How to Get Protein on a Vegan Diet (Hint: It’s Not Just Tofu)

The usual first question I get asked when I tell people I’m vegan is, “But where do you get your protein?”

While it is true that meat contains a lot of protein, it is not the only way to get it, and it actually comes with a lot of other negative nutritional consequences such as saturated fat, cholesterol, and contains few vitamins/minerals. And even worse, red meat is now classified as a Class I carcinogen – the same category as cigarettes.

As long as you’re eating an adequate amount of calories, getting protein from plant-based sources is easy, healthy, and usually cheaper too!

Hopefully by the end of this post, you’ll know exactly how to get protein on a vegan diet. So, let’s get started.

Beans

Beans, beans the magical fruit. The more you eat, the more you… okay you get it.

Aside from providing us with loads of fiber (which is essential for gut health), vitamins, and minerals, beans are also chalk full of plant-based protein!

Here is a list of my favorite go-to beans:kale salad with chickpeas in a grey ceramic bowl

  • Black beans: 1/2 cup canned black beans contain 7g protein
  • Pinto beans: 1/2 cup canned pinto beans contain 6g protein
  • Garbanzo beans/Chickpeas: 1 cup of cooked chickpeas contains 15g protein
  • Kidney beans: 1 cup cooked kidney beans also contains 15g protein

I like using black or pinto beans in a Mexican-style dish like tacos, quesadillas with vegan cheese, bean and rice bowls, etc.

For chickpeas and kidney beans, you can put them in salads, wraps, or make a delicious chickpea “no tuna” salad!

Tofu

I know tofu is somewhat controversial and many people try to avoid soy, especially those who have had breast cancer. I totally understand people’s hesitation toward this food, but in my eyes, it is a wonderful source of vegan protein and way healthier than any meat product. 

I make sure to always buy tofu that is 100% organic and non-GMO.

With tofu I make breakfast tofu scrambles, pan-fry it in cubes or bake it for a dinner side dish.

I also love tempeh! Tempeh is also a soy product but is fermented a little bit differently. It has a chewy (more meat-like) texture to it and is great in wraps, sandwiches, noodle dishes, curries, etc. I have even sautéed it in BBQ sauce and put it in a sandwich before!

The possibilities of these two foods are endless, and it just takes a little practice and creativity to incorporate it into your meals! But seriously, don’t overthink it. I usually just pan-fry it with whatever spices/sauces I like.

tofu noddle salad in clear bowl with black chopsticks

P.S. If you’re interested in learning more about tofu and soy in general, check out this free site made generously by Dr. Greger, who is a huge advocate for a whole-foods plant-based diet. You can type anything in the search bar at the top and a bunch of different videos on the topic will pop up. He explains scientific research articles on almost every food topic there is in a very easy to understand way. Hope this helps! 

Nuts & Seeds

I personally don’t think nuts and seeds get the attention they deserve! These small, but mighty foods are loaded with nutrients and surprisingly enough… protein!

cashews in blue bowl

  • Almonds: 1/2 cup has 10g protein
  • Walnuts: 1/2 cup has 6g protein
  • Cashews: 1/2 cup has 12g protein
  • Pistachios: 1/2 cup has 12.5g protein
  • Ground flax seeds: 2 Tbsp has 3g protein
  • Chia seeds: 2 Tbsp has 4g protein

Nuts and seeds are a wonderful source of healthy fats, omega-3’s, protein, and vitamins/minerals. You can get these wonderful sources of protein in granola, trail mix, putting it in your oatmeal or smoothie, or on their own as a snack!

I always put ground flax seeds on my morning oatmeal or in a smoothie to ensure that I’m getting my omega-3’s and some added protein to my meal. Chia seeds also go great in smoothies or oatmeal, but can also make a super yummy chia seed pudding!

Whole Grains

Whole grains are an excellent source of plant-based protein and can easily be incorporated into your diet! These are things like:

  • Oats: 1 cup has 6g protein
  • Quinoa: 1 cup has 8g protein
  • Brown rice: 1 cup has 5g protein
  • Popcorn: 1 cup has 1g protein
  • Whole-wheat bread/pasta (if not gluten-free): 1 slice of ww bread has almost 4g protein
  • Buckwheat: 1 cup has 6g protein
  • Couscous: 1 cup has 6g protein

Conclusion

As you can see, there are a plethora of plant-based sources of protein out there. As long as you’re eating a varied diet with lots of whole plant foods, you should have no problem getting some protein in.

Plant-based protein contains no saturated fat or cholesterol, is full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber! Not only that, but these sources of protein are waaay cheaper than meat or dairy, so it’s a win-win in my book.

There are also many delicious faux meats out on the market right now that are high in protein. I chose not to add these to my list because I want to highlight and focus on WHOLE foods, rather than processed. Processed anything, vegan or not, is not very healthy, so I try to keep these at a minimum.

tempeh and greens in white bowl

Hopefully this list helped you in some way. I know that keeping these core foods at the base of my diet is what keeps me feeling healthy and satisfied throughout the day.

Let me know in the comments below if you have any other sources of vegan protein that you like to eat – I’d love to hear!

25 Replies to “How to Get Protein on a Vegan Diet (Hint: It’s Not Just Tofu)”

  1. Awesome post!
    I eat a lot of peanuts and beans, they are my go-to for protein most of the time. I have never tried a vegan diet but these tips would definitely get me started. I’ve never tried tofu but I see it all the time. I may have to give it a try and see pretty soon.

    Patrick Hughes says:
    1. That’s awesome, Patrick! I definitely try to eat a lot of beans as well. The great thing about tofu is that you can flavor it any way you like (since it has almost no flavor on its own). I put it in stir fry’s, curries, or just as a side in whatever dish I am making. Give it a try and let me know what you think! It’s not for everyone though– tempeh is also a good option!

      Ashley says:
  2. This is an interesting article and one that come very timely, as I am going to go on a vegan diet on the first of January and was wondering where I would get all my protein from! I love beans and whole grains so these choices are perfect for me! Thanks 😀

    Brandon says:
    1. Congrats on going vegan, Brandon! That is so exciting! It is definitely a concern for most people as to where they should get their protein from. These are the main ones, but there are many others (including broccoli and mushrooms, believe it or not)! I’d love to hear how your plant-based journey is going once you start.

      Ashley says:
  3. Hi Ashley. I know eating red meat is not healthy but I didn’t realize that it is now classified as a Class I carcinogen. It’s interesting how this information is not widely published through the Main Stream Media channels. (But we know the reasons for that!)
    Soy scares me a bit as I understand that 90% of soy grown in the USA is now GMO soy. However because of the labeling laws, not all of it is labeled as GMO, so it becomes difficult to know what we are actually eating.
    I love raw, natural, whole foods and always consume them by choice. However, I am not yet a strict vegetarian. I like to travel and when I do I love to sample the local cuisines. However, I think the time is coming very soon when I will stop eating meat altogether, and I actually look forward to this day as I know that my body, mind, emotions, and Soul will become healthier because of it.
    Thank you for the reminder!

    1. Hi Andrew! That’s awesome that you eat a lot of whole foods – that is definitely the way to go! I agree that it is harder to be strict on your diet when travelling. I like going to countries that cater to my diet, but I’m interested to see how it will be once I go somewhere that isn’t mainly plant-based. Thanks for the comment!

      Ashley says:
  4. Although I am not a Vegan myself, there are some Vegan foods I like, I like tofu, in fact there is a rice bowl restaurant near my work and the tofu dish is my favorite over any of the meat choices. I also enjoy eating cashews and almonds as a snack.

    1. That’s awesome, Josh! Even just incorporating more of these types of foods into your diet can do wonders for your health.

  5. My partner and I absolutely love your blog and find most of your post’s to
    be just what I’m looking for. Would you offer guest writers to write content for you?
    I wouldn’t mind composing a post or elaborating on a lot of the subjects you write
    related to here. Again, awesome website!

    1. Hello!

      Thank you so much for the kind words! I am not having any guest writers on my blog, but I appreciate you reaching out. Have a great day!

      Ashley says:
  6. What’s up, after reading this amazing paragraph i am too delighted to share my familiarity here with colleagues.

  7. It’s very simple to find out any matter on web as compared to
    textbooks, as I found this paragraph at this web site.

  8. We are a group of volunteers and starting a brand new scheme
    in our community. Your website provided us with useful info to
    work on. You have performed an impressive process
    and our whole group will likely be grateful to you.

    1. That’s wonderful! I’m glad this was helpful for you!

      Ashley says:
  9. Hi, i think that i saw you visited my site so i came to “return the
    favor”.I am trying to find things to improve my site!I suppose
    its ok to use some of your ideas!!

    1. Hello! Yes, feel free 🙂 Thanks for stopping by my site!

      Ashley says:
  10. What’s up, after reading this amazing piece of writing i
    am as well cheerful to share my experience here with colleagues.

    1. Hello!

      I haven’t come across any problems with the pictures loading but I will definitely take a look into this! Thanks for the heads up!

      Ashley says:
  11. Just want to say your article is as surprising. The clearness in your post is just spectacular and
    i can assume you’re an expert on this subject. Well with your permission let me to grab
    your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please carry on the enjoyable work.

Leave a Reply

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