Vegan Protein Sources Chart

Protein is often a main talking point with vegan diets since there aren’t as many high-protein options compared to diets that include meat and other animal-based foods. Most foods contain protein, but the volume needed to match the protein in meat is often greater for plant-based foods. For that reason, we compiled a review of the best vegan protein sources (chart included) to help you meet your needs.

Make sure to download our FREE Vegan Protein Sources Chart (PDF).

Importance of protein

Protein is essential for:

  • Building and repairing cells and tissues (like internal organs, bone, muscle, blood, skin, hair, and nails)
  • Supporting the immune system
  • Growing muscle mass
  • Recovering from illness, injury, and surgery

Protein requirements

Your protein needs mainly depend on your age, sex, body composition, activity level, overall health, and goals. People who strength train frequently, have high muscle mass, are older than 50 years, or are pregnant or breastfeeding often need more protein. (1, 2, 3)

General protein needs:

  • Sedentary adults
    • Maintain weight: 1.2-1.8 g/kg
  • Active adults
    • Maintain weight: 1.4-2.0 g/kg
    • Build muscle: 1.6-2.4 g/kg
    • Lose fat: 1.6-2.4 g/kg
  • Adults with BMI ≥ 30
    • Lose fat: 1.2-1.5 g/kg
  • Adults ≥ 50 years old
    • Maintain weight: 1.2-1.5 g/kg
    • Build muscle: 1.7-2.0 g/kg
    • Lose fat: 1.5-2.2 g/kg
  • Pregnancy: 1.7-2.0 g/kg
  • Lactation: 1.5-1.9 g/kg

Effects of consuming too much protein

Usually, your body will flush out excess protein in the urine, but in some cases, excess protein can lead to unwanted side effects and increase your risk for some diseases.

If you eat greater than 2 g/kg protein, you may experience constipation, dehydration, hyperinsulinemia, kidney failure, weight gain (due to excess calorie intake), or bad breath (if your body is in ketosis).

Long-term intake of excess protein can increase the risk of kidney stones, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and heart disease. This is not a concern for most people and the benefits of consuming adequate protein outweigh the risks of overdoing it.

Effects of consuming too little protein

Eating less protein than your body needs can lead to loss of muscle mass, longer muscle recovery, increased risk of infection, slow wound healing, and increased risk of bone fracture. These issues can further increase your risk of falls, injuries, hospitalizations, and decreased independence.

Plant vs animal protein sources

The main differences between plant and animal protein sources include the amino acid profiles and digestibility of the protein. These together impact bioavailability which is the capacity for our bodies to digest, absorb, and utilize the protein. 


Complete vs incomplete proteins

Humans require 20 amino acids (AAs) which help form our cells, tissues, organs, enzymes, hormones, and chemicals. While our bodies can make 11 of these, we must get the other 9 from food. Essential amino acids (EAAs) describe the 9 AAs that we need in our diets. Below are some common terms regarding amino acids:

  • Complete proteins: food sources that contain all 9 EAAs in adequate amounts; these foods are considered more bioavailable than incomplete proteins
    • Examples: meat, fish, dairy, soy, quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, and spirulina
  • Incomplete proteins: food sources that are low in at least one EAA; most foods contain many or all of the EAAs, but they don’t always have an amount high enough to be used optimally by the body
    • Examples: fruit, vegetables, beans, peas, lentils, nuts, seeds, wheat, rice, and oats
  • Conditionally essential amino acids: AAs that are needed in greater amounts than the body can produce, usually during times of high stress, like pregnancy, wound healing, post-injury, post-surgery, and intense physical activity
    • These include arginine, cysteine, glutamine, tyrosine, glycine, ornithine, proline, and serine
  • Complementary proteins: food sources that are separately incomplete proteins but when combined, form a complete protein
    • Examples: rice + beans, wheat bread + peanut butter, and hummus + pita bread


Animal sources of protein are generally considered to be easily digested, absorbed, and used by the body. On the other hand, plant sources of protein are a little more difficult to digest because they naturally contain antinutrients which are compounds that block the absorption of some nutrients and are meant to protect the plant from infections and being eaten by insects. (4)

Antinutrients decrease the bioavailability of protein in plant foods, so it may be necessary for people eating a vegan diet to consume a little extra protein each day.

There are ways to decrease the antinutrients found in plants, including soaking, sprouting, fermenting, and boiling. These methods can help break down or eliminate antinutrients. (5)

Check out our thorough review of whey protein vs plant protein.

Specific amino acid considerations

Many plant proteins are low in lysine, except for legumes, quinoa, and seitan. You may need to consume 2-3 servings/day to meet your needs (6)

Leucine is the most important amino acid for building muscle because it’s heavily involved in muscle protein synthesis. Make sure you are consuming enough leucine within 1-2 hours of strength training for maximal influence on muscle growth. The best vegan sources of leucine are legumes (lentils and beans, including soybeans), nuts, seeds, vital wheat gluten (used to make seitan), leafy greens, and seaweed.

Best vegan protein sources

Vegan meats

  • Beyond Meatballs
  • Gardein Black Bean Burger
  • Impossible Burger Patties
  • Seitan (vital wheat gluten)
  • Tempeh
  • Textured vegetable protein
  • Tofu (firm)

Check out our review of tofu vs chicken.


  • Beans: adzuki, black, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, edamame, fava, kidney, mung, navy, pinto, soybeans
  • Lentils
  • Peas

Check out our review of pea vs soy protein.

Nuts & seeds

  • Nuts: almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts
  • Seeds: chia, flax, hemp, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower
  • Peanuts (technically a legume but more similar to nuts nutritionally)

Check out our review of hemp vs whey protein.

Grains & pseudograins

  • Grains: brown rice, millet, oats, rye flakes, spelt, teff
  • Pseudo-grains: amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa


  • Non-starchy: artichoke hearts, broccoli, collard greens, mushrooms, spinach
  • Starchy: corn, sweet potato, white potato


  • Apricots
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Guava
  • Kiwi
  • Plantains

Non-dairy milk

  • General: almond, cashew, coconut, flax, hemp, oat, rice, soy
  • Commercial: Califia Farms Protein Oatmilk, Good Karma Flaxmilk + Protein, Ripple Oatmilk + Protein, Ripple Plant-Based Milk, Shroom Junkie Original Plantmilk, Silk Protein Nutmilk

Check out our review of the best high-protein milk options.

Other vegan foods

  • Dave’s Killer Bread Epic Everything Bagel
  • Food for Life Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Bread
  • Forager Probiotic Cashewmilk Yogurt
  • Just Egg
  • Maca root powder
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Seaweed
  • Spirulina powder

Vegan protein powders, shakes, & bars

Check out our review of these vegan protein powders, shakes, and bars.

Vegetarian protein sources

  • Cheese
  • Cottage cheese
  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • Milk

Vegan protein sources chart

The following table shows the protein and calories for a typical serving of the above-listed foods, or you can download our Vegan Protein Sources Chart (PDF).

Protein SourceServing SizeProtein (g)Calories
Vegan Meats
Beyond Meatballs4.3 oz19290
Gardein Black Bean Burger1 patty (67 g)9170
Impossible Burger Patties4 oz19230
Seitan (Vital Wheat Gluten)4 oz37185
Tempeh4 oz24213
Textured Vegetable Protein4 oz26180
Tofu (firm)4 oz870
Legumes (Cooked)
Adzuki Beans1/2 cup8.5147
Black Beans1/2 cup8114
Black-Eyed Peas1/2 cup799
Chickpeas1/2 cup7134
Edamame1/2 cup9190
Fava Beans1/2 cup6.594
Kidney Beans1/2 cup8112
Lentils1/2 cup9101
Mung Beans1/2 cup7106
Navy Beans1/2 cup7.5127
Peas1/2 cup459
Pinto Beans1/2 cup11197
Soybeans1/2 cup15149
Nuts & Seeds
Almonds1 oz6163
Brazil Nuts1 oz4.1186
Cashews1 oz4162
Chia Seeds1 oz5138
Flaxseeds1 oz6140
Hazelnuts1 oz4.2178
Hemp Seeds (shelled)1 oz10180
Peanut Butter1 Tbsp7188
Peanuts1 oz7166
Pecans1 oz3196
Pine Nuts1 oz3.9191
Pistachios1 oz6161
Pumpkin Seeds1 oz9159
Sesame Seeds1 Tbsp1.652
Sunflower Seeds1 oz6140
Walnuts1 oz4185
Grains (Cooked)
Amaranth1/2 cup2.5125
Buckwheat Groats1/2 cup2.978
Brown Rice1/2 cup2.5108
Millet1/2 cup3103
Oats1/2 cup2.570
Quinoa1/2 cup4111
Rye Flakes1/2 cup498
Spelt1/2 cup5123
Teff1/2 cup5127
Vegetables (Cooked)
Artichoke Hearts1 cup342
Broccoli1 cup454
Collard Greens1/2 cup562
Corn1/2 cup2.576
Mushrooms1 cup3.444
Spinach1/2 cup341
Sweet Potato1 cup4180
White Potato1 cup1.557
Apricot (dried)1/2 cup2.2157
Banana1 cup (sliced)1.6133
Blackberries1 cup262
Guava1 cup4.2112
Kiwi1 cup2.1110
Plantains1 cup (sliced)1.9181
Non-Dairy Milk (General Options)
Almond Milk8 oz140
Cashew Milk8 oz4130
Coconut Milk8 oz045
Flax Milk8 oz350
Hemp Milk8 oz360
Oatmilk8 oz380
Rice Milk8 oz0.7115
Soy Milk8 oz6-990-100
Non-Dairy Milk (Commercial Options)
Califia Farms Protein Oatmilk8 oz8140
Good Karma Flaxmilk + Protein8 oz870
Ripple Oatmilk + Protein8 oz6150
Ripple Plant-Based Milk8 oz880-100
Shroom Junkie Original Plantmilk8 oz10140
Silk Protein Nutmilk8 oz10130-150
Other Vegan Foods
Dave’s Killer Bread Epic Everything Bagel95 g13260
Food for Life Ezekiel Sprouted Grain Bread34 g580
Forager Probiotic Cashewmilk Yogurt (plain)150 g3150
Just Egg44 g570
Maca Root Powder1 Tbsp360
Nutritional Yeast1 Tbsp215
Seaweed (dried)1 oz568
Spirulina Powder1 Tbsp525
Vegan Protein Powders, Shakes, & Bars
Brown Rice Protein Powder30 g25120
Brown Rice & Pea Protein Blend30 g23120
Hemp Protein Powder31 g12120
Pea Protein Powder30 g27120
Soy protein isolate19 g1670
ALOHA Protein Shakes12 oz20170
OWN Protein Shakes12 oz20180
Bare Performance Nutrition Field Bar60 g12290
GoMacro Macrobar69 g10-12270-290
Vegetarian Foods
Cheese, Part-Skim Mozzarella1 oz772
Cottage Cheese (2%)4 oz1390
Eggs1 large672
Greek Yogurt (non-fat, plain)5.3 oz18110
Milk (non-fat)8 oz880

Nutritional benefits of vegan protein sources

Many vegan protein sources contain fiber, especially legumes, grains, fruits, and vegetables, which can help keep blood sugar stable, lower cholesterol, and promote healthy gut bacteria and bowel movements.

Some nuts and seeds, like walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flax seeds, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which promote cardiovascular and brain health.

Plant-based foods also contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals which are important for supporting the body in its many functions.

Tips for incorporating vegan protein sources into your diet

In addition to eating vegan protein sources on their own, here are some ideas of how to include them in your favorite dishes

  • Vegan meats: add to breakfast scrambles, stir-fries, burritos, sandwiches, soups, salads, grain dishes, tacos, and pasta
  • Legumes: add to burritos and burrito bowls, quesadillas, nachos, soups, and bean brownies
  • Nuts & seeds: add to vegan yogurt, oatmeal, trail mix, smoothies, salads, grain dishes, granola bars, homemade veggie burgers, and baked goods
  • Grains: add to homemade veggie burgers, granola bars, salads, soups, stuffed bell peppers, breakfast bowls, and burritos
  • Vegetables: add to burritos and burrito bowls, breakfast scrambles, stir-fries, soups, salads, grain dishes, and pasta
  • Fruit: add to smoothies, oatmeal, cereal, and vegan yogurt
  • Non-dairy milk: add to oatmeal, smoothies, cereal, soups, cream sauces, and baked goods
  • Other vegan foods (maca root, nutritional yeast, seaweed, spirulina): sprinkle on top or stir into savory dishes for an added protein boost

You can also check out our article, High-Protein Vegan Snacks, for easy recipes and store-bought options.

Final thoughts

While most vegan foods contain protein, there is some strategy involved to ensure you are consuming enough, and more specifically, consuming adequate amounts of all essential amino acids. Since there are only a few vegan foods that are complete proteins, it’s important to consume a variety of plant foods to meet your body’s needs.

Our vegan protein sources chart is intended to help you find the best options and encourage you to try new protein sources if you are struggling with getting enough protein or need more variety.

Plant-based diets don’t have to be low in protein, and we hope you feel empowered to create a well-balanced diet.

Want to save this article? Click here to get a PDF copy delivered to your inbox (a link to our Vegan Protein Sources Chart is included).

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Photo of Collette Sinnott, RD, LD

Collette is a registered dietitian and has over a decade of experience working with athletes, children & adults on tube feeding, and people with chronic health conditions. She has been writing about food and nutrition since she was in high school and has a passion for sharing evidence-based information, especially on the topics of protein and the importance of maintaining muscle mass for healthy aging.

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