5 Protein Tips for Vegan Muscles!

Dear Davey,

I’ve been trying to build muscle and I take protein shakes right after I workout, but I don’t see much of a difference. I’ve been a vegan for almost 7 years now, so I don’t get much protein.

What are some things me and your other vegan followers can eat (excluding eggs, fish, and other animals) so we can get more protein in our bodies?


Dear Davis,

Most Americans get more than enough protein in their diets. But for weightlifters and exercise enthusiasts, the daily requirements for protein are much higher – and thus much harder to fulfill. While most adults require only 40 – 75 grams of protein, I require 140 grams. It’s no small feat.

Getting the required amount of protein is even more difficult for vegan exercisers, as vegans eat neither animals nor animal byproducts. Meat is an easy, high-quality source of protein, and even whey protein (the highest quality protein available) is derived from dairy. For vegans, meat, dairy and whey are out of the question.

So how can exercise enthusiasts balance protein needs with a vegan diet? I asked Noel, a vegan fitness model living in NYC (pictured above). He’s so passionate about vegan fitness, he even created a YouTube channel about it. Here are his recommendations:

  1. Eat lots of nuts. 1/4 a cup of nuts can have upwards of 8 to 9 grams of decent quality protein. Noel recommends soaking the nuts, as it makes digestion and vitamin absorption easier. It’s important to opt for unsalted varieties.
  2. Get to know quinoa. 100 grams of quinoa contains some 14 grams of high-quality protein. In fact, the protein in quinoa has a higher BV rating than either beef or chicken. Though quinoa is a seed, it can be used in a variety of dishes. Here are a bunch of quinoa recipes.
  3. Stock up on oatmeal. Though you might not realize it, a cup of oatmeal has 6 grams of relatively high quality protein. The quality of the protein, though less than beef or chicken, is slightly better than fish. It’s a great way to start the day!
  4. Spread the hummus. A half cup of commercial hummus has 10 grams of protein, and it makes a great addition to a sandwich – or a condiment for fresh veggies.
  5. Almond and peanut butter. As nuts are a good source of vegan protein, it only makes sense that almond and peanut butter are also wise choices and great additions for smoothies and snacks. Typically, a serving of nut butter will have 6 – 8 grams of protein.

To Noel’s list, I’d like to add tofu – which is packed with a whopping 40 grams of protein per cup. Soybeans, soy milk and pure soy protein are also a great addition – though there has been some speculation that excess soy consumption may have negative side effects. Nonetheless, soy protein is high in quality. Lentils, tempeh, beans, brown rice and even tahini are also good and protein-rich vegan options.

For vegans, it’s especially tough to get the recommended quantities of protein to support muscular maintenance and growth – but with a little planning, it’s not only possible… but delicious!


About Davey Wavey

Davey Wavey is a certified personal trainer and YouTube sensation with more than 250 million video views. For Davey's fitness tips and secrets, sign up for his free monthly newsletter - or download any of his affordable and effective workout programs.


  1. Er, watch the fat content on those recommendations.

    Please don’t give out advice like this without putting a warning on the fat content, I’m sure this vegan boy does not want to add a slither off muscle on and an excess of fat onto his what I imagine a trim body.

    Supplements are the best way forward, many times a day (x2-3) if you want to pack on the muscle without the fat, pick a vegan non-carb option and run with it.

    • actually, for body building and weight lifting, it’s important to eat fats as they contribute to muscle growth.

      also, healthy fats found in vegetables are quite different from animal fats and are actually much more beneficial.

      please know what you’re talking about in the future.

    • i agree.

      tofu is sketchy, so stick with tempeh.

      most of all, try to eat whole foods. dont go for the frozen dinners or the premade meals.

      stick to whole fruits and veggies. you can definitely cook them yourself and make vegan pot roast and things like that, just dont buy anything premade.

      it’s healthier to cook your own food.

      if you don’t have time during the week, make a few dishes on a sunday and freeze them for dinner later.

    • I absolutely agree, Nuts are awesome but they are really high in fat. Moderation is a must for Hummus; an appropriate serving of Hummus is way smaller than one would imagine.

    • you’re a silly duck.
      you need natural fats in your body. smh @ the technical dietary nazis.
      good article.

  2. Patrick G. says:

    Hi Davey,

    You hit this dead on. I have been a vegetarian for almost 7 years and in order for me to gain muscle mass I eat a wide variety of protien. Most of the sources you mentioned above I consume. I also find that drinking a protien shake before and after the workout helps. I need about 170 grams of protien a day to gain. Quite a lot but when I do reach that number for at least a week I notice a huge difference in energy and muscle gain.

    Thank you for posting about this!



  3. Protein is just a catch-all term used to describe strands of amino acids. But just because something has protein doesn’t mean that it has all the amino acids you need. Eat edamame–it has all of ’em. ;p

  4. Hemp seeds are a good source of complete proteins as well. They do have a high fat content, but you don’t need much seeds to get what you need for protein. You can put them in anything. Don’t know if they are available in the states, but they are in Canada in most health food/organic food stores.

    • What’s the difference between hemp seeds and Hemp protein powder? I bought Hemp protein powder because it has more protein than the plain seeds, but i don’t know what’s makes the difference between both products…. Another thing I love and use, is Spirulin tablets, an incredible healthy source of complete protein that boosts the immune system and some studies reveal it might help fighting cancer ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. If you’re going to insist that this much protein is necessary, while nuts and quinoa are great protein sources, hummus would be far from recommended. I’m not sure where you’re getting the 10g of protein value, but most brands list a cup having 12g of protein. One must also watch the fat contents of commercial hummus’.
    Also, if you’re going to recommend soy, stick to fermented soy (miso, tempeh, soy sauce). Unfermented soy is high in phytic acid, which binds to calcium/iron/zinc, all importance nutrients in the body for athletic preformance, and drastically reduces their uptake. Unfermented soy includes soymilk, tofu, fake meats, etc. Vegetarians/vegans are recommended to get 1.8x the amount of daily recommended iron because they are not consuming heme iron. Advising unfermented soy only increases chances for anemia. If you’re going to eat unfermented soy, make sure to eat Vitamin C at the same time, to help increase the absorption of iron.
    Try out tempeh and other bean sources. While being high in iron, they offer a great source of protein for pretty low calorie amounts.
    If you’re going to supplement, look for a rice/pea protein supplement. They’re the least controversial. I have nothing against hemp protein but hemp seeds are much more healthful than their protein powder equivalents (not to mention they are much more expensive).

    • Anthony Mcaulay says:

      Vegans need more iron that meat-eaters? That’s bullshit. The body does not make iron (human or animal). Iron from meat is second-hand, lower quality. Where do you think the animals get their iron from? Go to the source – green leafy vegetables.
      No one’s mentioned chlorella, spirulina and carob powder (80% protein). Luckily, someone did mention pea powder(82% protein), obtainable from good organic stores. So make some banana smoothies and throw in some chlorella and/or spirulina and/or pea powder and/or carob powder.
      Btw, these guys are right in cautioning against over-consuming nuts (and avocados). Just because it’s good fat doesn’t mean it’s ok to go over the 10% of daily caloric requirement from fats/oils. Nuts have between 75-90% fat content, depending on the nut (coconut being the highest).

  6. i actually bought some hemp oil that i sprinkle onto anything i sautee or steam.

    never boil because the nutrients leak out into the water and are LOOOOSTT FOREEEEVEEEER


    *oh nooooo*

    • Watch out for cooking with hemp oil. Oils that are primarily omega 3’s break down into harmful, potentially carcinogenic, compounds. Hemp oils are good for making dips and non-cooked varieties. Tryout coconut oil; it doesn’t really have a coconut taste and has a high smoke point so its fatty acid profile won’t oxidize.

      • thanks for the tip. the bottle says “not a cooking oil” so i usually just put it on the dish after it’s cooked but sometimes before.

        i’ll make sure to add it after i’m done cooking from now on ๐Ÿ™‚

        although i can’t say that i’m worried considering all the weed i smoked XD

        it took me a while, but i finally trained myself to control the munchies and portion sizes when i get high.

        when i first started smoking, i was really healthy and then i got the munchies and started eating a ton of fast food and gained a bunch of weight. it was terrible. thank god i have self control now.

        watch out for those munchies y’all!!!

        if you smoke, make sure you have the ingredients to cook a healthy meal and EAT SLOOOOOOW.

  7. Make your own hummus, it’s super easy and very healthful. Try eating it with vegetables rather than pita bread, it’s super yummy with cucumbers or bell peppers (I love the red ones).

    Also should note that military members are banned from using products containing hemp (due to hemp products giving false positive results on pee tests for opiates, if I remember correctly)

  8. christopher says:

    these five suggestions are good for some.i know a vegan-retired from a very large brewery in Colorado.as long as she worked there-shes now retired early.all through her work history there-and her active outdoor lifestyle-she was plagued by injury after repeated injury.you name it.broken bones-legs-hip-shoulder-joints-etc etc.why-she chose this vegetarian lifestyle.a little meat for protein wont kill you-in moderation.im convinced her vegan lifestyle made her accident and injury prone-big time.i read countless tales of her problems.they couldve all been avoided-eat some meat.moderation and balance-is the key.she wouldve been better off.

    • doc Taylor says:

      Couldn’t agree LESS Chris. At 52 I lift HARD, run hard, play hard. I’m still boxing with kids half my age and usually kicking their ass. I’ve been a vegan for over 30 years, and all of the meat eating athletes I’ve worked out with over the years have dropped away due to injury, loss of stamina, etc. I suspect your friend was a “junk food” vegan, eating mostly soy based meat substitutes. Studies have shown vegan suffer from LESS osteoporosis than meat eaters or vegetarians, and my experience says we have decreased injuries all around. And “eating a little meat once in awhile” may not kill YOU, but it sure as hell killed the animal whose flesh you’re consuming.

  9. Check out Branden Brasier, vegan iron-man triathelete: http://www.brendanbrazier.com/

    And Robert Cheeke

    The body responds very differently to these diets, for example many believe that the nutrition is easily assimilated by the body and so the caloric needs to digest the food go down. This throws off a lot of the standard “you need this many grams of protein” formulas. Too much protein, even for body builders, will only lead to serious problems in the long run. Read up on what the people who are living the lifestyle do and experiment and find what works for your body.

  10. Jose Fenandez says:

    Great post and tips, i must say he has a great fit body. I enjoy his workout videos very different and unique.

  11. Talking about seeds, pumpkin seeds are a good one.

    As well as protein and fibre etc etc, theyre also supposed to be good for you downstairs ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Nathaniel says:

    Dear Davis you are beautiful. although i fail to understand why you need more protein because it looks to me like you are already very healthy.

  13. Really? You look like that from not eating meat?! Wow. I don’t think I can ever give the meat up, I eat chicken if it was going out of style.

  14. Dominique says:

    Thanks for the great tips. Will work on taking them on. Not sure if it’s just me but I don’t like hummus. Lol so I’ll have just continue the nut butters.

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  1. […] 5 Protein Tips for Vegan Muscles! | Davey Wavey Fitness โ€“ What are some things me and your other vegan followers can eat (excluding eggs, fish, … and even whey protein (the highest quality protein available) is derived from dairy. For vegans, meat, dairy and whey are out of the question. … As nuts are a good source of vegan protein, … […]