The 40 Best Vegan Paleo Protein Sources [Table]

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Key takeaways:

  • The best vegan paleo sources of protein if you’re trying to get a decent amount of calories at the same time are seeds and nuts. In particular, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds are highest in protein.
  • Seaweed is also very high in protein per gram, but it’s hard and expensive to eat a lot of seaweed.
  • Paleo protein powders are essentially necessary for vegans on a paleo diet if you’re trying to hit a reasonably high target of protein intake.

While I’m not paleo any more, I used to follow a paleo diet years ago.

If you’re also going to be vegan, your options for protein are going to be even more limited.

On this page, I’ve essentially removed non-paleo foods from my complete list of vegan protein sources.

You might want to also consider paleo protein bars. For example, the Pegan protein bar is paleo and vegan, and it’s a pretty good bar overall.

Vegan Protein Sources that are NOT Paleo-Friendly

I just want to note a few vegan protein sources that are “good”, but not considered paleo-friendly:

  • Legumes (beans, lentils)
  • Peanuts
  • Oats
  • Rye and other grains

The good news is that vegan diets are already pretty close to paleo in many cases.

The Top Vegan Paleo Protein Sources

I’ve included the top vegan and paleo foods in terms of protein per 100 grams and per 100 calories.

In a realistic diet, you’ll need to combine protein sources in both categories.

FoodProtein (g) per 100gProtein (g) per 100 calories
Seaweed (dried)57.420.1
Nutritional yeast41.713.9
Hemp seeds31.65.7
Almonds21.13.6
Pistachio nuts20.23.6
Pumpkin seeds18.54.2
Flaxseed18.33.4
Sesame seeds17.73.1
Chia seeds16.53.4
Cashew15.32.7
Walnut15.22.3
Hazelnut14.92.4
Brazil nut14.32.2
Pine nuts13.72.0
Garlic6.34.8
Amaranth3.83.7
Collard greens3.512.0
Artichoke3.37.0
Cowpeas3.23.3
Rapini3.214.3
Kale2.98.2
Spinach2.912.5
Mustard greens2.910.7
Broccoli2.88.3
Water spinach2.613.3
Lotus root2.63.5
Arugula2.610.4
Brussels sprouts2.67.1
Guava2.53.8
Asparagus2.411.1
Watercress2.319.0
Okra1.95.9
Cauliflower1.97.6
Green bean1.85.9
Swiss chard1.89.5
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

You’ll notice that certain types of foods dominate the list when you sort by one metric or the other.

The 5 Best Vegan Paleo Protein Foods

Seaweed and Other Sea Vegetables

All I included was dried seaweed on the table above, but pretty much any seaweed-related food has a high amount of protein:

  • Kelp
  • Nori
  • Kombu
  • Arame
  • Chlorella

They also have a ton of other vitamins.

Seaweed is very healthy in general, but there’s only so much you can eat. So even though it is high in protein, you’ll only be able to get a small portion of your daily protein from it.

Nutritional Yeast

Bob’s Red Mill’s nutritional yeast

Many vegans miss cheese, and nutritional yeast can provide a cheesy flavor plus a ton of protein. Nutritional yeast is also a complete protein by most definitions.

Since it’s just made from wild yeast, it’s considered paleo from what I’ve read.

On top of having a lot of protein, it also has a significant amount of:

  • All B-vitamins
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Zinc
  • Selenium

Other than taste limitations, it’s really hard to eat too much nutritional yeast per day.

My favorite way to use it is to blend it in with cashew cream, and use that as a sauce for a variety of dishes.

Seeds

seeds variety

Seeds are a great source of protein and healthy fats on a paleo and vegan diet.

From the table above, several seeds are near the top of the list per 100 grams, including:

  • Hemp
  • Pumpkin
  • Flax
  • Sesame
  • Chia

They are packed full of minerals as well.

The one thing you need to keep an eye on is that not all seeds have a great omega 3 to 6 fat ratio. Getting too many omega 6 fats can lead to inflammation.

Nuts

Similar to seeds, nuts contain a good amount of protein and fats.

The top nuts for protein are:

  • Almonds
  • Pistachio
  • Cashews
  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Brazil nuts (also a great source of selenium)

Nuts and seeds are going to be a big part of a paleo and vegan diet. There’s just no way around it.

Again, be aware of the omega 3 to 6 fat ratio of nuts, which are much worse than seeds.

Leafy Greens

When you sort by the amount of protein per 100 calories, you’ll see several leafy greens jump to the top of the list:

  • Watercress
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Rapini
  • Kale

They’re obviously very healthy foods with a ton of vitamins and fiber.

The downside of relying on leafy greens for protein is that you have to eat a ton to get a significant amount of protein.

You should eat leafy greens as often as you can in large quantities, but you will need to rely on the other protein sources we looked at above as well.

The good news is that salads go great with nuts, seeds, and nutritional yeast. It’s not difficult to throw together a nice big salad that has 50 grams of protein or more.

About the author

Dale Cudmore

Your friendly neighborhood vegan from Toronto. I've spent over 6 years as a freelance nutrition writer and researcher. During this time, I've tested over 50 vegan protein powders, and over 100 other types of vegan supplements.