‘But What About Protein?’ Don’t Worry—Vegan Food’s Got You Covered!

Look, it’s true—getting enough protein is really important. Protein helps build and repair our muscles and bones. 💪🦴

But getting too much protein is also a problem—and in the U.S., we actually consume twice the amount of protein we need! So, how much protein is enough? And can we get that amount without harming animals? Use this guide to find out. (Spoiler alert: Vegan protein sources always come through. 😏)

Healthy Vegan Protein Sources

Most people between the ages of 14 and 18 need from 46 to 52 grams of protein per day, and those 19 or older need between 46 and 56 grams. Those are easy numbers to hit as long as you choose the right foods. Ready for a double dose of good news? Many protein-packed foods are vegan AND delicious!  

You can help stop animals from being abused and slaughtered, enjoy tasty food, and meet your protein needs at the same time by digging into these vegan protein sources:

Up to 9 Grams

Broccoli, cooked       4 g1 cup
Cashews        5 g¼ cup
Spinach, cooked5 g1 cup
Soy yogurt, plain      6 g8 oz.
Sunflower seeds        6 g¼ cup
Almond butter          7 g2 Tbsp.
Soy milk, plain7 g1 cup
Whole wheat bread7 g2 slices
Spaghetti, cooked  8 g1 cup
Peanut butter  8 g2 Tbsp.
Veggie dog  8 g1 link
Peas, cooked  8 g1 cup
Quinoa, cooked        8 g1 cup
Almonds        8 g¼ cup

10–20 Grams

Bagel 10 g 1 bagel
Tofu, regular 10 g 4 oz.
Tofu, firm   11 g 4 oz.
Veggie burger 13 g 1 patty
Black-eyed peas, cooked13 g 1 cup
Black beans, cooked15 g1 cup
Kidney beans, cooked   15 g1 cup
Pinto beans, cooked 15 g1 cup
Chickpeas, cooked    15 g1 cup
Lima beans, cooked  15 g1 cup
Lentils, cooked      18 g1 cup

21 Grams or More

Seitan 21 g3 oz.
Soybeans, cooked   29 g1 cup
Tempeh     31 g1 cup

With so many tasty vegan options, we really don’t have to worry about getting enough protein. The U.S. Department of Agriculture even says, “Protein needs can easily be met by eating a variety of plant-based foods.” That’s straight from the gov, y’all.

Vegan vs. Nonvegan Protein

But now, it’s time for the ultimate showdown. How do vegan protein sources stack up with animal-based protein sources? We’ll be polite: Plant-based proteins blow away the competition. Check out these head-to-head matchups to see why vegan protein is always the best choice.

Black Beans vs. Eggs

One large egg has about 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat (including 1.5 grams of saturated fat), and a whopping 200 milligrams of cholesterol. Too much cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease. Is 200 milligrams a lot of cholesterol for one single piece of food? Well, doctors have recommended not eating more than 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day. So … yeah. 😶

Go for black beans instead—½ cup has 7 grams of protein with only 0.5 grams of fat (including NO saturated fat) and NO cholesterol. It’s a much healthier and kinder option. By choosing black beans over eggs, you’re dealing a blow to an industry that confines chickens to cramped, filthy cages for their entire lives and steals what’s rightfully theirs.

Veggie Dogs vs. Hot Dogs

An Oscar Mayer Classic Beef Frank has 5 grams of protein, 13 grams of fat (including 5 grams of saturated fat), and 25 milligrams of cholesterol. Saturated fat is another thing you want to watch out for—and red meat like beef or pork is full of it.

A veggie dog, like the Lightlife Smart Dog, has 8 grams of protein, 2 grams of fat (including NO saturated fat), and NO cholesterol. That means eating veggie dogs can help more cows enjoy their freedom and form deep emotional connections with each other while also helping you keep your heart healthy.

Veggie Nuggets vs. Chicken Nuggets

This is pretty obvious, but steer clear of Chicken McNuggets. Four of these nuggets from McDonald’s have  9 grams of protein, 10 grams of fat, and 25 milligrams of cholesterol per serving, making it a super-unhealthy choice. Even worse, they’re made out of ground-up dead chickens, who valued their lives just as much as we do. 💔

The next time you’re craving nuggets, try MorningStar Farms Chik’n Nuggets—four nuggets have 12 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, and NO cholesterol. BTW, these vegan gems aren’t outliers at all—vegan foods are typically way lower in cholesterol and saturated fat than animal-derived foods.

Any way you look at it, plant-based protein sources absolutely dominate. Do you know where the calories in a hamburger come from? About 59% of them come from fat, while  only 41% come from protein. For a chicken breast with skin, about 49% come from fat, while 51% come from protein. Now compare that with tofu—only about 31% of the calories come from fat, while 54% come from protein.

Vegan protein is usually cheaper than animal protein, too. A chicken breast costs 5 cents per gram of protein, and canned tuna costs 5.4 cents. But kidney beans, on the other hand, only cost 3.6 cents per gram of protein. Choosing plant-based protein eliminates cruelty to animals, puts healthier food in your body, and leaves more money in your pocket. 💸

Why Is Too Much Protein Bad?

Why would too much protein be a bad thing? Well, too much protein can cause a lot of horrible health problems like osteoporosis, kidney stones, kidney disease, and even cancer. 😱

Eating animal-derived foods often means you’re getting too much protein. Researchers in England found that when people added about 5 ounces of fish to a normal diet, their risk of urinary tract stones increased by up to 250%.

Thankfully, there’s a really easy way to avoid all that—just go vegan. By eating a healthy vegan diet of grain, veggies, legumes, nuts, seeds, and fruit, you’ll be getting enough (but not too much) protein. Try making a protein-packed vegan meal by following our recipe for a mouthwatering Spicy “Chicken” Sandwich.

And if you’re looking for an extra boost of nutrients, try these vegan supplements. From vitamins to omega-3 fatty acids, you can get literally everything your body needs while eating 100% vegan.


Ready to start reaping the benefits of a vegan diet? Order our free Guide to Going Vegan for help with a smooth transition to a more compassionate life.

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