20 of the Best Plant-Based Protein Sources

When I first became vegetarian the number one question I was asked was, “But how will you get enough protein?” It turns out that it’s really not too difficult especially with intentional meal planning. Vegetarians and vegans are more than capable of getting adequate protein in their diet because many plant food contain high quantities of protein as well. Whether you eat meat and animals products or not, everyone should incorporate these healthful foods into their diet. Here are 20 of the best plant-based protein sources.

20 of the Best Plant-Based Protein Sources

Soybeans – 68 g
Chickpeas – 39 g
Peanuts – 38 g
Lentils – 18 g
Black Turtle Beans – 15 g

Nuts and Seeds
Flax Seeds – 31 g
Sunflower Seeds – 29 g
Sesame Seeds – 26 g
Pistachios – 25 g
Cashews – 21 g

Whole Grains
Oats – 26 g
Buckwheat – 23 g
Quinoa – 8 g
Whole Wheat Pasta – 7 g
Couscous – 6 g

Vegetables and Fruit
Corn – 16 g
Peas – 8 g
Raisins – 4 g
Potatoes – 3 g
Avocado – 3 g

The protein content I’ve listed here is based off of the USDA National Nutrient Database. All measurements for serving size are 1 cup. Keep this in mind when looking at the value for things like nuts or seeds which would not be eaten in that size quantity at one time.

What are your favourite plant-based protein sources?

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24 Comment

  1. Reply
    GiGi Eats
    October 27, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    I actually really like Hemp & Pea proteins! But I only really eat vegan protein sources if I am eating protein powder!

    1. Reply
      October 27, 2015 at 5:50 pm

      Yes, hemp is another good one! I couldn’t find hemp seeds on the USDA website, which I thought was odd. Thanks for the addition.

  2. Reply
    Julia Sollows
    October 29, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Thanks for the info Grace!

    1. Reply
      October 29, 2015 at 2:54 pm

      You’re welcome! I’m glad you found it useful. 🙂

  3. Reply
    October 30, 2015 at 8:50 am

    Wow! I didn’t realize oats had such a high protein content! I eat plenty of chickpeas, actually plenty is an understatement lol. As a vegetarian, I really appreciate this list as I often get stumped on protein options and never really know how much protein I am getting daily Thanks so much for sharing!

    Keisha xo

    1. Reply
      October 30, 2015 at 9:18 am

      I was pleasantly surprised by some of the unexpectedly high numbers as well. I’m glad you found this helpful. It can be worrisome to ensure you’re getting proper nutrition when there are restrictions in a diet. I’m always looking for iron. Perhaps I’ll do a post on that soon.

  4. Reply
    Liz @ The Clean Eating Coupole
    November 2, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    Awesome post! Super great to compare everything side by side 🙂

    1. Reply
      November 2, 2015 at 12:43 pm

      Thank you! Yes, some of them were pretty surprising to me when I saw it all laid out this way.

  5. Reply
    Linda Luke
    November 2, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    I’ve been veggie for years, maybe decades. Even though I prefer natural, whole food sources for protein, I do have a couple of other things I eat occasionally. One is non-meat patties like Morning Star Farms Original Chicken Patties, of Hilary’s variety of flavored patties. I like them because I can just top them with tomato and avocado or other veggies or include them in a salad and have a small meal or snack ready in a few minutes.

    And, for those times when I feel like I am not eating perfectly or just need a boost of protein. I use Vegan Smart protein powder that is made mostly with pea protein. Oh yeah, peas are easy protein sources to throw in just about everything.

    Thanks for sharing these protein sources and your veggie lifestyle!

    1. Reply
      November 2, 2015 at 12:46 pm

      Oh, yes! I don’t eat those meat alternatives very often either, but they are definitely convenient for certain situations like BBQs as well. I also use a pea based protein powder in smoothies and such. Thanks for those additions.

  6. Reply
    Danielle 20dollardate.com
    November 2, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    I love hemp protein too! Mixes so easily and without a lot of the digestive side effects of more processed protein sources. Thanks for the info!

    1. Reply
      November 2, 2015 at 7:29 pm

      Hemp is another great addition! I couldn’t find its nutritional info on the USDA site, so I didn’t include it. It’s definitely a healthy choice though.

  7. Reply
    Natalie @ Obsessive Cooking Disorder
    November 2, 2015 at 10:45 pm

    Thanks for this breakdown. It’s nice to have it on one page!

    1. Reply
      November 2, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      You’re welcome! I hope it comes in handy for you.

  8. Reply
    November 15, 2015 at 5:29 am

    This is a great list thank you Grace, I will be bookmarking this for future reference. I love chickpeas especially and plan to be using them more in my meal plans 🙂 I was vegetarian for many years and really struggled to find good protein alternatives.

    I much prefer whole foods to protein powders for sure. I look forward to making good using of each and every one of these alternatives.

    1. Reply
      November 15, 2015 at 10:54 am

      I’m so happy to hear you found this useful. I also love chickpeas, especially when they’re made into hummus.

  9. Reply
    November 15, 2015 at 9:24 am

    Great list!

    1. Reply
      November 15, 2015 at 10:54 am


  10. Reply
    Rikky D. T. Maas
    November 15, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    Ooh this is great! I looove lentils and oats! 🙂 For my protein powder I’d go for hemp too. Very informative! thank you so much.

    1. Reply
      November 15, 2015 at 3:47 pm

      Oh, those are some of my favourites too. Yes, hemp is another great option, but unfortunately I couldn’t find its information on the USDA site.

  11. Reply
    Emma Lions
    November 15, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    Thank you for this post! I was just discussing vegetarian options with my 8yo son that other day. We were talking about how if he does’t want to eat meat then he’d have to choose other foods for his proteins and amino acids. As a fussy eater, I have a feeling that when I show him this list, he’s going to prefer to continue eating meat until he learns to eat new foods 🙂

    1. Reply
      November 16, 2015 at 12:20 pm

      Haha, oh no. Fussy eating can be hard. I think that’s awesome that you discuss nutritional needs and different dietary options with your 8 year old though!

  12. Reply
    November 18, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    The protein content in oats sounds so high compared to what I thought it was. It seems odd that a grain would have a higher protein content than meat. Thanks so much for sharing, I would never have guessed.

    1. Reply
      November 18, 2015 at 9:52 pm

      I know, eh! There were definitely some surprises for me too. Pleasant surprises though, so that was great.

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