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10 Unprocessed Vegan Protein Options

Written by Katie Jensen
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Reaping the benefits of a plant-based diet is easier than you think. Check out these food that will help you build a strong, healthy body and keep you satisfied.

1. Peas

The numbers: 8 grams of protein per cup of these little green beauties.

Not so into green peas? Try black-eyed peas — at 8 grams of proteins in just half a cup, they are packed with good stuff. Try this yummy soup on a chilly day.

2. Beans

Make your own Chipotle style burrito bowl (no extra charges for guacamole!). Try this recipe, and if you want to keep it vegan, use some Veganaise in the chipotle-style dressing rather than sour cream. The numbers: 18 grams of protein in a half cup of black beans.

3. Tahini

What is tahini to begin with? Ground sesame seeds! Yes, it is that simple. Tahini usually comes in hulled and unhulled options. Unhulled is the best way to get all the nutrients that tahini has to offer. Besides its 2.6 grams of protein in just one tablespoon, tahini also has lots of vitamins and minerals, is easy to digest, is high in calcium, and promotes healthy cell growth.

4. Nutritional Yeast

You can make nutritional yeast into salad dressing or process with garlic and chickpeas to make hummus. You can find more ideas and info here.

Myth: Vegans cannot eat pizza

Truth: Vegans can eat pizza. They just need to get creative. What about a little homemade dairy-free pesto with nutritional yeast, tomatoes, and delicious veggies on top? Nutritional yeast has been known as “fairy dust” because it is often a staple in a household of “spiritual people” such as yogis. Nutritional yeast has 8 grams of protein in one tablespoon. This “fairy dust” is a great addition not only to pizza, but also on top of a salad or added to other dishes to offer a little bit of extra flavor.


5. Kale

It would be really tough to be iceberg lettuce and have to go up against a superstar like kale. Packed with vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and 3 grams of protein per cup this super food ticks all the boxes of what to look for in a healthy diet. Try out this smoothie for a nutritious breakfast.

6. Grains

This infographic lists several types of grains and how much protein is contained in each. You can use these grains in different types of cooking — the possibilities are endless!

7. Nuts

Nuts make a great snack between meals as well as a great addition to salads, stir-frys, and other dishes to up the protein content and flavor. Another great way to make sure you are staying healthy and avoiding high sugar content is making your own trail mix at home with your favorite ingredients.

The numbers:

  • almonds: 12 grams in 1/4 cup
  • cashews: 10 grams in 1/4 cup
  • walnuts: 8.6 in 1/4 cup
  • brazil nuts: 8.2 per 1/4 cup
  • pistachios: 12 grams in 1/4 cup
  • pine nuts: 8 grams in 1/4 cup

8. Seeds

Quinoa — yes, this is surprising, but quinoa is actually a seed — not a grain. It has 8 grams of protein per cup and is packed with all nine of the amino acids our bodies need that make it a complete protein. Check out these awesome options.

Hemp seeds are very versatile and can be sprinkled on salad, mixed in with yogurt, or added to a smoothie. They add 11 grams of protein in three tablespoons.


There have been claims that if someone were to be trapped on a desert island, the best food to have would be chia seeds. This energizing superfood can be added to just about anything: cookies, pancakes, oatmeal, smoothies, salads, quinoa — why not try them on pizza? They come with 5 grams of protein in 2 tablespoons.

9. Soy Milk

One cup of soybeans yields a whopping 21 grams of protein. There are a lot of easy ways to reap the benefits of this powerhouse. Add some soy to your coffee in the morning. Skip regular milk and drink soy milk with your cereal. Soy milk can often have a lot of added ingredients, so be sure to check the label to make sure you are getting the most basic and healthy version.

10. Edamame

In one 30-ounce 30-calorie cup of broccoli, calcium, and vitamins, this recipe is easy and delicious!

One cup of edamame delivers seventeen grams of protein in fewer than 200 calories! Boil or steam the pods and serve with salt for a great snack. You can also take the beans out of the pod and add them to a salad or stir fry.

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