7 Best Vegan Protein Sources
7 best vegan protein sources
When I was first considering a vegan lifestyle, I was so incredibly fearful that I wouldn’t be able to get enough protein and I would in turn, lose muscle (such a dumb reason, I know).
As I researched “best vegan protein sources” across the internet, majority of articles recommended foods like quinoa, nuts, and broccoli. While these foods do contain a few grams of protein, they are not what I would classify as a vegan protein source.
For instance, one ounce of almonds has 6 grams of protein, but 14 grams of fat and 6 grams of carbs! The calories from the fat content far exceed the protein, making almonds more of a source of healthy fat, not a vegan protein source.
Nonetheless, I was dead set on going vegan, and I started to extensively research plant-based foods that were very high in protein. Turns out there are lots of vegan protein sources out there, that are not just tofu!
(*Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.)
Here are my favorite high protein vegan foods that I incorporate into my diet:
1. Naked Pea Protein Powder
(For one serving = two scoops)
When I went vegan, I knew I would have to say goodbye to whey protein and hello to pea protein (I legit threw out over 20lbs of whey protein powder). I had tried pea protein powder in the past, but the taste was horrible. It tasted like I was drinking soil or liquid grass.
Now, I wouldn’t say Naked Pea Protein powder is tasty with just water or almond milk. However, it tastes amaaaazing if you turn it into a smoothie bowl! I make vegan protein smoothie bowls every morning with either the Vanilla or Chocolate Naked Pea Protein Powder, soy milk, and fruits like bananas, strawberries, mangos, acai blend, etc. If you prefer a sweeter taste, you can also add a packet or two of sweetener.
2. Butler’s Soy Curls
(1 serving = ¾ cup)
I came across this soy-based, vegan protein source on Amazon and I am so happy I discovered these things. You are supposed to soak the soy curls in water first, then add them to any dish like veggie sautés, pastas, soups, etc.
However, I actually eat them raw (they are crunchy!) and sprinkle on nutritional yeast (adds a cheesy flavor), plus a pinch of garlic salt. I also add them to salads as “croutons”. Overall, these Soy Curls are extremely versatile and high in protein.
3. Nutritional Yeast
(1 serving = 2 tablespoons)
If you are missing cheese as a vegan, nutritional yeast is about to become your new BFF. Nutritional yeast is a food additive made from an organism called Saccharomyces Cerevisiae. It is first grown on molasses and then harvested, washed, and dried with heat to deactivate the organism (totally safe, I promise).
Nutritional yeast is packed with protein, and is also high in B-vitamins, folic acid, selenium, and zinc.
My favorite way to consume nutritional yeast is sprinkling it on popcorn, salads, any savory dish, or using it to make a vegan-friendly mac ‘n’ cheese.
(1 serving = ⅓ cup)
Pronounced “say-tahn”, seitan is a vegan meat substitute made from wheat gluten. Seitan has a relatively neutral taste, making it super versatile for savory vegan dishes. This is one of the most high protein, non-soy based vegan foods out there. SO good.
5. Edamame Pasta
(1 serving = 2oz)
So this isn’t exactly a pure vegan protein source (the carbohydrate content is nearly equal to the protein), BUT this edamame pasta is insanely high in protein compared to your typical spaghetti noodle. Cook it up Italian style with tomato sauce and almond cheese, or turn it into an Asian noodle stir fry with veggies and soy sauce. Delish!
(1 serving = ½ cup)
Tempeh is a soy-based, vegan protein source made from fermented cooked soybeans. While tempeh is a bit higher in fat content, it’s still packed with protein. Tempeh has a dense, chewy texture with a pretty versatile flavor that tastes a bit nutty and earthy.
Since I’m a lazy cook, I usually just sauté tempeh in coconut aminos and stir fry it with some veggies.
(1 serving = ½ cup)
Ah, tofu. Probably one of the most popular, well-known vegan protein sources out there. Tofu is made from the curds of soybeans that are then pressed into soft, white blocks. By itself, tofu is pretty bland and tasteless.
When I first tried tofu, I absolutely despised it. The texture, consistency, lack of flavor… seemed like I was just eating a soggy sponge (ew).
But tofu can actually be freaking delicious if you know how to cook it right!
For starters, I would recommend the extra firm tofu for a better consistency. You’ll also want to press the tofu down to remove some of the water. After you’ve seasoned the tofu, you can fry it up, grill it, or bake it to get a crispier crust.
Now, who says you can’t build muscle and be vegan? :)