Your ultimate guide to the best sources of vegan protein

There are many benefits to adopting a vegan or plant-based diet. Vegan diets have been shown to consist of lower levels of saturated fat and cholesterol while also being higher in fibre (1) resulting in a lower risk of developing ischaemic heart disease and some forms of cancer (2) respectively. As larger numbers of people are choosing to turn towards a vegan lifestyle, concerns about protein intake arise due to the belief that vegan diets lack adequate amounts of this vital macronutrient. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Vegans can meet their daily protein requirements through a balanced plant-based diet, including a variety of protein-rich foods. In this article, we will discuss the best sources of protein for vegans, including how vegans can get enough protein, vegan foods that are high in protein, and which plant-based milk has the most protein.

How do vegans get enough protein?

Protein is an essential macronutrient that plays a crucial role in building and repairing tissues, maintaining muscle mass, and supporting the immune system. These processes are especially important for athletes or even just those who exercise for health and general fitness. Adequate levels of protein are also helpful for weight loss, as the satiating effect of consuming protein results in feeling fuller for longer. Although animal-based foods are known for being high in protein, a vegan diet can provide all the necessary protein by incorporating a wide range of plant-based sources. Vegans should aim to consume a variety of protein-rich foods, including legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, and whole grains. These foods can provide essential amino acids, the building blocks of protein, that the body needs to function and recover properly. As some of these essential amino acids are only available from food sources, it is important that consumption is from a wide range of protein-rich foods to make sure that you’re covering all bases (3).

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What vegan foods are high in protein?

Here are some of the best sources of protein for vegans (4):

  • Legumes – Legumes, such as lentils, chickpeas, and beans, are an excellent source of protein. A half-cup serving of cooked lentils contains approximately 9 grams of protein, while the same serving of chickpeas contains about 7 grams of protein. These ingredients can be used in curries or salads as an alternative to meat.
  • Nuts and seedsNuts and seeds, such as almonds, peanuts, chia seeds, and hemp seeds, are also good sources of protein. A quarter-cup serving of almonds contains approximately 7 grams of protein, while a quarter-cup serving of chia seeds contains about 6 grams of protein. It is worth mentioning though that nuts can be quite calorie dense so it is best to keep track of portion sizes if the goal is weight loss as calories can quickly add up.
  • Tofu and tempeh – Tofu and tempeh are soy-based products that are high in protein. A half-cup serving of firm tofu contains approximately 10 grams of protein, while the same sized serving of tempeh contains about 15 grams of protein.
  • Whole grains – Whole grains, such as quinoa, brown rice, and oats, also contain protein. A cup of cooked quinoa contains approximately 8 grams of protein, while a cup of cooked brown rice contains about 5 grams of protein.
  • Vegetables – Certain vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, and Brussels sprouts, also contain protein. A cup of cooked broccoli contains approximately 4 grams of protein, while the same serving of spinach contains about 5 grams of protein. Adding bulk in the form of vegetables is possible.
  • Plant-based protein powderVegan protein powders, such as pea protein, brown rice protein, and soy protein, can be an easy and convenient way to boost protein intake. These protein powders can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, coconut yoghurt or other recipes to increase protein content, or simply mixed with water or plant-based milk for a shake at times when solid food might be hard to stomach e.g., before or after exercising.

What plant-based milk has the most protein?

Milk is a common source of protein, but for vegans, plant-based milk options can provide an alternative source of protein. Here are some plant-based milk options and their protein content:

  • Soy milk – Soy milk is made from soybeans and is a good source of protein. A cup of unsweetened soy milk contains approximately 7 grams of protein.
  • Pea milk – Pea milk is made from yellow peas and is also an excellent protein source. A cup of unsweetened pea milk contains approximately 8 grams of protein.
  • Hemp milk – Hemp milk is made from hemp seeds and contains essential fatty acids and protein. A cup of unsweetened hemp milk yields approximately 3 grams of protein.
  • Almond milk – Almond milk is made from almonds and is lower in protein than soy or pea However, it can still provide some protein. A cup of unsweetened almond milk contains approximately 1 gram of protein.
  • Oat milk – Oat milk is made from oats and is lower in protein compared to other plant-based milk options. A cup of unsweetened oat milk contains approximately 2 grams of protein.

While plant-based milk may not contain as much protein as cow’s milk, it can still be a good source of protein for vegans when added to recipes, cereal or coffee. Additionally, fortified plant-based milk may contain additional nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin D, that are important for bone health.

In conclusion, getting enough protein while consuming a vegan diet is not as difficult as many people believe. By incorporating a variety of plant-based protein sources, such as legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, and whole grains, vegans can easily meet their daily protein requirements. Additionally, plant-based milk options, such as soy and pea milk, can provide an alternative source of protein for those who avoid dairy. By following a well-planned vegan diet, it is possible to obtain all the necessary nutrients, including protein, for optimal health and for those looking to achieve muscle gain or weight loss.


  1. Craig, W. J. (2009). Health effects of vegan diets. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89(5), 1627S-1633S.
  2. Mangels, A. R., Messina, V., & Messina, M. (2011). The Dietitian’s Guide to Vegetarian Diets: Issues and Applications.
  3. Tuso, P. J., Ismail, M. H., Ha, B. P., & Bartolotto, C. (2013). Nutritional update for physicians: plant-based diets. The Permanente Journal, 17(2), 61-66.
  4. MyFitnessPal

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