Protein is a valuable macronutrient that your body needs to survive, and is well known as “the building blocks of life”. People often assume that protein is only found in high quantities within meats, poultry, seafood, and dairy products.
However, there are healthy vegan foods high in protein that you should consider implementing into your diet plan regardless if you are vegan or not. You will be surprised by some of the foods that are going to be presented to you since they are not commonly known to contain significant amounts of protein.
Vegan protein sources derive from various foods within the plant, bean, legume, and nut families primarily. Let’s take a look at them and see what healthy choices you have to roll with. (Protein values are approximate per serving)
1) Chia Seeds – 5 grams protein per serving (2 tablespoons)
Chia Pets may become extinct after people find this secret out. These seeds have become quite popular for their antioxidants, and can be found within numerous beverages looking like little gelatinous pudding floating around, which happens because the seeds soak up the liquids.
They can easily be added into a shake, smoothie, or spread across a fresh garden salad, and are a great way to get that additional protein intake.
2) Almonds and Pistachios – 5 grams protein per serving (1 oz.)
These two come from the nut family and are known to contain the most protein. Not by a whole lot when compared to other nuts, but they also have other health benefits as well such as containing a rare vegan omega-3 fatty acid (usually not found in vegan based diets).
These nuts are great for snacking on between meals and easy to pack-and-go.
3) Sunflower Seeds – 7 grams protein per serving (1/4 cup)
Another seed with significant protein content? Indeed they are! This is one of the vegan foods high in protein that people often overlook.
They have been a popular snacking food for quite some time, but their protein values seem to be unheard of. Sunflower seeds also contain healthy dietary fats, thus the reason a lot of people use sunflower oil.
Simply de-shell them and enjoy the treat, or spread across your salad with the chia seeds.
A pretty high protein value since this is a legume and not a plant/vegetable. Edamame also contains significant nutrient values of fiber.
You can usually find these as snacking dishes within sushi restaurants, but they are of course sold in stores as well (check your frozen veggie section). They are quite tasty boiled and sprinkled with a little Himalayan sea salt.
If you truly seek to find vegan foods high in protein to snack on then here you have it!
5) Quinoa – 8 grams protein per serving (1 cup)
This popular legume has become a replacement for white rice since it contains lesser calories and low amounts of sugars (carbs). The protein content is not amazingly high considering it’s a legume with a serving size at a cup, but it contains 9 essential amino acids that your body requires to function properly.
An essential amino acid means that your body does not have the capability to produce this nutrient on its own, so foods need to be consumed containing it. Non-essential amino acids are the ones your body is able to produce naturally.
6) Green Peas – 8 grams protein per serving (1 cup)
Green peas are another legume that contains protein and considered vegan (but not Paleo). They are more than just for looks when you order fried rice, and contain plenty of fiber to keep your digestive system running smoothly. Simply boil them and eat alongside your dinner, or add to soups as well.
7) Chickpeas – 6 grams protein per serving (1/2 cup)
Chickpeas also get referred to as garbanzo beans, and are the primary ingredient for humus. You can easily boil them and make your own fresh humus to be eaten, or even toss them on top of your next salad to get a little different texture.
High in fiber and low in calories!
8) Beans – 13 grams protein per serving (1 cup)
Beans, beans, the magical fruit, the more you eat the more you to….well we all know this little song from growing up. They are definitely not fruit, but contain a lot of fiber, which is the reason why people often get a bit gassy from them.
Aside from this slight con for some, the bean is actually a great vegan protein to consider consuming that has a high protein value.
9) Broccoli – 3 grams protein per serving (1 cup)
Truth be told – vegetables are not the highest source when it comes to protein, but broccoli sets itself aside from most of the others. This veggie has quite a lot of protein and also contains heart healthy antioxidants along with good old fiber.
10) Tofu – 15 grams protein per serving (1/2 cup) (AMAZING!)
Tofu is actually created from soybeans and is one of the best vegan foods high in protein. This little treat is often used with flavoring to replace meats, poultry, and fish since a lot of people choose to become vegetarian or vegan.
However, you can also get a block of firm tofu and fry it to get a tasty treat. Just don’t get carried away with frying them too often.
A little Warning About Legumes
Legumes are great sources for protein and fiber as described with some of the foods presented to you. However, they also have harmful toxins in them that damage your intestines just the same as grains.
The primary harm comes from raw forms of legumes since they contain high quantities of lectins and phytates, but when you sprout, ferment, or soak them you strip away most of these harmful toxins. Sometimes you can even get food poisoning from them.
Why in the world would I present you with this type of food? Because they are some of the only sources of protein you will find following a vegan diet, and the only way to avoid them would be choosing the Paleo diet instead – just minus the meat and dairy, which leaves you little choices for protein to choose from.
Just don’t consume legumes raw (not sure who really does this anyways). Simply soak them, discard the water, boil them, and you will be good. Stay healthy and believe in the strong fit way of living regardless of your diet beliefs!