The 30 Best Vegan Food Sources of Methionine

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Refresher/Summary:

  • Methionine is an essential amino, and arguably the toughest one to get on a vegan diet other than lysine.
  • You should aim for about 14 mg per kg of bodyweight per day (or 6.4 mg per lb).
  • The best vegan sources of methionine are vital wheat gluten and mostly seeds.

Methionine is super common in animal products (most meats), but not too common in plants.

It can lead to issues like hair loss if you’re not getting enough.

So, I compiled all the best food sources of methionine to help you plan your diet and get a bit extra if you’re worried about it.

How Much Methionine Do You Need?

methionine

Methionine is 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.

I highly recommend tracking what you eat for a few days using a free tool like Cronometer to see if you’re getting enough.

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 enlarge). The most efficient sources tend towards the top and right of the chart.

best vegan methionine sources 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:

  • Vital wheat gluten
  • Brazil nuts
  • Spinach
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Oats

The Best Vegan Sources of Methionine Per Serving and Calorie

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

It’s sorted by the amount of methionine in a typical serving, which makes it a lot more realistic (1.5 servings of brazil nuts, versus 25 cups of water spinach).

FoodServingEnergy (kcal)Methionine (g)Methionine (g) per 100 Calories
Vital wheat gluten100 g3700.980.26
Brazil nut0.5 cup4380.750.17
Oats1 cup6070.490.08
Sesame seeds0.5 cup4130.420.10
Hemp seeds3 tbsp1660.280.17
Soybeans1 cup2540.270.11
Pumpkin seeds1 cup2850.270.09
Rye grain1 cup5710.260.05
Buckwheat groats1 cup5670.250.04
Peanuts0.5 cup4140.230.06
Kidney beans1 cup2250.230.10
Black beans1 cup2270.230.10
Pistachio nuts0.5 cup3440.220.06
Navy beans1 cup2550.200.08
Chickpeas1 cup2690.190.07
Cashew0.5 cup3930.190.05
Adzuki beans1 cup2940.180.06
Spinach1 bunch780.180.23
Quinoa1 cup2220.180.08
Chia seeds3 tbsp1460.180.12
Pine nuts0.5 cup4540.180.04
Mung bean1 cup2120.170.08
Lentils1 cup2300.150.07
Hazelnut0.5 cup4240.150.04
Walnut0.5 cup3830.140.04
Peas1 cup1170.120.10
Lima beans1 cup2090.120.06
Fava bean1 cup1870.110.06
Rice1 cup2050.100.05
Corn1 ear1230.100.08

Four types of foods dominate the top results:

  1. Vital wheat gluten – While you don’t eat vital wheat gluten by itself so it’s not the most fair comparison, seitan is still mostly made of vital wheat gluten and has a ton of methionine.
  2. Nuts/seeds – Brazil nuts are the #2 source of methionine, but lots of seeds are close behind (pumpkin, sesame, hemp). Even though nuts have an amino acid profile relatively low in methionine, the raw amount is still decent.
  3. Beans – All common types of beans have a decent amount of methionine in them (kidney, black, navy, adzuki, mung).
  4. Grains – Certain grains, like oats, rye, and quinoa all have a good amount of methionine.

The Top Methionine Vegan Foods Per 100 Grams

The “standard” way to compare food nutrition is per 100 grams, not per serving (even though I feel like that’s more useful).

So in the sake of completeness, let’s also look at the best sources of methionine per 100 grams.

FoodMethionine (g) Per 100 grams
Seaweed (dried)1.14
Brazil nut1.12
Vital wheat gluten0.98
Hemp seeds0.93
Chia seeds0.59
Sesame seeds0.59
Pumpkin seeds0.42
Flaxseed0.37
Pistachio nuts0.36
Peanuts0.32
Oats0.31
Cashew0.27
Pine nuts0.26
Walnut0.24
Hazelnut0.22
Pecans0.18
Almonds0.16
Rye grain0.15
Buckwheat groats0.15
Soybeans0.15
Black beans0.13
Kidney beans0.13
Chickpeas0.12
Navy beans0.11
Quinoa0.10
Mung bean0.08
Peas0.08
Adzuki beans0.08
Lentils0.08
Chestnut0.08

Vital wheat gluten is still near the top, as are nuts, seeds, and beans.

If we extended this list to the top 50 or so, you’d start to see some leafy greens (e.g. spinach has 0.05), but it’s hard to eat a lot of those.

Vegan Recipes That Are High in Methionine

The lists above will give a good starting point to explore from.

I’ve also gathered some vegan recipes high recipes high in methionine that you might be interested in.

In general, the best foods from the lists go well in recipes like:

  • Seitan
  • Noodle recipes (with seeds on top)
  • Salads (with seeds on top)
  • Porridge and oatmeal

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.

12 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

  • So in order to be healthy, should I eat 100g of vital wheat gluten every single day so that I can meet my daily needs for methionine? Sounds like madness, I’m going to turn into gluten myself if i eat that amount of it and on a daily basis for the rest of my life on order to be healthy?

    • Uh…no Ivana.

      You will get methionine from many different sources, and they all add up.

      Track your food intake using a tool like Cronometer and see if you’re actually deficient in methionine before making changes to your diet.

  • Methionine makes you age very fast! Reduce your amount of Methionine and live longer, have less chance of getting different kinds of cancer!!

    Cheers!

    A vegan pharmaceutical scientist!

  • Im getting very confused about methionine, I’ve been led to believe that methionine is very dangerous, a by product of it being homocystine which causes alzheimers and dementia and that methionine feeds cancer cells. Does it make a difference if it comes from pant sources or meat?

    • Methionine is an essential amino acid – you literally need it to live and be healthy. If you’re worried about getting too much (which I’m not sure is a thing), well, that’s not going to happen on a vegan diet since as you can see most plants don’t have much.