Categories: Healthy Eating

Vegan? Get enough protein with these tips & vegan protein sources

Vegan protein sources to help get enough protein

If you’re a vegan then you are probably tired of hearing the following statement “Vegans don’t get enough protein in their diet”. While this isn’t necessarily wrong – many vegans don’t get enough protein. Using the right vegan protein sources it is perfectly possible for vegans to get as much protein as required through their diet.

4 tips of adding protein to your Vegan Diet

In this article we are going to discuss four simple tips for increasing your protein intake to match your protein requirements while still following a vegan diet.

Tip #1  – Find out how much protein you require

General guidelines will say that anywhere between 1.2g and 1.5g of protein per kg of body weight is an acceptable amount.

It’s recommended around 1.5-2.2g/kg per day for athletes or highly active people, 1.0-1.5g/kg of protein for an athlete or highly active person who wants to lose weight, or 0.8g/kg of protein for someone who is sedentary.


If you are planning on entering a natural bodybuilding competition (a surprising amount of vegan bodybuilders exist) then you will need a higher intake of protein than other people.

A 2013 study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition looked at the protein requirements for natural bodybuilders.

The study found that 2.3-3.1g of protein per kg of lean body weight (your body weight minus your body fat) worked best for natural bodybuilders. Which could work out to being quite a lot of protein overall!

Convert your amounts

Whichever amount you decide, remember to multiply the number by your weight in kilograms rather than in pounds. Use Google to convert the numbers if you need to.

After looking at the evidence, it seems that the following guidelines are best:

  • Natural Bodybuilders = 2.3-3.1g/kg (lean body weight)
  • Athletes trying to gain weight = 1.5-2.2g/kg
  • Older Population = 1.2-1.5g/kg (actually require more protein than sedentary younger people)
  • Athletes trying to lose weight = 1.0-1.5g/kg
  • Sedentary Population = 0.8g/kg

Tip #2 – Look for high protein alternatives to your meals

Lentils are a commonly eaten vegan food source, which can contain up to 18g of protein per serving. Chickpeas, and legumes are also contain a surprising amount of protein – as do green peas.

Quinoa, wild rice, and certain breads can also be excellent sources of protein.

While you may already be aware of this if you are a vegan, it couldn’t hurt to assess your current diet and look to increase the amount of these foods into your diet.

Tip #3 – Start tracking your protein intake

How can you tell if you are or are not getting enough protein each day if you are not tracking it?

This is such a simple solution but is rarely carried out. Just download a calorie tracking app such as myfitnesspal (or similar) and start logging in what you eat each day.

Does this take up a lot of time? At first it may feel like it, but one week in you’ll be able to log all your day’s food within 5 minutes.

This will massively improve your protein adherence, and educate you about how the food choices you make affect your protein intake.

Tip #4 – Find a vegan protein powder

One of the most common criticisms of vegan protein powder is that it does not provide a complete amino acid profile. This means that it does not contain all 9 essential amino acids:

  • Tryptophan
  • Threonine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Valine
  • Histidine

There are two issues with this argument.

1) While some vegan protein powders may not contain a complete amino acid profile, the daily diet of a vegan should easily provide it.

2) Many vegan protein powders do contain a complete amino acid profile.

What can a vegan protein powder help supply

As one of the easiest vegan protein sources to use Sunwarrior is a vegan protein powder contains a complete amino acid profile, making it a complete protein. It achieves this by using multiple plant based ingredients such as: Yellow peas, cranberry seeds, hemp seeds, and coconut.

It contains high levels of Arginine, Lysine, Leucine, and also contains Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs).

Vegan protein powders have really improved over the last few years, many of them tasting excellent, and offering excellent value for money.

While they may never be as cheap as whey protein – you are guaranteed a high quality protein source, which sticks to your plant based needs.

Getting 2-50g of your daily protein requirements from a simple vegan protein shake is a great idea, and you’ll really see the difference in the gym and in the mirror.

Hit your protein targets

It is likely that as a vegan you are currently not hitting your protein targets, don’t worry though – most vegetarians and omnivores are also well short of their required protein intake.

By addressing the problem using these four tips and finding the right vegan protein sources you will easily be able to hit your targets.

If you are looking to hit your protein targets then follow this checklist (based on the advice of this article)….

Protein targets checklist…

  • Weigh yourself (use kg)
  • Decide which bracket you fit into (Natural bodybuilder, athlete trying to gain weight, older population, athlete trying to lose weight, sedentary) and multiply your body weight by the number specified.
  • Remember that if you are a natural bodybuilder you need to find your lean body mass (find your body fat percentage and minus this from your body weight)
  • This number is your daily protein target
  • Download a calorie tracking app such as myfitnesspal
  • Assess your current diet
  • Look for foods high in protein and replace low protein foods
  • Enter in your diet each day to see if you hit your targets
  • Take a vegan protein powder to top up your levels

Let Us Know

If you complete all of these tasks then you’ll never be low on protein again. This will help increase your strength (when combined with exercise), boost your metabolism, improve your hormone levels (if you’re a male), and improve your body composition. Good luck!

Do you know any great vegan protein sources?

Make sure you let us know how you get on in the comments below…

Demmy James

Demmy James is a fitness buff, strength and conditioning specialist and content contributor with Muscle & Strength. He is constantly looking to inspire and motivate others to achieve their own health and fitness goals through his writings. Follow him on Twitter for more tips and guides.

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