Vegan protein sources chart [pdf] – 21 best foods

Here it is, kids, the article you’ve all been waiting for. 

“But where do you get your protein?”

Tell people to download the vegan protein sources chart pdf to find out!

(PS – if you want some ideas for carbs, go look here!)

Protein Overview

There is a lot I could say about protein, but for now, here is a quick review. Want more? Let me know!

Quick Protein Calculation

Without going into too much nutty gritty in this particular post, let’s do a very fast protein calculation so you can see how protein can add up to what you need.

Teen athletes need between 0.45 and 0.65 grams of protein per pound of body weight, with a minimum of 55 grams per day. 

So, if you weigh 200 pounds you need between 90 and 130 grams of protein per day.

If you weigh 150 pounds, you need 68-98 grams per day.

If you weigh 100 pounds, you need between 55 and 65 grams of protein per day.

photo of young man doing math problems on a chalk board
Math

Likely, you’ll be at the top of this range on tournament days, hard pratice days, and the days following. You’ll be at the lower end during the off season, on vacation, or after a number of rest days.

How do you get this much protein using the vegan protein sources chart pdf?

Let’s pretend you need 100 grams of protein. I’d like to you spread this fairly evenly throughout your day. So, let’s aim for 25-30 grams from each meal and then another 10-20 grams total from snacks.

100 grams of protein example 1 – with more cooking

breakfast – 1 bagel (10 g) plus 1 folded Just Egg (7 g) plus 2 Beyond Meat Breakfast Sausage Patties (16 g) + orange juice + banana = 33 g protein

snack – carrots + crackers + hummus = around 4 g protein

lunch – 2/3 cups white beans (9 g) + 2/3 cups kidney beans (9 g) + 2 cups spinach (10 g)  + apple = 28 g protein

snack – trail mix (1 ounce each nuts, chocolate, dried fruit, seeds – 15 g protein)

dinner – rice (6 g) + tofu (16 g) + 1 cup vegetables (4 g) = 26 g protein

dessert

total: 106 g protein, not counting the protein in the carrots, crackers, fruit, or dessert

100 grams of protein example 2 – with less cooking

breakfast – smoothie with soy milk (8g), apple, 1/2 banana, 1 cup spinach (5 g), 1 ounce pumpkin seeds (5 g) + muffin (5 g) = 23 g protein

snack – Kind bar = 12 g protein

lunch – 4 tablespoons peanut butter (16 g) + four slices bread (20 g) + jelly = 36 g protein

snack – soy yogurt (6 g) + granola + berries = around 8 g protein

dinner – pasta (6 g) + ground “beef” alternative (16 g) + pasta sauce + onion/green peppers + salad  = 22 g protein

dessert

total: 101 g protein, not counting the protein in the granola, fruit, dinner vegetables, or dessert

See? Not so hard, but you still have a plan a bit. That’s where a handy chart comes in! 

Types of protein in the vegan protein sources chart pdf

Protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids. There are a lot of amino acids, but 9 are extra important because our bodies can’t make them, so we need to eat them. These are called essential amino acids.

Animal products are convenient because they contain all 9 essential amino acids in amounts large enough to be useful to human bodies.

Some plant foods (soy, quinoa, hemp) also contain all 9 essential amino acids in appropriate amounts.

Most other plant foods do not. For many years, this caused confusion and concern over whether it was possible to get the right kind of protein on a vegan diet, and people did lots of “food combining” to try to get what they needed.

Now we know that our bodies hold onto amino acids and can call on them when needed. So, yes, we need to eat all 9 essential amino acids, but we don’t need to eat them all in the same meal.

My preference is to make sure that a vegan eat both grains and legumes or nuts every day, as well as a variety of vegetables. 

If you do this, you can be confident that you are getting the variety of protein that you need to keep your body functioning well.

Don't worry about "combining proteins". Just aim to eat grains, legumes, and vegetables every day. from blog: vegan protein sources chart pdf"

Vegan Protein Sources Chart pdf  – A sneak peak

Here is what you’ll find in the pdf!

FoodServing SizeAmount of Protein
tofu or tempeh or seitan1/4 pound16-22 g
meat alternative (Beyond, Sweet earth, Impossible, Gardein)1 serving as labeled15-20 g
cooked protein pasta1 cup15-20 g
cooked beans (cooked beans (black, pinto, kidney, lentils, lima, garbanzo)2/3 cup10-12 g
raw spinach 2 cups10 g
canned baked beans2/3 cup8-10 g
green peas1 cup8 g
cooked quinoa1 cup8 g
cooked pasta (regular or whole grain)1 cup8 g
soy milk, sor yougurt1 cup6-8 g
nut or seed butter (peanut, almond, sunflower)2 Tablespoons6-8 g
Just Egg1 egg7 g
peanuts1 ounce7 g
seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, hemp, chia, flax)1 ounce4-8 g
tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews)1 ounce4-6 g
oat milk1 cup4-6 g
cooked rice or millet1 cup4-6 g
whole grain bread products1 slice, or 1/2 bagel3-7 g
artichokes1 medium4 g
broccoli, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, potato, asparagus, sweet corn1 cup3-4 g
sprouts – alfalfa, mung beansmall handful 3 g

Bottom line

  • eat grains, legumes or nuts, and vegetables every day
  • aim for 0.45-0.65 grams of protein per pound of body weight
  • be sure to increase protein as you increase calories on very active days
  • use the vegan protein sources chart pdf for protein food ideas!

About the Author

Sarah Skovran, RDN LD ACE-PT, is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, ACE certified personal trainer, mom of a teen athlete, and is mostly vegan. She writes about sports nutrition, plant based eating, and adolescent nutrition at Plant Powered Teens, and sees in-person clients at her private practice in Maine.

References

NutritionData, 2018. nutritiondata.self.com.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019. fdc.nal.usda.gov.

Various individual product labels.

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