Sources of Plant Based Proteins

Sources of Plant Based Proteins

Photo by Mariana Medvedeva on Unsplash

As you could see from the lists of food groups in my last blog that most of the protein obtained on a plant based diet comes from legumes, grains, nuts and seeds but there are also a couple of super high protein sources that are more processed than the usual whole foods.

NOTE: The following make a great high protein addition to the diet but I would avoid relying on them every day, due to the processed nature of them.

Tempeh is one of my favorites and one of the most beneficial plant protein sources. It is made with soy beans that are fermented into a cake, giving it the nutritional edge over many other sources. The earliest known reference to Tempeh was in 1815 over 200 years ago and is a staple protein source in Indonesian cuisine.

Tofu making was first recorded during the Chinese Han dynasty some 2,000 years ago. It is also called “bean curd,” which is a fresh, cheese-like product made by curding soymilk.

Seitain is flavored wheat gluten, the protein portion of wheat that gives bread dough its elastic quality. It has been used as a meat substitute for centuries in China and Japan, where it was developed by vegetarian Buddhist monks. This goes great in burgers, stews, stir fries, kebabs etc
All of the above draw some opposing views from purest vegans who argue about soy products linked to estrogen elevation and other disorders but as you can see they have been used for centuries in oriental cuisine. The problem these days lies more in the sources of soy beans which have been genetically modified and the quality reduced.

My opinion is that you should always look for organic non-gmo varieties of Tempeh and Tofu, thus reducing any issues with them, or you can make your own, as you can with Seitan at home.

As my granddad once said to me…

“Everything in Moderation, Including Moderation!”

Cooking with Tempeh, Seitan and Tofu
All of them can be used very creatively in cooking and creating high protein plant based meals and the different texture of each one lends itself to different dishes, here are a few examples of how to use them:

Tempeh – chopped finely or blended slightly in a food processor gives it the texture of mince, perfect for use in bolognaise or burgers.

Tofu – mashed up with a fork turns it into a crumbed mixture which lends itself to dishes such as scrambled egg. Marinate cubes and then stir fried, for extra flavour and a crispier texture.

Seitan – comes in a block much like a steak and can be sliced to use in stir fries, sandwiches or in stews. The above creation is actually my own and it was epic. Pan friend Seitan on vegan cheese topped with good old mashed avocado!

Plant Powered Supergrains
These are alternative grains that make a nice change to the usual rice, and contain high levels of nutrients and protein, they make for great additions to dishes such as salads and curries or as texture in nut roasts and burgers, these include:

  • Quinoa
  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Spelt
  • Barley
  • Millet
  • Bulgar Wheat
  • Flax seed
  • Hemp seed
  • Chia seed

Plant Protein Powders
The three most widely used plant sources found in protein powders are generally hemp, pea and rice due to the level of essential amino acids found in them.

Usually a good protein powder will have a blend of two or all three of them to give the powder a broad amino acid profile, perfect for building muscle and recovery after strenuous training.


The selection above are a few of the brands that I have used and that I rate (click on the images to visit the brand). I was sent some samples of the Muscle Mary – Not Just Protein recently which was really good but is also really expensive and although I’m a massive fan of the Lomax Pro Edge Plant Formula which I’ve used all year (use PLANTS25 for a 25% discount), I have recently changed to Pulsin’s unflavoured Pea and Rice proteins, adding a table spoon of each into my smoothies.

The reasons for my change is that my tastes have changed and I wanted to use a powder that was as plain as I could find, allowing me to be in control of the flavour and the sweetness etc plus being able to use pea and or rice protein allows me to get a good blend of amino acids. Lomax will be creating an unflavoured one soon, so I’ll probably switch back.

ps. Unless you have a discount code have a look on Amazon for the best deals, that’s where I buy all my superfoods and protein if not Lomax.
If you’d like to work with me as your online coach designing a nutrition and training program to suit your body type then email me at [email protected]

Next week I’ll discuss Plant Powered Supplementation.

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