We all know that protein is an important part of a healthy and balanced diet but some special diets exclude foods that are common sources of protein. Although a vegan diet is healthy, it doesn't include any animal products (like meats, eggs, or cheese) and getting enough protein can be a challenge for some. But, before you reach for the dairy-free protein powder (which can be loaded with sugar and other less-than-desirable ingredients) consider the many delicious and nutritious vegan foods that are rich in protein.
These vegan proteins (proteins that are completely plant-based) are a healthy source of good nutrition that anyone can enjoy, regardless of their diet:
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Though they’re high in calories (so you’ll have to monitor your serving size), almonds are full of protein. Choose varieties that are raw or dry-roasted and always opt for unsweetened almond butter. Looking for a few delicious recipes that use almonds? Click here for more of our best almond recipes.
These tasty legumes (also known as garbanzo beans) have as much as 7 grams of protein in just half a cup. Try them on top of salads, mashed into a chickpea burger, or pureed into hummus. Or click here for our best chickpea recipes.
Another protein-rich legume, green peas pack almost 8 grams of protein per cup. Try blending them with olive oil and fresh herbs for an easy pesto that you can spread on bread or toss with pasta. Click here for more of our best pea recipes.
Quinoa is a protein powerhouse for anyone who eats completely animal-product-free. This tiny seed is a complete protein, which means it contains all of the amino acids that our bodies can’t make on their own (and must source from the foods we eat). Click here for more of our best quinoa recipes.
Sunflower seeds are one of the seeds highest in protein per cup; a quarter cup has more than 7 grams. Sprinkle a few seeds into smoothies, on top of salads, or into sandwiches and wraps for extra protein. Or click here for our best sunflower seed recipes.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.