The 7 Best Sources of Protein for Vegans and Vegetarians

As everyone knows, protein is the fundamental ingredient when it comes to building muscle. However, it’s primarily sourced from animal products, which is a big ‘no no’ for vegans and vegetarians who are trying to bulk up. So how do you become a meat head, without heading for the meat? Well, we've put together a list of the 7 best vegan-friendly protein sources available, to ensure you're getting the right levels of nutrition whatever your diet....

1. Quinoa 

Almost impossible to pronounce correctly the first time you read it, quinoa is one of the best sources of vegan-friendly protein available. This is because it is the only plant-based source of what is termed ‘complete protein’ – a product containing all 9 of the essential amino acids the body requires for growth and repair.

Technically, quinoa is a seed, but its remains incredibly versatile. It can be added to soups, chillies and salads, and can even be served hot as part of your breakfast or desert. The most important factor though is that it packs an 8g punch of protein per cup!

Oh, and its pronounced the way.

2. Seeds

Sesame, sunflower, pumpkin and poppy seeds are all packed full of protein, and are incredibly easy to introduce to your diet. Sunflower seed kernels contain 7.3g of protein per every quarter cup, whereas sesame and poppy seeds contain 5.4g. Simply toss them over your salads, throw them into your vinaigrettes, or just munch on them throughout the day.

3. Nuts and Nut Butter

All nuts, including peanuts, walnuts, cashews and almonds, contain high levels of protein, though it is better to buy then in a raw state as opposed to dry roasted or salted.

Although the fat they contain is the ‘good’ type of fat, this can still pile up if eaten in too large a quantity. Instead, eat them as a healthy snack – the high amount of protein will leave you feeling fuller for longer.

4. Beans 

Beans means....protein, and lots of it! And it doesn’t matter which beans you like, as they all contain high levels of muscle building goodness. Like nuts, they’re at their best in their purest form, so chuck them into your salads, chillies, and patties, or anything else you can think of.

Edamame beans with a sprinkling of salt are great as a snack or appetiser, or why not try your hand at home-made hummus, by mashing up cooked chickpeas with olive oil, tahini, lemon juice and garlic.

Just to put it into context, two cups of kidney beans contains a whopping 26g of protein – 50% of your RDA, and the same as a 100g steak!

5. Tofu

Made from soymilk, tofu is one of the best sources of vegetarian protein on the planet. In fact, half a cup contains a staggering 15-20 grams of protein – we’re definitely siding with the ‘half-full’ argument on this one!

It’s also far healthier than your typical ‘mock meats,’ as it is naturally sourced and therefore doesn’t contain the heavily processed and modified components. In addition, it’s incredibly versatile, and can be used in curries, salads, and pastas, though it’s perhaps at its best in a stir-fry.

6. Hemp

Hemp seed, that is, as opposed to its Class C cousin.

With 10g of protein in every 3 tablespoons of hemp seed, by adding a handful to smoothies or bread, it’s a very sneaky and yet extremely effective way of adding more muscle juice to your diet. And if you get a taste for the stuff, why not try hemp milk, too. Not only will you look extremely interesting whenever requesting it in a coffee shop (though we very much doubt they’ll have it), it also contains even less calories than skimmed milk!

7. Green Leafy Vegetables

Spinach, kale and broccoli are the true bad boys of this group, delivering an absolute powerhouse of protein between them. They are all extremely low in terms of calories, too, so you can effectively eat them to your heart’s content - which they’re also good for!

We hope this makes a difference to your diet. And if you know about any other great vegan and vegetarian friendly protein sources, let us know in the comment box below. While you’re at it, check out our selection of Be An Athlete leggings and vests, too, which are a perfect way to show off your new, leaner, protein pumped body!

Image Credits

1- SweetOnVeg, Flickr
2- Jacinta Llurch Valero
3- Peter Griffin, Pixabay
4- Wikipedia
5- Luca Nebuloni, Flickr
6- Heather McCoy, Flickr
7- Wikipedia

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