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7 Best Macro-Friendly Vegan Protein Sources
So you’re rummaging your cabinets, flipping through recipe books, googling all the words and calling up your grandma wondering what you can do to get more vegan protein in your diet.
We get it and we’re here to help.
Protein is important for optimal health, it is vital for muscle growth, muscle strength, weight loss, and it is critical in many of your body’s biochemical functions. When people think protein they tend to think meat, but there’s a whole universe of other vegetarian and vegan protein sources out there that can be excellent to help keep you full, build muscle and help with weight loss.
Whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, proud meat eater, or anywhere in the middle, these seven healthy and delicious vegan protein sources can help spice up your kitchen and keep your protein macros on point.
Seitan / Wheat Meat (pictured above)
Vegetarians and vegans cherish this plant-based meat substitute. Seitan comes from gluten, a protein found in abundance in wheat, rye, and others crops of that family. Cooked seitan is often referred to as “wheat meat” due to how striking the resemblance in texture and appearance is to animal meat.
You can get up to 24.8 grams of vegan protein in every 100 grams of seitan, making it one of the richest sources of plant-based protein. It’s also rich in selenium as well as small amounts of phosphorus, calcium, and iron. Seitan can be bought at most health food stores or homemade using wheat gluten.
If you’re looking for the look and feel of meat, seitan is for you. However, seitan is not suitable for people with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.
Macros per 100 grams: 24.8 g protein, 4.4 g carbs, 1.8 g fat
This plant is gluten-free and is a complete vegan protein providing all nine essential amino acids, unlike some nut and bean protein sources. Quinoa is a pseudo-cereal of the amaranth family which flowers… unlike grasses that bear other cereal grains.
A cooked cup of quinoa delivers 8.1 grams of protein. In addition to protein, it also provides complex carbs, fiber, magnesium, manganese, iron, and phosphorus. In fact, scientists are trying to grow quinoa in space because of the high amount of protein and other nutrients it delivers.
Macros per cup: 8.1 g protein, 39.4 g carbs, 3.6 g fat
Soy is protein made from the soybean that has been adapted into many common foods like soy milk and tofu.
Soy milk is a popular substitute for cow's milk and provides 7 grams of protein per cup. It can also deliver adequate amounts of vitamin D, vitamin B12, and calcium if you buy the fortified brand. Soy milk can also be used to cook and bake a wide range of recipes.
Tofu is often used to provide texture and nutrients, and is best marinated, seasoned, or cooked into the flavor of the dish. Tofu can provide 10.1 grams of protein for every 100 grams and contains calcium, potassium, and iron.
Keep an eye out for other soy protein sources at the grocery store. Other common uses of soy protein include: soy protein powder in smoothies, mixing soy nuts into a trail mix, and soy-based cheese alternatives.
Macros per cup (243g) of soy milk: 7 g protein, 4 g carbs, 4 g fat
Macros per 100 grams tofu: 10.1 g protein, 2.5 g carbs, 5.1 g fat
Green peas deliver much more than just a vegan protein source. A cooked cup provides about eight grams of protein as well as vitamins A, C, K, folate, manganese, and thiamine… plus over 25 percent of the recommended daily fiber requirement.
Green peas are also rich in copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. They are delicious added to salads, soups, stir fry, or as a simple side with a variety of meals.
Macros per cup (150g): 7.9 g protein, 21 g carbs, .6 g fat
Lentils are also an excellent source of protein as a cooked cup provides 17.9 grams of protein and about 50 percent of your daily requirement of fiber.
Lentils are packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals that enhance overall health and are also high in folate, iron, and manganese. They are often used in soups and stews, but consider adding them to a salad or puree into lentil hummus. If that still didn’t sell you, research suggests that lentils may help protect against some types of cancer and reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Macros per cooked cup (75g): 17.9 g protein, 39.9 g carbs, .8 g fat
Did you know that each cup of kidney beans contains about 14 grams of protein?
All varieties of beans are rich in protein, including white, black, kidney and pinto beans. They are also rich in complex carbs, fiber, folate, iron, potassium, manganese, and several health-benefitting plant compounds.
Can you think of a savory meal that wouldn’t benefit from having beans? We love them in and on all sorts of tacos, stews, soups, salads, dips, and whatever else we’re making. Research has linked diets high in beans and other legumes with lower blood pressure, reduced belly fat, and decreased cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Macros per cup of kidney beans (177g): 14 g protein, 42 g carbs, 1 g fat
Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
Also coming in at 14 grams of vegan protein per cup, chickpeas are deliciously found in a variety of foods including hummus, falafel, curries, and even popped like popcorn. This Mediterranean legume can come in a variety of colors allowing you to brighten up your meal’s color palette while offering calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, and iron.
They’re also excellent at helping you feel full… the 22 grams of fiber per cup in chickpeas will keep you satisfied until your next mealtime comes around.
Macros per cup (165g): 14 g protein, 40 g carbs, 2 g fat
Having a hard time losing weight on a vegan or vegetarian diet? Calculate your macros.
It can be hard to get enough protein (and not eat too many carbs!) when you are eating a plant based diet... especially if you don't know your macro split.
If you haven't already, take a minute now to calculate your macros with our FREE Macro Calculator and find out how much protein you need in your diet!