Top 23 Most Popular Vegan Protein Sources for a Healthy Plant-Based Diet

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Here are the top 23 vegan protein sources to include in a healthy well-balanced plant-based diet.
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Proteins are an essential part of the nutrients needed by our body for a balanced lifestyle. That is why it is extremely important to know how to ensure the daily dose we need.

In today’s article, I will present 23 vegan protein sources to see that there are enough vegan sources to be able to replace animal protein, you will also find the benefits of these vegan protein sources.

What are proteins?

Proteins are an important part of any diet. They are part of every cell of our body and are permanently replaced and rebuilt, depending on the needs of the body.

There are complete proteins that contain all 20 amino acids and there are incomplete proteins that contain less than 20 amino acids.

Amino acids are the basis of proteins, and 9 of them are considered essential. The essential amino acids are those that our body cannot produce alone, so they must be obtained from nutrition.

What role do proteins play in the body?

Protein function in the body is by far crucial in the formation, development, and repair of cells, tissues, muscles, and organs. Proteins are also very important in the production of antibodies and hormones and enzymes, facilitating several chemical processes throughout the body.

However, as meat, eggs, dairy or fish are some of the main sources of protein in daily consumption, what happens to those who have a diet based strictly on vegetables and fruits?

How does a vegan diet help us?

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Studies have shown that a well-balanced vegan diet can provide all the protein you need from plants. Moreover, vegan proteins are recognized for helping to increase the body’s high alkalinity, reduce the intake of cholesterol and unhealthy saturated fats, and lower the risk of stroke or obesity.

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For vegans, getting complete protein from plant foods is essential, as a deficiency can have serious health consequences. It is even easy to obtain a sufficient amount of protein from plant sources. The key is to know what are the sources of plant protein that can give you the required daily dose.

The list of the top 23 most popular vegan sources of protein

I divided them into 7 major categories:

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1. Black Beans

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In a cup of black beans, are 15 grams of protein. Besides its protein content, it is also rich in iron, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, folic acid but also many fibers that lower cholesterol and strengthen the immune system.

Beans, unlike meat, contain a large amount of protein and fiber, which makes them very tasty. You can use the beans for the main meal in the form of curry, stews, or burgers to add fiber and diversity to meat-centric meals.

100 g of black beans contains 21, 6 g of protein.

2. Lentils

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Lentil is considered a very good source of vegetable protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber. It is an excellent source of minerals, among which are distinguished phosphorus, iron, zinc, and magnesium, but also of vitamins from group B (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and B9).

The most suitable types of lentils for food are green and red lentils, which retain their shape and properties after boiling.

100 g of boiled lentils contains 9 g of protein.

3. Chickpeas

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It is wonderful food, recommended for a balanced and healthy diet. It protects the heart, it helps the diabetics, it is an elixir of the life of the couple and, last but not least, due to the protein richness, it is ideal in the fight with the kilograms.

Chickpeas are highly sought due to its nutrient-rich content and the plant protein resources it contains. The diet contains vegetable amino acids, sugars with slow absorption, fats, magnesium, calcium, zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, the whole vitamin B complex, manganese, and folic acid.

The chickpeas are used in a variety of recipes, whether in soups, salads, or various stews. The most popular delicacies are hummus and falafel. The salads in which you introduce some fish are tasty and help you control your appetite.

100 g raw of chickpeas gives you 9 g of protein.

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4. Peas

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It is rich in proteins, minerals, vitamins, and fiber essential for the body. It is an essential source of vitamin K, which activates calcium in the body that is more quickly assimilated into bones.

Pea is also an important source of folic acid and vitamin B6, important substances for fighting osteoporosis and atherosclerosis. Pea also contains many B vitamins: thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), and niacin (B3). 

These vitamins help regulate the level of lipids, carbohydrates, and proteins in the body. To obtain a complete profile of essential amino acids, it is recommended to be consumed with brown rice.

100 g of dried peas contains 24 g of protein

100 g of green peas contains 3 g of protein

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5. Soybean

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Foods derived from soy, such as tofu, edamame, and tempeh, offer complete protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Lecithin, Omega-3 fatty acids, and other substances in the composition of soybeans prevent the development of cancer cells, especially in the case of breast cancer.

Soybean also has beneficial effects on the functioning of the digestive tract, facilitating digestive and assimilation processes. Consumption of soy products also leads to better regulation in terms of menstrual cycles.

100 g of organic tofu contains 14 g of vegetable protein


6. Nuts

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They are rich in protein, healthy fats, fiber, antioxidants, many vitamins, and minerals. It contains Vitamin E which is beneficial for the cardiovascular system. Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of nuts protect against metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.

What you should know about nuts is that they have a high-calorie content, which is why when you include them in your diet you have to be very careful.

100 g of raw nuts contains 21 g of protein

7. Pecan Nuts

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They are sweeter than ordinary nuts and have a thinner crust than these. Pecan nuts are distinguished from the other walnuts by their high-fat content – over 70% of the total – the largest of all walnuts except macadamia nuts.

But the profile of those fats is one that is beneficial for human health, over 90% of the fats contained are either monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Pecan nuts have a high content of fatty acids that are beneficial in the fight against cardiovascular disease, have a high content of minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, etc.), vitamins (A, B1, E), lutein (a strong antioxidant). Among other benefits listed: good functioning of the nervous system, strengthening of the bone system, aids digestion, strengthens the immune system.

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100 g pecan nuts contain 9.2 g of protein.

8. Almonds

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They are both rich in vitamin E and help improve the appearance of the skin, hair, and nails, but they also contain a large amount of calcium to strengthen the bones.

Consuming 10 almonds a day we have the equivalent of a spinach dish because almonds are an important source of iron, which helps to produce and increase the number of red blood cells.

Due to the optimal calorie content, they can be consumed between meals, especially by people who follow a diet, help prevent anemia, have an antioxidant effect. Regular consumption of almonds helps prevent anemia.

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100 g of almonds contain 21.3 g of protein.

9. Cashew Nuts

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They have positive effects on our whole body. Even though half of their composition consists of fats, they help in weight loss. At the same time, they prevent the formation of gallstones, and scientific studies have confirmed that they are effective fighters against gastrointestinal cancer.

Cashew nuts reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, help lower cholesterol, prevent the formation of gallstones, fat-rich butter, but even so, it helps in weight loss, is an important source of vitamin K, which is important for bones, It reduces the risk of diabetes.

100 g Cashew nuts contain 18 g protein

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10. Pistachios

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It is an ideal source of vitamin B6 and minerals such as manganese, potassium, copper, phosphorus, and magnesium. If I haven’t convinced you yet, then I tell you that a pistachio snack offers 12% of the recommended daily dose of fiber, about the same value as a serving of oatmeal.

Moreover, if you are a vegetarian, such a snack provides you with a significant amount of protein and iron.

100 g of raw pistachio contains 25 g of protein

11. Brazilian Nuts

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Brazilian nuts, like other types of nuts, are known for their tasty taste and the health benefits they bring, they can be served in different forms: raw or fried, salted or unsalted, shelled or cleaned, melted in chocolate, put in ice cream.

They can also be served in various mixtures with nuts and hazelnuts, as well as in cakes, cookies, muffins, and salads.

Vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, selenium, alpha, and beta-carotene, as well as various other phytochemicals found in the composition of Brazilian nuts, have antioxidant effects.

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100 g of Brazilian nuts contains 14 g of protein


12. Pumpkin seeds

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They are rich in healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, such as magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, manganese. They are perfect for vegans and vegetarians who can’t get omega-3s from animal foods.

Pumpkin seeds are high in protein and have a unique aroma, which makes them a perfect snack.

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100 g pumpkin seeds, raw, contain 24 g of protein

13. Chia Seeds

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They are a complete source of vegetable protein in an easily digestible form and are also abundant in fiber and Omega 3 fatty acids.

They are also rich in minerals, including calcium, manganese, phosphorus, iron, and zinc. Chia seeds also contain tryptophan, which can help you get better sleep.

100 g Chia seeds contain 15 g protein

14. Flax Seeds

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They are an important source of Omega-3 fats. They originate in Egypt, where they were used as food and medicine to maintain the health of the digestive system and for the laxative effect due to the rich content of fiber and mucilaginous substances.

They can be consumed both whole and ground and can be added in salads, yogurts, but also bakery products, creams, sauces, cakes.

Adults can consume about 1 tablespoon of seeds, 2 times a day, with a sufficient amount of water. In the case of children, one teaspoon of seeds is sufficient

The flax seeds are crunchy and have a slightly nutty, but slightly spicy taste.

100 g of flax seeds contains 18 g of protein

15. Hemp Seeds

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They are exceptional food that should not be missing from the diet of every vegetarian. Hemp seeds contain all 9 essential amino acids of the human body, but also magnesium, zinc, iron, and selenium.

In addition to these, hemp seeds are a source of essential fatty acids such as omega 3.

100 g of hemp seeds contain 30 g of protein.


16. Barley 

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It is a type of whole-grain cereal rich in fiber and protein that offers many health benefits to those who consume it.

Boiled, the barley has a delicious aroma of hazelnuts and gum texture. Also, barley is an excellent source of carbohydrates and can be consumed at breakfast.

Barley is appreciated for its high content of fiber and protein, which stimulates the health of metabolism and helps increase energy levels. Barley is rich in manganese, selenium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium,

100 g of whole barley flakes contain 11.9 g of protein

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17. Oats Flakes

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Are a good source of nutrients such as vitamin E, zinc, selenium, copper, iron, manganese, and magnesium. Also, oats are a good source of antioxidants, fiber, and protein.

One of the components found in oatmeal – beta-glucan – is a soluble fiber that is thought to have beneficial effects on blood cholesterol levels. Oats are also an important source of vitamin B1, essential for energy production.

100 g of whole oat flakes contain 13 g of protein


18. Quinoa

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Considered to be a pseudocereal, it is also an excellent source of vegetable protein. It is also rich in fiber, copper, folic acid, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc, as several antioxidants.

Quinoa also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

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100 g of cooked quinoa contains 4.5 g of protein.

19. Buckwheat

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It is rich in vitamins E, B1, and B2, but also incomplete proteins, carbohydrates, fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, zinc, manganese, selenium, and iron.

Although it is not part of the cereals class (it is a herbaceous plant related to rhubarb and stevia created), it is considered a pseudocereal next to Quinoa, buckwheat is superior to wheat, for example, through the nutrients that protect the body from external factors and fortify it, more it’s chosen in the cold season and early spring.

100 g of buckwheat contains 13 g of vegetable protein


20. Cauliflower 

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It is a rich source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B, and Vitamin E. It provides vital minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, sodium, and iron.

It is also an efficient source of protein, having a substantial amount of phytochemicals, unsaturated fats, and essential omega-3 fatty acids and contains a lot of fat. It also provides dietary fiber.

It can help in weight loss, fight against cancer, improve the overall health of the cardiovascular system, help detoxify the body, prevent digestive disorders, improve immunity.

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100 g cauliflower contains 2.4 g protein

21. Broccoli

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It contains two of the vitamins with an antioxidant role, A and C, which stimulate the immune system. Like spinach, it provides an impressive amount of vitamin K, but also potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, sodium, vitamin B6, vitamin E.

When they are cut into small pieces, in the bouquets and broccoli strain activates an enzyme that enhances the anticancer properties. Cooking or steaming increases the potential for the assimilation of nutrients from broccoli and improves digestion.

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100 g of broccoli contains 3 g of protein.

22. Brussels sprouts

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Like other crucifers, it is rich in phytonutrients and vitamin C. It provides nutrients that support the detoxification of the body and has an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant role.

It also contains vitamins A, K, C, B6, folic acid, potassium, iron, selenium, calcium. I recommend you cook the Brussels sprouts with steam, on the grill or in the pan, over low heat, to benefit from its properties.

100 g Brussels sprouts contain 3 g of protein


23. Spirulina

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It is well known as a superfood with multiple health benefits. Spirulina is a blue-green alga, a rich source of protein, minerals, and vitamins. Spirulina contains 60% more protein than most meat products of animal origin.

It is a superfood, which contains all the essential amino acids necessary for good health. It also contains a wide range of minerals, along with several B vitamins and several antioxidant compounds. It gives the body chlorophyll, which is very beneficial for the circulatory system, together with the digestive and liver system.

You can find it in powder form or in tablet form being the ideal supplement in vegetarian diets.

100 g of Spirulina contains 58 g of protein

Last Thoughts:

This is by no means an exhaustive list of every vegan protein source out there. It’s just a rundown of some of the most popular and nutritious ones that I have come across. There are many other sources.

This is not intended to be a definitive look at vegan protein sources either. Regardless, I hope it helps get you started on your journey to living a healthier life with more plant-based food.

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4 thoughts

      1. This is very true!

        I also learned that you don’t need meat for protein after reading about the research on plant-based meat from Impossible Foods.

  1. When it comes to eating, it’s all about moderation! that’s what a lot of people don’t understand, and about the hours when you have your meals, but most important: how you combine your food

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