The 6 Best Protein Sources for Vegans and Vegetarians

A common concern about vegetarian and vegan diets is that they may lack sufficient protein.

However, many experts agree that a well-planned meatless diet can provide all the nutrients you need, including protein

That said, certain plant foods contain significantly more protein than others, and new and older studies alike suggest that higher protein diets can promote muscle strength, feelings of fullness, and weight loss

Here are 6 plant foods that contain a high amount of protein per serving.

  1. Tofu, tempeh, and edamame

Tofu, tempeh, and edamame all originate from soybeans.

Soybeans are considered a whole source of protein. This means that they provide your body all the essential amino acids it needs.

Edamame are immature soybeans with a sweet and slightly grassy taste. They need to be steamed or boiled before you eat them. Then, they can be enjoyed on their own or added to soups and salads.

Tofu is made from bean curds pressed together in a process similar to cheesemaking. Meanwhile, tempeh is made by cooking and slightly fermenting mature soybeans, then pressing them into a block.

Tofu doesn’t have much taste on its own, but it easily absorbs the flavor of the ingredients it’s prepared with. Comparatively, tempeh has a characteristic nutty flavor.

Both tofu and tempeh can be used in a variety of recipes, ranging from burgers to soups and chilis.

All three soy-based proteins contain iron, calcium, and 12–20 grams of protein per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving .

Edamame is also rich in folate, vitamin K, and fiber, which can help support digestion and regularity .

On the other hand, tempeh contains probiotics, B vitamins, and minerals, such as magnesium and phosphorus .

2. Lentils
With 18 grams of protein per cooked cup (198 grams), lentils are a great source of protein (13Trusted Source).

They can be used in a variety of dishes, ranging from fresh salads to hearty soups and spice-infused dahls.

Lentils are also a great source of fiber, providing over half of your recommended daily fiber intake in a single cup (198 grams) (13Trusted Source).

Furthermore, the type of fiber found in lentils has been shown to feed the good bacteria in your colon, which can help promote a healthy gut. Lentils may also reduce your chance of heart disease, diabetes, excess body weight, and certain types of cancer (14Trusted Source).

In addition, lentils are rich in folate, manganese, and iron. They also contain a hearty dose of antioxidants and other health-promoting plant compounds

3. Beans

Kidney, black, pinto, and most other varieties of beans contain high amounts of protein per serving.

Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are another type of bean with a high protein content.

Most types of beans contain about 15 grams of protein per cooked cup (170 grams). They’re also excellent sources of complex carbs, fiber, iron, folate, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, and several beneficial plant compounds .

Moreover, several studies show that a diet rich in beans and other legumes can help decrease cholesterol levels, manage blood sugar, lower blood pressure, and even reduce belly fat.

Add beans to your diet by making a tasty bowl of homemade chili, or enjoy extra health benefits by sprinkling a dash of turmeric on roasted chickpeas .

4. Nutritional yeast
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast, which is sold commercially as a yellow powder or flakes.

It has a cheesy flavor, which makes it a popular ingredient in dishes like mashed potatoes and scrambled tofu.

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Nutritional yeast can also be sprinkled on top of pasta dishes or even enjoyed as a savory topping on popcorn.

Half an ounce (16 grams) of this complete source of plant protein provides 8 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber .

Fortified nutritional yeast is also an excellent source of zinc, magnesium, copper, manganese, and all the B vitamins, including vitamin B12 .

However, keep in mind that not all types of nutritional yeast are fortified, so be sure to check the label carefully.

5. Spelt and teff
Spelt and teff belong to a category known as ancient grains. Other ancient grains include einkorn, barley, sorghum, and farro.

Spelt is a type of wheat and contains gluten, whereas teff originates from an annual grass, meaning that it’s naturally gluten-free.

Spelt and teff provide 10–11 grams of protein per cooked cup (250 grams), making them higher in protein than other ancient grains .

Both are excellent sources of various nutrients, including complex carbs, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and manganese. They also contain B vitamins, zinc, and selenium.

Spelt and teff are versatile alternatives to other grains, such as wheat and rice, and they can be used in many recipes ranging from baked goods to risotto.

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