Plant-Based Protein Sources: Meeting Nutritional Needs

The popularity of plant-based proteins has seen a remarkable surge in recent years, especially among individuals who want to consume fewer animal products.

In 2015 and 2016, plant-based proteins made up around 33% of total protein intake in the US. As people become more health-conscious and environmentally aware, plant-based protein foods gained wide acceptance.

These foods play a critical role in fulfilling our nutritional needs, while also creating an eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyle. In this blog article, we will explore some of the best plant-based protein sources available. Read on to learn more!

Benefits Of A Vegan Diet

It is a common misconception that vegetarian and vegan diets do not contain enough protein. However, a study published by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2013 found that vegans get 70% more protein than they need every day compared to non-vegetarians. 

Here are some of the benefits that have been linked to plant-based diets.

Helps with weight loss

The body mass index (BMI) of vegans tends to be lower than that of non-vegans, which may reduce their risk for chronic diseases. In addition, numerous studies indicate that plant-based diets, such as low-fat vegan diets, can help individuals who suffer from cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, or obesity lose weight.

Plant-based diets have also been associated with improved blood sugar control, a healthier heart, and reduced blood pressure.

Environmentally friendly

Aside from its proven health benefits, vegan diets are considered eco-friendly because they significantly reduce the impact of food consumption on our planet. Adopting a vegan diet is the “single best way” we can minimize our greenhouse gas emissions. Our carbon footprint would decrease by 73% and methane emissions would be cut down by 45%. Not to mention, a plant-based diet can reduce our water footprint by half! 

Prevents animal exploitation 

Current methods of producing and consuming meat, eggs, and dairy products are not sustainable and often result in animal suffering. Each year, the global food industry breeds, raises, and slaughters over 92 billion land animals for human consumption.

Choosing to eat plant-based protein foods can reduce the demand for meat, dairy, and eggs, preventing inhumane breeding and slaughter.

Getting Enough Protein as a Vegan

Making sure you’re getting enough protein on a vegan diet is equally important as choosing your plant-based protein sources. It’s relatively easy to figure out how much protein your body needs.

In general, the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that protein make up 10%–35% of your overall calorie intake. Downloading a food tracking app, such as MyFitnessPal, or using online calculators can also help keep track of your daily protein intake. 

optimal Macronutrient ratio

Protein deficiency is quite uncommon, especially if you eat a well-rounded diet. But if you’re still concerned about not getting enough protein, try adding more of the suggested protein-packed foods below to your meals. 

Top 10 Sources Of Protein For Vegans And Vegetarians

Switching to plant-based protein can be a bit tricky, especially with all the options available but don’t worry – we’ve got you covered!

Protein content per 100 grams
Seitan25 g
Soybeans12 – 20 g
Nutritional Yeast4 g
Lentils9 g
Beans8 g
Whole grains3 – 16 g
Hemp seeds32 g
Spelt and Teff10 – 11 g
Green Peas5.4 g
Nuts15 – 21 g

Here are some of the best protein-rich, plant-based foods you can add to round up your vegan diet. 



Seitan is a food with a long history that can be traced back to Ancient China. The use of wheat gluten as a meat substitute has been documented in Chinese cuisine for centuries, especially among vegetarian Buddhist monks. By soaking their wheat dough in water, they were able to remove all starch, producing high-protein seitan. 

This is a favorite protein option among vegetarians and vegans due to its flavor and texture similar to that of chicken. There are a number of dishes that can be prepared, flavored, and prepared with seitan, making it a good meat substitute.

What’s impressive is that this seitan provides about 25 grams of protein per 100 grams, making it one of the highest sources of plant protein out there. So, if you’re looking for a tasty and protein-packed alternative, seitan might be your new go-to!

This plant-based food is considered one of the highest sources of protein out there since it provides about 25 grams of protein per 100 grams, which is the same amount of protein that salmon provides.



Soy protein is a crucial component of a nutritious plant-based diet. When it comes to protein, soybeans are like the all-in-one package! They are classified as a “whole source” of protein, which means that soybeans supply all the essential amino acids your body requires to stay strong and healthy.

Tofu, tempeh, edamame, and even soy milk are delicious and easy-to-prepare options for adding protein to your diet. A simple appetizer can be made with deep-fried tofu or steamed edamame.

Below are the protein contents of common soy foods, according to the USDA:

Protein content per 100 grams
Tofu12 g
Tempeh20 g
Shelled edamame12 g

Nutritional Yeast

nutritional yeast

Nutritional Yeast is an inactive yeast with a yellow look that the vegan community commonly refers to as “nooch”. It has a distinctive cheese, umami-rich flavor. According to the USDA, just 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast pack around 4 grams of protein. As an added bonus, it serves as an excellent plant-based source of vitamin B12, which is usually found in meat.



Lentils, often called pulses, are dried seeds from a plant known as a legume. Known for being rich in fiber and low in fat compared to beans, lentils are a great addition to any diet. When cooked, just one cup (198 grams) of lentils contains 18 grams of protein, making them an excellent protein source.

There are different types of lentils, like brown, black, red, and green, each with its own unique taste. People all over the world love them, and they can be used in various dishes, ranging from fresh salads to spice-infused dals and hearty soups.

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Beans are a strong and rich source of plant-based protein, fiber, and other essential vitamins and minerals. Whether it’s kidney beans, navy beans, black beans, or chickpeas, these legumes are staples in many cultures. 

Most beans typically contain about 15 grams of protein per cooked cup (170 grams).

Protein content per 100 grams
Kidney beans8.7 g
Navy beans8.2 g
Black beans8.9 g
Chickpeas8.9 g

They’re also rich in complex carbs, and key vitamins and minerals like folate, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese. Adding beans can enhance both the taste and nutritional value of your plant-based meals.

Whole Grains

whole grains

Despite the misconception that whole grains are only rich in carbohydrates, they are also a fantastic source of plant-based protein.

Numerous types of whole grains are naturally packed with protein and also provide a generous dose of fiber, essential vitamins, and minerals. You can make your meals more wholesome by incorporating oats, buckwheat, wild rice, and quinoa. 

Here are the protein contents of common whole grain foods, according to the USDA:

Protein content per 100 grams
Oats16 g
Buckwheat3.4 g
Quinoa4 g
Wild rice4 g

Hemp Seeds

hemp seeds

Hemp seeds are tiny, brown seeds that come from the Cannabis sativa plant. While they belong to the same family as cannabis, they won’t make you feel high! Hemp seeds have only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for cannabis’s psychoactive effects.

Hemp seeds contain high concentrations of protein, about 32 g of protein per 100 grams. Hemp seeds are also rich in fiber and essential fatty acids, which are crucial for long-term health. With its rich nutritional profile, hemp seeds are a great plant-based protein source.

Spelt and Teff

spelt and teff

Spelt and teff are ancient grains that are subspecies of wheat. People have grown and consumed spelt and teff for over 300 years to load up on their carbs and protein, making it a trusted choice for vegans. 

Spelt and teff both provide around 10-11 grams of protein per cooked cup (250 grams). They also contain high amounts of fiber, complex carbs, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and manganese.

Green Peas

green peas

As a starchy vegetable with a sweet taste, green peas originate from a legume plant and are often incorporated in most plant-based food recipes. They are a popular vegetable due to their rich nutritional content, containing carbs, fiber, protein, and other beneficial vitamins. 

A cooked cup (160 grams) of green peas contains nearly 9 g of protein, slightly more than a cup (237 mL) of dairy milk. Additionally, green peas provide more than 25% of your daily requirements for thiamine, folate, manganese, and vitamins A, C, and K.



Nuts are one of the most delicious plant-based protein foods, with a tough shell protecting a tasty, edible kernel inside.

Almonds, cashew nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, and walnuts are among the commonly enjoyed nuts, and they’re a must-have in any plant-based pantry. You can enjoy them as convenient snacks or use them in a wide range of recipes to add a delightful crunch and flavor.

For a heart-healthy diet, the American Heart Association suggests eating about 42.5 grams of nuts several times a week. Check out this sampling of nuts and their protein content per the USDA:

Protein content per 100 grams
Almonds21 g
Walnuts15 g
Cashews18 g

Final Thoughts

Incorporating plant-based protein sources into your diet is a smart and health-conscious choice. From legumes, tofu, and tempeh to nuts, seeds, and whole grains, the vegan diet offers a wide selection of protein-rich options that can easily meet your daily protein requirements.

Not only do these plant-based foods provide essential amino acids and nutrients, but they also contribute to a balanced and sustainable diet.

Choosing plant-based protein sources not only benefits your health but also supports a more sustainable and compassionate lifestyle. If you’re looking to adopt a vegan lifestyle or diversify your plant-based protein diet, there are countless options for you!

More Guides to Vegan Brands

If you’d like some food ideas to help you on your vegan journey, here are links to some of my Vegan Food Brand Guides:

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