12 Epic Plant-Based Sources of Complete Protein

Top view of plant-based protein foods including beans, nuts, seeds, and more.
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If you’re vegan or thinking about going vegan and worried about protein, you’ll be happy to hear it’s not a thing. Studies show that vegans not only get enough protein, they get more than enough.

So we all can agree that getting enough protein is important. In fact without enough protein and amino acids in our diets, our bodies would fall apart.

That’s because amino acids in proteins are the keepers of cells. They ramp everything from metabolism and recovery to mitochondrial uptake.

And though our bodies naturally produce 11 of the 20 amino acids we need, the other nine come from foods. They include valine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and histidine.

And that’s where these 12 epic plant-based proteins roll in. They have all nine and more.

1. Barley Grass

Glass of fresh raw barley grass juice on rustic wood.
Raw living barley grass juice is a powerhouse.

Barley grass juice is not only one of the healthiest foods ever, it rocks all nine essential amino acids.

According to this report: 

The essential amino acids in barley grass are complete, making it one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world. 

It’s easy to add to your diet in organic powder form or by growing and juicing the leaves. It rocks in smoothies, shakes, yogurt, juices, and more.

You can learn about it here.

2. Chia Seeds

Large overflowing spoonful of chia seeds.
Chia seeds are packed with protein.

One of the best sources of plant-based protein ever, chia seeds rock about 4.7 grams an ounce.

I use them in porridge, pancakes, smoothies, salads, chia eggs, veggie calzones, and more.

3. Soybeans

Bowl of soybeans beside a mug of soymilk.
Soy is a complete protein.

Soybeans are unsurprisingly a complete protein and found in tofu, tempeh, natto, soy milk, miso soup, and more.

They pack a whopping 31 grams of protein a cup.

4. Quinoa

Large bowl and scoops of raw organic quinoa.
Quinoa is a high-protein food.

A go-to for complete plant-based protein, quinoa rocks about eight grams a cup.

5. Spirulina

Spirulina drink, powder, and tablets on a wooden board.
Organic spirulina is a high-protein superfood.

Though spirulina is technically not a plant but an algae, it’s still a go-to for a plant-based diet.

It not only rocks all nine essential amino acids, it’s one of the most nutrient-dense proteins on Earth.

6. Nutritional Yeast

Large wooden bowl and spoon of nutritional yeast.
Nutritional yeast is packed with protein, B vitamins, and more.

One of my favorite plant-based proteins with all nine essential amino acids is nutritional yeast. It rocks eight grams of protein per two tablespoons and tons of nutrients, including vitamin B12.

You can learn more here.

7. Buckwheat

Buckwheat groats shaped into a heart.
Buckwheat is a complete protein grain.

Another go-to for a plant-based diet is buckwheat. A single cup packs almost six grams of protein.

And if you sprout it or get it sprouted, even more.

See > Sprouts Benefits.

Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat is also a complete protein and packed with prebiotics. You can learn more about it here.

8. Hemp

Hands cupping hemp seeds over a large open bag of hemp.
Hemp is incredibly protein-rich.

Raw organic hemp is a goldmine with over 30 grams of plant-based protein an ounce.

It packs all nine essential amino acids and more.

9. Chlorella

Three glasses of chlorella green juice by  broccoli, kale, lemon, an apple, celery, parsley.
Chlorella packs all nine essential aminos and tons of nutrients.

Another epic food for a plant-based diet is chlorella. It rocks all nine essential amino acids and more.

Add it to smoothies, shakes, kefir, breakfast bowls, vegan energy bites.

According to one report it’s typically comprised of 50-60% complete protein.

10. Pistachios

Heart-shaped pistachios on a board.
Pistachios are a protein-rich nut.

Delicious pistachios are a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids. They pack a whopping 25 grams a cup!

11. Amaranth

Top view of bowls and a spoon of Amaranth.
Amaranth is a complete protein.

A half-cup of uncooked Amaranth packs 14 grams of complete protein.

12. Ezekiel Bread

Close-up of an Ezekiel bread loaf.
Ezekiel bread is one of the healthiest breads ever.

I started eating Ezekiel bread over 30 years ago and still do occasionally. Best bread ever short of homemade.

It rocks all nine essential amino acids with four grams of protein a slice.

Better yet is baking your own high-protein bread with Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat.

Keep reading (and cooking!)  

Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat Banana Bread

HTB Pizza Dough

Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat Crepes

Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat Sourdough Bread

HTB Chocolate Chip Cookies

Vegan HTB Peanut Butter Cookies

Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat Waffles

Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat Blueberry Muffins

HTB Country Bread

Tartary Buckwheat Porridge Recipe

HTB Pancakes

Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat for Weight Loss

15 HTB Recipes

Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat Benefits

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The medical and health topics covered on the Plate of Grass website and blog have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to prevent or cure any disease. This article and its content is presented ‘as is’ for informational purposes only.