Protein is an essential nutrient for your muscles, bones, and immune system.
Although the most well-known sources are meats, fish, and dairy, there are plenty of plant-based protein options to help you meet your requirements and keep you satisfied.
Here are 8 of the best plant-based sources of protein
The best plant-based protein sources
Here are 8 of the best plant-based protein sources.
1. Tofu and tempeh
Tofu and tempeh are excellent plant-based sources of protein.
They’re both made from soybeans but in different ways. Tofu is made by pressing the bean curds together, whereas tempeh is made by cooking, fermenting, and pressing soybeans.
They’re both very versatile and can be used as meat alternatives, or simply in soups.
Lentils are packed with protein, providing 18 grams per cooked cup (240 ml) (3).
They’re also high in minerals like folate, manganese, and iron. Lentils are also a great source of plant compounds called polyphenols that help fight various diseases (4).
Lentils are incredibly versatile and work great in salads, soups, and casseroles.
3. Chickpeas and most beans
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and most other types of beans are great sources of protein.
A single cup (240 ml) of chickpeas and other beans provides you with around 15-18 grams of protein. They also have a healthy dose of fiber, complex carbs, various minerals like iron, folate, potassium, manganese, phosphorus, and beneficial plant-based compounds (5).
Chickpeas and beans work great in soups, salads, or on their own as the star of the dish.
4. Nutritional yeast
Nutritional yeast is a delicious vegan-friendly protein option.
Two tablespoons (30 ml) contains 8 grams of protein and a whopping 4 grams of fiber (6).
Nutritional yeast uses the same species of yeast that’s used to brew beer and bake bread. However, nutritional yeast is made differently and has a cheesey taste, making it a great seasoning and even a vegan cheese alternative.
You can buy nutritional yeast at many health food stores and also online.
5. Soy milk
Soy milk is made from soybeans and is a great plant-based milk option.
One cup (240 ml) contains 6 grams of protein and is high in calcium, vitamin D, and B12 (7).
You can buy soy milk at most supermarkets and drink it on its own or as a milk alternative. Make sure to choose unsweetened soy milk to avoid unnecessary sugar and calories.
6. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are both great plant-based sources of protein.
A regular 28 gram (one ounce) serve has 5–7 grams of protein, depending on the type (8).
Aside from being high in protein, both nuts and seeds are high in fiber and healthy fats. They also pack various vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, selenium, magnesium, vitamin E, and many different types of B vitamins.
When you’re buying nuts, choose raw, unblanched versions because they are healthier.
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is bursting with nutrients.
Just two tablespoons (30 ml) of spirulina provides you with 8 grams of protein. Also, it contains 22% of your daily iron and thiamin needs, and 42% of your daily copper needs (9).
You can buy spirulina as a tablet or a powder you can mix into smoothies and soups.
Seitan is an excellent protein option for vegetarians and vegans.
It contains a whopping 25 grams of protein per 100 grams (3.5 ounces) (10).
Some people call seitan “wheat meat” or “wheat gluten” because it’s made from gluten — the main protein in wheat — and has a similar look and texture to meat when it is cooked.
You can find seitan and many health-food stores or make your own with vital wheat gluten.
Summary There are plenty of great plant-based protein options like tofu, tempeh, lentils, chickpeas, beans, nutritional yeast, soy milk, nuts and seeds, spirulina, and seitan
Blog written by
Ryan Raman MHSC, RD