How to Get Protein In A Vegan Diet

Not sure how to get protein as a vegan? It’s actually really easy!

Credit: Christopher Shoebridge

vegan protein

It’s a common myth that we need meat to get enough protein, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There may be a lot of protein in meat, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist anywhere else. It does! And vegans simply do what elephants, bison and rhinos do. We go straight to the source – plants.

While protein is an essential macronutrient, protein deficiency is not a concern for most of the UK population. That said, it’s important to be aware of what plant-based foods are protein-rich, and to include a variety of plant-based proteins in your meals.

what is protein?

There are 20 amino acids that make up protein and our bodies are able to make most of these themselves. However, there are nine that we need to get from food, and these are known as essential amino acids.

Individual plant foods contain all of these, but in varying proportions. There are two that we need to be more aware of: lysine and methionine. Typically, cereals such as rice and wheat are lower in lysine, and legumes like beans, pulses and peas are lower in methionine.

By ensuring you’re eating a balanced diet that includes both cereals and legumes, you’ll be getting all of the essential amino acids you need.

Tempeh broccoli bowl
Image Credit: AdobeStock


So where do vegans get protein? Here are some of the best vegan protein sources you can include in your diet:

  • Tofu a high-protein food made from soybeans
  • Tempeh a food made from fermented soybeans
  • Seitan a high-protein food made from wheat gluten
  • Legumes – beans, peanuts and peanut butter, peas, lentils and soya
  • Grains – quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta, quinoa, bulgur
  • Nuts – Brazil, peanut, cashew, almond, pistachio and walnut

How much protein do we need?

The consensus is that those on a whole food plant-based diet should aim for 1.0g/kg as some protein from plant-based sources are less bioavailable. Older adults and those trying to build muscle may want to aim higher – up to 1.6g per kg of bodyweight.

High-protein Vegan meals

Here are some delicious, protein-packed recipes to try:

This page was reviewed by Claire Lynch, RD and nutritionist Rohini Bajekal from Plant-Based Health Professionals in November 2023. For more information, see this sports nutrition fact sheet.

Thinking of trying vegan?

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