Plant-Based Protein

It’s the age old question every vegan has heard at least once before: “Where do you get your protein?”

If you have been eating animals for most of your life, it may seem daunting to try and figure out where you’re going to get enough protein to fuel you for the day.

The answer might surprise you. 

Whether you’re working out every day, trying to gain muscle, or just moving through your regular routine, plant-based protein has got you covered. 

VegFest London has compiled a list of plant-based proteins! 

You may find some old friends, but you’ll likely discover some interesting new proteins just waiting to make their debut at your next meal. 

As far as we know, the protein deficiency ward at the hospital is still empty, so vegans must be doing something right!

Protein per 100 g = 0.93 g - 4 g

If you’re eating your veggies you should be getting enough protein.

All vegetables have protein, but the amount can vary. Dark, leafy greens like spinach and kale carry around 2-4 g of protein per 100 g, while potatoes, eggplant, and onions range from 1-2 grams/100g.

Note: cooking vegetables often decreases their nutritional value, so always best to eat raw if you can to get the most out of your food!

Broccoli Stalk (1) - 4.3 g
Kale - 4.3 g
Spinach - 3 g
Asparagus - 2.2 g
Potato - 2 g
Sweet potato - 1.6 g
Leafy green lettuce - 1.4 g
Eggplant - 1 g
Onion - 1 g
Orange - 1 g
* all measurements per 100 g unless otherwise stated (with information from USDA)

Copper Branch:


Legumes include an array of diverse, protein rich, plant-based foods that can be used in a variety of dishes from Mexican to Indian, and Italian to English. However, there are a number of different families under the legume leaf, and we felt it was important to break each one down for you.

Protein per 100 g = 1.5 g - 36 g

Beans, beans the magical fruit, the more you eat the more you toot.
Beans, beans they’re good for your heart, the more you eat the more you fart,
The more you eat, the better you feel, so let’s eat beans at every meal!

That about sums it up! Beans of all kinds provide you with protein, but similar to vegetables, they can vary in value. Eaten raw, lupini beans carry 36 g of protein/100 g, while your typical green bean has about 2 g of protein/100 g. 

Often when beans are cooked they lose about half their protein value, so best to eat them raw if you can. But don’t be afraid to boil them or throw them in a stir-fry. Even cooking beans will still offer a protein content in the mid-teens.

Buying beans in cans is a great way to get your intake, but if you want to try the au natural route, you can buy them uncooked and make the magic happen yourself. Cooking beans requires soaking, usually overnight, and then boiling in water.

Beans are also extremely high in fibre, hence all the toots!

There are so many kinds of beans you can never go wrong!

Highest protein/100 g
Lupini - 36 g
Winged Beans (Goa) - 30 g
Soy Beans - 30 g
Mung Bean - 24 g

Lowest protein/100 g
Green Bean - 1.5 g
Re-fried Beans - 5 g
Baked Beans - 6 g
Navy Beans - 6 g
* all measurements per 100 g unless otherwise stated (with information from USDA)

Protein per 100 g = 26 g (9 g when boiled)

Lentils are another family of legumes offering high protein, delicious meals. They are pulses--the dried seed of legumes--and are small and round. The most popular colours of lentils are brown and green, but there is also red/yellow and specialty.

Lentils are wonderful because they don’t need to be soaked before cooking. They can be ready in 20 minutes and are a great addition to stews and soups. They are most popular in Indian dishes, but can also be tossed in a salad, used to make cabbage rolls, or even the base of a shepherd’s pie.

Protein per 100 g = 25 g (8 g when boiled)

Different from both lentils and beans, split peas are grown specifically for drying. They come in green and yellow, and are often featured in dals, soups, and curries. Like lentils, they don’t need to be soaked before cooking. 

Split peas can even be made intro dips and spreads.

Naturally Vegan Company & Green Bar (Hamilton, ON):


Protein per 100 g = 8 g

It’s the protein source that has been associated with vegans and vegetarians for decades. This jiggly white-coloured block is filled with protein and is actually one of the most versatile plant proteins.

Tofu, also known as bean curd is created by coagulating soy milk. You can find it at your local grocery store in a variety of forms like silken, soft, firm, and extra firm. To prepare tofu you often have to press it, which essentially means squeezing out all the excess liquid.

You can include tofu in your diet by simply frying it up and adding it to a stirfry, salad or soup, but tofu can also be marinated and baked to create a tofu steak or popped onto skewers with vegetables as a tofu shish kabob.

Our personal favourites with tofu include tofu scramble and ‘ricottofu’ a creamy filling that can be used for lasagna, cannelloni or stuffed pasta shells. We’ve even been known to use it as a creamy pasta sauce. 

Fun fact: Through a process of freezing, thawing and refreezing, your tofu can become a similar texture to fried chick’n.

Plant Matter Kitchen:

Protein per 100 g = 19 g

Tempeh has been making its mark in the vegan and non-vegan community alike. As people move away from animal proteins, tempeh has shown itself as a strong contender in the plant-based protein game.

Tempeh is generally made from soy through a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake-like form. Besides being an excellent source of protein, tempeh is also high in prebiotics--this means it’s good for your gut!

While tempeh sold in stores is almost always made from soybeans, it can actually be made from any type of bean, you just need to purchase the cultures. So if you are allergic to soy, you can still give tempeh a try; you’ll just have to make it yourself!

What is tempeh best used as or in? Similar to other plant-based proteins, tempeh can be added to a stir-fry, salad, sandwich, chili, or soup. It can be marinated to make tempeh bacon or steak, and has been known to be the main ingredient in fishless fish and chips.


Nuts & Seeds

Protein per 100g 18-25 g

Nuts are interesting because some of them are considered fruit while others, like the peanut, are actually a legume. But, whatever the category, nuts are a great source of protein, especially if you are on the run!

To get the highest nutritional value from nuts, it’s best to eat them raw. That means no roasting or salting. That being said, toasting or roasting your nuts can really enhance the flavour, and there is still plenty of protein, so give it a try if you’re feeling adventurous.

Highest protein/100 g
Peanut - 25 g
Pistachio - 20 g
Cashew - 18 g
Hazelnut - 15 g

Lowest protein/100 g
Macadamia 9 g 
Pecan 8 g
Brazil 14 g
* all measurements per 100 g unless otherwise stated (with information from USDA)

This is just a small sample of nuts, but as you can see, they are all really wonderful sources of protein and great for a snack or on the run!

All natural nut butters, like cashew, almond, and peanut also carry a significant amount of protein, generally comparable to the nut itself.

Fun fact: cashews are often used to make vegan cheeses, spreads, and creams!

Protein per 100 g   17 - 30 g

Seeds are an amazing source of protein! Paired with nuts and raisins you can create your own protein-rich trail mix, perfect for any adventure.

To get the most out of your seeds, be sure to eat them dried and raw, but toasting or roasting them like nuts is also a great way to boost their flavour.

Pumpkin - 30 g
Sunflower - 21 g
Sesame - 18 g
Flax - 18 g
Chia - 17 g
Lotus - 4.1 g
* all measurements per 100 g unless otherwise stated (with information from USDA)

Fun fact: Sunflower seeds can be used to make sunbutter and even sour cream.

HumbleSeedz & Nuts for Cheese:

Less known plant proteins

Protein per 100 g = 22 g

Have you ever heard of chickpea flour?

It’s exactly what you might think it is, dried chickpeas ground up to create a flour, but what you may not be able to guess is what chickpea flour can be used for.

High in protein and fibre, chickpea flour is a great substitute for most baking, but before you start throwing chickpea flour into all your baked goods, be sure to check that it is a proper substitute in the recipe.

Our favourite use of chickpea flour is omelettes and quiches. ⅓ cup chickpea flour + ⅓ cup of water + veggies = your favourite omelette

Carrots n’ Dates (Windsor & Techumseh, ON) 

Protein per 100 g = 52 g

Found in the form of tiny bits or chunks, textured vegetable protein is a soy-based product. Often referred to as TVP, it is a defatted soy flour product. What you need to know: it’s soy and it’s high in protein!

When prepared, tvp can mimic the texture of ground animal meat, which makes it ideal for chili, burritos, soups. It’s great to fill cabbage rolls or stuffed peppers and can even become the base of your next shepherd's pie. It also comes in chunk form, which is great in classic Asian dishes like no-beef and broccoli, or can be coated in flour and fried to create your very own popcorn chick’n.

To prepare TVP: soak 1 cup tvp in 1 cup broth and other spices (if you want Mexican, for example, use chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and oregano)

The Hearty Hooligan (Hamilton, ON)

Protein per 100g = 75 g

Unless you’re gluten intolerant, discovering Vital Wheat Gluten as a vegan will change your life. Derived from the gluten that has been separated from the starch and other components of flour, vital wheat gluten is the protein found in bread and is high in protein, but low in carbohydrates and fat. 

In case you didn’t catch that, gluten is a PROTEIN, not a carbohydrate. Just like soy, some people are allergic.

Vital wheat gluten comes in a powdered form, but when prepared properly it can become anything your heart desires, you just have to know how to work it...literally.

When prepared, vital wheat gluten becomes seitan, which can be sliced and put in a sandwich or wrap, cut and fried up in your favourite Asian dish, or even tossed in a salad.

Seitan can also be made into chick’n fingers , no-pig ribs, facon, or a plant-based steak.

Plant Matter Cafe:

Vegan protein at the grocery store

Getting enough protein is easy if you’re doing your cooking at home! When you’re buying your groceries there’s just a few things you need to keep in mind:

  1. Most vegan protein items can be found in both in the regular aisles or in the organic section, and some can be found in the bulk section.

  2. There’s many different types of tofu, so if you’re picking some up for a recipe make sure you double check which one you need.

  3. Dry beans/lentils are typically a bit cheaper than the canned version, but both are inexpensive sources of protein.

  4. While mock meats and cheeses make an excellent treat, they can be pricey. Keep your grocery bill low by sticking to tofu, beans, and lentils as your main protein sources.

  5. Head to the bulk section of the store to make a trail mix with your favourite nuts and seeds.

There's one animal that many eat as a protein source that may not have the same characteristics as pigs or cows or lambs, but these animals are still individuals who have feelings, even if they may not show it in the same way as us.

We're talking about the fishes.

Here to tell you more is VegFest London 2019 speaker Jonathan Balcombe!

He is a biologist with a PhD in ethology, the study of animal behavior. He is the author of four popular science books on the inner lives of animals, including Pleasurable Kingdom, Second Nature, and What a Fish Knows, a New York Times best-seller. He has published over 60 scientific papers and book chapters on animal behavior and animal protection.