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16 Best Protein Sources for Vegans and Vegetarians

17 October 2023

“But where do you get your protein?”

It’s the most common question asked of the vegan and vegetarian community. For the average consumer, protein is synonymous with steak, bacon, chicken, and other animal-based foods. However, protein also exists in abundance throughout the plant-based world.

Many plants, such as soy, legumes, and dark leafy greens, are high in protein. So are less commonly known products like spirulina, nutritional yeast, and seitan.

Getting enough protein doesn’t have to be a struggle. With new and exciting plant-based food products, it’s easier than ever to deliver nutritious, protein-rich, and delicious options to consumers. Hela Spice offers rapid product development with popular vegan protein sources so you can capture the taste buds of this growing market.

1. Tofu

Soy is an incredibly versatile and widely used vegan protein source. Tofu (soybean curd) is one of its most popular forms. It’s high in protein and can be prepared and seasoned in various ways.

  • Firm tofu: 17g of protein per 100g.
  • Regular tofu: 8g of protein per 100g.
  • Silken tofu: 6g of protein per 100g.

2. Tempeh

Tempeh is typically made from fermented soybeans pressed into a block. However, some food manufacturers are now making tempeh from green peas and beans (such as Adzuki). Not only is tempeh high in protein, but it contains other prebiotics and nutrients. Tempeh has a firm but chewy texture.

  • Tempeh: 19g of protein per 100g.

3. Soy Milk and Yogurt

Dairy-free milk and yogurt products can be very high in protein, depending on the ingredients. Soy-based products contain the most protein out of all the plant-based alternatives.

  • Soy milk: 8g of protein per 100g.
  • Soy yogurt: 3.5g of protein per 100g.

4. Edamame

Edamame is just lightly boiled or steamed soybeans. Consequently, they’re packed with protein. It can be served (and sold) in or out of the shell.

  • Edamame: 11g of protein per 100g.

5. Seitan

Seitan contains the highest amount of protein per serving out of any plant-based protein source. It’s made from vital wheat gluten, the main protein in wheat. The texture is chewy, hearty, and very similar to meat. Although it’s not yet as common as tofu, seitan is on its way to becoming a vegan staple.

  • Seitan: 75g of protein per 100g.

6. Lentils

Legumes are an excellent vegan and vegetarian source of protein. Whether they’re brown, green, or red, lentils contain a significant amount of protein for a low cost. Lentils are versatile; you can add them to stews, curries, tacos, salads, and more.

  • Lentils: 9g of protein per 100g.

7. Beans

Beans are part of the legume family and, just like lentils, full of protein. Most types of beans contain around 9 grams of protein per 100 grams. Chickpeas, black beans, pinto beans, and kidney beans are some of the most popular varieties among consumers. Hummus is also included in this category!

  • Most beans: 9g of protein per 100g.

8. Green Peas

Like lentils and beans, green peas are pulses and legumes. Therefore, it’s no surprise that they’re a great source of protein! Peas can be added to food products or dried and blended to create a protein powder.

  • Green peas: 5g of protein per 100g.

9. Nuts

Nuts are another versatile protein source, which is also high in healthy fats. However, they have smaller serving sizes because they’re also high in calories. You can eat them raw, toasted, or blended into nut butter.

  • Almonds: 21g of protein per 100g.
  • Cashews: 18g of protein per 100g.
  • Walnuts: 15g of protein per 100g.
  • Brazil nuts: 14g of protein per 100g.
  • Pistachios: 10g of protein per 100g.

Even though peanuts are technically legumes, they are often associated with nuts.

  • Peanuts: 26g of protein per 100g.

10. Seeds

Seeds aren’t just for the birds. They’re also rich in protein and unsaturated fats. Flax, chia, and hemp are excellent sources of plant-based omega-3 three fats, making them a popular vegan alternative to fish oils. You can snack on the seeds whole or blend them into seed butter.

  • Hemp seeds: 30g of protein per 100g.
  • Sunflower seeds: 21g of protein per 100g.
  • Pumpkin seeds (pepitas): 19g of protein per 100g.
  • Ground flax (linseed): 18g of protein per 100g.
  • Tahini (sesame seed paste): 17g of protein per 100g.
  • Chia seeds: 17g of protein per 100g.

11. Grains

When most people think of protein, grains are not the first things that spring to mind. Nonetheless, certain grains are a decent source of protein, especially when consumed as part of a balanced diet.

  • Oats: 10g of protein per 100g.
  • Quinoa: 5g of protein per 100g.
  • Wild rice: 4g of protein per 100g.

Buckwheat is a seed rather than a grain. Nonetheless, it is prepared and used in the same way. This makes it an excellent gluten-free alternative and a protein source.

  • Buckwheat: 5g of protein per 100g.

12. Spirulina

Spirulina is a vibrant blue or green algae, typically distributed in powder, tablet, or capsule form. It’s rich in protein and other essential nutrients, such as iron and manganese. Although commonly used in smoothies, it can be added to food products to easily increase the product content.

  • Spirulina powder: 57 grams of protein per 100 grams.

13. Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast, affectionately nicknamed “nooch” by the plant-based community, is a yellow, inactive yeast with a unique cheesy taste. It’s a key ingredient in many vegan cheese recipes. Plus, it’s a fantastic source of protein and vitamin B12.

  • Nutritional yeast: 47 grams of protein per 100 grams.

14. Vegetables

It’s a common misconception that protein only exists in animal and soy products. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Even ordinary vegetables contain amino acids and are essential to a person’s daily protein intake.

  • Broccoli: 3 grams of protein per 80 grams.
  • Brussels Sprouts: 3 grams of protein per 80 grams.
  • Sweet corn: 3 grams of protein per 80 grams.
  • Kale: 2 grams of protein per 80 grams.
  • Spinach: 2 grams of protein per 80 grams.

15. Protein Supplements

Plant-based protein supplements are another highly effective way to increase protein intake. These protein supplements can be sold in powder form to consumers or used in nutritional food products.

16. Dairy and Eggs (for vegetarians)

Vegans do not consume eggs or dairy. However, most vegetarians do. Both eggs and dairy products are excellent sources of protein, as well as minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids.

  • Eggs: 6-8 grams of protein per egg.
  • Cottage cheese: 11 grams of protein per 100 grams.
  • Greek yogurt: 10 grams of protein per 100 grams.

Protein Supplement Manufacturer

Hela Spice is the top protein supplement manufacturer in Canada and the USA. We offer protein innovation with plant-based sources to develop your next best-selling product. Contact us today to learn how to cater to the growing appetite for vegan and sustainable eating.

To learn more about protein supplement manufacturing at Hela Spice, visit us at www.helaspice.com or contact us here.

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