The Best Vegan Protein Sources [List With Amounts]

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I was in the middle of a semi-professional soccer season when I went vegan cold “tofurky” overnight.

Protein was my number 1 concern like many new vegans.

It’s hard to know where to get it when all your usual protein sources are gone. But if a gorilla can basically be vegetarian, I was sure that I could manage as well.

I remember Googling “best vegan protein sources” when I first went vegan, and it was a pain to find a page with good, comprehensive, and easy-to-use data that actually answers the question.

So I made this one.

I collected the nutritional information for over 120 vegan whole foods from the USDA’s food database, which includes protein content.

See my how to get enough protein guide as a vegan page if you’re interested in learning more about protein powders or bars.

The Best Vegan Foods for Protein By Gram and Calorie

The standard way to look at nutrients in food is per 100 grams, since volume is a big factor in how much we can eat.

But I’ve also included a column for the amount of protein per 100 calories, which can be useful if you’re trying to lose weight and still hit certain macros.

FoodProtein (g) per 100gProtein (g) per 100 calories
Vital wheat gluten75.220.3
Seaweed (dried)57.420.1
Hemp seeds31.65.7
Peanuts25.84.5
Almonds21.13.6
Pistachio nuts20.23.6
Pumpkin seeds18.54.2
Tempeh18.59.6
Flaxseed18.33.4
Sesame seeds17.73.1
Oats16.94.3
Chia seeds16.53.4
Cashew15.32.7
Walnut15.22.3
Hazelnut14.92.4
Brazil nut14.32.2
Pine nuts13.72.0
Soybeans12.48.8
Buckwheat groats11.73.4
Rye grain10.33.1
Wheat flour (whole-grain)9.62.9
Lentils9.07.8
Black beans8.96.7
Chickpeas8.95.4
Kidney beans8.76.8
Navy beans8.25.9
Tofu (firm)8.211.7
Fava bean7.66.9
Adzuki beans7.55.9
Mung bean7.06.7
Lima beans6.85.5
Garlic6.34.8
Peas5.46.7
Quinoa4.43.7
Amaranth3.83.7
Collard greens3.512.0
Corn3.33.8
Artichoke3.37.0
Cowpeas3.23.3
Rapini3.214.3
Kale2.98.2
Spinach2.912.5
Mustard greens2.910.7
Broccoli2.88.3
Rice2.72.1
Water spinach2.613.3
Lotus root2.63.5
Arugula2.610.4
Brussels sprouts2.67.1
Guava2.53.8
Asparagus2.411.1
Watercress2.319.0
Farro2.22.5
Okra1.95.9
Cauliflower1.97.6
Green bean1.85.9
Swiss chard1.89.5
White potato1.72.4
Beets1.73.8
Bamboo shoot1.512.9
Bok choy1.511.7
Leek1.52.5
Turnip greens1.54.6
Apricot1.42.9
Blackberry1.43.2
Lettuce (red leaf)1.310.3
Cabbage1.35.2
Squash1.27.5
Zucchini1.27.1
Raspberry1.22.3
Gourd1.25.9
Lemon1.13.8
Napa cabbage1.19.2
Onion1.12.7
Nectarine1.12.4
Red bell pepper1.03.8
Eggplant1.03.9
Carrot0.92.2
Peach0.92.3
Grapefruit0.92.4
Tomato0.94.8
Green bell pepper0.94.3
Cantaloupe0.82.5
Pummelo0.82.0
Lime0.72.4
Celery0.74.9
Strawberry0.72.1
Radish0.74.0
Cucumber0.74.3

This list makes up most of what I eat these days for protein.

Vital wheat gluten, if you’re not familiar with it, is what you can use to make seitan (fake meats basically).

Other than that, the top results are mostly legumes: Multiple types of beans, along with lentils and peanuts. Soybeans (and therefore products like tofu and tempeh) are at the top of legumes. It’s really hard to have too much tofu.

Surprisingly, oats also have a good amount of protein, just a lot of calories overall as well.

If you’re trying to hit certain macros on a diet plan, the list above may not be enough information for you. The following posts might be more useful:

Finally, I created a separate post for the average amount of protein per vegan food typeThis is useful if you don’t want to track all your food intake, but have a rough idea of how much protein you’re getting.

Turning Those Ingredients Into High Protein Recipes

If you’re not too picky, it’s easy to toss a few of those ingredients together and put some sort of basic sauce on them.

But if you have the time and desire to make really good tasting recipes, see my database of high protein vegan recipes to find some great meals to make. Or, I also have a page of over 100 vegan seitan recipes if you’d like to filter by things like cooking time and method.

Plant Based Protein Quality

As long as you’re eating a wide variety of protein sources, it doesn’t matter if any particular source is a complete protein or not.

However, there are some situations where you might want to know if a protein is complete or not.

In general, very few plant proteins are complete proteins. They usually lack 1-2 essential amino acids. Additionally, while glutamine isn’t an essential amino acid (it’s “conditionally essential”), there aren’t too many good plant sources of glutamine.

Personally, I’ve only looked at whether the most popular vegan protein sources are complete. You can click the links for detailed looks, but here’s a summary:

If you’re interested in exploring this topic in more detail yourself, you can use my amino acid comparison tool. It let’s you compare amino acid profiles of different protein sources (both animal and plant).

Finally, I’ve also done detailed looks at the essential amino acid profiles of beans and the essential amino acid profiles of nuts.

Comparing Plant Protein to Other Plant and Animal Protein

Over time, I’ve done detailed comparisons of many different protein sources that you may be interested in:

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance nutrition writer. I've been vegan for years and try to make life easier for others by sharing what I've learned.

3 comments

    • Pretty much any kind, you usually find them in small packs in grocery stores. They’re quite a bit cheaper at asian grocery stores. Something like this.

      Even though they have a good percentage of protein, it’s hard to eat a lot, so it’s more of a good snack than something to really focus on.

  • You should add lupin beans to the list. they come second after gluten. they are 45% protein,34% carb,21% fat according to nutritiondata.org. and there are 23g of protein in 1 cup.