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    10 Best Vegan Protein Sources

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    10 Best Vegan Protein Sources

    Eating vegan or vegetarian is becoming a more common dietary choice, and that means more and more people have questions about getting enough nutrients—like protein—in their plant-based diet. Here’s the good news from https://thevegangarden.com/: It’s easy to meet your daily protein requirements as a vegan. The secret? It’s all about balance.

    Part of maintaining balance with a vegan diet is to avoid becoming a “junk food vegan,” which may land you with low energy and a protein deficiency. For example, a diet consisting purely of frozen vegan waffles and chips won’t supply enough protein (or practically any other nutrient) for your body’s energy needs. But if you take full advantage of a plant-based diet and fill your plate with colorful produce, hearty grains and satisfying spuds, then you should have no problem meeting your daily protein goal.

    How to Determine If You’re Eating Enough Protein as a Vegan

    Those who aren’t sure they’re meeting their protein goals can easily figure that out. Download a food tracking app, such as Cronometer or MyFitnessPal, and record your regular diet for several days. Keep an eye on your protein intake and see if you’re hitting your daily number. In general, the recommendation is to get 10%-35% of your total calorie intake from protein, per the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. That’s about 200 to 700 calories for a 2,000-calorie per day diet.

    If you find you aren’t getting enough protein, try incorporating more of the suggested foods below into your meals. Remember, if you have another reason to need extra protein, such as being pregnant or following a rigorous training schedule at the gym, then it’s a good idea to consult a registered dietitian and pay closer attention to tracking your protein intake.

    10 Best Vegan Protein Sources

    The Best Vegan Proteins

    Free of dairy, eggs and meat, this extensive guide highlights some of the best vegan protein sources available. You will see some classics on this list, like beans and tofu, as well as often-overlooked foods like green peas and wild rice that also pack some serious protein punch.

    1. Soy

    The ubiquitous vegan protein is often associated with processed patties or mystery “meat” loaf, but it doesn’t have to be. Soy protein can be a part of a healthy plant-based diet. Foods like tofu, tempeh, edamame and even soy milk are great options for adding protein to your diet. Try cooking up a stir-fry featuring tempeh or tofu, steaming some edamame for an easy appetizer, or topping your morning cereal with soy milk.

    According to a 2016 review in Nutrients, many of the health benefits of eating soy are associated with 2-4 servings of soy foods a day. Here is how much protein there is in common soy foods, per the USDA:

    • Tempeh: 17 g protein per 1/2 cup
    • Shelled edamame: 9 g protein per 1/2 cup
    • Tofu: 9 g protein per 3 ounces
    • Soy milk: 7 g protein per 1 cup

    2. Nutritional Yeast

    Don’t let nutritional yeast’s scientific-sounding name throw you off. Affectionately nicknamed “nooch” by the vegan community, it’s an inactive yeast that is yellow in appearance and has a unique cheesy, umami-rich taste. It has 4 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons, according to the USDA, and as a bonus, is a great vegan source of vitamin B12.

    Most food sources of vitamin B12 are animal sources, so many vegans need to supplement. Talk to your healthcare provider to make sure you’re getting enough if you eat a vegan diet. Enjoy nutritional yeast in sauces or dressings, sprinkled on your next pasta dish or tossed into a bowl of popcorn.

    3. Seitan

    Seitan is a staple in plant-based diets. It is created with vital wheat gluten, the main protein in wheat, which results in a chewy and hearty texture that really mimics meat in some dishes. It’s important to note that because seitan is made with wheat gluten, it is not gluten-free.

    A 3-ounce serving of seitan contains 20 grams of protein, per the USDA. You can make seitan yourself by purchasing vital wheat gluten or find it precooked next to the tofu in the refrigerated section of your local supermarket or natural-foods store.

    4. Whole Grains

    Even though we typically think of them as carbohydrate sources, whole grains can sneak extra protein into any meal. Many varieties are naturally high in protein—not to mention they deliver fiber, vitamins and minerals to your diet. To boost your daily grain intake, start your day with a warm bowl of oatmeal, keep lunch fresh with a quinoa salad or end your evening with wild rice-stuffed peppers for dinner.

    Here’s a short list of whole grains and how much protein they contain, per the USDA. All measurements are for cooked grains.

    • Quinoa: 8 g protein per 1 cup
    • Wild rice: 6.5 g protein per 1 cup
    • Oats: 6 g protein per 1 cup
    • Buckwheat: 5.5 g protein per 1 cup

    5. Green Veggies

    Often overlooked when it comes to protein, green vegetables offer more than just vitamins and minerals. Foods like spinach, Brussels sprouts and green peas all contain decent amounts of protein to balance out your plate. Not to mention, greens are antioxidant-rich, full of fiber and low in calories. Try adding cooked spinach to pasta, mixing green peas into a curry or roasting up Brussels sprouts for an irresistible crispy side.

    Here’s a sampling of green veggies and amounts of protein for each, per the USDA. All measurements are for cooked vegetables.

    • Spinach: 5 g protein per cup
    • Green peas: 4 g protein per 1/2 cup
    • Brussels sprouts: 2 g protein per 1/2 cup

    6. Sprouted Bread

    Sprouted grain bread, also sometimes called Ezekiel bread due to the popular brand name, is a whole-grain baked good that has a hefty amount of protein too. Depending on the brand you purchase, one slice contains 4 to 5 grams of protein, per the USDA. That means that if you make a sandwich with two slices of bread, you’re already starting with a whopping 10 grams of protein before you even add the fillings. Other ideas for using sprouted-grain bread include toast, breakfast strata or breadcrumbs.

    7. Potatoes

    The humble spud isn’t always thought of being a health food due to its many unhealthy incarnations (looking at you, french fries and loaded potato skins), but it’s actually a wholesome addition to your diet. Just one large russet potato with the skin contains 8 grams of protein, per the USDA—that’s more potassium than a banana—and it’s a good source of fiber. Other varieties, like red or sweet potatoes, don’t contain as much protein (7 grams and 2.5 grams respectively), but they still can contribute to your daily intake goal. Try potatoes of all types mashed, roasted, baked or scalloped. Here’s a recap of protein amounts in potatoes, according to the USDA:

    • Russet potato: 8 g per large spud
    • Red potato: 7 g per large spud
    • Sweet potato: 2.5 g per medium spud

    8. Legumes

    A go-to for vegans looking to bulk up their protein intake, legumes are the budget-friendly base of many plant-based dishes. The category of legumes includes beans and lentils, both powerhouses when it comes to plant protein. Different lentil varieties can contain up to 18 grams of protein per cup (cooked), while beans can range between 10 and 18 grams per cup depending on the type. Use lentils as taco filling, in chili or as a curry base. Beans are extremely versatile; some of our favorite ways to use them are blended into hummus, formed into fritters or as baked potato toppers.

    Here’s a brief rundown of lentils and beans and how much protein they contain, per the USDA. All measurements are for cooked legumes.

    • Lentils: 18 g per 1 cup
    • Chickpeas: 14.5 g per 1 cup
    • Black beans: 15 g per 1 cup

    9. Seeds

    Seeds aren’t just for the birds. From sesame seeds whirred into tahini to flax seeds sprinkled onto oatmeal or baked into bread, seeds can be a rich source of protein and fiber in a vegan diet. Flax, chia and hemp are also good sources of plant-based omega-3 fats. Seeds are an especially nice protein option for anyone with nut allergies. Spread sunflower-seed butter on toast, blend tahini into a salad dressing or make a chia seed pudding.

    Here are a few seeds and seed butter, including how much protein each contains, per the USDA:

    • Pumpkin seeds: 8.5 g per 1 oz
    • Hemp seeds: 9.5 g per 3 tablespoons
    • Tahini: 5 g per 2 tablespoons

    10. Nuts

    No plant-based pantry would be complete without several varieties of nuts, which are equally easy to snack on or to incorporate into recipes. The American Heart Association recommends eating 1.5 ounces of nuts or 2 tablespoons of nut butters several times a week. Although the serving sizes are minimal, each contains a hefty dose of protein. Easy uses include packing up pre-portioned baggies of almonds for grab-and-go snacks, whisking peanut butter into sauces and adding a sprinkling of walnuts to your next salad. Here’s a sampling of nuts and nut butter and how much protein each contains, per the USDA:

    • Almonds: 9 g per 1.5 oz
    • Walnuts: 6.6 g per 1.5 oz
    • Cashews: 8 g per 1.5 oz
    • Peanut butter: 8 g per 2 tablespoons

    What’s The Best Vegan Protein Powder

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    What's The Best Vegan Protein Powder

    My search https://thevegangarden.com/ for the best vegan protein powder was born out of a deep, existential question I couldn’t, ahem, shake: Do any plant-based protein powders actually taste good?

    You see, I am a food person who also loves to lift weights. And while there’s a lot of dubious bro-science about weightlifting and nutrition, one thing we seem to agree on is that increasing your protein intake (to around 0.8 to 1 gram per pound of body weight per day) is helpful for…the gainz. That’s kind of a lot when you consider that even protein-packed foods like chicken and fish only have around 30 grams per serving. Then there’s the convenience issue: Who has time to grill a steak after every workout?

    Whey, which contains dairy (but little to no lactose), has long dominated the protein powder market—and my kitchen. It’s popular because it has a clean, neutral flavor, and it mixes easily in milk and water. But in recent years, I’ve watched as vegan protein powders have surged onto shelves.

    “This stuff isn’t just for those who follow a vegan diet,” says Taylor Wolfram, MS, LDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist. “If someone’s body isn’t tolerating animal-based protein powders, trying out vegan options is a great idea. Also folks with animal welfare and environmental concerns will want to consider vegan protein powder as it’s much kinder to animals and has a gentler impact on the environment.”

    What's The Best Vegan Protein Powder

    Vegan protein powder can be made from virtually any legume, seed, or grain, from hemp seeds to brown rice to watermelon seeds. According to Wolfram, “vegan protein powders based on legumes like soy and pea protein powder” are going to provide the most high-quality, bioavailable protein. She warns that, like any protein powder, vegan options may contain added sugar alcohols like erythritol and xylitol, which can give some people digestive issues.

    The one time I’d tried vegan protein powder it was from a health food co-op, and it was truly nauseating in flavor, texture, and appearance. But I wondered if, in this new era of plant-based innovation, we’d finally gotten vegan protein powder right. I was down to give it another shot, but only if I could find the best vegan protein powder out there, and by “best” I mean most delicious. (And if you’re really on that health kick, also check out our review of the best greens powders you’ll actually want to drink.)

    So my quest began. I lined my countertop with tubs of vanilla protein or as close to vanilla as I could get (isn’t that what they call the scientific method?), put my ancient Magic Bullet to the test,* and landed on 11 brands ranging from totally palatable to truly the best tasting plant-based protein powder I’ve tried.

    Future Kind Organic Vegan Protein Powder

    This was a great entry-level vegan protein. Mild and meek and barely sweet, it embodies “vanilla” in more ways than one. One 85-calorie scoop delivers 20 grams of protein made from the humble pea. It’s sweetened with stevia but doesn’t have any of that bitter, cloying aftertaste. This was the only protein powder that mixed up great in a shaker bottle, no blender required. Did it thrill me? No. But I can get my thrills in places other than a tub of organic vegan protein.

    KOS Organic Plant Protein

    Full disclosure, I did not love this USDA-certified organic protein powder, but my living companion polished it right off (he adds about half a jar of peanut butter and actual candy bars to his post-workout protein shakes, so the powder is pretty incidental). KOS is one of those Instagram brands that popped up so many times on my feed that I finally gave in and bought a tub. The branding is cute, I will say that. The taste, however, was stevia-sour on the front end and vegetal on the back, which makes sense given that it has a farmers market’s worth of produce in powdered form, including shiitake mushrooms and tomato. This might also be why it’s got a bit of a sludgy bottom when mixed with water or milk alone. Each serving has 150 calories and 20 grams of complete protein from flaxseed, quinoa, pumpkin seed, chia seed, and organic pea protein.

    About Time Vegan Protein

    I’d used About Time’s whey protein powder ages ago and was excited to see that it had three vegan flavors now, all of which use a blend of pea, brown rice, and pumpkin seed protein and include a full panel of BCAAs. Stevia is the only sweetener, and there are 122 calories and 22 grams of protein in each scoop. The vanilla flavor mixed perfectly into almond milk and had a clean, neutral taste. When I stirred it into cooked oatmeal (a thing I do a lot), it incorporated nicely without clumping.

    Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein

    This is one of those proteins I’ve been seeing in health food stores for years, and I will say it fully commits to its brand. And if ~health~ is your personal brand, this is the powder for you. There’s a farmer on the packaging! And carrots! And grapes? Also this one is made from an organic plant formula, non-GMO, and raw. (I went down a rabbit hole trying to figure out why other vegan proteins were not raw and emerged confused, but do with that info what you will.) Each scoop has 130 calories and 22 grams of protein, and no, there are actually not carrots or grapes in here, but there are literally 14 protein sources, ranging from pea protein to millet sprout to adzuki bean to something called “cracked wall chlorella,” which I assume is superior to normal chlorella. Sweetness comes in the form of erythritol and stevia. Upon first sip, I thought, This tastes raw and like dirt, so there’s truth in advertising, I guess.

    PlantFusion Complete Protein

    This protein powder is SO FINE, and I’m not talking about looks. I’m talking about texture, baby. If I didn’t have the ingredients list in front of me, I’d swear it was made from the sands of Dune. It also tastes really good, with a creamy, rich mouthfeel and a decent amount of sweetness from a combo of stevia, monk fruit, lucuma, and yacon powders–fancy! Pea protein is the first ingredient, but there’s also quinoa, amaranth, artichoke, algae, and branch-chain amino acids, a.k.a. BCAAs (good for muscle growth). Their powers combine to provide 21 grams of protein, 120 calories, and just a liiiittle bit of a weird aftertaste. Because it’s SO FINE, there was some residue left in the bottom of the blender, but nothing too bothersome.

    Orgain Organic Protein

    Orgain is one of the more affordable vegan proteins on the market. It is made from a protein blend of pea, brown rice, and chia and has 21 grams of protein per each 150 calorie serving. Although it’s sweetened with erythritol, a sugar alcohol, it’s got more calories and carbs than most other protein powders. It also has a surprisingly great flavor, even with water alone. It mixes up silky smooth and just thick enough, like a glass of vanilla soy milk, with no weird vegetal aftertaste. This one is the budget pick for sure.

    No Cow Protein Powder

    In its silver metallic tub with its fancy metal scooper, No Cow tastes as expensive as it looks. The yellowish tint made me think I’d be getting eggy French vanilla vibes, but the flavor was balanced and not too sweet. Made from pea and brown rice protein as well as stevia and erythritol, each 130-calorie scoop of No Cow has a protein content of 22 grams. This one will mix into anything and basically disappear, which is exactly what you want from a protein powder sometimes.

    Vega Sport Premium Protein

    This is the Old Spice of protein powders, marketed to manly men who Lift Heavy and Eat Clean and Consume an Unholy Amount of Protein. When I opened the tub, the powder clung to the lid like it was magnetized, which was kind of creepy but also cool, like maybe you’d build muscle and become part superhero if you used it. Made from pea, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, and alfalfa, it offers 30 big boy grams of protein in each 160-calorie scoop. Yes, the scooper is huge. It mixes up to an impossibly smooth and rich beverage, like an aged scotch or a vintage Pinot, if those things were milkshakes. Sweetened with stevia, it’s a classy choice for classy dudes…and me.

    Bowmar Nutrition Vegan Protein

    Bowmar has six vegan flavors(!) but for some reason they passed on vanilla, so I went with Cookies & Cream, which tasted so incredible I wondered if maybe I was just sick of vanilla. One scoop has 100 calories and 20 grams of protein from peas as well as pumpkin, sunflower, and watermelon seeds. If that sounds gritty, it’s not. This one mixes well with just milk, retaining some pleasant chocolate cookie crumbles throughout. It is sweetened with sucralose, so if you’re not about artificial sweeteners, walk on by.

    OWYN Plant Protein Powder

    OWYN, which like many of the other options on this list is gluten-free, dairy-free, and soy-free, stands for Only What You Need. If what you need is a delicious egg cream–like beverage that happens to have 140 calories and 20 grams of pea, pumpkin, and chia protein, you’ll agree. You could quibble about the 4 grams of cane sugar, but maybe it’s canceled out by the “Superfood & Greens” blend of broccoli, kale, and spinach? I’ll let you do your own math, but the flavor was rich and creamy, with just a slightly chalky texture when mixed with almond milk alone. Add a frozen banana, and you’ve got a truly decadent smoothie.

    Beam Vegan Protein

    I found out about Beam through an Instagram wellness influencer, and that makes sense to me because Beam is the “that girl” of vegan protein supplements, with its sleek packaging and quirky flavor lineup (also no vanilla). I wanted to hate it, but instead I loved it more than I reasonably should have. If the limited-edition Birthday Cake flavor is available (it comes and goes), buy it immediately. But Cinnamon Cereal is a close second; it tastes like cereal milk and has zero aftertaste despite blending pea, pumpkin seed, and mung bean protein with apple fiber, blueberry fiber, and red algae thrown in for good measure. One scoop is 100 calories and 20 grams of protein, and the only downside is the sucralose—artificial, but so, so good.