Best Sources of Plant Protein

Best Sources of Plant Protein

Many people believe that you must get your protein from meat, but this is simply not true! There are plenty of plant-based, or vegan, sources of protein that will give your body all the protein it needs as long as you eat enough of them and combine them properly.

In this article, we’ll cover the 9 best vegan protein sources on the planet and explain how to eat them for optimal results.

Plant-based Proteins

What is plant-based protein?

Plant-based protein is any food that contains protein and isn't derived from animals in any way. Plant protein technically includes all vegetables, nuts, beans and legumes, grains, seeds and soy products like tofu or tempeh. 

However, some plant products are higher in protein than others. This list is meant to introduce you to those vegan protein sources that are especially protein-rich.

What is a complete protein?

There are 20 total amino acids that your body needs to synthesise protein for muscle repair and other bodily processes, from the creation of hemoglobin to the production of hormones.

Your body can create 11 of these amino acids on its own, but you need to get the other 9 from food sources. 

A complete protein is a protein that contains all nine of these essential amino acids (EAAs) your body can’t make on its own. 

While there are a few plant-based proteins that contain all 9 EAAs (including a few on this list), most plants are deficient in one or two of them. That means you can’t rely on many of these sources as your only source of protein.

But you can combine them for stellar results. When you combine incomplete protein sources strategically (like rice with beans or quinoa with lentils), you'll be able to make up for any deficiencies in one plant-based protein source with another.

So without further delay, here are the best sources of vegan protein, along with how to combine them with other foods for optimal results.

The 9 best vegan protein sources

Plant-based Proteins

Beans and lentils

Beans and other legumes like lentils and chickpeas are excellent sources of protein. The protein content varies based on the type of bean, but one cup of cooked beans or lentils can provide anywhere from 15-50 grams of protein.

Legumes are also an excellent source of fibre, folate and other vitamins and minerals.

Complete or incomplete: Incomplete. While legumes are high in a good deal of EAAs, most are deficient in the amino acid methionine. The good news is that there are plenty of plant-based sources that are high in methionine including brazil nuts, soy/tofu, wheat germ and quinoa. Meaning if you pair any of these with your beans, you’ll be getting a complete protein.


A pea is considered a 'pulse', or the edible seed of a legume plant. And like legumes, peas are a fantastic vegan source of protein: one cup of peas contains about 8 grams of protein. Peas are also a good source of fibre, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc. 

Complete or incomplete: Incomplete. Like beans, peas are low in the amino acid methionine, which you can get from brazil nuts, soy, wheat germ and quinoa and hemp seeds. So, next time you make some soup, add some peas and hemp seeds and you'll have a complete protein source!

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are both excellent sources of protein. A ¼ cup serving of nuts can provide anywhere from 5-10 grams of protein depending on the type of nut. Both nuts and seeds also contain fibre, vitamin E, magnesium and zinc. 

Complete or incomplete: Incomplete. Most nuts are low in the amino acids lysine and methionine. You can get lysine from beans, oats, quinoa or soy and you can get methionine from oats, hemp seeds, quinoa or soy. Interestingly enough, pistachios are higher than most nuts in lysine and brazil nuts are high in methionine, so you can get a complete protein source from just nuts - provided you have the right mix!

Plant-based protein powder

We might be biased, but we think supplementing with a plant-based protein powder is one of the best ways to get more plant protein in your diet - and it can even help with weight loss. One serving of VORA Good Shape protein provides a whopping 23 grams of complete protein!

Complete or incomplete: Complete. The best part about plant protein powder is that if you find the right blend (such as VORA’s), you don't have to worry about whether or not you're getting a 'complete' protein source. That's because some of the best minds in nutrition have been able to isolate the protein from many different plant-based foods, and formulate them in such a way as to provide a single complete protein source.

For example, VORA's Good Shape Protein contains a unique blend of brown rice, pumpkin seed and pea proteins, as well as a host of other vitamins, minerals, superfoods and thermogenics.

Shop Good Shape Protein

Soy, tempeh and tofu

Soy is a great source of protein, providing about 31 grams of protein per cup. Soy is also high in fibre, potassium, magnesium and several B vitamins.

Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans and has a slightly nutty flavour. Tofu is also made from soybeans but has a softer texture than tempeh because it hasn't been fermented.

You can use soy in many ways: as an alternative to meat or fish, in curries and stir-fries or even on its own with Asian sauces like sweet chilli sauce or teriyaki sauce.

Complete or incomplete: Complete. The best part about soy is that it is 100% plant-based and contains all 9 essential amino acids our bodies can't make on their own. That makes it one of the best vegan sources of protein, and means you don't need to pair it with any other food to get all the benefits of its protein content!


Quinoa is a superfood that contains about 8 grams of protein per cup and is packed with protein, fibre, iron and other vitamins and minerals. It's also gluten-free, making it an ideal ‘grain-like’ substitute for those who have coeliac disease or are gluten intolerant. 

Quinoa is actually a seed, not a grain (which means it has higher levels of nutrients than some other grains). You can use quinoa in place of rice or pasta and even add it to soups and stews.

Complete or incomplete: Complete. Quinoa is another plant-based complete protein, so you don't need to pair it with anything else to get its benefits. But it goes very well with beans, peas or lentils, helping you get the most benefit out of those incomplete sources. This versatility makes it one of the best plant-based protein sources on the planet!


Spirulina is a type of algae and an exceptionally high source of plant-based protein. It is nearly 57% protein, meaning you'd only need two tablespoons of it to get 8 grams of protein into your diet.

Spirulina is also a superfood that is high in B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and even B12 which is rarely found in plants.

Complete or incomplete: Complete. Spirulina is a complete protein source, so you don’t need to pair it with anything else to get the full benefits of its protein content. That said, it’s more of a supplement than something you’d put on your plate, and you shouldn’t take more than a couple of tablespoons per day.


Mycoprotein is a very interesting vegan protein source if we’ve ever seen one! It’s made by fermenting a particular species of fungi and offers a similar texture to chicken and turkey.

Mycoprotein has an impressive nutritional profile, with one serving providing anywhere from 11-21 grams of protein per serving, while being low in fat.

This can be considered a 'lab-grown' protein, and is usually only available in the refrigerated section of specialty health food stores.

Complete or incomplete: Mycoprotein is a complete protein source, meaning you don’t need to pair it with anything else to take full advantage of its protein content.


Seitan is a meat substitute made from wheat gluten. Yes, that gluten (gluten is nothing more than the protein found in wheat). Of course, celiacs and those with gluten sensitivity will be wise to stay away from it. But for many other people, seitan can be an excellent source of protein.

One serving of seitan provides 21 grams of protein and only 2 grams of fat. It is also high in iron calcium, phosphorous and copper. It is also one of the rare plant sources of vitamin B12.

Complete or incomplete: Seitan is low in the amino acid lysine, so be sure to include lysine-rich foods like beans or lentils into your diet.

Bottom line

As you can see, there are many plant-based sources of protein. Whether you’re looking for a meat alternative or just want more plant-based meals in your diet, these foods can help you meet your protein goals without relying on animal products.

The key is to be aware of the different types of sources, how much you need and how to combine them effectively.

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