High Protein Vegan Recipes
“High Protein Vegan Recipes” was written by Lauren Whitman, RDN & edited/reviewed by Aly Bouzek, MS, RDN.
Are you or someone you know vegan? One of the first questions or concerns you may have is how to get enough protein while eating a vegan diet.
Have no fear, there are tons of healthy and delicious vegan proteins and recipe ideas that you can read all about right here!
Want to get straight to high protein vegan recipes? Jump to those recipes by clicking here.
How Much Protein Do I Need a Day?
As you may know, protein is an important nutrient for people of all ages. Protein helps build and regulate your muscles, organs, and tissues. (1)
You may be wondering how much protein you need a day.
The Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for adults aged 18 years and older, is 0.8 grams per kilogram (kg) body weight. (2) However, older adults may actually need more protein – about 1.0-1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
Let’s take a look at a quick example for a 120-pound person:
120 pounds / 2.2 (kg/lb) = 54.55 kg
54.55 kg x 1 gram = 54.55 grams of protein OR 54.55 kg x 1.2 grams = 65.46 grams of protein
So, this person should be eating 54.55 – 65.46 grams of protein per day.
Different amounts of protein may be recommended for different people depending on activity level, age, muscle mass, weight gain goals, weight loss goals, and if they are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Talk with a geriatric dietitian or registered dietitian for nutrition recommendations unique to your needs!
Protein is about Quantity AND Quality
Not all sources of protein are created equal. Protein is made up of amino acids, and our bodies need 9 of those amino acids to feel and function at our best.
There are some foods that contain all 9 amino acids, which we call complete proteins. Meat, fish, eggs, dairy, soy, quinoa, buckwheat, and hempseed are all complete proteins.
Incomplete proteins are missing 1 or more of the 9 essential amino acids. Nuts, seeds, peas, lentils, and beans are all considered incomplete proteins.
Fortunately, when you eat multiple incomplete proteins together, you can get all 9 amino acids! We call these complementary proteins. Incomplete protein power couples are: nuts and whole grains, fruit and yogurt, and beans and rice.
Best Vegan Sources of Protein
The best vegan sources of protein are soy products, quinoa, buckwheat, and hempseed. As mentioned above, these are all complete protein sources and provide all 9 essential amino acids.
Soy is a Great Vegan Source of Protein
Soy is a complete protein and therefore gives you all 9 essential amino acids. Because it is a complete protein, it also leaves you feeling fuller and more satisfied.
Examples of soy include tofu, edamame (shelled or de-shelled), tempeh, products made from soy flour, soy protein isolate, and soy concentrate.
Soy milk can be another great vegan source of protein – be sure to check the label and look for products that are 8 grams of protein or more per serving.
You can enjoy a glass of soy milk on its own, or you can use it in coffee, smoothies, cereal, and anything else you would use regular milk for. It’s very versatile!
Not sure how else to incorporate soy into your diet? Jump to our high protein vegan recipes below for some inspiration!
Other Good Sources of Vegan Protein
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans also recommends beans, peas, lentils, nuts, and seeds as good vegan protein sources. (3)
As we mentioned earlier, these are all incomplete proteins, so don’t forget to pair them with whole grains or other incomplete proteins to create a complete protein!
Pairing incomplete protein sources is key to eating a vegan diet high in protein. In general, you want to pair incomplete proteins together in one meal to get the most benefits.
Nuts and Seeds are Great Additions in High Protein Vegan Recipes
A healthy diet can include all types of nuts, nut butters, all types of seeds and seed butters.
Examples include tree nuts, peanuts, almonds, chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, tahini (ground sesame), and sunflower seed butter.
Nuts and nut butters are good on their own, or paired with whole grain bread, crackers, yogurt, or fruit! You can also add nut butters to smoothies for more healthy fats and protein.
Cheap Vegan Sources of Protein
If you are looking for cheap vegan sources of protein, check in the refrigerator section of the grocery store for tofu, and the freezer section for edamame (shelled or de-shelled)!
You can also head to the pantry section at the store and load up on dried/canned beans, peas, and lentils.
We also recommend buying nuts and seeds in bulk to save some money. If you’re watching your sodium intake, keep an eye out for unsalted and lightly salted versions of your favorites.
Or, simply rinse canned beans and peas under cool running water to lower the amount of sodium.
High Protein Vegan Recipes
Did you know about 75% of Americans meet or exceed the recommended consumption of meat, poultry, and eggs, but more than 50% of people don’t meet the recommendation for seeds, nuts, and soy products? (3)
Whether you eat meat every day or are a strict vegan, we have some great high protein vegan recipes for you to try!
Tofu Stir Fry
Tofu is a cheap, complete vegan protein and can be used as a meat substitute in almost any dish! You can take tofu, some veggies, rice, and your favorite sauce and ta-da – you have a healthy, high protein vegan recipe ready in less than 30 minutes.
Try this Weeknight Tofu Stir Fry recipe.
Easy Edamame Crunch Salad
Edamame is another cheap, complete vegan protein source that you can find in the freezer section at the grocery store! Not only is it easy to prepare, it’s also satisfying and filling.
Try this Easy Edamame Crunch Salad! It’s great as a side dish, but even better as one of your high protein vegan meals!
Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas
If you’ve never had quinoa before and are worried about the taste, don’t be! It’s a similar flavor to rice but with a slightly nutty flavor. You can buy it dried (and prepare it like rice), or you can buy it in microwavable pouches to make for a quick, high protein snack.
This Quinoa Greek Salad with Chickpeas is cheap, easy, and a great choice for high protein vegan recipes.
Smoothie with Vegan Protein Powder
Vegan protein powder is a great way to get all the protein without the hassle of cooking a meal! One of our favorite ways to enjoy a smoothie is with this Vegan Weight Gain Smoothie recipe. Yum!
Not looking to gain weight? You can decrease or cut out the avocado and/or nut butter altogether! The best thing about smoothies is that they’re customizable to whatever you want or need.
More Ideas for Easy High Protein Vegan Recipes
Looking for even more easy ideas for high protein vegan recipes? Check out our article here!
- What Are Proteins and What Do They Do? Medline Plus. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/understanding/howgeneswork/protein/.
- Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrates, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2005. https://www.nap.edu/read/10490/chapter/1.
- Dietary Guidelines for Americans: 2020-2025. https://www.dietaryguidelines.gov/sites/default/files/2021-03/Dietary_Guidelines_for_Americans-2020-2025.pdf.