Plus, they’re versatile, budget-friendly, and Ah-mazing in soups, stews, and salads. What more could you want?
- Chickpeas: Hummus, anyone? These bad boys (also known as garbanzo beans) offer 14.5 grams of protein per cooked cup. Blend ’em into hummus, throw ’em in a salad, or roast ’em as a crunchy snack. Trust me, you can’t go wrong with chickpeas.
- Tofu: Classic veggie staple alert! Tofu boasts around 10 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces, making it a go-to option for all your stir-fries, scrambles, and BBQs. And seriously, who doesn’t love a good tofu scramble?
- Tempeh: Think of tempeh as the cooler, more cultured cousin of tofu (16 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces, to be exact). It’s got a unique texture, absorbs flavors like a champ, and rocks it in any dish you throw it into.
- Quinoa: This is not your typical boring grain, . Quinoa’s a complete protein all on its own (8 grams of protein per cooked cup); plus, it’s quick-cooking, fluffy, and downright delicious.
Cheap vegetarian protein sources
Presenting my top five cheap-as-dirt (but way tastier) vegetarian protein sources to keep you thriving without breaking the bank.
Here are some plant-based protein heroes that’ll give you a bang for your buck:
You can thank me later!
- Lentils: Do you know what’s amazing about lentils? They’re not only loaded with protein, but they’re crazy cheap! Like, seriously, a bag can last you forever (well maybe not forever, but you know what I mean!). Cook up some lentil soup or throw them in a hearty salad, and watch that protein meter go up.
- Tofu: Yeah, yeah, I know. Tofu gets a bad rap for being bland (but let’s face it, so does chicken!). But once you master the art of seasoning and cooking it, tofu is your versatile protein-packed friend. (And it doesn’t hurt that it’s pretty wallet-friendly too).This block of awesomeness packs around 10 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces. What’s that? You heard tofu was tasteless? Well, that’s just because you haven’t been marinating, grilling, or scrambling it right. Pro tip: firm tofu equals more protein. You’re welcome!
- Chickpeas: Come on down, chickpeas! With 15 grams of protein per cup, these versatile beans are perfect for snacking, salads, soups, and, of course, making your very own homemade hummus. Hummus = yum!
- Edamame: Have you met edamame? These cute green beans are packing 18 grams of protein per cup. Steam ’em, toss ’em in your stir-fry or snack on them right from the shell. The world is your edamame-filled oyster!
- Peanut Butter: Childhood favorite, meet adult nutrition needs. Our beloved peanut butter is hiding around 8 grams of protein in just two tablespoons. Just remember to opt for the natural, sugar-free versions to keep things on the healthy side.
But wait, don’t go yet! I’ve got five bonus cheap veggie protein sources for you!
- Quinoa: 8 grams of protein per cup
- Black beans: 15 grams of protein per cup
- Almonds: 6 grams of protein per ounce
- Tempeh: 19 grams of protein per 3.5-ounce serving
- Green peas: 9 grams of protein per cup
Here is How To Level Up Your High Protein Vegetarian Diet for Weight Loss
Now, let’s talk about some techniques to make the most out of these protein sources:
- Combo meals – To get a complete protein profile, combine legumes (like lentils, peas, or beans) with grains (think quinoa or brown rice). You know, like rice and beans or a chickpea and quinoa salad. (It’s like they were meant to be together, right?).
- Plants on plants – Don’t underestimate the power of adding leafy greens to your meals for an extra protein boost. Spinach, kale, and broccoli all add some amino acids to your plate (plus, they look pretty).
- Protein-packed snacks – Reach for nuts, seeds, or even hummus when you want a healthy (and protein-rich) snack. It’s not just about main meals, after all.
Here’s the Deal: You Don’t Need to Be Rich to Be Protein-Rich
A high-protein vegetarian diet for weight loss is totally achievable on a budget.
With some creativity and smart grocery shopping, you’ll be rocking that plant-powered, protein-filled life in no time.