10 "Already in Your Pantry" Plant-Based Protein Sources

Updated: Sep 13, 2021

Guest blogger post: dietetic intern, Cassady Black

Many people worry that they may not be able to eat enough protein while eating a plant-based diet, myself being one of them. Since protein plays a key role in muscle development and lean body mass retention, it is pretty important, especially if you are an active individual.

Since I am both active and veg-curious, I took it upon myself to research plant-based protein sources. Let me just tell you — the options are there, people. I am one of those people that gets pretty overwhelmed if you give me too much information, so I decided to list the 10 most commonplace (aka "already in your cabinet") plant-based protein sources.

1. Chickpeas

I was so happy when I realized that chickpeas are high in protein (15 grams per 1 cup, to be exact), since I already eat chickpeas on a regular basis. Chickpeas are so versatile. They can be used in salads, to make falafel, to make brownies and so much more! Also, here's a fun fact for you: hummus is made from chickpeas too!

2. Edamame

We already love edamame, right? I mean you can buy it frozen, heat it up, add a pinch of salt and snack away! Add a serving of fruit and you would have the perfect protein + carb combo snack. At 17 grams of protein per 1 cup serving, it will help keep you full and meet your protein goals.

3. Quinoa

Quinoa is everywhere nowadays so adding it into your grocery rotation should be a no brainer! Quinoa provides 8 grams of protein per 1 cup serving, which is pretty impressive for a pseudo grain. Add quinoa to salads, use is as stir-fry base, or even eat it by itself with some great spices.

4. Black Beans

Okay, I don't know about you, but I already buy black beans on a fairly regular basis so YAY. Black beans are such an easy way to add protein to your meals. You can buy them canned (the no salt added or low sodium options are best) and simply add them to whatever you are cooking. They go great in Mexican dishes, but also can be used to make black bean burgers! Black beans provide 8 grams of protein per 1/2 cup serving.

5. Tofu

Tofu is readily available at most grocery stores in the refrigerated section. It is high in protein and makes a great meat replacement in Asian dishes, rice bowls and salads. Tofu provides about 10 grams of protein for every 1/2 cup (or 4 ounces).

6. Ezekiel Bread

You can make some seriously awesome sandwiches while eating plant-based, and bonus if you use Ezekiel bread since two slices packs about 9 grams of protein! Find Ezekiel bread in the frozen section at grocery stores.

7. Soy Milk

Soy milk can be an easy replacement for cow's milk since, of all the plant-based milks, it has the most similar macronutrient (carbohydrate, protein and fat) content. It can be added to cereal, blended into a fruit smoothie or enjoyed by itself. Soy milk provides 7-8 grams of protein per cup.

8. Lentils

Lentils are a common source of plant-based protein and seem to be growing in popularity. I often run into new lentil recipes on social media and Pinterest. At 18 grams of protein per one cup serving, I say they are worth checking out!

9. Oatmeal

Another item that already frequents my shopping cart. Oatmeal makes for an awesome breakfast since it is packed with fiber and provides about 5 grams of protein per 1/2 cup serving. Fiber + protein = full longer!

10. Nut butters

Seriously, who is not obsessed with nut butters? They pair so well with apples or bananas, make the perfect oatmeal topping or can (and should) be eaten by the spoonful. Nut butters pack about 8 grams of protein per 2 tablespoon serving.