The 12 Best Vegan Protein Sources

The 12 best vegan protein sources


With a whopping 12.5 grams of protein in 100 grams , oatmeal provides plenty of protein for vegans. In addition, the versatile protein source convinces with slowly digestible carbohydrates and valuable minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc.

The contained dietary fiber ß-glucan has a positive effect on the blood sugar level, strengthens the intestinal flora and lowers the cholesterol level. Whether in muesli, to thicken sauces or in baked goods: Whole grain deserves a permanent place in the vegan pantry.


In addition to plenty of fiber and minerals such as magnesium and iron, legumes provide protein that keeps you full for a long time .

The regional sweet lupine is one of the frontrunners with over 40 grams of protein in 100 grams . The protein source provides particularly valuable protein, as it contains all the important essential amino acids.

It is closely followed by the classic soy , with an average of more than 35 g of equally high-quality protein. Lentils (over 25 g) , beans and peas (over 20 g) also contain plenty of vegetable protein.

Legumes are a great side dish to fill you up, add nutrients to soups or salads and are vegan. Pre-soaking in water shortens the cooking time of dry products.

Protein content of various legumes in grams per 100 g:

  • Soybeans (dried): 34.9
  • Kidney beans (dried): 24
  • Lentils (dried): 23.5
  • Peas (dried): 22.1
  • White beans (dried): 21.1
  • Chickpeas (dried): 19
  • Peas (TK): 7.1
  • Kidney beans (canned): 6.9
  • White beans (canned): 6.2

Pseudo grain

The gluten-free grains amaranth and quinoa provide up to 16 g more protein than the classic wheat grain (13 g).

Buckwheat contains slightly less protein (9 g), but provides all the important protein building blocks, including plenty of lysine. The amino acid is important for muscle building, bone growth and wound healing.

Pseudo-cereals are prepared in a similar way to rice and bring nutritious variety to the table as a side dish or salad.

Tofu and soy products

The protein content of tofu varies between 8-18 grams of protein per 100 grams , depending on the manufacturer and variety . The block of soy protein provides all the important amino acids and is therefore considered a valuable and versatile source of protein.

Tempeh is made from cooked and fermented soybeans that have been inoculated with a noble mold. The rather unknown, slightly nutty-tasting protein source still consists of about 20% protein, provides iron and some B vitamins for strong nerves.

Soy drink and yoghurt alternatives made from soy are also considered sources of protein. They replace dairy products made from cow’s milk with a similar amount of protein, while containing fewer carbohydrates and saturated fatty acids.


Green cabbages include broccoli , kale and Brussels sprouts as high-protein vegetables . Brussels sprouts contain the most protein with 4.5 grams in 100 grams , closely followed by kale (4.3 g). Broccoli provides up to 3.8g of protein.

With less than 5 g of protein, the content is only high in comparison to other types of vegetables, but the cabbage varieties can still contribute to an adequate supply of all amino acids. In addition, they are low in calories, provide fiber, immune-boosting vitamin C and phytochemicals that protect cells.


Potatoes also contribute to the vegan protein supply with a low but very valuable protein content of 1.9 g. The structure of their protein, i.e. the combination of amino acids, is particularly useful for us .

The yellow tuber contains slowly digestible carbohydrates and a lot of vitamin C. In addition, the filler contains plenty of resistant starch – food for our intestinal bacteria – and thus strengthens our intestinal flora.

Whether as boiled potatoes, baked in the oven or mashed: Potatoes can be used in many ways in vegan cuisine. It is best to always cook in advance – cooled potatoes contain even more of the healthy, resistant starch and can be processed into potato salad.

Nuts and stone fruits

Peanuts , pistachios and almonds in particular provide a lot of protein: the small nutrient packages contain over 20% vegetable protein.

With more than 15 g of protein per 100 g, cashews , Brazil nuts and walnuts are also high-protein nuts. In addition to plenty of healthy fatty acids, they provide many B vitamins that improve our ability to concentrate and strengthen our nerves.

Nuts are great vegan protein snacks for in between meals . Nut butter made from 100% nuts is also a suitable source of protein: they taste great in muesli, on bread or in creamy sauces and curries.

Protein content of various nuts or nut butters in grams per 100 g:

  • Peanut butter: 28
  • Peanuts: 25.3
  • Pistachio kernels: 20.8
  • Almonds: 18.7
  • Cashew nuts: 17.2
  • Almond butter: 15
  • Walnuts: 14.4
  • Brazil nuts: 13.6
  • Hazelnuts: 12

Kernels and seeds

An inconspicuous but very productive source of vegan protein are kernels and seeds: The small grains provide an average of 20-25 g protein per 100 g .

Hemp seeds, flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds are particularly high in protein with over 25 and up to 37 g of protein .

For comparison: 2 tablespoons (about 20 g) of pumpkin seeds contain more protein than a glass of cow’s milk (200 ml). The quality of the protein can also keep up: hemp seeds contain all the essential amino acids in a ratio that we can use very well.

In addition, the power grains shine with important minerals such as iron, zinc and magnesium. Linseed contains a particularly large number of omega-3 fatty acids and mucilage, which are good for our intestines.

The sweet and nutty hemp seeds are great for baking, taste roasted in muesli or on a salad. Linseed swells a lot and is used as an egg substitute in cakes and pastries. Chia seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame are also nutrient-rich seeds. It is best to put together a colorful mix of your favorite grains.

Protein content of various kernels and seeds in grams per 100 g:

  • Hemp seeds (unpeeled): 26
  • Flaxseed (unhulled): 24.4
  • Pumpkin seeds: 24.4
  • Sunflower seeds (peeled): 22.5
  • Poppy seeds: 20.2
  • Sesame seeds: 17.7
  • Chia seeds: 16.5

Yeast flakes

Yeast flakes contain an incredible 43 g of protein per 100 g . Yeast flakes (also known as nutritional yeast) are particularly popular in vegan cuisine, as they can be used in conjunction with cashew nuts to produce excellent vegan Parmesan .

Yeast flakes have a slightly nutty-cheesy taste. Not only are they particularly rich in protein, they also contain many B vitamins, minerals and trace elements .

Yeast flakes are mainly used in sauces , spreads or as a simple seasoning in pasta or soups.

Durum wheat and whole wheat pasta

The protein content of pasta is similar to that of rolled oats and is 12-13 g per 100 g , depending on the type of pasta . Therefore, egg-free pasta is also a good source of protein for vegans.

If possible, use the whole grain version , because it offers many advantages compared to durum wheat pasta: It contains about 2.5 times as much fiber , which keeps you full for longer. You will also be supplied with more iron , magnesium,  vitamin B1  and niacin.


Seitan is a soy-free, lower-fat alternative to tofu . The al dente mass consists mainly of gluten, the gluten protein from wheat.

With a protein content of 20-30%, wheat meat contains more protein than tofu . Due to the low proportion of the amino acid lysine, however, the pure seitan protein is less usable for us.

Thanks to its fibrous, meat-like consistency , the protein source can be processed into vegan schnitzels, goulash or sliced ​​meat. Seitan has hardly any taste of its own, can be seasoned in a variety of ways and accepts aromas without compromise.

Germs and sprouts

Seedlings and sprouts are true nutrient wonders: they have the potential for a growing plant. In addition to their high mineral content, grain and legume sprouts also provide easily digestible protein.

Lentil sprouts and bean sprouts provide magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, folic acid and B vitamins. Brief blanching of the germs improves tolerability. Seedlings from grain form the essential amino acid lysine, which is contained less in whole grain. This allows us to use the protein better.

You can easily grow sprouts and seedlings yourself . They are a nutritious topping for salad or muesli and are suitable for baking bread.

What does our body need proteins for?

Protein is food for our muscles . A daily intake of protein is not only important for building, but also for maintaining our muscles. And the macronutrient takes on many other tasks in our body:

  • Protein is important for the maintenance and growth of cells and tissues
  • Protein serves as a means of transport for other molecules
  • Protein acts as an enzyme and is therefore involved in countless metabolic processes
  • Protein is part of organs
  • Protein serves as a transmitter of signals , for example from hormones
  • Protein acts as an antibody and thus as a defense against infection
  • Protein ensures a balanced acid-base balance
  • Protein serves as a store of essential, i.e. vital, amino acids
  • Protein is an energy supplier with 4 kilocalories per gram.

How much protein do we need a day?

The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommends a protein intake based on your own body weight . It sounds complicated, but it makes sense: the more you weigh, the more muscle and tissue you have, so your body needs more protein.

The recommendation for people of normal weight between the ages of 19 and 65 is 0.8 g of protein per kg of body weight . This means that if you weigh 70 kg you should eat 56 g of protein per day. For competitive athletes, these recommendations are slightly higher.

The quality of the protein is also important: It is made up of many individual building blocks, the so-called amino acids . There are 20 different building blocks that can be put together in different ways.

Our body can produce 11 of these building blocks itself, and we absorb the other 9 through food . These essential amino acids provide us with selected, protein-rich foods – of animal or vegetable origin.

Vegetable protein sources vs. animal protein sources

Due to the different occurrences of the amino acids, not every food with a lot of protein is equally “valuable”. Here, nutritionists speak of the “ biological value ” of a protein.

This means that the more essential amino acids there are, the higher the quality and availability of the protein for us.

Animal protein sources, i.e. meat, fish, eggs, milk and milk products, usually contain all the essential amino acids for an adequate supply. Although vegan protein sources provide a large amount of protein, most cannot keep up with the quality, i.e. the variety and availability of important amino acids.

At first glance, animal foods are considered to be the “better” source of protein. But in addition to protein, there are also saturated fats, cholesterol and purines in meat and the like. Animal protein sources are also low in fiber and usually high in calories .

Benefits of plant protein

Vegan protein sources include legumes, grains, nuts and seeds . The great thing about these foods is that, in addition to the protein, they provide valuable ingredients such as fiber, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.

The advantages of vegetable protein sources at a glance:

  • cholesterol free
  • high in fiber
  • rich in healthy, unsaturated fats
  • provide health-promoting secondary plant substances
  • rich in vitamins and minerals
  • provide essential amino acids vegan, some with fewer calories than animal sources.

Do vegans get enough protein from their diet?

Vegetable protein sources also provide protein with essential amino acids and can – through a varied combination – cover daily needs.

For example, vegan legumes provide you with the amino acids lysine and isoleucine. Cereals, on the other hand, contain plenty of the protein building block methionine. The combination provides you with essential amino acids vegan .

There are many vegetable protein sources that contain plenty of protein and provide vegans with the important protein building blocks. We have put together the best vegan protein sources – in terms of quality and quantity – for you.


Our top 12 vegan protein sources shows that there are many ways to meet your protein needs with plant-based foods . Each has its individual benefits and, in addition to the protein building blocks, contains valuable ingredients such as secondary plant substances, fiber and important minerals.

Defining the best vegan protein is therefore difficult. The right combination of the different vegan protein sources is much more important in order to cover all the important amino acids. It doesn’t matter whether you combine different protein sources in one dish or eat them in different meals throughout the day.

Meat eaters also benefit from vegan protein sources. Legumes and grains are nutrient-dense filling supplements . Nuts, kernels and seeds can be easily combined, provide valuable fats and should not be missing from a healthy, varied diet.

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Written by Florentina Lewis

Hello! My name is Florentina, and I'm a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a background in teaching, recipe development, and coaching. I'm passionate about creating evidence-based content to empower and educate people to live healthier lifestyles. Having been trained in nutrition and holistic wellness, I use a sustainable approach toward health & wellness, using food as medicine to help my clients achieve that balance they are looking for. With my high expertise in nutrition, I can create customized meal plans that fit a specific diet (low-carb, keto, Mediterranean, dairy-free, etc.) and target (losing weight, building muscle mass). I am also a recipe creator and reviewer.

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