Vegan Protein: Why is It not Called a Complete Protein?

HK Vitals

Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

A prevalent notion suggests that vegan protein is not considered a complete protein source owing to the absence of some essential amino acids. Amino acids form the fundamental building blocks of protein, and while some are naturally synthesized by the body, others, the essential nine, must be obtained from the diet.

Individuals following a vegan diet are frequently warned that their protein intake may be incomplete, as not all nine essential amino acids can be sourced from plant-based proteins alone. While it is true that these proteins may individually lack certain amino acids, unlike animal-based proteins, a combination of various plant sources, such as grains, meat substitutes, and seeds, can create a comprehensive profile of essential amino acids in a vegan diet.

3 Top Vegan Proteins

Combining rice with lentils and beans can provide you with enough amino acids. Several combinations of plant foods can provide vegans and vegetarians with all nine essential amino acids needed for proper functioning of the body. Here are some vegan protein sources that you can consider incorporating into your diet.

1. Quinoa

Quinoa is a vegan protein source containing all nine essential amino acids. In addition, it also provides higher levels of zinc, fiber, magnesium, and iron in comparison to other grains. You can substitute rice with quinoa in most rice recipes to derive complete protein from a single source. 185 grams of quinoa provides 8 grams of protein.

2. Amaranth

Amaranth has a nutty taste and does not lose the crunchy texture even when it is cooked. It is one of the best vegan protein sources which provides complete protein i.e., has the nine essential amino acids.  It has become a popular gluten-free alternative to rice. 

Amaranth flour can be used in gluten-free baking recipes. 246 grams of Amaranth provides 9 grams of protein. 246 grams of cooked Amaranth provides over 100% DV of manganese, a mineral essential for brain health.

3. Ezekiel Bread

Ezekiel bread contains sprouted legumes and whole grains along with soybeans, wheat, lentils, spelt, and millet. 2 slices of Ezekiel Bread provide 8 grams of protein. The combination of grains and legumes makes it a complete protein source. 

It is suggested that sprouting of grains and legumes will enhance the amino acid contents in them. If you are engaging in demanding physical activities and have to enhance your protein intake you can consider a vegan sandwich of toasted Ezekiel Bread topped with peanut butter and chia seeds.

The other vegan protein sources you can consider are hemp seeds, chia seeds, peanut butter, rice and beans, spirulina, tofu, tempeh, and edamame.


While there is a concern that plant-based or vegan protein sources do not provide adequate protein, there are several plant protein sources you can consume throughout the day to make up for the requirement. Some of these sources or combination food contain all nine essential amino acids. 

To get the necessary amino acids from a vegan protein diet combine the foods mentioned in this article with your plant-based diet and get the best out of it.


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