11 Plant-Based Protein Sources Philly’s Vegan Fitness Trainers Swear By

There are tons of vegan protein sources out there — here are some of the best.

vegan protein source

Plant-based protein powder is one go-to vegan protein source. Photograph by iStock/Katarzyna Bialasiewicz

“But where do you get your protein?!” is a question vegans hear a little too often. Considering that there’s a ton of protein in plants, vegans and vegetarians don’t have to look far to find something with the muscle-building macronutrients.

No one knows this better than Philly’s plant-based fitness instructors — a few of whom recently teamed up to lead a retreat to a local animal rescue. So to answer the question for once and for all (and to get all of their fave protein-filled snack recommendations in one place), we asked for their go-to vegan protein sources. Here’s what they had to say.

Vegan Protein Snacks & Add-ins

This DIY snack is packed with protein — from powder and peanut butter. “I mix one scoop of Vega Sport Protein Powder, one Vega Protein Cashewmilk yogurt, half to a full cup of almond milk, frozen berries, two tablespoons peanut butter, and the secret ingredient, vegan pudding mix (Simply Delish brand),” says Shannon Brennan, coach at BPM Fitness and City Fitness. “I make that every morning for breakfast and not only is it absolutely delicious, but it is also filled with healthy fats and protein that keep me full for four to five hours.”

Yup, veggies have protein, too. Even though they’re not complete proteins, they’re still a super-nutritious addition to your diet.  “Some of my favorites to toss into power bowls or pasta dishes include edamame (about 17 grams protein per cup), green peas (about 9 grams per cup), Brussels sprouts (about three grams per cup), and broccoli (about three grams per cup),” says Amandah Povilitusinstructor at Flywheel and Solidcore.

“When I don’t have the time to make myself a meal or a smoothie, I’ll grab a Koia plant-based protein shake,” says Povilitus. “I love their products because they are high in protein (most have 18 grams), low in sugar (most have only four grams), affordable, and taste like milkshakes! While I actually love all of their varieties, I am partial to their Cold Brew Coffee flavor for the extra caffeine boost — if I’m grabbing a smoothie on the go, I’m probably in hustle mode!”

In addition to your greens, you’ll also want to eat your grains — especially protein-packed ones like quinoa, which can be incorporated into bowls and salad and have eight grams of protein per cup. “I eat it almost every day and top it with protein-rich veggies,” says Brennan.

Options like hemp, flax, and chia seeds all come with a hearty dose of protein. Plus, they’re super versatile when it comes to incorporating them into meals. “I add hemp and flax seed into my smoothies every morning for an extra protein kick and top my avocado toast with chia seeds,” says Brennan.

Trust us, this deactivated yeast tastes better than it sounds. “Affectionately known as ‘nooch,’ nutritional yeast is long overdue a name change,” says Mark Donohue, master trainer and manager at Unite Fitness. “Still, this is my secret weapon to complete most meals and is a complete source of protein. Protein amount varies by brand, but usually two tablespoons contains eight grams. Sprinkle this on your popcorn, in your soup or over your meal for a nutty, sorta cheesy flavor.”

Vegan Meat Alternatives

Lightlife Gimme Lean Beef has eight grams of protein — and zero grams of fat — in a two-ounce serving. Plus, Leroy Mapp, instructor at Unite Fitness and Flywheel, says it “tastes really good when you’re making vegan spaghetti.”

The Beyond Meat burger patties may look and taste like beef, but they’re all plants — and come with 20 grams of protein a pop. “Beyond Meat burgers can be expensive, but they’re super delicious when you are in a burger mood,” says Mapp.

Field Roast makes vegan meats and cheeses that are based on whole foods, like grains and vegetables. “My favorites include their Mexican Chipotle Sausages (28 grams protein each), their Smoked Apple Sage Sausages (25 grams protein each), their FieldBurgers (25 grams protein each), and their Apple Maple Breakfast Sausages (10 grams protein per two sausages),” says Povilitus.

Vegan Protein Powders

Protein powders can be made with whole foods, too. “When I have time to make my own smoothies, my favorite plant-based protein is WelleCo Nourishing Plant Protein,” says Povilitus.

Plant Fusion Complete Protein Powder blends pea, artichoke and a variety of superfoods to complete the [protein] package that helps you build and repair muscle,” says Donohue. “It’s packed with 21 grams of protein, easy to digest, and, best of all, tastes delicious in a smoothie, or mixed with your favorite non-dairy milk.”

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