6 High-Protein & Low-Carb Vegan Sources

November 18, 2022

Are you vegan or vegetarian? Then you've probably wondered which high-protein vegetables you should include in your diet. This situation becomes even more complicated if you want to lose weight, as you will have to reduce carbohydrates to achieve your ideal weight. How can you follow a low-carb diet if you do not eat any meat or fish?

We have prepared a list of vegetables rich in protein and low in carbs that you can include in your diet and, thus, take care of your health and lose weight at the same time. 

Vegetable Proteins

When we speak of protein, we refer to the #1 nutrient of meat, fish, and other animal foods. These foods are the most commonly known sources of complete and beneficial proteins for the body. But what happens if you follow a vegan or vegetarian diet?

Proteins don't only exist in foods of animal origin, but also in highly-nutritious vegetables and legumes ideal for protein-rich vegetarian diets. If your goal is to lose weight and reduce the intake of carbs, do not despair: it is still possible to lower your carbs while being a vegan.  

While animal proteins are complete, and contain all nine essential amino acids, vegetable proteins are considered incomplete as they lack some essential amino acids. For example, legumes provide us with lysine, but they hardly contain any methionine.

Complete Protein Vegetable Foods

The only vegetable foods rich in complete proteins are soybean and quinoa, and you must include them in your diet if you want to reduce or eliminate foods of animal origin. 


Soybean is a protein powerhouse containing all nine essential amino acids, and it provides the same amount of protein as some meats and fish.


This seed is also packed with proteins (all nine essential amino acids) but it is also rich in carbs, so it's not suitable for a weight loss diet. However, quinoa is worth mentioning as it is a brilliant source of complete vegetable protein, and can still be consumed in amounts still beneficial to weight loss.

High-Protein Vegetable Foods Low in Carbs

If you're aiming for rapid weight loss, one of the main tricks is to reduce carbohydrate intake for a month. You don't have to eliminate them, but reduce them as much as you can so that your body turns to saturated fat reserves for fuel, instead of carbohydrate energy.

This diet change can be somewhat complicated for vegans and vegetarians, however. You should know that there are plenty of protein-rich and low-carb vegetables that could replace animal protein and help you build muscle mass just as if you were eating meat. 

  • Soybeans are one of the highest protein and low-carb legumes. Soy is an irreplaceable vegetable protein in vegan or vegetarian diets. As we have already mentioned, soybean is a food that provides the body with complete and high-quality protein. Soy can be found in different formats (tofu, texturized, soy meat.) Whatever form of soy you choose, it is a perfect replacement for meat. 

  • Lupini beans are also a perfect option to include in your low-carb diet. These beans are one of the most potent vegetable foods, providing more than 36 grams of protein per 100 grams of beans. 

  • Pumpkin seeds are another great source of vegetable protein to include in a vegan/vegetarian low-carb diet. Their protein contribution is quite noticeable as for every 100 grams of pumpkin seeds, we get over 30 grams of protein. In addition, they are a good source of fatty acids, antioxidants, and essential vitamins for the organism. 

  • Peanuts are one of the foods richest in protein, and we must highlight their importance. Although they contain "nut" in the name, peanuts are actually a legume. Peanuts provide us with good fats (unsaturated), as well as vegetable proteins and minerals such as potassium and zinc. You can eat them raw, without added salts, or in organic peanut butter (sugar-free).

  • Lentils are essential in weight loss diets as they are low in calories, and low in carbs, but boast 23 grams of protein per 100 grams. Keep in mind that legumes are half protein and half carbohydrate, so the most important thing to know is which ingredients give us a better balance. 

  • Seitan is one of the best-known meat substitutes. It is a food made from wheat gluten, so people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance should not consume it. Rich in vegetable proteins, seitan has 24 grams of protein per 100 grams. It has few carbs and fats, so it is a perfect ally for weight loss.

Protein Options for Vegetarians

If you are a vegetarian and not vegan, you can consume proteins of animal origin, such as

  • Eggs

  • Skimmed yogurts

  • Fresh or low-fat cheese

All these options are rich in high-quality proteins and low in fat, so you can add them to your diet and enjoy a healthy and light menu.

Final Word

Soybeans and quinoa are the only vegetable sources of all nine essential amino acids, which means they contain complete proteins. 

The best high-protein and low-carb legumes are soybeans, lupini beans, lentils, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and seitan. These are perfect for vegan individuals trying to cut carbs and lose weight. 

In addition to these vegetable protein foods, vegetarians can also add fresh cheese, eggs, and skim yogurt.