While you can address them individually, it’s also possible to base your diet around foods that are relatively high in both iron and protein for convenience.
I’ve collected a list of vegan foods that are high in protein and iron, shown in the table just below on this page.
Table of Contents
The Best High Protein and Iron Vegan Foods
All data below is per 100 gram serving.
The RDA column for iron is based on 18 mg, which is the RDA for adult women. Note that men and other age groups need less, but it typically doesn’t hurt to get a bit more anyways.
|Food||Energy (kcal)||Protein (g)||Iron (mg)||% RDA Iron|
|Vital wheat gluten||370||75.16||5.20||29|
|Wheat flour (whole-grain)||332||9.61||3.71||21|
There’s a few things I’d like to note here:
- Seaweed is the highest on this list in protein and iron, but it’s also dried. In reality, you can’t really eat 100 grams of dried seaweed at once, so it’s not quite as amazing as it seems (but still good).
- Leafy greens like kale and spinach don’t have a ton of protein per 100 grams, but also have very few calories. When you look at the amount of protein and iron per 100 calories, they are great additions to any vegan diet.
- Pea protein powder has a lot of iron. If you’re struggling to get enough protein, you can try drinking vegan protein shakes, which are packed with protein and often iron as well (since pea protein is the most common type used).
The Top 6 Vegan Foods For Protein and Iron
I only included generic dried seaweed in my list of foods, but pretty much any type of seaweed is relatively high in protein and iron. This includes:
Even if you don’t make recipes like sushi that call for seaweed, or don’t like the taste of it on its own, you can buy seaweed in powder and just sprinkle it on top of many recipes.
When it comes to healthy vegan fats and protein, seeds should be a staple of most vegan diets as long as allergies aren’t an issue.
Eat them by themselves, as seed butters, or add them to salads.
Pretty much any seed has a good amount of protein and iron, but the top ones from above are:
- Sesame seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Sunflower seeds
Like seeds, nuts are great sources of plant protein and iron, but are also high in calories due to their high fat content.
The top types of nuts from the above table were:
- Pine nuts
- Peanuts (technically a legume)
- Macadamia nuts
One thing to be aware of is that nuts have a poor omega 3 to 6 fat ratio, which can be a problem if you eat too many. It’s a topic worth looking at if you’re unfamiliar with the role that omega 3 and 6 fats play in inflammation.
Vital Wheat Gluten
Vital wheat gluten is just gluten (a type of protein) extracted from wheat. It’s basically a protein powder, so it’s not surprising that it’s super high in protein. Since it’s so concentrated, it also happens to be high in iron.
Keep in mind that you can’t eat wheat gluten directly, instead, it’s used to make seitan, a popular type of mock meat. I have a page of over 100 vegan seitan recipes if you’d like to learn more about it.
When it comes to grains, oats are a decent plant source of protein, and one of the best vegan iron sources.
Vitamin C can improve iron absorption, so I typically eat oats with toppings that are high in vitamin C like strawberries.
Legumes are one of the most efficient sources of protein on a vegan diet. They’re high in protein whether you look at them on a per serving or per calorie basis.
Most legumes rank fairly well on the table of high protein and iron vegan foods we looked at above, including:
- Black beans
- Adzuki beans
Note that this means that processed foods like tofu and tempeh, both from soybeans, are also high in protein and iron.
Spinach plus legumes is one of my favorite combinations both in terms of taste and nutrition. It guarantees you a meal that’s really high in both protein and iron.