15 vegan protein sources that'll help you up your plant-based protein intake

Tempeh, tofu, and more.

Vegan protein sources: Portrait of sporty woman in yellow sportswear drinking water
(Image credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Tempeh, tofu, and more.

If you're searching the web for vegan protein sources, chances are, you're trying your hand at a vegan diet and don't know what foods to add to your meals to make sure you've got a nutrient-dense balance of carb, fat, and protein.

Not entirely sure what protein is? "Protein is one of the three macronutrients, aka nutrients we need in larger quantities, needed by the body for growth, repair, muscle function, and maintaining muscle mass. Protein is a complex molecule in that it is made up of smaller components called amino acids," shares Armit Kaur Khaneja, nutritionist at Holland & Barrett.

Fun fact: when you eat foods containing protein such as meats, beans, nuts, pulses, and lentils, the body breaks the protein down into amino acids. "The body requires twenty different amino acids to maintain good health, nine of which are considered essential amino acids which we need to get from our food," she continues.

Getting enough vegan protein can seem like a somewhat impossible task, unless you supplement with one of the best protein powders for women - which is why we've enlisted the help of Khaneja to share her go-to vegan protein sources with you.

Add them to salads, stews, and bakes, mix them into smoothies, soups, or sauces, or eat them on toast - there's something for every preference in this list. Don't miss our guides to Vitamin D foods, the benefits of omega 3, and gut health hacks, while you're here.

Vegan protein sources: 15 to add to your diet 

"One of the most common questions vegans get asked is, how do you get enough protein?," shares Armit Kaur Khaneja, nutritionist at Holland & Barrett. "In actual fact, protein is available in many food sources and is rarely a problem for vegans as long as they follow a well-balanced and varied diet," they reassure.

Vegan sources of protein include:

1. Tofu

2. Soy

3. Beans

4. Lentils

5. Chickpeas

6. Nuts

7. Nut butter

8. Seeds

9. Quinoa

10. Tempeh

11. Seitan

12. Broccoli

13. Spinach

14. Peas

15. Mycoprotein, aka Quorn

Is it harder as a vegan to get more protein in your diet? 

Good question.

Short answer: it shouldn't be, but you might have to pay more attention to what you're putting on your plate to ensure a good macro balance.

The main reason is because, as above, animal protein contains a complete balance of the different amino acids whereas, in plant-based sources, you may need a combination of foods to achieve a full amino acid balance.

"For example, rice and beans both have a full amino acid balance," shares the nutritionist. "Some sources, such as soy and quinoa, have all nine amino acids which include histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine."

As we've touched on, the macronutrient is key to muscle repair (read our guides to workout recovery and delayed onset muscle soreness, here), meaning it's also vital for helping your body to recover from injury.

Vegan protein - £26.00, Form Nutrition

Vegan protein - £26.00, Form Nutrition

Vegan protein - £30.00, Hermosa

Vegan protein - £30.00, Hermosa

Vegan protein - £29.95, Innermost

Vegan protein - £29.95, Innermost

Vegan protein - £24.99, Foodspring 

Vegan protein - £24.99, Foodspring 

 Vegan protein - £19.00, Misfits

 Vegan protein - £19.00, Misfits

Are there any common vegan myths?

Just like the many celebrity vegans prove, there are many common vegan myths.

"Protein deficiency is right at the top of that list," shares the nutritionist. "Some people believe vegans need more protein than non-vegans and this is simply not true," she continues. Protein is abundant in many food sources and is actually, fun fact, the least common deficiency you will find in a vegan.

Did you know? There are many athletes who believe that their professional success is due to their vegan diet, for example former world strongman Patrik Baboumian.

"Research has shown that vegans who eat healthy, balanced, plant-based food see health benefits such as reduced risk of coronary heart disease and more," she concludes.

Ally Head
Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, eight-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She regularly hosts panels and presents for things like the MC Sustainability Awards, has an Optimum Nutrition qualification, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw, with health page views up 98% year on year, too. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.