Healthy Sources of Plant-Based Protein for Any Eating Style

Plant-based protein: stew with beans

Whether you are a vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, or you’re just looking to cut back on your meat consumption, plant-based protein sources are a great way to satisfy hunger and ensure that you are getting your key nutrients.

Higher protein diets don’t just promote satiety, however. They increase muscle mass and strength, boost metabolism, help your body repair itself after injury, tame cravings, help with weight control, and much more! Plant-based proteins in particular are great for heart health and are usually lower in calories than other proteins.

If you are used to getting your protein from meat and animal products, you might be wondering how to get more protein out of plant-based foods. Thankfully, plant-based foods offer a ton of variety and they aren’t lacking in protein!  See below for a list of healthy plant-based protein sources that can make your dishes more exciting.

Plant-Based Protein Sources

Tofu, Tempeh and Edamame

All three of these foods originate from soybeans, a whole source of protein. Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans while tofu is made from pressing soybeans together in a process that is similar to cheese-making. Edamame are young soybeans that are still in their pod, and they are excellent when boiled or steamed and given a little pinch of salt.

Whole Grains

Whole grains offer more protein than regular grains that are not whole (ex: white rice) and can be maximized when paired with other protein-rich plant foods. They include quinoa (8 grams per cup), cooked millet and bulgur (6 grams), wild rice (7 grams) and other whole grains.


Lentils lend a lot of variety and are popular in soups, stews and salads. They are high in protein (about 18 grams per cooked up) as well as fiber, iron and antioxidants.

Hemp and Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are tiny seeds that contain about 4 grams of protein in a one-ounce (28 grams) serving. They are great for incorporating in salads, smoothies and more. Comparably, hemp seeds are higher in protein with about 9-10 grams in the same amount. You can eat hemp seeds raw, roasted or cooked.

Oats and Oatmeal

While oats are not a complete protein, they offer about 12 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber per cup. You can use oats in oatmeal in addition to veggie burgers, baked goods and more.

Beans, Beans, Beans!

Beans are incredibly versatile and come in many forms: kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans and more. Each of the bean types listed packs 13-15 grams of protein per cup. You can add them to soups and stews, turn them into side dishes or use them creatively in entrees such as burgers or tacos.

Other Plant-Based Foods High in Protein:

  •  Nuts, nut butters and other seeds
  • Green peas and chickpeas
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Hummus (made from chickpeas)
  • Higher-protein vegetables, including: broccoli, mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, spinach and artichokes
  • Higher-protein fruits, including: avocadoes, oranges, berries, peaches and apricots

Looking for more information about plant-based eating? Click here for more information from the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC), Producer of the Your Weight Matters Campaign.

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