Lucy Johnson avatar


Last updated: May 29, 2024

11 high-protein vegan foods you should be eating

Long gone are the days when it was believed that vegans simply couldn’t get enough protein in their diets. Now it is widely known that plants provide plenty of protein, so here are the best high-protein vegan foods you should be eating!

An asian dish packed full of high-protein vegan food like tofu

Fun fact, all plants contain protein. It’s just that they contain varying levels of the stuff.

I am a weightlifting enthusiast and I have been vegan since 2015. Contrary to popular belief, I haven’t wasted away I am still very much able to make ‘gains’ in the gym.

I can’t stomach many vegan protein powders, so I get all my protein through these tasty high-protein vegan foods. You’ll find a good variety to try out yourself, including beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, and much more!

A vegan breakfast bake made using black beans a high protein vegan food
A breakfast bake with black beans


Beans are a type of legume widely consumed all around the world. You get many different types of beans including kidney beans, black beans, cannellini beans, butter beans, and chickpeas.

Beans contain significant amounts of protein, making them one of the best high-protein vegan foods. They are also really affordable, both pre-cooked in tins and dried.

It is really easy to cook with beans as they are such a versatile ingredient. They suit a wide range of cuisines, including Indian, Mexican and Italian.


Lentils are small pulses, which come from legumes, and they come in a variety of colours, including brown, green, and red. They are a very popular ingredient used in many European and Asian cultures.

One cup of cooked lentils contains about 18 grams of protein, which is comparable to the protein content of animal-based products.

Just like beans, lentils are really affordable. You can pick up a huge bag of red lentils for a few quid and it’ll make over 10 portions of dhal, or other lentil-based dishes.

You can use them to create soups and stews. You can even use them to create homemade vegan burgers and meatballs.


Quinoa is actually a type of seed that is often used as a grain. It has become increasingly popular in recent years as an alternative to popular grains like rice and pasta.

Quinoa is a complete protein source, meaning that it contains all nine essential amino acids that the body needs to function properly.

It isn’t quite as cheap as lentils and beans but one bag of quinoa does go a long way. It is also a surprisingly filling ingredient that will leave you feeling sustainably full.

Quinoa is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, such as salads, soups, and stir-fries, and can even be used as a substitute for rice or pasta.

  • Protein: 4g protein per 100g of cooked quinoa
  • Serving suggestion: Serve quinoa on the side of this vegan green curry recipe in place of white rice
A bowl of noodles made with peanuts and tofu a high protein vegan food
A bowl of noodles with tofu

Tofu & tempeh

Tofu and tempeh are both soy-based products that are popular sources of protein for vegans. But they are also very popular ingredients across Asia.

They technically fit within the ‘bean’ category above, but as popular products, I have given them their own section.

Tofu is made by curdling soy milk and pressing the resulting curds into blocks. It is a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes, including stir-fries, soups, and salads. 

Tempeh, on the other hand, is made by fermenting cooked soybeans with a specific type of mould. This process gives tempeh a slightly nutty flavour and a firm texture that holds up well in stir-fries and sandwiches.

Tempeh contains more protein than tofu, but I like to eat a variety of the two to mix things up.

  • Protein: 10g of protein per 100g of tofu and 20g of protein per 100g of tempeh
  • Serving suggestion: Use tofu or tempeh to create this vegan katsu curry recipe


Peas are a type of legume that are significantly high in protein. So much so, that they are used as a core ingredient in many vegan protein powders. Moreover, they contain all nine essential amino acids in one.

Peas can be used in a variety of dishes, including soups, salads, stews, and curries. You can buy them fresh, frozen or canned, but I prefer the frozen variety.

I really like adding them to dishes, rather than making them the main ingredient. For example, they can be added to chunky soups and stews, as well as pasta dishes. This is particularly useful if the dish you are cooking is lacking a protein source.


Oats are a type of whole-grain cereal that are commonly consumed for breakfast in granola, porridge and muesli. Although oats do not contain all nine essential amino acids, they do contain a higher quality protein than other grains that are commonly consumed, like rice and wheat.

Oats can be consumed in a variety of ways, including as porridge, baked goods, or smoothies. They are also available in different forms such as rolled oats, steel-cut oats, and instant oats, depending on the desired texture and cooking time.

I personally eat oats most mornings, be it in a homemade granola or on top of a chocolate smoothie bowl.

A bowl of granola with yoghurt which includes oats a high-protein vegan food
A bowl of granola with oats, nuts & seeds

Nuts & seeds

Nuts and seeds are the perfect high-protein snacks that are really easy to incorporate into your diet.

Examples of nuts include almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, pistachios and brazil nuts. Examples of seeds include hemp seeds, flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

They are great for snacking on but they also make for a great ingredient within savoury dishes. For example, you can mix a handful of cashew nuts into your stir fry, or you can top your favourite salad with pumpkin seeds.

You can also use them to create nut and seed butter (like peanut butter), granola, and delicious baked goods.

  • Protein: Around 3-5g protein per serving, depending on the nut or seed
  • Serving suggestion: Use peanut butter in this vegan peanut butter cookie recipe for a protein-packed sweet treat


Grains are a staple part of most people’s diets. Plus they can also contain a significant amount of protein, depending on the grain. Other than quinoa and oats, which I gave a special mention in this article above, examples of grains include barley, spelt and amaranth.

While not all grains contain all nine essential amino acids, they can be combined with other protein sources, such as beans or nuts, to provide a complete protein. For example, you can add some beans to your rice to make a complete protein.

They can be consumed in many different forms, including bread, pasta, cereal, and rice. I personally like to mix up my grains so that I’m eating a variety of different plants.


Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is considered to be a vegan superfood. It contains all nine essential amino acids and is actually one of the most protein-dense foods available – up to 70% of its dry weight contains protein.

Spirulina is available in powder, tablet, and capsule form, and can be easily added to smoothies, juices, or other recipes. However, it is important to note that spirulina can be contaminated with toxins if it is not grown and harvested in a controlled environment, so it is important to purchase it from a reputable source.

  • Protein: 4g of protein per 1 tbsp of spirulina
  • Serving suggestion: Blend a tablespoon of spirulina into your smoothie
A bowl of vegan ragu topped with nutritional yeast a high protein vegan food
A bowl of vegan ragu topped with nutritional yeast

Nutritional yeast

Nutritional yeast is a type of yeast that is used in the vegan community as a cheese alternative. It is also pretty high in protein!

Nutritional yeast is often used as a seasoning or condiment and can be added to a variety of dishes such as salads, soups, and pasta. It is also commonly used to make vegan “cheese” sauces or sprinkle on top of popcorn.

It’s important to note that nutritional yeast is different from brewer’s yeast or active yeast, which are used in baking and fermentation. Nutritional yeast is an inactive form of yeast, meaning it will not cause bread dough to rise.

  • Protein: 8g of protein per 15g serving of nutritional yeast
  • Serving suggestion: Sprinkle some nutritional yeast on top of your favourite pasta dishes or use it to create these cheesy vegan scones


While vegetables are not typically considered to be a primary protein source, many vegetables do contain significant amounts of protein that can add up if you consume them on a regular basis.

Some examples of vegetables that are good sources of protein include spinach, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.

They are really easy to incorporate into your diet. Either cook them into sauces, soups and stews or make them the star of the show by using them to make fritters and tempura.

  • Protein: Approximately 1-3g of protein per serving depending on the vegetable
  • Serving suggestion: Use broccoli to make this vegan ramen recipe or fill up this vegan quiche recipe with spinach
Lucy the founder of Edible Ethics vegan food blog eating vegan noodles in a plant based restaurant

Lucy Johnson

Leave a Reply

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.