Here are some of the best vegan-friendly protein sources

Following a vegetarian or (the stricter) vegan lifestyle is rewarding, but it also comes with some challenges. Foregoing meat means you lose out on a major source of protein, but the list below includes other Paleo meat-free sources of this crucial nutrient.

The Paleo diet and protein

The Paleo diet mimics the diet of early humans, and paired with a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, this means being more careful with the kind of food you consume on a daily basis.

The human body requires protein, but primitive humans only consumed only about 20 percent protein in their total diet. Studies show that to age gracefully, you only need to consume at least 30 to 40 grams of protein to promote muscle protein synthesis rates in older adults post-exercise.

To stay healthy, you need to manage your protein consumption, especially since undigested protein is linked with conditions like kidney disease. As a vegan, you need to ensure that your diet has a lot of variety, instead of too much of a single nutrient like protein. Getting protein from other sources like plants will also provide you with more health benefits, like a good source of fiber and nutrients.

Meat-free sources of protein

Take note that other meat-free protein sources to avoid may include soy and most commercial whey. Unfermented soy may cause thyroid problems while most commercial whey is high-heated, which denatures the protein. The majority of commercial whey also has artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose, which are linked to diabetes and obesity. If you want to eat whey, choose 100 percent grass-fed and non-denatured whey.

Other than the exceptions above, here are some vegan-friendly protein sources.

Acai berry

Acai berries, which come from the Amazon River Delta, contain various amino acids and fatty acids. Acai berries have a similar amino acid and protein profile as an egg.


Chlorella is a green algae that’s full of protein. With a 62 percent amino acid content, chlorella is considered “one of the most complete foods on the planet.” It contains all essential amino acids and it’s a complete protein.

Chlorella also has:

  • Beta-carotene (vitamin A)
  • Biotin
  • Chlorophyll
  • Choline
  • DNA
  • Enzymes
  • Folic acid
  • Inositol
  • Minerals
  • Niacin
  • Pantothenic acid
  • RNA
  • Vitamins B1, B2, B6, B12, C, E, and K

Chlorella strengthens the immune system. It can also alkalize and heal the intestinal lining, improve digestion, and eliminate heavy metals and toxins from the body.

Chlorella also enhances health and muscle growth. This superfood can also detoxify the liver, increase the concentration of hemoglobin in red blood cells (for iron and oxygen), and reduce cholesterol. For optimum results, take chlorella on an empty stomach at least 20 minutes before you eat other foods.

Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds have 30 grams of protein per tablespoon. A popular source of protein in the health world, hemp seeds are rich in various minerals. It also contains all nine essential amino acids along with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Mesquite flour/meal/powder

Mesquite flour is a smoky and sweet powder that is traditionally used as a staple food by desert dwellers. Full of protein, mesquite flour is also rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Additionally, it is a rich source of the amino acid lysine.

Mesquite flour tastes like a unique combination of caramel and molasses, making it perfect for delicious smoothie blends. (Related: Best foods for protein when considering a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.)

Nutritional yeast

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated type of yeast that’s savory and full of all the essential amino acids. It also has nucleic acid that’s crucial for proper cell development.

This type of yeast is full of B vitamins. Nutritional yeast is also rich in minerals and protein, and it can help the liver break down fats. It can even help clear up acne and other skin problems.

Nutritional yeast is full of glutathione that can boost immune response and detoxification. Overall, nutritional yeast has powerful immune-enhancing properties and it can help you stay energized. Add several tablespoons of nutritional yeast in a glass of water, a smoothie, or on a salad every day.

Sea vegetables

The majority of seaweed is made up of at least 50 percent protein. Pound-for-pound, seaweed is just as good as animal proteins. Sea greens also contain more minerals than other foods. They’re also full of iodine, which is crucial for a healthy thyroid.

Sea vegetables rich in protein include arame (a Japanese kind of seaweed with a mild, sweet taste when cooked), dulse, kelp, kombu, nori, and wakame. Powdered kelp can be added to salads, smoothies, or soups.

Tocotrienols/rice bran solubles

Tocotrienols or rice bran solubles are a creamy powder that can be used to make a superfood ice cream. Tocotrienols are rich in vitamin E.

If you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, follow a Paleo diet to increase your intake of whole foods and nutritional sources of protein.

You can learn more about alternative food options for vegans and vegetarians by visiting

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