Your complete guide to the best vegan protein sources to keep you feeling strong in the great outdoors
“But where do you get your protein from?” Plants! As a vegan there are so many vegan protein sources that are not only bloody tasty they’re full of so much good stuff. As vegan adventurers getting enough protein is vital for muscle recovery allowing your body to be in tip-top shape to get out there and explore even more.
We’ve compiled this list of some of the best vegan protein sources to help all you adventure-driven herbivores enjoy the great outdoors.
Take a look at the list and tell us what you think in the comments. Or, if you have other super vegan protein sources helping you get mucky exploring our mamma earth make sure to share it with everyone here too!
Why do we need all these vegan protein sources?
Protein is crucial for our bodies in order to build and repair muscle tissue, make enzymes, hormones and other important bodily chemicals. It’s also important for your bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood, being made up of amino acids which are the building blocks to growth and recovery. Altogether having the right amount of protein in your diet will keep you feeling fuller, stronger and healthier – exactly what you need to help your body recovery after a day in the great outdoors.
So I think we can agree protein is pretty important, especially for the adventurers amongst us – keep reading to find out exactly where to find them!
The Adventure Seeker’s Guide to Vegan Protein Sources
Seitan, also known as wheat meat because it’s made from gluten, is the main protein in wheat. When cooked it resembles the look and texture of meat making it a popular choice as a meat alternative.
As a vegan protein source seitan has about 25 grams of protein per 100 grams which makes it a front runner for getting those gains, grr!
Tofu, tempeh and edamame all originate from soy beans which is considered a whole protein source. This means that they provide the body with all the essential amino acids that it needs.
Edamame are young soy beans which need to be steamed or boiled and can then be eaten on their own or added to dishes.
Tofu is basically the vegans’ holy grail! Chances are if you’re vegan this stuff is a staple part of your diet. Unless of course you don’t like tofu in which case, that sucks. This versatile stuff can be eaten in so many different ways and we love experimenting with it; fried on its own, baked in dishes or added to broths. What’s your favourite way to eat tofu?
Tempeh is like tofu’s tougher cousin, made from fermented soybeans formed into a patty. Unlike tofu which forms a softer consistency, the soy beans in tempeh remain mostly intact. This gives it an almost chicken-like consistency which, trust me, is very convincing.
All three contain iron, calcium and about 10 – 19 grams of protein per 100 grams.
Edamame is also rich in vitamin K, fiber and folate. Tempeh is packed with probiotics, B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium. All these nutrients make these soy-based products very popular in the vegan community.
These little guys are one of the great vegan protein sources out there with 18 grams of protein per cooked cup (240ml).
We find ourselves eating a lot of these bad boys as they’re a lot easier to prepare than their beany cousins, plus when travelling you can easily find them tinned.
Lentils are also chock-a-block with fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut, a happy gut means a happy life! They’re also full of folate, magnesese and iron. When you’re adventuring in the wilderness lentils are a great added to a big pot of stew or sauce to get some goodness in you.
Ah chickpeas, the glorious pulse which gives life to the beauty of hummus. There are tons of ways to eat chickpeas: in sauces, roasted on their own or in salads, the list goes on. I challenge you to find a better way than hummus though?!
Also known as garbanzo beans they have 15 grams of protein per cooked cup (240ml) as well as being crammed with complex carbs, fibre, iron, folate, potassium, manganese and tons more compounds.
When we have a multi-day hike planned we love to roast some of these bad boys to snack on or add them to a big bowl of stew cooking on the camp stove.
The superior choice of the rice varieties where protein is concerned. Wild rice contains about 1.5 times more protein than it’s basmati and brown rice competitors. One cooked cup (240ml) contains 7 grams of protein in addition to a ton of other nutrients.
Wild rice is a great go-to choice to fuel your adventures as it’s complex carbohydrate so will give you tons of energy.
You may not think it but these little green fellas are a great choice when it comes to vegan protein sources. With 9 grams of protein per cooked cup (240ml) plus more than 25% of your recommended fiber intake per serving you can gobble some down with your chips and feel a little bit better about indulging.
If you’re following our journey at all you’ll know that we eat a lot of oats. Whether we’re cooking up a camp stove breakfast or we’re based in one location for a while, we always start the day with a big ol’ bowl of oats. With good reason too as half a cup provides 6 grams of protein.
Tucking into a morning bowl is a great way to fuel a day of outdoor exploration as they’re also full of complex carbohydrates for slow release energy.
Beans are a great choice because they’re high in protein and won’t break the bank.
If you’re out exploring they can be a little problematic to carry around so opting for a tin to add to you camp fire chilli is great when you’re on the trail.
Beans pack about 15 grams of protein per cooked cup (240ml) and with so many beans to choose from you’ll enjoy discovering all the ways you can incorporate them into your dishes.
These versatile seeds are not only an awesome vegan protein source but they also contain so many other benefits. Full of iron, magnesium, omega-3 plus more, you’ll be trying to find ways to consume more of these mighty seeds.
And, you can add them to everything so it’s mighty easy! You can add chia seeds to smoothies, baked goods and even make chia pudding – the possibilities are endless.
Per 35 gram serving these little guys have 6 grams of protein and 13 grams of fiber.
More proof that good things do come in small packages. Flax seeds have earned their place on this list with 6 grams of protein in every 35 gram serving.
Much like chia seeds these guys can be tossed in salads, used as an egg replacement or sprinkled over your morning porridge.
Commonly used in tabbouleh, bulgur wheat is a tasty and versatile vegan protein source. Made from the golden grains of part-boiled or steamed wheat kernels, or wheat berries – one cup packs a whopping 17 grams of protein.
Great served with some veggies at the end of the day when you’ve been putting your body through its places to replenish your system.
This is very broad I know but there is a whole universe of nuts out there along with an ever growing world of nut butters.
From peanuts, to cashews, almonds and sunflower seeds you can enjoy the world of nuts in a whole host of ways. Salty, raw or blended to make delicious nut butter. We have recently discovered this almond butter and find ourselves topping toast, baking with it or gobbling a sneaky spoonful when no-ones watching.
With a 30 gram serving providing roughly 5 – 7 grams of protein nuts are one of the best vegan protein sources you’ll find.
When adventuring snacking on raw nuts will give you plenty of fuel to conquer the highest peak. A word to the wise, hold off on eating salty nuts if you’re hiking the heat and when exerting yourself as they’ll just dehydrate you.
Check out this article if you’re looking for more tips when hiking in the heat
Wheat berries are the whole kernels of wheat that haven’t been processed. They do take longer to cook than their bulgur wheat brothers but they’re worth it with 18 grams of protein per cup.
You can get creative with these nutrient-packed grains: adding them to salads, soups or stirring in some veggies. They’re also a great source of carbohydrates and fiber so tuck-in!
Definitely not the most practical thing to carry around when you’re hiking the trail however if you’re starting from a base to store your soy milk then you’re on to a winner.
Soy milk is packing 7 grams of protein per cup (240ml) and most are fortified with other essential nutrients like B12.
Looking for more ways to get some B12 in your vegan lifestyle?
Another slightly different option for vegan protein sources is freekeh, which has an abundance of good stuff. Made from young drum wheat you can buy it whole or cracked and boiled until soft. Often found in the Mediterranean and North African cuisines you can add freekeh to salads or serve as a side.
With a similar macronutrient content to quinoa, freekeh has three times more fiber and two times more protein than rice. Per cup it’s packing 28 grams of protein – that’s bloody brilliant – making it the perfect choice when you need to ingest some wholesomeness.
And I’m not just talking about beer here. Barley is a nutty cereal grain commonly known for its use in beer production however having a pint isn’t them same as having a serving of this stuff – sorry folks!
An easy one to add to soups or salads as it’s a more protein-dense alternative to rice with 23 grams of protein per cup.
Fancy making your own vegan protein bars? Take a browse here!
Native to Peru where it’s cooked in a variety of ways and used in many different dishes. Amaranth is gluten-free whilst being full of protein and calcium. Each cup contains 26 grams of protein plus it has a high fiber content to aid digestion.
In Peru it’s often used in porridge, puddings, as a replacement for other grains or used in baked goods.
Dubbed a superfood quinoa has quickly grown in popularity over the past years and with good reason. It’s one of the few plant-based proteins that provides all nine essential amino acids and is actually a seed from the goosefoot plant found in the Andes Mountains.
For small guys they’re full of even more vital nutrients such as: iron, calcium, fiber and protein with one cooked cup holding 8.4 grams.
Taking a bit longer to cook means that quinoa may not be the best camp stove option however if you have the patients and facilities it’s a top post-adventure food choice.
Farro is full of fiber, iron and 28 grams of protein per cup. Its nutty flavour makes it a great addition to soups, salads, stews or in risottos adding protein in your system aiding muscle recovery.
Hulled hemp hearts or seeds, derived from hemp plants, have a nutty taste making them a great addition to top porridge, yogurts, smoothies and salads. The protein packed babies have 10 grams of protein per 3 tables spoons (30 grams) so you can be generous.
Being so small and light-weight makes them a great option for outdoors adventures. Great baked into flapjacks for a quick refuel of energy or to top your morning porridge.
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