Vegan foods high in protein- These are my top picks

Spread the love

When I became a vegan I used to be scared that I would not get enough protein for my body. This is what most people get scared of when they want to start a vegan diet.

Once I started the diet I soon found out that I had more options that I had anticipated. Vegan foods high in protein are many but selecting the proper ones which can also be versatile can go a long way in giving you sustain protein levels.

I have been a vegan since 2010 and I have been through a lot of food varieties in the vegan diet and it is only now that I have decided to share the best foods to help those in the vegan diet. You can check my story here.

Let’s start finding out the best vegan foods that you need to focus on.

Why we need more protein as vegans
vegan foods high in protein

Essentially every vegan needs vegan foods high in protein because protein is essential for many body functions such as your brain, eyes, muscles development and also to aid in lowering blood sugar levels in your body.

The other common thing is that many people also use the vegan diet to lose weight.

If you have started a vegan diet you may already know that protein is one of the nutrients which vegans tend to say they do not get enough of.

I have had so many people complain to me that they feel as if they have had a lot of energy crushes upon starting a vegan diet.

Yeah it is true that protein can have an effect of making you feel less energetic but sometimes it is not only protein that is causing the problem. It could also be that you need a bit of oils or fats in your body (This was the reason why I initially had a bad experience upon starting the vegan diet-I neglected fats and oils).

When I say oil or fats I am talking about the healthy kinds that will not increase your bad cholesterol levels.

The good thing though is that the vegan foods I will recommend to you have the healthy fats that you need to help up your protein and energy levels.

Now let’s get into the food you need to focus on the increase your protein levels.

How much protein we need as vegans

Vegan food high in protein

Before knowing the vegan foods high in protein it is very important to know how much protein you actually need.

This will help you get precise with your protein intake and also for your efforts to not go in vain.

The Reference Daily Intake according to Better health is as follows:

For men between 17-70 years old is 0.84 g/Kg and for adult women (between 17-70 years old) it should be 0.75g/Kg.

This amount increases to 1g/Kg for people older than 70 years old.

So for a person like me who is 58 kg I will need a protein amount of 50 grams per day.

Now you now the amount of protein you need so let’s get started with the vegan foods you need to focus on.



vegan foods high in protein

Grains are a very great source of protein since they tend to have good and healthy amounts of protein. Here are some beast grains for have.


Buckwheat comes in two versions: 1 it can be raw or can be toasted (usually called Kasha).

Protein content:13.3 grams per 100g.

Just a side note: Buckwheat is considered a seed not so much a grain.

Brown rice

vegan foods that are high in protein

Brown rice is my favorite when it comes to my foods due to the versatility it has of having the ability to be put in almost any dish.

Protein also has high amount of

The only negative about the brown rice is that it has less protein when compared to buckwheat.

Protein content: 7.1 grams per 100g

Lentils and beans

Vegan foods high in protein


Most vegans I know tend pay more attention to lentils and beans and there is a reason for that.

Lentils and beans are versatile and can be easily put in any dish. Let’s find out the protein content in these foods.



Lentils have one of the highest protein content in them so they make the great food to add to your diet.

Protein content: 18 grams of protein per cup

Chickpeas: 15 grams of protein per cup

Beansvegan foods high in protein

Beans also tend to have similar protein than lentils with just been a little less than lentils.

Kidney beans: 13 grams per cup

Black beans: 15 grams per cup

Nuts and seeds

Vegan foods high in protein

You will never go wrong with upping your protein with nuts, However the most important thing here is to understand that not all nuts can be deemed healthy.

This is due to the high fat content some nuts can have. So how do you find the right nuts that will give you less and healthy fats while still not compromising on your protein intake efforts.

Do not worry I will be giving you the best nuts and seeds you can used to up your protein content.


Protein: 21 grams per 100 grams of serving.


Protein content: 18 grams per 100 grams of serving.



Protein content: 21 grams per 100 grams of serving.

These are the nuts with the highest protein content, so if you are looking to add protein then it is best that you focus on having more of these nuts.


Protein content: 18 grams per 100 grams of serving.

Pumpkin seeds

vegan foods high in protein

Protein content: 19 grams per 100 grams of serving

Hemp seeds


Protein content: 31 grams per 100 grams of serving.

Chia seeds

Protein content: 16 grams per 100 grams



Vegan high in protein

The funny part is that most people especially non-vegans or non-vegetarians think vegetables have no protein.

While for many vegetables this is true, but it is also true that many vegetables have high amounts of protein content.

The key is to know which types of vegetables have high protein content and than focus on them.

Do not worry I will give you which protein have the highest protein content.

So what you should know is the vegetables generally have a 2 grams of protein per 100gram.

This means veggies with 2 or more grams can be considered high veggie content.

I know when you compared this 2 gram content red meat or chicken which are 29 grams and 31 grams per 100 grams respectively that veggie protein is nothing.

This is the reason that you will need to have about 5 to 6 servings of vegetables (which should not be had since you are eating mostly plant-based food anyway).

The other reason why you will need to combine all these vegan foods to get the required protein content is because the plant based protein is considered the incomplete protein since it tends to miss other amino acids.

AvocadoVegan foods high in protein

Avocado is a great veggie because it also has high fats in addition to high protein content.

Avocado: 2 grams per 100 grams.


We have all watch Popeye the cartoon and he was famous for using spinach to give him muscles and energy.

This is because spinach is famous for giving high protein content compared to other vegetables.

Protein content: 2.9 grams per 100 grams of serving


Protein content: 2.82 grams per 100 grams of serving.

Corn on the cob

Protein content: 2.1 grams per 100 grams of serving


Oat is another great source of protein and the great thing is that this food is versatile as it can be eaten for breakfast and also for lunch and supper meals.

Protein content: 16.9 grams of 100 grams of serving.

Protein bars and shakes

Protein shakes have become very trendy in many diets. In the vegan diet there are also a lot of protein shakes and they can even be made by yourself.

More than that there are more and more companies that are starting to produce shakes with cater for vegans.

You can find loads of these online which are super affordable.

What to remember about protein

What you must remember is that a vegan diet or foods has incomplete protein (amino acids).

Generally there are 20 amino acids that make up protein. However, there are 9 amino acids are essential and can not be produced by our bodies naturally so we need foods.

Animal protein is considered complete since it has all these amino acids (all 9), However for plant foods you can never obtain this amino acids from one food or food group.

This is the reason you need to combine many of the foods to get the complete protein.

The foods I just mentioned can be great of your can combine them in your meals throughout the day.

For example, you can combine brown rice ( which has certain amino acids) with beans which has the amino acids which you can not get from brown rice.

Take home message

As a vegan it is very important that you focus on vegan foods that will aim at increasing your protein content as much as you can.

This is because as a vegan you can find yourself lacking energy or losing muscle mass just because you are not fueling your body the right way.

This is more important if you are a fitness junkie like myself who is always at the gym.

The best foods to focus on are nuts, grains, vegetables, shakes and loads of protein bars.

I hope this article was helpful for in giving you the information you are looking for to up your protein on a vegan diet.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to leave a comment below, I will be more than happy to help you out or just engage with you.

Reader Comments

  1. Colleen

    I enjoyed this article very much. One question though, do you also recommend taking any supplements as well to help with the initial fatigue when you are first starting on this new lifestyle. Also, I see that you answered my next question on a previous post. I was wondering about what vegan foods to eat to gain weight. I am wondering if raw nuts would be preferred to salted nuts. Thank you.

  2. Dahlia Clarke

    I like vegan food, in fact I became a vegan some years ago and this lasted for about two years and then I reverted to my old ways. But one thing I remembered clearly was my lack of protein intake so I think your article is very important to many persons right now who be having problems with their protein intake. Someday I will be coming back very frequently to your site as I really want to go back fully into vegetarianism.
    Do you have cravings for meat been a vegan. Great article. Keep up the good work.

    • Thabo Khoza

      Nice to hear that you were once a vegan. This happened to me to when I started out as I was lacking information so now I well informed and have been a vegan since 2010 so it has become easy.

      I have no meat cravings at all right now, but when I started it was really hard since I had meat craving daily. ha ha

  3. Jill

    Thanks for the info. I am not a vegan however I am almost vegetarian. I do eat a lot of fruit and veg so was interested if I was eating high protein. Spinach, brocolli, avocado, oats and seeds are regulars for me so I’m on the right track. Cheers

  4. Todd P Matthews

    Excellent recommendations and accurate ones as well. Plant protein definitely needs to be consumed in a variety due to incomplete counts of amino acids. However, I will say that I’ve experimented for months with plant protein and I’ve come to prefer it over animal to the extent that I might eat 3-5 ounces of meat a day while I very rarely if ever eat milk and egg products. I’m not vegan, but I can definitely relate due to my preferences for plant protein.

  5. Ivan Brozincevic

    Thanks for the great piece of advice about high protein foods. I am more and more into this kind of diet. I have started a new diet regimen which is 80% vegan based. So far, I am experiencing fantastic feedback from my body. I had the program custom made, so I haven’t spent so much time reading about these facts except when I read your blog. My goal is to gradually clean myself from meat and start 100% vegetarian or vegan (I will see) diet. You gave me some good ideas on what to eat. And also, what should I continue to eat.

    What is your more in-depth opinion on vegan protein shakes?


  6. Anne

    I doubt I’ll ever be a full-blown vegan but I most definitely subscribe to eating fresh, not processed foods, lots of veggies, seeds and nuts and a great juicer, too! I’ve had a little success employing a high protein low carb diet. I exercise 5 days a week but can’t seem to make much progress with constant stomach bloating. Any suggestions?

    • Thabo Khoza

      Hi Anne

      With regards to bloating I do not really know what you can do. Maybe just try managing your meal portions for that. I have heard that most people do this, but have not tried it myself

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *