Choosing a vegan or plant-based eating style can have a lot of benefits. Plant foods offer an abundance of important vitamins, minerals, and fiber while keeping calories low. A well-planned vegan diet can support healthy weight loss goals and may help ward off common diseases. 

There’s often a concern that plant-only diets may fall short on providing certain nutrients. Meeting protein requirements is high on that list of considerations. But with a little knowledge about high protein vegan snacks, getting enough of the macronutrient is no problem. 

Why is Dietary Protein Important? 

From our hair to our toenails, every cell in the human body contains some form of protein. Protein is needed to repair damage to these cells or replace them with new cells. We also need protein to make enzymes and hormones used even in the most basic body functions, like breathing. 

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Our bodies use amino acids broken down from digested food to synthesize countless new proteins to keep us alive. When we don’t get enough protein from food, the body pulls from less vital places, like arm and leg muscles, redistributing the protein where it’s needed more critically. 

How Can Someone Following a Vegan Diet Get Enough Protein? 

Many of us think about meat, eggs, and dairy when considering protein. This may be because animal products are known for providing “complete” proteins. This means they contain all of the essential amino acids humans require. 

Plant sources like legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains also offer protein and can give us the amino acids we need when we eat a variety of these foods. Some plant foods, like quinoa and soybeans, are nearly complete proteins, just like meat. In general, complete proteins can be created by combining legumes like beans with whole grains like brown rice throughout the day. 

Here are a few ideas for vegan snacks high in protein to help you meet your daily needs. 

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

While we treat it like a grain because of its similar texture and nutritional content, quinoa is technically a seed. It’s considered a nearly complete protein, and one cup of cooked quinoa provides 8 grams. It has a fun, beady texture, and a mild, nutty flavor, making it versatile for many dishes. 

One way to use quinoa is as a savory salad base. Simply cook quinoa according to package directions, and toss with a few finely chopped ingredients like kalamata olives, marinated artichoke hearts, and cucumbers, to create a tangy, high-protein vegan snack. 

Edamame

Edamame, or soybeans, is another complete source of plant protein. These nutty-tasting beans can be found in the frozen section of most grocery stores, still in their pods or already shelled. ½ cup of edamame offers 7 grams of protein. 

In-shell, frozen edamame is easy to prepare. Just boil the pods for a few minutes, then sprinkle with your favorite low-sodium seasonings. Or for a crunchy snack, drizzle shelled edamame with a little olive oil and roast the oven at 375 °F for 20-30  minutes.  

Roasted Lentils or Chickpeas

Roasted lentils and chickpeas are delicious vegan snacks high in protein. ½ cup of cooked lentils provides over 8 grams of protein. The same amount of chickpeas offers 7 grams. 

With their growing popularity, roasted lentils can often be found prepackaged in grocery stores, but you can also make them easily at home. Simply mix 1.5 cups of cooked French lentils with ½ teaspoon of olive oil and a sprinkle of your favorite savory seasonings. Spread them on a lined baking sheet and pop them in a 300°F oven for about 25 minutes, or until browned. 

The same instructions apply to making homemade roasted chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, with a couple of exceptions. You’ll want to start with canned garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed, and patted dry. And after adding oil and seasonings, roast chickpeas at 425°F for 20-30 minutes.

Cowboy Caviar

This snack includes black beans and corn kernels. Beans are considered legumes and corn is considered a grain. This makes an especially nutritious snack because when legumes are combined with grains, they create a complete, high quality protein. ½ cup of black beans offers 7 grams of protein, and ½ cup of corn adds 2 grams more to the mix. 

The classic recipe includes cooked black beans, corn kernels, finely chopped peppers, avocados, tomatoes, red onions, and lime juice. Chill it, and serve it alone, on tortilla chips or toasted corn tortillas. 

Canned beans are easy and convenient to use. Remember to rinse them to reduce the added salt. 

Protein-Packed Smoothies

Everyone seems to have their own favorite smoothie flavor. If you make your preferred smoothie with the right ingredients, it can add a significant amount of protein to your day. 

Label reading is important when shopping for smoothie ingredients. For example, if you use a cup of soy beverage as your liquid base, you’ll add about 7 grams of protein to your shake. Compare that to some nut beverages, which only have 1 gram, while others are fortified with pea protein and would add up to 10 grams per cup. 

Including nut or seed butter can also increase nutritional value. Peanut and pumpkin seed butter have the highest protein content, each adding 8 grams in a two-tablespoon serving. For a lower calorie option, try powdered peanut butter, which offers about 6 grams of protein in a two-tablespoon serving.


Finally, consider adding tofu to the blender. Tofu adopts the flavor of surrounding ingredients so you won’t notice a difference in taste. Plus, ½ cup tofu raises the protein content by 10 grams!

Nuts and Seeds

If you’re in a hurry, nuts or seeds can make a great grab-and-go snack. You can find them in grocery stores, conveniently packaged in a wide variety of flavors including low-sodium choices. The protein content in nuts and seeds varies anywhere from 2-9 grams per one-ounce handful. Pumpkin seeds and peanuts will give you the highest amount of protein. 

Boost Your Snack with Nutritional Yeast

If you don’t know about nutritional yeast, it can be a vegan’s best friend. Nicknamed “nooch,” This flakey yellow powder is an inactivated yeast that can be sprinkled into dishes to add a major hike in nutrients. For example, 3 tablespoons of nutritional yeast offer 8 grams of protein, and a giant 1000% of your recommended vitamin B12 for the day.  

Nutritional yeast has a cheesy flavor, and can be mixed into any savory snack. A few examples include guacamole, popcorn, cowboy caviar, or quinoa salad. 

Chia Seed Pudding

If you’re hoping for a sweet but nutritious vegan snack with protein, look no further than chia pudding. One small serving of this healthy dessert will offer 7 grams of protein. 

To make this fun-textured treat, mix 2 tablespoons of chia seeds with ½ cup of soy beverage or a pea and almond beverage. Let the mixture rest for 2 minutes, then mix again, adding a little vanilla and agave for flavor and sweetness, if desired. Cover and refrigerate the pudding overnight, then mix in your favorite berries. 

Plants Can Pack Protein

When it comes to living a vegan lifestyle, there’s no need to worry about getting enough protein. Plant foods offer a lot of the amino acids required to stay strong, as long as you know where to look. By planning meals and snacks based on a wide variety of legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains, your diet will be packed with all the protein your body needs. 

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