The Essential Guide To Plant Based Proteins

If you practice a predominantly plant-based lifestyle, then you’ve probably been asked this question over and over again: “Where do you get your protein?” It’s sometimes difficult for people to understand what your sources of protein are, if you aren’t consuming fish, seafood, poultry, cheese, eggs, beef or pork. For people new to this lifestyle, or for those who are simply cutting down on animal-based foods in general, here are eight plant based protein sources you can easily incorporate into your diet on a daily basis. 

Best Plant Based Protein


An amazing source of carbohydrates and fiber, beans are also a great source of protein. Whether you like kidney beans or garbanzo, pinto or black, beans are a great choice due to their versatility and diversity. 

How to use them: 

  • Combine them with quinoa or rice as a side dish
  • As a salad topping
  • In chili or soup
  • As a meat substitute in burgers or meatballs
  • As a condiment, such as hummus


If you’re concerned about your cholesterol, chia seeds are the perfect choice for you.  They are cholesterol free, and one 28-gram serving of this superfood contains 4.4 grams of protein. That’s nearly 10% of your daily value. As a result of their soluble fiber content, when added to a liquid, chia seeds absorb it and turn into a gel-like substance. So when you want to thicken a dish naturally, chia seeds are a great addition.

How to use them: 

  • Soak in almond milk for an hour or overnight for a basic breakfast chia seed pudding. You can also dress up this dish with fresh fruit, agave or cinnamon.
  • Sprinkle on top of oatmeal for a bit of crunch
  • In a jam or preserves to add protein and texture


Hemp seeds contain all nine essential amino acids and heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. The slightly sweet and nutty flavored seeds are a great source of protein, but be careful how much you use. Two tablespoons contain about 9g of fat and 100 calories, so the numbers can add up quickly. 

How to use them: 

  • Add to smoothies
  • Sprinkle on top of oatmeal
  • Make hemp seed milk, which you can use to make a deliciously nutty hemp seed latte
  • Blend into hummus and dips
  • Add to soups or stews as a thickening agent


Lentils can help lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of heart disease, maintain digestive health, stabilize blood sugar, increase energy, and aid with weight loss due to being low in calories but high in nutrients. They also just happen to contain the third highest level of protein of all legumes and nuts; one cup of cooked lentils amounts to 18g of protein. It’s no wonder lentils are one of the most popular plant-based proteins.

How to use them: 

  • Combine with rice or quinoa as a hearty side dish
  • As a salad topping
  • In lentil soup
  • As a substitute for meat in burgers and meatballs


Every vegan knows the magic of nutritional yeast when it comes to recreating that cheesy flavor in your favorite dairy-free mac and cheese. High in B vitamins and protein, nutritional yeast comes in powder or flake form, and contains no active yeast.

How to use it: 

  • To make cashew cheese
  • Add to almond milk or water to create a cheese-like sauce for vegan mac and cheese
  • Sprinkle on top of salads as a cheese flavor substitute.

6.  NUTS

You’re probably already taking advantage of this source of protein without even knowing it. Rich in minerals and healthy fats, nuts such as almonds, cashews and pistachios are also rich in protein. A quarter cup (or a handful) of nuts equals between 7 to 9 grams of protein. Like hemp seeds, be sure to keep quantities in check as they are a high calorie, high fat food despite their amazing health benefits.

How to use them: 

  • Sprinkle on salad
  • Add to granola
  • Make homemade nut butters
  • Blend into smoothies
  • As a snack (only a handful)
  • In homemade fruit and nut bars
  • Ground into a flour for gluten free baking recipes requiring flour


Quinoa is another complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids. It dates back to three or four thousand years ago when the Incas first discovered the seed could be eaten. Today, it has reached superfood status. It contains iron and almost twice as much fiber as most other grains, and is rich in magnesium, vitamin B2 and the antioxidant manganese. 

How to use it: 

  • As a substitute for white rice or other side dish
  • Add to salads
  • In a smoothie
  • As an oatmeal substitute
  • In energy bars
  • In granola
  • Add to chili


They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and flavors. Some are nutty and sweet, others are neutral or earthy, but they are all protein-rich. Flax, pumpkin, sunflower and sesame are just a few all-time favorite seeds at the center of plant-based

How to use them: 

  • Sprinkle on top of salads
  • As a snack, toasted or raw
  • Add to granola
  • Use in homemade energy bards
  • Add to baked goods
  • Blend into seed butters

Bonus Protein: Spirulina is a blue-green algae that’s 65% protein and can be blended into your favorite green smoothie for an energizing, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant boost.

Now when someone asks you where you get your protein, you have several answers to choose from, including this plant based protein list! What are your favorite plant based protein sources?