The Main Sources of Protein in a Vegan Diet

Vegetables and grains are the main sources of protein in a vegan diet. Therefore, it's very important for vegans to know what plant-based foods offer the most protein and increase their daily consumption.
The Main Sources of Protein in a Vegan Diet
Sergio Alonso Castrillejo

Reviewed and approved by the pharmacist Sergio Alonso Castrillejo.

Written by Editorial Team

Last update: 07 October, 2022

Vegan diets are characterized by the complete elimination of any foods that are of animal origin. Therefore, finding alternative plant-based protein sources is fundamental. So, do you know what the main sources of protein in a vegan diet are?

First, it’s important to point out that medical specialists and nutritionists recommend supplementing a vegan diet with vitamin B12. That’s because this vitamin can only be found in animal products. As for the remaining essential proteins and amino acids, we can obtain them by consuming vegetables and grain.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know!

The main sources of protein in a vegan diet

1. Quinoa

A bowl of quinoa.
This grain is a good substitute for rice, but offers a complete array of essential amino acids.

Approximately 15% of the composition of quinoa is protein. What’s more, it contains all of the essential amino acids our bodies need–including L-arginine. Among its properties, quinoa stands out for the fact that it stimulates weight loss, reduces hypertension, and improves immunological function.

Quinoa is gluten-free, meaning that people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance can eat it regularly. What’s more, since it doesn’t contain saturated fats, it’s easy to digest. Also, it’s an excellent source of fiber, which means it boosts intestinal function. And finally, it helps LDL cholesterol levels in the blood.

Quinoa is an excellent alternative to rice. That means we can modify dishes that traditionally contain this grain and, in doing so, increase their protein value. What’s more, we can use quinoa to make veggie burgers and vegan “meatballs”, or simply add it to yogurt.

Read more: Healthy Vegan Cheese with Oregano

2. Soy and soy derivatives: Some of the main sources of protein in a vegan diet

Soy is the legume that offers the greatest amount of protein since it makes up 35% of its total composition. It also contains amino acids that are essential to the correct function of the endocrine system. At the same time, it provides us with minerals, like magnesium, which are necessary for muscle formation and the metabolism of carbohydrates. Finally, soy also stands out for its high folic acid and vitamin B1 and vitamin B2 content.

Among its benefits, we can highlight the reduction of cholesterol and high blood pressure. It also has the power to improve intestinal function and flora. Plus, last but not least, we can forget to mention that soy has a high isoflavone content. This group of substances is similar to estrogen and is associated with the relief of the main symptoms of menopause.

We can find soy in a number of commercial formats: Soy milk (usually enriched with calcium), tofu, texturized soy, yogurt, and vegan cheese. Soy is a very popular meat substitute in vegan diets, and there’s a great variety of recipes that use this legume.

3. Oatmeal

Oatmeal milk.
Their total fiber and protein content make oats the perfect companion to any food.

Oatmeal is another one of the main sources of protein in a vegan diet (17%) and also has a high fiber content (7%). What’s more, it offers a good amount of vitamins (B1, B2, B5, and E) as well as essential minerals, including iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous.

This food has to do with a great number of health benefits for our bodies, such as the following:

  • It helps control cardiovascular illness: The fiber in oats has a sweeping effect that contributes to a decrease in the absorption of cholesterol. This, in turn, regulates LDL levels in the blood and arterial tension.
  • It boosts intestinal function, thanks to its high content of soluble and insoluble fiber. Eating oats helps protect digestive mucosa and enriches the intestinal flats thanks to their prebiotic action.
  • Oats contribute to the sweeping of bile salts, exercising the cleansing effect of vesicular bile. Therefore, it facilitates the elimination of these salts through the feces, preventing the formation of bile stones and colics.

Oats are a very versatile grain. We can consume in the form of drinks, with yogurt, on salads. We can also use them as a substitute for wheat in desert crusts or enjoy them with cream cheese.

4. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are especially rich in protein. Plus, they contain nine essential amino acids. For that reason, they’re an indispensable part of any vegan or vegetarian diet. They’re also high in omega-3, which contributes to a decrease in the likelihood of suffering cardiological pathologies.

What’s more, chia seeds have a lot of fiber, which, as we’ve said, improves intestinal function and reduces blood cholesterol levels. We can eat these seeds in the form of chia pudding as well as in smoothies, yogurt, and salads.

Finally, take note of these goods and make sure to include them as staples if you’re eating a vegan diet. Remember, protein should make up 30% of your total nutrients. So, eating these foods will help you maintain healthy eating habits.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.