Highest Plant Based Protein Foods List To Meet Your Quota

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The plant based is taking off in a BIG way right now, and for very good reason. Many athletes, body builders, and just the general health conscious are now turning to a more plant based lifestyle to help them feel cleaner, healthier and lighter in both body and mind. 

And these are just a few of the short term benefits reported. The long term is looking even more promising as more and more information is becoming more mainstream.

This highest plant based protein foods list will show you at a glance the foods that contain the largest amounts of protein. You will also learn the foods with the best amino acid profiles.

Once you understand your plant proteins, you can then work your meals around them and incorporate them easily into your life.

Why Eat a Plant Based Diet?

plate of vegetables

As more research is done, and plant based and vegan diets become more mainstream, we start to see a bigger picture emerging of the HUGE benefits this way of life can have. This is not only on your own health and longevity, but also the planet in general.

Whether you’re in a training program or not, eating a more whole food diet will have many benefits on your health and vitality both short and long term, therefore it is well worth the investment in your body.

Less Chronic Inflammation

The anti inflammatory effects of plant based foods may be something you’ll notice very quickly, especially in terms of your health and fitness levels. You will find that you don’t feel so achy after exercise, and you may recover more quickly than before due to less inflammation of the muscles.

In fact, some of the world’s leading athletes eat a plant based diet and get their best ever times and higher endurance because of it.

Iron Man Champion

Iron Man champion Brendan Brazier is one of these athletes whom has written many books on this very subject, making the power of plants a fact that just cannot be argued with. I mean, if an Iron Man can thrive on plant based, then that tells us a lot about what plants are capable of doing.

Brendan Brazier is mostly a raw vegan, which is obviously another level of health for most of us. But, goes to show exactly what the body is actually capable of when given the perfect fuel. Brendan’s book ‘The Thrive Diet‘ is definitely worth a read.

Thrive is the book that not only helped me to understand my body and its own issues, but also set me on my own plant based journey.


Incorporating more protein rich plant foods into your diet

You can easily start your journey towards a plant based lifestyle by making a few simple swaps and changes every day. It’s usually best to start slowly, for the simple fact it can be hard to make too many changes in one go (although some people do thrive on the all or nothing method).

Either way, taking your time gives you the chance to educate yourself and learn new recipes, tips and tricks as you go.

It is VERY IMPORTANT you know how to combine plant foods to get all the nutrients and amino acids you need. If you don’t do this, you may end up less healthy than before which is definitely not your aim.

Your Plant Based Swaps

You can gradually swap out your meat products to:-

  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Seitan
  • Legumes
  • Lentils
  • Other meat substitutes can be used, but be careful to read labels as most aren’t very healthy! (Check out this Caribbean chicken dish made from plant based chicken).

And your dairy products to:-

  • Soya based yogurts, milks and cheeses
  • Other plant based milks such as oat, almond, rice and pea
  • Plant based butter
  • Avocado, tahini and peanut butter make a great spread instead of butter

Other Swaps:-

  • For eggs, you can use one of the many egg substitute products out there. Chickpea flour makes a great egg substitute and can be used to make omelettes
  • In baking, you can use chia and flax eggs

Highest Plant Based Protein Foods List

As plant proteins go, let’s start off with the power houses of the plant world. Below is a list of the highest ranking, protein rich plant foods and their protein value raw per 100g. 

These foods can be easily incorporated into any meal or snack, making it easy for you to start making the change to a healthier lifestyle today.      

Protein amounts per 100 grams:-

  • Soy Beans 36g
  • Hemp Seeds 32g
  • Pumpkin Seeds 29.8g
  • Lentils 24.6g
  • Kidney Beans 24.4g
  • Peanuts 24.4g
  • Green peas 23.8g
  • Black Beans 21.6g
  • Almonds 21.2g
  • Pistachio Nuts 21g
  • Chickpeas 20.5g
  • Tempeh 20.3g
  • Sunflower Seeds 19.3g
  • Ground Flax (linseed) 18.3g
  • Sesame Seeds 17g
  • Tahini 17g
  • Chia Seeds 16.5g
  • Cashew Nuts 15.3g
  • Walnuts 15.2g
  • Hazelnuts 15g
  • Quinoa 14.1g
  • Sundried Tomatoes 14.1g
  • Pasta 13.9g
  • Pine Nuts 13.7g
  • Wholewheat Bread 13.4g
  • Tofu 12.7g
  • Buckwheat 12.6g            
  • Popcorn (plain) 12g
  •  Millet 11g
  • Pecans 9.2g
  • Macadamia Nuts 7.9g
  • Dried coconut 6.9g

The Importance of Protein

It is crucial to understand the importance of getting good quality protein/amino acids into your diet when you decide to go begin a plant based diet. If you go straight into it unarmed with the right information, you could potentially run into problems through not getting all the nutrients your body requires.

This is especially true if you are an athlete, or in any kind of training or exercise regime where your body’s nutrient requirements will be higher.

Always be sure to eat good amounts of the foods on the above list with every meal under these circumstances. Your body can recycle amino acids, so you don’t always need full spectrum proteins with every meal, but do be aware.


Do I need protein powders on the plant based diet?

When I first started out over 4 years ago, I made the mistake of not educating myself properly on plant based food combining and it did me some harm in terms of muscle mass loss. I know I just wasn’t getting enough good quality protein, so be sure to listen to your own body.

Sometimes protein powders may come in useful under these circumstances. But, in general they are not permitted on a whole foods plant based diet due to the fact that they have been isolated.

Isolated, or refined foods such as protein powders, refined sugars, refined carbohydrates and oils have been extracted from their original and ‘whole’ form. Therefore they aren’t as natural to the body, or particularly healthy.

Exceptions to this rule may be freshly juiced veggies.

How much protein do I need?

As a guide, most people need between 1 and 2 grams of protein per kg of body weight, depending on their lifestyle. You may very well need a protein supplement to meet these requirements (especially if you are doing hard exercise).

Luckily, there are some fantastic plant based protein formulations available these days. Remember, sometimes it’s good to go for a blend of different plant proteins as this will ensure a well rounded amino acid profile.

You should also be aware of protein powder combining (especially when it comes to amino acids, which is why it’s good to go for the blends), as some plant proteins do not have a complete amino acid profile like animal sources do. Or, they will have very low amounts of certain amino acids and be higher in others.

Homemade Protein Bars

homemade protein bars

If you don’t want to spend a fortune on protein bars (it gets pretty expensive when you buy them pre made), then why not try your hand at making your own? Not only is it cheaper, but you know EXACTLY just what is going into your bar, and you can take control over the sugar content.

Many shop bought protein bars are literally packed full of refined sugars, preservatives, and many other nasties that make the bar just plain unhealthy. This is why making your own takes this worry away.

Check out my favorite homemade recipes and have a go at making your own protein bars for yourself (you will need a protein powder for some of them, but not all). They are also family friendly and easily transportable for you to take to the gym, work or school.


It really is best to try to buy organic protein powders that have no fillers, artificial colours, flavorings or preservatives. This is especially important if they are something you will be using a lot You simply don’t want to be overburdening your system with anything unnatural on a daily basis.

Remember, you shouldn’t need to supplement with a protein powder UNLESS you feel you aren’t getting enough and are losing muscle mass (or feeling flabbier, even with exercise). Or, if you are training a lot and simply can’t get enough through diet alone.


Pre-blended Protein Powders

The below list is of some of the different types of plant protein powders available, their amino acid profile, and any pros or cons. You can either buy them separately and mix them yourself. OR my preferred option as it’s easier is to buy them ready mixed.

In my opinion, blends tend to go down better. They have been tried and tested for taste, have added natural flavours to make them more palatable and usually offer other added nutrients and enzymes.

Combining protein powders

plant based protein powder

Hemp, pumpkin, chia, pea, and potato protein powders already contain a good amino acid profile, and so can be taken alone. 

However, because they all have a different nutrient content it is advisable to mix things up and not consume the same one all the time.

Complete proteins

Hemp protein is complete and high in omega 3’s (fatty acids vital for those in training), making it a good one to use alone or in your blend. It can be a little gritty though, so you may prefer to blend it. Or purchase a few and experiment to see which you prefer.

Also, quinoa, potato, pumpkin and brown rice have good amino acid profiles on their own too.

Jazz your protein up!

Some protein powders are pretty bland when they are not part of a specially formulated blend.

Therefore you may want to add your own healthy sweetener and flavours such as banana, xylitol, stevia, cacao or carob powder, dates or date syrup. Dates also happen to be a favorite training food preferred by athletes that will give you a long lasting energy burn.


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Pea protein is high in branch chain amino acids and lysine, but lower in methionine. It usually contains soluble fibers from the pea which helps thicken it up. However, it doesn’t taste great alone, so may need to be mixed with some other flavours and sweeteners.

It’s saving grace is it’s cheap and has a good spectrum of all the amino acids. But, it still needs to be used alongside a full spectrum powder such as quinoa, hemp or pumpkin.

A good pea protein powder will also taste great when used in cooking or baking. That’s if you fancy dabbling in making your own protein bars or balls. You can even add a scoop into your porridge in the morning for an extra protein boost, and to make it more filling.


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This one is higher in methionine, but has less of the other amino acids such as leucine, histidene and threonine.

It is a superior protein if you can find it organically and ethically sourced. Unfortunately, it is notorious for containing high levels of cadmium and arsenic, but it is fine in smaller amounts or even as part of a blend.


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Pumpkin protein has a complete amino acid profile and tastes better than the others. It is also rich in minerals (namely zinc,) and is high in l-arginine too (which is great for the male libido).

It is very alkaline-forming, and high in tryptophan, vitamin E, and omega 3 fatty acids. Out of the single powders, this one is the clear winner in terms of taste, texture and amino acid profile. However, it is more expensive than the others.


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Hemp protein powder has a great amino acid profile, but is another one that can be more expensive than some of the others. That’s depending on the type you purchase, its purity, and whether or not it is organic.

It is also high in omega 3 fatty acids that are vital for those in training to help fight inflammation of the muscles and fasten recovery times.

Hard training also burns up the bodies omega 3’s, therefore higher amounts are required in general. So in these cases, you should either use hemp or a good supplement of omega 3.

Hemp is a great one to mix into other (less expensive) protein powders to add extra nutrients, or to use as part of a rotation with the others.


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Chia contains a good profile of ALL the essential amino acids with the added benefits of omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, fiber, phosphorus, and many other minerals. It is yet another superior protein, not unlike hemp.

Either of the two can be used daily, or added into the less nutritious powders.


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Potato protein is another complete protein that contains high amounts of branch-chain amino acids. It also has high bio-availability (which means that the body can easily absorb its protein and nutrients).

Potato comes in low on calories, so a good one to choose if you are on a calorie restricted diet.

It usually comes in a blend rather than alone.


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Quinoa contains a lot more protein than all of the other common grains, and is in fact up to 50% higher in comparison. However, this superfood is actually a seed, which probably explains why it packs such a protein punch.

Again, quinoa protein powder tends to come as part of a blend rather than alone, due to its price.

The other reasons to choose quinoa protein over the rest is the fact that it is a superior protein containing the most complete amino acid profile of ANY other plant based protein. Plus, it is rich in those omega 3 fatty acids that are great for everybody, but especially good for those in training.

Omega 3’s may help lower inflammation in the body.  And this is exactly what you need after a hard workout to stop muscle aches, tiredness, and also to recover faster.

If you don’t take quinoa protein powder as a supplement, then you can very easily add it to your diet in a variety of ways. It’s a versatile little seed, and can be incorporated into many meals both sweet or savoury.


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Sunflower protein is another pretty new one to the market. And the plus side is, it’s a pretty inexpensive one to buy.

Sunflower seeds also contain lots of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant that can help mop up all those free radicals caused by exercising. This in return, helps slow down the aging process and aids recovery at the same time.

For best results, this one is ideal to be blended with other complete proteins, such as hemp or quinoa.

Check out more vitamin E foods to help with exercise recovery.

How to find a protein powder to suit you

This part is the most IMPORTANT part of all as there are just so many to choose from these days. To save time and expense, you should have some basic idea of what will work for you.

Do this by taking into consideration your dietary needs, training needs, and also whether you are looking to cut fat, lose weight in general, build muscle or bulk out. 

ALL of these are a factor in which protein powder you should choose to enable you to obtain the results you wish in the fastest time.

To help you work out what’s best for you specifically, then please check out this guide of the best reviewed protein powders of 2022. The guide will give you an easy list of factors you need to take into consideration when deciding.


Thank you for visiting ZestForever today!

We hope we have given you some insights into plant protein and how to incorporate it into your diet.

Don’t forget, true health comes from a well-rounded plant based diet high in all nutrients. To obtain this the easy way, please check out our amazing food plans for FAST & EASY recipes and ideas.

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26 thoughts on “Highest Plant Based Protein Foods List To Meet Your Quota”

  1. Great article!

    ‘PLANT BASED PROTEINS V,S ANIMAL PROTEINS’ was that a typo error v,s instead of vs.?

    ‘CHOOSING A PROTEIN POWDER’ I don’t think it is necessary to add the sub-heading ‘Best Plant Based Protein Powders’ there. You can just go ahead with the brief introduction of the topic.

    Other than that, it is a great article. The headings were good, although you might want to use black font to make it stand out more. The contents were appropriate to the headline.

    Well done!

  2. Hm I didn’t realise plant based protein powders had some health benefits that regular whey protein powders do not. I’ve never researched them all that much but I’m being to run out so I’ll definitely have it in the back of my mind when I’m surfing around looking for more.

    Where do you suggest I go and look for them, I’d imagine Amazon has some but is there anywhere with more options and better prices?

    1. stefanie taylor

      Hi Lyle, 

      I’m glad you find my post interesting, to be honest I am still researching myself for the best and most reasonably priced protein powders so i will definitely keep this site updated as I go along. 

      For now though the one I am using is called ‘phd protein superfood’ which has all sorts of added superfoods including greens, omega’s, baobab,matcha tea, pumpkin, quinoa to name a few. There are also some great ones supplied by the brand Natures Plus which although quite expensive are very high quality as, like the above, they supply so much more than just protein. 

  3. Great article Stefanie, learned a few things for sure. I am 48 years old and for sure past the trying to bulk up stage of my 20 s and 30 s .I am interested in consuming more proteins less carbs for weight loss ( funny how it sneaks up on you over time) .What do you recommend for amount of protein for myself . I weigh 215 pounds looking to lose 15-20 pounds ?

    1. Stefanie Taylor

      Hi Brent,

      Thanks for your comment and you’re right, it does sneak on over time. The best system for working out your protein is you generally need about 1 gram of protein per 2 lbs of body fat, so you would need around 107 grams. If you need to lose weight, then they say you should stay within your calorie range but double your protein as this will fill you up and you will automatically eat carbs and other things that turn more readily to fat.

      Hope this helps and let me know if you have any more questions and I will be happy to help.

  4. Thanks Stefanie, I am going to try to increase my protein intake . I suffer from anxiety/depression so I am not as active as I once was , so that is where to weight gain came from. Also what do you feel a calorie range would be for myself at 215 pounds

    Talking with you lifted my spirits

    1. Hi Bert,
      I also suffer from anxiety/depression (or I did, which set me on my path to nutrition) which it is why it is even more important for you to do exercise, especially weight bearing as it brings down a cascade of feel good endorphins that really blast out depression. That, doubled with a healthy diet filled with fruit, veg, wholegrain rice/bread/pasta to keep your blood sugar stable and the absolute must have, is to take high strength omega 3 fish oils.

      I promise you if you do all these things you will see a massive difference. Those things saved me.
      As for your your calorie intake, for somebody of your weight who is looking to lose weight I’d go in for around 2,500 calories a day and see how you go from there.

      If you are really serious about losing weight and exercising I will send you my weightloss and fitness plan that I send to some of my clients, but if you want to PM me your email address I will just send it for you for free as we are helping each other out. I can’t bare for other people to be suffering with their weight and depression as I know how awful it is, so if I can help you I will.

      And I’m glad I’ve lifted your spirits.

  5. Great article, loved how there was such a thorough listing. I use hemp protein powder and it really makes a difference for me in the morning as to energy and thinking clearer.

      1. Hi Ariel,
        It’s great to know you are a fellow vegan. I have only been vegan for 6 months but I know I will never go back. I just feel so much lighter and healthier and I had a few health complaints that have virtually disappeared through being vegan. I can only imagine that things will keep getting better and better. I have started incorporating lots of raw foods and juices lately and I feel even better than ever.
        Glad you liked my article about natural beauty, it really is the way to go as who wants nasty chemicals on their skin right? Everything I put on and in my body now is natural and I love it!

  6. Thanks for an article that I think is well researched. It will certainly help people that are vegetarians like me, helping us to create a better menu so that we can get all the % of protein we need each day.
    There is an upsurge in the number of health issues surrounding the eating of meat, a plant-based diet does offer an excellent alternative. There is less work and stress on the digestive system, since in many instances meat must first rot in the body before is excreted.

    1. Hi James, 

      Thanks for reading and yes plant protein is far better than animal in my experience. I have been plant based for over 7 months now and it has changed my whole life. I feel so much healthier, lighter and more energetic than ever. I will never go back now as I am sure it will carry on getting better and better.

  7. I think that these are truly the Best Plant Based Protein Foods. Thanks so very much for sharing this list. I have bookmarked this page. Despite the fact that I am trying to eat a plant based diet, I really never thought about these plant based protein powders. I am always in for anything with great health benefits. My problem though is overeating nuts, and that’s all of them even though my favorites are pistachios and almond. If I make my own plant based protein powder, do I have to add anything else to it to make it more nutritious?

    1. Hi Carol, glad you enjoyed my article. If you are going down the plant based road then you definitely need to make sure you are getting enough protein. As you are eating quite a lot of nuts this will help, highest protein nuts are peanuts, pistachios, almonds and cashews, so you should focus more on these ones.

      Taking supplements of the amino acid L Arginine, which you already do, will be of great help as L Arginine is mostly in animal products. Read here for more on L-Arginine And it could be worth your while investing in a protein powder just to make sure, best ones are hemp, pea, pumpkin and rice (I tend to stear clear of soya as it is estrogenic and messes with hormones).

      You can blend these plain proteins with a banana/ milk/cocoa powder etc to make them more palatable OR you can buy them already in a mix (which is often better as a blend will contain different powders with a better array of amino acids). Usually when you buy a mix it will have some natural flavourings and sweeteners in to make it palatable but will be more expensive.

      Personally, I find the plain pumpkin powder has a good amino acid profile and tastes fine when mixed with milk. Hope this helps, and if you decide to buy a blend you can always send me the link to it and I will check it is a good one with no chemicals or fillers.

  8. What an extensive article. I learned some things from it. I think we emphasize so much on animal based proteins as the only proteins. Sometimes I eat almonds and I eat them for their fats, but have to remind myself that they are actually proteins. Thanks for providing the list of proteins. There were quite a few among them that I would not have considered, or did not know they were proteins, for instance quinoa. That is great.

    Thanks for sharing,

    1. Hi Oscar, I’m really glad you learned something new about protein. A lot of people think that protein has to come from predominantly animal products such as meat, fish, and dairy because I guess that is how we are brought up to eat, think and believe. Hence why vegans are always getting asked “where do you get your protein?” I was the same until I started eating a plant based diet and I can honestly say that now I have educated myself on proteins, fats, amino acids etc, I can easily make sure I get enough of all of these things from plant foods.

  9. Another great post!

    Some really good info here. I do like to go the gym quite often, lift a few weights and all that. For months now I’ve been consuming vast amounts of chicken/eggs and to be honest I’m getting a little bored of chicken, and well you can’t eat too many eggs due to cholesterol content.

    I love pistachio nuts but never knew they were so high in protein! Also is there anything that hemp doesn’t do!?

    1. Hi Anthony, it’s great you go to the gym. I’m a bit of a gym bunny myself! Yes hemp is just being found to have so many benefits it’s mind blowing. I have a hemp protein shake every day for my breakfast along with half an avocado and it just filled me up for the day.
      If you find you are eating to much animal protein, such as eggs and chicken then you should try getting done more plant proteins in as you will find they are less acidic and make you feel lighter.

  10. WOW, this is an amazing article, Most of the people are aware of meat as a source of protein but to be honest, nature has also provided us with plant based protein and you have explained it in a really amazing way. This article should be read by every one and I am going to share it with all my friends. We eat beans and peas in our daily diet but these foods are very underestimated as far as their nutritional values are concerned, I really thank you for you great work.

    1. Thanks Sarah, I really appreciate the compliment, and I am happy you have found the post helpful. Yes, even I was shocked at how great those humble beans and peas are, and they are so much cheaper and healthier than meat! I eat these things as one of my main sources of protein these days and I’m healthier than ever.

  11. Thank you so much Stefanie for this great post. I’ve been wanting to add a more natural way to get my proteins and will be fallowing the list you left. Again thank you so much.

    1. Hi David, I’m really glad the list has helped you understand to get more plant protein into your diet. It really is not that hard when you know a few of the highest protein items to eat every day and I know I already said it in the post but quinoa really is one of the best there is as it has so many amino acid’s in it. It’s a great one to focus on if you are fully plant based or vegan.

  12. What a great article. I enjoyed reading it since I am half vegan.

    You have given me more foods to add to increase my protein consumption such as mixing in hemp.

    I will start incorporating all of the foods you mentioned to my recipes to.
    People do not understand how important a plant based diet is for their lives.

    1. Hi there, that’s great you are so far half vegan as you will at least be reaping the benefits from that I’m sure. Now you can see just how many great plant based protein sources there are you could probably go further with it and feel even better!

      You have picked a great protein to use with the hemp as it is one of the best for nutrients and amino acid’s. You can even mix it in porridge, which is what I did this morning – turns it green but it tastes yum ha ha.

  13. What a great article full of useful information. I really like your list of protein rich plant foods. I was looking for some vegetarian protein options and wasn’t aware you have such a big choice.
    I still include meat in my diet but was wondering whether I should cut it out completely. Do you think the protein powders work best in a vegetarian or vegan diet?

    1. Hi Sammy, yes there are lots of choices on the vegan diet but many people don’t realise this and think the only thing we eat is salads and nuts. However it does take time when you first start this lifestyle to actually learn new recipes and just changing your taste buds in general, but with a bit of willpower you get there. I personally would never go back now so I can only recommend it 100%.

      If you want to cut meat from your diet then I would say go for it. If you are still going to eat dairy products etc then you could still quite easily get enough protein from them if you eat them enough. Things like cheese, milk, and eggs are really high in protein so if you eat them 2-3 times a day then you will more than likely be getting enough.

      However, sometimes when people just go vegetarian they end up substituting with too much dairy which is high in saturated fat and will probably contribute to inflammation, so my advice would be to cut down on the dairy and add in lots of plant based proteins instead. As you start to see how well you feel and how your body responds you may naturally decide to cut all animal products completely. That is how it happened for me; once I started clearing my body out I could feel the difference when I was eating dairy, more sluggish, less clarity etc.

      For more information you may find this post helpful

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