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Can a Vegan Diet Provide the Protein You Need?

Updated on September 13, 2016

One of the biggest questions people have when thinking about becoming vegan is how much protein you can get without animal products. We are used to connect protein with meat or eggs, and that’s why the answer to this question may surprise you: It is not only possible, but it is also not very difficult to get the protein you need eating vegan.

How Much Protein do I Need?

The usually recommended daily protein intake ranges from about 50 grams to 80 grams. The exact amount varies according to body weight and physical activity. The recommended dose is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight for a sedentary person. This means that people who weigh 70 kilograms, will have to consume about 56 grams of protein. A person who weighs 90 kilograms will have to eat 72 grams and so on. If you exercise, this amount will increase by 50% to 100%, but you will also have to ingest a lot more calories.

How to Get Protein on a Vegan Diet

If you are a vegan and do not keep track of the amount of protein you are ingesting, it will still be possible to meet the minimum recommended protein intake.

Consider a 70 kg person who eats 2000 kcal per day (which is not too much). This person would need approximately 56 grams of protein. Let’s round up to 60 grams. Each gram of protein gives 4 kcal, so 60 grams would produce 240 kcal. That means that only 12% of the calories of this diet would have to come from protein.

To exemplify, we will now consider protein, total calories, and percentage of calories that come from protein when eating plant-based foods.

How Much Protein Is There in Vegetables, Grains, and Legumes?

Food (100 gram serving)
Protein Ratio
0.8 g
20 kcal
26 g
570 kcal
Rice (cooked)
2.7 g
130 kcal
Beans (cooked)
5 g
75 kcal
2 g
77 kcal
2.8 g
34 kcal
0.3 g
52 kcal
Pea (cooked)
5 g
81 kcal
Corn (cooked)
9 g
365 kcal
All the examples below are based up a 100-gram serving.

Avoiding a Low-Protein Vegan Diet

After seeing these numbers, it is not difficult to realize that it is not very hard to consume the necessary amount of protein needed for your diet.

I chose random foods and the only one that has very low protein concentration is the apple. Most fruits do.

Considering this, there are basically only two things that will prevent you from getting the right amount of proteins: Consuming fewer calories than you need or eating a fruit-based diet.

If you are consuming fewer calories than you need, you will only have to increase the total amount of food you eat. If you have a fruit-based diet, it is important to pay more attention to what you are eating.

While it is not difficult to eat the correct amount of proteins we need every day with a plant-based diet, it may not be that easy if you are an athlete or practice a lot of exercises, though.

If you need to take more proteins than the average, you will have to choose your foods a little more carefully. It is a lot easier to get protein from animal-based foods, but, as we have seen before, there are many high-protein plant-based foods. Here are just a few.



100 grams of peanuts contain approximately 26 grams of protein. This is more than chicken breast meat. One of the best things about peanut is that it is easy to consume. A great way to eat peanuts is making a cream or butter. Just put some peanuts in a blender and it is ready. You do not need to add oil because peanuts already have a lot. That is the only thing to be careful here. Peanuts are high in fat, so it is not good to overuse it.


Soybeans and Legumes

There is a lot of controversy around soy. Soybeans contain isoflavones, an estrogen-like hormone. Many people claim that the excessive consumption of soy can decrease men’s testosterone. What is known is that soy is a complete protein source that contains all the essential amino acids and that its consumption can decrease the risk of prostate cancer. Considering that there are no conclusive scientific studies, I would advise you to be careful, but it is certainly an excellent source of protein.

There are many other great plant-based sources of protein like peas, chickpeas, beans, and lentils.

Do you think soy consumption can be a problem?

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What we can conclude is that no matter how much protein you need to consume, it is completely possible to do it on a vegan diet. You may have some trouble if you need to cut carbohydrates, but it is still possible. Beans and soy have more proteins than carbohydrates, for example. What is important is to make some research and build a complete diet, with all the necessary vitamins and minerals.

Share Your Experience

Do you know another high-protein plant-based food? If so, tell us about it in the comments. Thank you for reading this article. I hope it has been useful.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


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