The 30 Best Vegan Food Sources of Methionine

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Methionine is an essential amino, and arguably the toughest one to get on a vegan diet other than lysine.

It’s important for protein synthesis, but also liver function.

With a methionine deficiency, you’re at risk for:

  • Abnormal liver function, leading to upregulated proinflammatory genes
  • Hair loss
  • Poor skin tone
  • Neural tube defects (for pregnant women).

To avoid any risk, you’ll want to meet the RDA for methionine of 14 mg per kg of bodyweight per day.

For someone weighing 70 kg (154 lbs), that’s about 1.1 grams per day.

It’s not that hard if you eat the right foods.

The Best Overall Plant-Based Sources of Methionine

We’ll look at lists of the best vegan sources of leucine per serving and per 100 calories in just a minute.

But first, I wanted to identify the most efficient sources of methionine. By efficient, I mean that a food has a lot of methionine per 100 calories, and per serving.

So, I created the bubble chart below (click to expand). The most efficient sources tend towards the top and right of the chart.

methionine bubble chart

There’s a whole cluster of beans and a few other foods near the bottom left. Those are okay sources of methionine, but not the very best.

If you’re looking to realistically get methionine as easily as possible, focus on the 6 foods that stand out from the pack:

  • Brazil nuts (most efficient by far)
  • Spinach
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Oats

The Best Vegan Sources of Methionine Per Serving

I pulled all this data straight from the USDA food database.

It’s all per serving, which makes it a lot more realistic (1.5 servings of brazil nuts, versus 25 cups of water spinach).

Food Serving Energy (kcal) Methionine (g)
Brazil nut 0.5 cup 438 0.747
Oats 1 cup 607 0.487
Sesame seeds 0.5 cup 413 0.422
Sunflower seeds 0.5 cup 409 0.346
Hemp seeds 3 tbsp 166 0.28
Soybeans 1 cup 254 0.27
Pumpkin seeds 1 cup 285 0.267
Rye grain 1 cup 571 0.259
Buckwheat groats 1 cup 567 0.251
Peanuts 0.5 cup 414 0.231
Kidney beans 1 cup 225 0.23
Black beans 1 cup 227 0.229
Pistachio nuts 0.5 cup 344 0.221
Navy beans 1 cup 255 0.202
Chickpeas 1 cup 269 0.19
Cashew 0.5 cup 393 0.188
Adzuki beans 1 cup 294 0.182
Spinach 1 bunch 78 0.18
Quinoa 1 cup 222 0.178
Chia seeds 3 tbsp 146 0.176
Pine nuts 0.5 cup 454 0.175
Mung bean 1 cup 212 0.17
Lentils 1 cup 230 0.152
Hazelnut 0.5 cup 424 0.149
Walnut 0.5 cup 383 0.138
Peas 1 cup 117 0.119
Lima beans 1 cup 209 0.116
Fava bean 1 cup 187 0.105
Rice 1 cup 205 0.1
Corn 1 ear 123 0.096
White potato 1 large 255 0.096

Three types of foods dominate the top results:

  1. Nuts/seeds – Brazil nuts are the #1 source of methionine, but lots of seeds are close behind (pumpkin, sesame, hemp).
  2. Beans – All common types of beans have a decent amount of methionine in them (kidney, black, navy, adzuki, mung).
  3. Grains – Certain grains, like oats, rye, and quinoa all have a good amount of methionine.

The Top Methionine Vegan Foods Per 100 Calories

If you’re watching calories, you probably want to limit your intake of calorie-dense foods like nuts and seeds.

In order to get enough methionine, focus on the foods below instead, which are ranked by grams of methionine per 100 calories.

**Note that in many cases, you’ll have to eat multiple servings to get to 100 calories.

Food Serving Energy (kcal)
Methionine (g) per 100 Calories
Seaweed (dried) 1 tbsp 20 0.40
Spinach 1 bunch 78 0.23
Water spinach 1 cup 11 0.23
Rapini 5 stalks 21 0.22
Brazil nut 0.5 cup 438 0.17
Hemp seeds 3 tbsp 166 0.17
Watercress 10 sprigs 3 0.17
Asparagus 4 spears 13 0.15
Bamboo shoot 1 shoot 17 0.14
Lettuce (red leaf) 0.5 head 20 0.13
Chia seeds 3 tbsp 146 0.12
Broccoli 1 cup 31 0.11
Soybeans 1 cup 254 0.11
Squash 1 large 52 0.11
Turnip greens 1 cup 18 0.11
Zucchini 1 large 55 0.11
Kidney beans 1 cup 225 0.10
Sesame seeds 0.5 cup 413 0.10
Peas 1 cup 117 0.10
Black beans 1 cup 227 0.10
Swiss chard 10 leafs 91 0.10
Pumpkin seeds 1 cup 285 0.09
Sunflower seeds 0.5 cup 490 0.084
Oats 1 cup 607 0.08
Mung bean 1 cup 212 0.08
Quinoa 1 cup 222 0.08
Kale 2 cup 15 0.08
Navy beans 1 cup 255 0.08
Corn 1 ear 123 0.08
Cauliflower 1 cup 27 0.08
Chickpeas 1 cup 269 0.07

The nuts, seeds, and beans still rank okay on this list, as they have a ton of methionine, but a few other foods rise to the top.

In particular, vegetables like seaweed, spinach, broccoli, and squash all give you a good amount of methionine, and very few calories. The catch is that you’ll have to each multiple servings of them to reach your RDA.

About the author

Dale C.

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. Chemical engineer turned semi-professional soccer player and freelance writer. Trying to do my small part in making the world better by writing about the wonderful world of veganism.

4 comments

  • Dale!
    Thank you for writing & sharing this post! I’ve recently turned semi-profesional kitesurfer, this is my first year competing on the world tour, with all the travelling and being vegetarian (mostly vegan!) i’m struggeling to keep my energy levels up for training.. need more protein :/
    Is there any chance you could share a good vegan meal to help with energy levels?
    So stoked I found this, well written mate! Keep them coming 😀

    Cheers,
    ~Frances

  • Thank you for your website. I’ve been Vegan for over 8 yrs… After several VA PCPs over the last few years, constantly asked me if I was getting enough Folic Acid. I already know the “Folic Acid” is the ultimate F word, for a lentil/bean eating vegan…I eat major FOLATE…sooooo, I finally asked to be tested for the MTHFR gene mutation. I already knew I had it, based on my messed up blood tests and knowing what I was eating.
    As soon as Dr Pam Popper mentioned the MTHFR gene mutation in a youtube video… LOL, I took it as a sign…soooo I stumbled across your website while searching “vegan methionine.”

    THANK YOU,
    -julie