Easy to Eat Vegan High Protein Foods

Protein consistently dominates a conversation when one declares that they are vegan. “Where do you get your protein from?” Heard that before? Of course you have. Many gym goers will tell you that you can’t be strong by being meat free. But interestingly we are starting to see some high profile athletes adapt to a vegan diet.

Below is a simple list of easy to eat vegan high protein foods, that can really show you what is possible with easy access foods.

Legumes

Legumes are a vegan staple when it comes to consuming protein easily. They are seeds that grow in pods, and offers a variety of high protein, low fat, high fibre nutrients. Importantly, legumes are very affordable.

Examples of legumes include:

  • Baked Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Kidney Beans
  • Butter Beans
  • Lentils
  • Garden Peas
  • Chickpeas

All the above offer anything from 5 to 10g of protein per 100g, with lentils offering a high bang for your buck. You can also use chickpeas to make hummus, offering a tasty, nutrient dense paste than can be used in a variety of ways.

Nuts And Seeds

Nuts and seeds offer nutrient dense snacks and cooking ingredients. They are high in protein, also containing healthy fats and a number of vitamin and minerals. Nuts can be used in a variety of ways, including a broad range of nut butter spreads such as peanut butter, almond butter and cashew butter, can be used on breads, or even with meals.

Examples of nuts and seeds are:

  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Almonds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Pine nuts
  • Cashews
  • Walnuts
  • Hemp seeds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Pistachio

On average, nuts can offer between 12 to 20g of protein per 100g, making it a highly credible source. Rich in monounsaturated fats, nuts are great for heart health. In addition to protein, most nuts offer a good range of fibre, and an abundance of vitamins and minerals. A recommended portion of nuts per day is around 20 to 50g.

Vegetables

Many vegetables are typically known for being a great source of iron, vitamins and minerals and perhaps are not the food source you would expect to hear as a credible protein source, but some vegetables do indeed possess traces of protein when eaten in abundance. For example, and 80g serving of broccoli could give you up to 3g of protein.

Some of the key vegetables are:

  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Sweetcorn

It is not recommended that you solely rely on vegetables as your protein source, but a generous intake of vegetables for their wider health benefits can enable a passive intake of protein, ideally alongside more protein-rich sources such as beans or lentils.

Grains

Some grains have been tried and tested as a reliable source of protein, also offering other attributes such as fibre, zinc and selenium.

  • Quinoa
  • Buckwheat
  • Oats
  • Millet
  • Amaranth
  • Brown or Wild Rice

Quinoa in-particular has proven to be a versatile, easy to eat grain, that in addition to being an excellent protein source (one of the few grains with a complete amino acid profile), also offers slow digesting carbohydrates (great for blood sugar control), and is one of the best grains for fibre content.

As a whole, grains can offer up to 10g of protein per 100g in addition to its nutrient rich properties.

Tofu

Tofu is derived from soya milk, curdled and pressed into solid blocks. It can offer close to 10g of protein per 100g. Tofu can be used in a number of ways. As its creation process from soya milk is not too dissimilar to how cheese is created from milk, tofu is often able to emulate dairy and even meat-based meals in texture and a viable protein source.

Summary: Can athletes be vegans?

Absolutely! However, it is absolutely vital that a vegan athlete is consuming the right level of macro nutrients. The above gives an overview of some of protein options available to everyday vegans. Whilst also relevant to athletes, in a similar capacity to a meat-based athlete, vegan athletes may want to consider supplements, using good plant-based protein powder, vegan branched chain amino acid, and an ethical multivitamin solution.

7 thoughts on “Easy to Eat Vegan High Protein Foods

  1. This is so helpful, always wanted to make better food with more proteins but I always thought that they must be expensive and seeing alternatives and normal and cheap ingredients that you can buy on your supermarket is just amazing!
    Thank you for this amazing post!

  2. This is a great list. My family eats mostly plant-based. We are not vegans, or even vegetarians, we just prefer plant based foods. One of the biggest problem we face when we eat at friends is that their “vegetarian” meals don’t have any added protein. This could be an awesome tool for sharing with folks. Thank you for taking the time to put this list together!

  3. Nice Article on Vegan Protein sources, there are for sure more than people realize . What about Vegan Protein Powder options ? Do you rate any of those ? Thanks in Advance

    1. Thank you for your comments Marvin. There are an abundance of vegan supplement options that are out there now that are highly effective – whether protein, BCAAs, fruit/vegetable supplements, etc. It doesn’t have to be for sporty people either. There are some good vegan options that are a reliable for an everyday protein boost. I will be doing an article on vegan supplements soon.

  4. This has always been something I wondered about, and although I’m not vegan, I do eat a lot of plant-based foods and meatless meals.

    I find it interesting that everyone is so obsessed with protein – those in the bodybuilding or weight lifting world often recommend really high intake. You mentioned ideal macronutrients, and I wondered what the ideal breakdown is? From what I understand, it can depend on the person, since we’re all so different.

    I have also read that in order to consume a complete protein, you need to combine different vegetarian foods to get the right amino acid profile?

    As a health & yoga enthusiast I will definitely be back to your site – great info!

    1. Thanks for your comment Kirsten. Yes, in the gym world, there is a bit of an obsession with protein, and that carbohydrates are the enemy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The right carbs is as important as protein, which leads me to your macronutrient question.

      Everyone is slightly different, and may have different body goals, but 40% carb, 30% protein, 30% healthy fats can be a good ratio to aim for, but this can vary slightly depending on the goal.

      In terms of complete amino acid, whilst a plant-based diet can give you plenty of protein, there are many vegetables that may not give a complete amino acid profile, which is where diversity is important. Quinoa however, does have a complete profile (i know, more a grain than a vegetable).

  5. Protein is the major sticking point for anyone thinking of going a vegan or vegetarian meal diet.I consider myself more of a vegetarian than a vegan where I do not eat red meat but still consume fish as part of my diet .But a high amount protein for sure can be found in greens and legumes.

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