No Meat Athletes: 5 Vegan Protein Sources Perfect for Fueling Your Workouts

These vegan friendly foods pack enough protein to help you healthily maintain your active lifestyle

Considering adopting a vegan diet, but concerned that you won’t be able to meet your body’s protein needs without any animal products?

Despite common misconceptions about following an entirely animal-free diet, you’ve actually got nothing to worry about.

“The foods that vegans like Scott Jurek avoid, like dairy products and eggs, are the easy ways to get protein in a plant-based diet, obviously,” David C. Nieman, a professor of health and exercise science at Appalachian State University told The New York Times. “But you still have grains, nuts, soy. Eat enough of that and you’ll be fine.”

He did however mention that one downside to following a vegan diet is a lack of vitamin B12, which is only found in meat.

“B12 is important for endurance athletes, since it affects red blood cell production,” he explained. “But many cereals and soy milks are fortified with B12 now, or you can take supplements.”

Nancy Clark, a sports nutrition expert in Massachusetts and the author of “Nancy Clark’s Food Guide for Marathoners,” told The NY Times that there’s not enough scientific evidence to support that a vegetarian or vegan diet can lead to increases in athletic performance, but that if you are vigilant about making sure to consume enough protein (like, by incorporating some of the following foods in your diet at different meals throughout the day) you can healthily maintain your active lifestyle.

1. Quinoa
In addition to serving as complete protein source (it includes more lysine and isoleucine, important amino acids, compared to other grains), quinoa is an all-around nutrient-dense grain providing high levels of other essential nutrients such as manganese, copper, phosphorus and magnesium.
Grams of protein per serving (one cup, cooked): about 8

2. Black Beans
“Among all groups of food commonly eaten worldwide, no group has a more health-supportive mix of protein-plus-fiber than legumes,” reports The World’s Healthiest Foods. For every gram of protein in legumes like black beans there’s an equal amount of fiber, which contributes to the many health benefits associated with their consumption, such as improved digestive health, blood sugar regulation and heart health.
Grams of protein per serving (1/2 cup): about 7.5

3. Lentils
In addition to serving up a healthy portion of protein, lentils have the added benefit of providing ample amounts of fiber as well as important B-vitamins.
Grams of protein per serving (1/2 cup, cooked): about 9

4. Tofu
Tofu serves as a smart source of protein and also offers added health benefits thanks to high amounts of important nutrients like calcium and manganese.
Grams of protein per serving (150 grams or about 3/4 cup): about 12

5. Garbanzo Beans (chickpeas)
Also a part of the legume family, these protein-packed beans are another good source of manganese, and they also provide ample amounts of other nutrients such as folate, fiber, iron and zinc.
Grams of protein per serving (1/2 cup): about 7.5

Protein estimates based on figures from


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