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10 Best Vegan Protein Sources

Brittany Kline
By: Senior LetsTalkBeauty Editor  |  Brittany Kline

There are certainly a lot of benefits associated with the choice to switch to veganism, but the first thing that many who are interested in it are asking is, “But what about the protein?” The odd thing is that no one seems to care very much about the level of protein they get with a meat-based diet. But the story is very different when talking about plant-based diets. Suddenly, the whole issue can seem like some kind of crisis.  Well, no longer! No matter what the reason, whether it be carnivores teasing you with their juicy meat proteins or you’re just interested in expanding your vegan protein options or just want to learn more about the options that are out there, this list will tell you all you want to know.

#1: Seitan

Seitan is a great source of  vegan protein

Omnivores may have never heard of this all-natural source of protein, but the taste of Seitan has long been extremely popular with both Vegetarians and Vegans alike!

Seitan is a great source of vegan protein made from gluten which, in cooked form, marvelously mimics the look and texture of meat in a wide variety of dishes. This fact makes Seitan an immensely popular choice for anyone who had formerly been a carnivore and has decided to be a Vegan, as it offers a familiar touchstone in a world that can often feel foreign.

A single serving of Seitan of about 3.5 ounces can pack up to a whopping 25 grams of protein. This means Seitan is proven to have approximately 7 grams of protein in every ounce.

#2: Soy

Soy a large part of the vegan lifestyle

Versatile legumes such as Edamame, Tofu, Tempeh and Soy Milk can provide a powerful and tasteful option for anyone looking for a healthy and tasty treat.

Although Soy comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes, no matter what they are called, it is definitely a large part of the meatless lifestyle. If Edamame is your first choice, you could try them boiled and salted or added to salads. They also make a crunchy and delicious addition to a veggie stir-fry. Yet, another popular type of soy is the pressed curd, most widely known as Tofu. Many people think of Tofu as a rather bland option, yet it’s really quite flavorful when paired with just about anything with strong flavors. Tempeh has many of the same properties, but it has a slightly nutty taste which makes it a better choice for certain uses over others. This applies to everything from vegan burgers all the way down to soups and, many would rejoice, even desserts with the steadily growing popularity of soy milk and other soy products.

A single serving size of 3.5 ounce serving of Soy adds up to about 10-19 grams of vegan protein. This means, depending on how its prepared and additional ingredients, most Soy based products can have up to about 5.5 grams of protein in an ounce.

#3: Lentils

An average 3.5 ounce serving of pink lentils generally has 26 grams of  vegan protein

For anyone who has ever had Mediterranean or West Asian cuisine it’s highly likely that you have sampled this tasty legume.

On the Indian subcontinent which they hail from, lentils are a staple of everyday culinary use. Although they may not have enjoyed such a massive increase  in popularity in the Western world, but they are gradually starting to earn a strong following thanks to their versatility and delectability. In general, these seeds may need a longer cooking time depending on just how big they are and whether or not their husks are intact. Still, once prepared through one of many methods of choice which include soaked, sprouted, boiled, fried or baked – they can also be made into a thick puree. This makes a great addition to several different dishes such as  Dal tadka, a traditional Lentil soup, or they are fermented and made into a vegan bread.

An average 3.5 ounce serving of pink lentils generally has 26 grams of vegan protein, which amounts to about 7.5 grams of protein in an ounce. That’s pretty protein packed enough for anyone’s taste but there are certain cooking methods and a variety of forms which can affect the actual protein content.

#4: Beans

Beans

Whatever you may be into,  pinto, black, kidney, or garbanzos, beans provide a lot of protein.

This category of legumes also includes the middle eastern favorite, Chickpeas, which can  also be classified as technically being beans.There is such a variety of beans that one could end up having a different kind of bean every night for a month or more. In fact, beans are just pod-born seeds by another name, such as Lentils or Soy. In the end, all beans are distant cousins related by the fact that they all come from the flowering plant family. That said, it’s clear that they share a lot of nutritional value, and can be interchanged easily in many recipes.

The average 3.5 ounce serving of pink lentils has up to 9 grams of vegan protein which would be up to 27% of your average daily requirement. But that’s not all these small powerhouses can do. They are also known to include a complete compilation of vitamins and minerals for a happy digestive system.

#5 : Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional Yeast

More of a condiment than a food this stuff can be used in so many ways.

The unique type of yeast known as Saccharomyces Cerevisiae is a commercial food product and dietary supplement. Still, even though it is said to have a taste similar to cheese, it is completely vegan because it is plant-based. Nutritional yeast is a very popular topping among vegans on mashed potatoes, popcorn, scrambled tofu and pasta dishes.

However, the standard serving is generally smaller than most options here. In fact, a single serving of Nutritional Yeast is only one ounce with 28 grams of protein. So, when one considers that it is fortified with multiple vitamins there’s no doubt that this is the item that is the most protein packed.

#6: Grains

Grains

As a vegan you may not be able to eat meat, but you can definitely eat bread.

When baked and turned into a food staple eaten all around the world, grains are a great way to make sure that everyone can get the nutrition that they need for a healthy life. Among them are two grains with centuries of tradition known as Spelt and Teff that make awesome substitutes for lower-protein varieties such as rice and wheat. 

For those who are looking for a gluten-free option, there are grains such as Amaranth and Quinoa. 

Additionally, brands like Ezekiel/Food for Life make bread made from sprouted grains including wheat, barley, millet, spelt and even lentils and soybeans. When it comes right down to it, the choices are basically endless. So, whatever you may prefer, there is surely a grain for you.

Spelt and Teff cooked into a rice-like dish can produce as much as 10 gram of protein per cup. In sliced bread, they usually produce up to 8 grams of protein which is far above that of the average slice of bread.

#7: Hemp Seeds

Hemp Seeds

Cannabis sativa seeds may not produce a high but they are loaded with vegan protein.

Not as popular among vegans as other plant seeds, hemp seed is still widely utilized and quite easy on the digestive system. Studies have shown that it can provide up to 10 grams of total protein in every ounce. This is more than equal quantities of chia and flaxseed together. Even though there are a lot of benefits there is still a palpable stigma associated with its use. Despite that, it should be remembered that there is an abundance of protein and exceptional levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. More than anything else, hemp seed is used as sprinkles on salads, homemade salad dressings and smoothies.

#8: Peas

Peas

There is no simpler or tastier dinner side dish out there. So, why not?

These tasty little green orbs may not be quite as protein packed as other options but they should be a part of any kitchen pantry, especially one owned by a vegan. The long list of side benefits that peas bring to the party are another reason for everyone to have them on hand. Among them are the fact that they are rich in fiber, Vitamins A, C, K, thiamine, folate, and manganese. Still, the reasons don’t stop there. For one thing, they are packed with extra iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, and other B vitamins. Some fan favorites among the more adventurous include pea and basil stuffed ravioli, or throw a handful into a bowl of guacamole.

These starchy favorites pack a whole 9 grams of vegan protein into every one-cup serving.

#9: Spirulina

Spirulina

A real nutritional wonder, this blue-green favorite is practically a basic necessity for everyone.

With a natural hue reminiscent of the teal color loved by so many this dietary wonder is a must have anyone looking for options when it comes to sources of plant-based protein. But, that’s just one reason for adding this to your daily smoothie. Just two tablespoons of Spirulina in powder form can add up to 8 grams of vegan protein to any meal. Not only that anyone can add up to a quarter of your daily need for copper. And, just a little food for thought, it should be noted that this grain is being studied at this time for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and many researchers say it may even have cancer fighting properties.

#10: Oats & Oatmeal

Oats & OatmealOats & Oatmeal

Although it may not be something that you would want to go with on a hot day there’s nothing quite like a hot bowl of oatmeal on a cold winter morning.

A single cup of oats contains around 12 grams of vegan protein as well as a good amount of zinc, folate, and magnesium. Even though  oats may not be a complete protein, they do provide much higher-quality protein as opposed to rice or wheat. Not only that, they are great for cooking, too. And, they happen to act really well as a neutral binder in vegetarian burgers as well as a long list of sweet dessert choices.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like to read more about Veganism or Veganuary, and keep checking back for more articles!

Brittany Kline
Senior LetsTalkBeauty Editor
We sent Brittany to venture across the world in search of discovering basically the world's best products and then bringing those back to you. She has documented all her research so you can receive the most vital information and latest innovations in beauty.

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