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List of Vegetable Protein Sources

When people decide to go vegan, the first question they always get is “But where will you get your protein?”

No worries, we suffer no lack of protein, you just have to know where the plant-based protein sources are. Actually, they are plentiful in plants, and so I have compiled here a list of vegetable protein sources. I hope that this will help on your vegan journey (if you are on one) or at least satisfy your curiosity 😉

What will I go over in this article?

  • Beans
  • Greens
  • Other Sources

beans

Right, Spill the Beans

The healthiest beans you can eat and which also have plenty of protein are the following:

  • Chickpeas (hmm, hummus, anyone?)
  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Kidney beans
  • Black beans
  • Soy beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Navy beans

beans

Not only do beans provide healthy protein, but they are also rich in fiber and B vitamins.

Chickpeas contain protein, fiber, manganese, copper, iron, and vitamin B9. They are also very good at reducing blood sugar and according to Healthline they may also improve cholesterol levels.

Personally, I love lentils! They are great for stews and soups, and they taste great. They are also incredibly good for you, with a good content of protein, fiber, vitamin 9 (folate), thiamine, copper, and manganese. Did you know that one (cooked) cup of lentils gives 6.6 mg iron?

Peas have protein? Yes, they do. I know, it’s hard to believe, but besides protein, peas are also a source of fiber, vitamin K, thiamine (which is vitamin B1), manganese, and vitamin B9.

bean-salad

Kidney beans provide protein, copper, and iron. And not only that, they also have the B vitamins (1 and 9), and fiber. And they are tasty!

Black beans (and lentils) are a frequent staple in my kitchen. I often have black beans for breakfast. When I moved to Mexico I really started appreciating beans a lot more. They know how to cook beans here, and I’ve learned 😉 So, this variety of beans has the following goodies: protein, iron, fiber, manganese, the B1 and B9 vitamins, and also magnesium.

Add some black beans to your breakfast, next to those homemade vegan sausages and some healthy guacamole 😉 Or make some delicious bean burritos. Yummy!

Soybeans are so versatile. They are often used in Asian cuisine, and they provide the basis for tofu, soy milk, soy flour, and tempeh.

Tempeh, however, is made in a fermentation process and it has even a higher content of protein, fiber, and vitamins. Tempeh also contains probiotics which are good for your gut health and lower inflammation.

Besides protein, fiber, iron, and manganese, soybeans also provide phosphorus, vitamin K, and vitamins B9 and B2 (also known as riboflavin)

I don’t eat a lot of Pinto Beans, but they are also good for you. Like their other bean relatives, they contain protein, fiber, vitamin B9 and 1, manganese, and copper.

Navy beans follow close behind with a similar list of nutrients: protein, iron, fiber, magnesium, manganese, and vitamins B1 and B9.

So, are there any doubts about getting enough protein on a plant-based diet? I think not, right? Next time you get that question “where will you get your protein?”, you’ll have your answer ready. 😉

The bean sources I mentioned are the 8 best ones. There are, of course, many more types of beans that are just as nutritious.

lightbulbFun fact: according to Wikipedia, the world gene bank currently holds around 40,000 bean varieties. Imagine writing a post about each variety’s nutrients. Oh boy, that should keep me busy. Of course, only a small part of them are sold commercially.

Mexico, for example, hosts 50 kinds of beans. A post about that alone is going to take me a few days, don’t you think? 😉 So, let’s stick to the ones I mentioned above.

 

Don’t be Mean, Eat Your Greens

These nine vegetables have a high amount of protein:

  1. Watercress (I know, surprising, isn’t it)
  2. Alfalfa sprouts
  3. Spinach
  4. Bok choy
  5. Asparagus
  6. Mustard greens
  7. Broccoli
  8. Collard greens
  9. Brussels sprouts

Needless to say, besides protein, these veggies also have loads of vitamins.

watercress

Watercress provides a good amount of them, such as vitamin E, thiamine, vitamin B2, B5, and B6, magnesium, potassium, sodium, copper. Sounds like a super food, doesn’t it?

Alfalfa sprouts: B vitamins, iron, vitamins K, zinc, phosphorus, copper, vitamin C

Spinach: High content of protein, and it has all the essential amino acids. It has vitamin K, A, and C, high amounts of folate, manganese, magnesium, iron, potassium, calcium. Spinach contains plant compounds that can reduce inflammation and increase antioxidant defenses.

Is it any wonder Popeye ate so much spinach? 😉

popeye

Bok choy: rich in antioxidants, folate, iron, calcium, potassium, vitamins A, C, and K

Asparagus:I love that one, it’s so tasty! It’s a great source of B vitamins, copper, manganese, magnesium, folate, phosphorus, vitamins A and K

Mustard greens:manganese, calcium, potassium, vitamins C, K, A, and E, and the B vitamins

Broccoli: I use broccoli a lot for stir fries. This wonderful vegetable has: all the essential amino acids, vitamins C and K, folate, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, and flavonoids. Broccoli can also improve liver health (good to know, because I eat a lot of broccoli 😉 )

Collard greens: vitamin K, calcium, potassium, manganese, antioxidants

Brussels sprouts. Now, don’t pull up your nose. I love Brussels sprouts, but well, I’m from Belgium 😉 I find them quite tasty. So, sprouts have fiber, folate, manganese, iron, magnesium, potassium, calcium, vitamins K, C, A, and B6.

Oh, did I mention that they have protein? 😉

friendly

Conclusion

So, I hope that this list gives you a good idea of protein sources (+ all the other wonderful nutrients on top of that).

Broccoli can be used for stir fries, broccoli cream; asparagus can be boiled, steamed, grilled, and added to salads; spinach is great with rice, or fried with potatoes and mushrooms (like I did today), in creams, with black beans, in smoothies, etc. You can get creative here 🙂

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Christine

26 Comments

  1. Hello, I’d like to first let you know how informative this article is. It tackles head on, a very common cause for concern. I have often wondered the same. It is actually revealing to find these tips. Of course, beans is the one that is the most obvious but I have to say it was something of a surprise to find some greens on the list.

    Great post, thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Rhain,

      Thank you for your comment. Yes, the list is long 😉 I’m glad you found this useful 🙂

  2. This is a great list and funny enough (not really) my wife and I already incorporate many of these into our diet.  We are not vegans but we do eat more veggies and less meat ( about 3/4 veggies to 14 meat at our main meal).

    We also do smoothies most mornings and my wife uses different combinations of beans or lentils, pumpkin, quinoa and other seeds, as well as frozen berries.  I use walnuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds with protein powder (vegan-based when they have it) and the berries with almond milk.

    I think I need to put more of my wife’s ingredients into my smoothy as well.

    To be honest, I think we are healthier because of the diet we have even though we do eat a little meat and fish from time to time.  We are certainly healthier than most we know because processed foods are few in our fridge and pantry.

    Life is about change so, more on the way.  If Daniel and his friends can so can we.

    Wayne

    • Hi Wayne,

      That’s great! You and your wife have a healthy lifestyle and you feel the difference, right? I did too when I became vegan. Quinoa is also very nutritious, and pumpkin, walnuts, and sunflower seeds.

      Thanks for visiting!

  3. Hello Christine,

    Your articles are always educative, his is the second I am reading and I cannot just be stick my eyes glued to the pages. I am a good lover of kidney beans, chickpeas and soybeans, but I never knew that chickpeas help in reducing sugar level and improving overall level of cholesterol.

    Thank you for this piece of info, you made my day

  4. This is really cool. I made it a goal of mine to eat better in 2020 so that is what I plan to do. Granted, its way easier to say and think that, but actually doing it is the hard part. It just so easy to eat unhealthy because it is cheaper and it taste better if we are being honest. But the consequences of eating unhealthy is starting to show and I want to put a stop to it before it gets any worse. Thank you for these tips, definitely going to implement these into my diet. Great article, very helpful. 

    • Hi Garret,

      Eating unhealthy is often easier because unhealthy food is much more available, at least that’s what it seems to me. Healthy food, however, can taste really awesome! There are some great recipes. You can find them in these cookbooks here. I hope that helps 🙂 

  5. Yeah .. It’s true what you list is a good source of protein and nutrients for the body. However, to be honest I am still difficult to consume greens. Because it doesn’t taste good and it takes effort to bite it. However, I will try to increase the consumption.
    For beans, I still routinely consume (though not every day) as a snack. The trick is I boil the kidney beans and red beans until cooked, then I add shaved ice on it, plus a little milk. The result? Yummy! 
    Apart from that, I’m happy with your very useful article. Because you always taught me to eat healthy food.
    By the way, do you have a recommendation of minimum consumption (grams) for beans and greens every day?
    Thanks

    • Hi Kylie,

      According to a study that was conducted in 2017, 3 to 4 servings of combined fruits and vegetables should be enough per day. 1/4 of cooked beans is enough for protein while 1/2 cup of cooked beans is equal to vegetable intake. Interesting, isn’t it?

      If you don’t like the taste of vegetables you can “hide” them in certain meals, so that their flavors are not the main flavor but rather add to the dish, for example mushroom and spinach lasagna, broccoli cream, pizza …

      Your bean recipe is interesting, I should try it out 😉 I have never had beans that way, but it’s always good to try new things. 🙂

  6. Seeing all the vegetables and their benefits makes me realise how important they are. I have suffered from anemia in the past because I have failed to maintain a healthy diet and while I am back on track now this post has reminded me how i need to keep eating my veg.

    I also find interesting all the types of beans and how all the benefits aren’t all the same. I will have to start eating a range of beans not only because of what they offer but because they are tasty.

    Josh

    • Hi Joshua,

      Yes, maintaining a healthy diet is important. I’m glad that you’re ok now 🙂

  7. Can be eaten: Seitan, Tofu and tempeh, lentils, chickpeas, yeast, Pir and tef (high-value cereals similar to millet and quinoa, hemp seeds, peas, spirulina, amaranth and quinoa, Ezekiel bread (cereal bread and legumes containing more than 50 percent protein), soy milk, oats, and oatmeal. Divisional rice, chia seeds, nuts, protein-rich fruits and vegetables (broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, batat, sprouts, mulberry, blackberries, nectarines and bananas) .

  8. Hello there,thanks for this awesome article it would be of great help to the public as it has been of help to me.i must say you have done a great job one as it is very interesting and informative too.as proteins is a very important nutrients that the body needs,and vegetables are a very good source thanks once more.

  9. As I get older I find myself trying to eat healthier. My daughter is vegan, but I find it hard to find good food on a budget. Your article helped me understand I can eat better and healthier.  I am looking at the smoothie ideas to start.  I really like beans, and soybeans the best.    thank you.

    • Hi Lisa,

      I’m glad you found this helpful. Yes, you can eat healthy on a budget,  smoothies are easy to.make, and they are a good way to start 🙂 I have more recipes on my site, if you’d like more ideas 🙂

  10. A lot of good information here. I’m not vegan yet but it’s something I want to work towards. When I first move in with my roommate we went vegetarian together. We practically lived off of lentils! Lentil chilli and lentil tacos are better than the non-vegetarian version in my opinion. I find the lentils make you feel fuller for longer than having the ground beef. I like your idea of frying up spinach with potatoes and mushrooms! That sounds delicious.

    • Hi Sam,

      I love lentils. Lentil chilli and lentil tacos sound delicious! I also find them quite filling. I often cook lentils, usually in stews or casseroles, but I am going to make tacos next time. Thanks for the idea! 🙂

  11. We get very cool ideas about protein sources. Your list of vegetable protein is very useful for me. Now I know that beans provide healthy protein as well as also the rich source of fiber and vitamin B. Kidney beans provide protein, copper and iron. Kidney beans also have vitamin B. Your list helped me to know the better sources of protein. Spinach also have high content of protein and it have all essential amino acids, vitamin K, A and C and many more.

  12. Thanks for this article!  While I am not vegan myself, my oldest son is, so we are always looking for vegan items to make for him when we have dinner as a family.  The break down of the types of beans and their nutritional values were particularly helpful.  I followed the link to your vegan sausage recipes and I am really excited about that.  It will be great when we are grilling for family cookouts!  I would love to see some more recipes for beans.  I make hummus and refried beans but that is about it.  Great article!

    • Hi Jim,

      I live in Mecico, and here they really know how to cook beans. In Mexico I learned to appreciate beans 🙂 You have just given me an idea for a new article: different ways to prepare beans. Thanks for that!

  13. Hey, I enjoy reading your article on Protein sources. I found very useful info on your blog. We have to eat healthy beans which have plenty of protein like kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, Peas etc. Watercress provides a good amount of Vitamin E, thiamine, vitamin B2, B5, and B6, Magnesium, Potassium, sodium, copper . It’s sound like super food. From your list we got good ideas of protein sources. Keep the great work up.

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