Welcome Green Monsters! We're your online guide to making conscious choices that help people, animals and the planet.
Download food monster: the biggest, baddest, yummiest vegan food app!
Buy the #EatForThePlanet book



5 Soy-Free Vegan Foods That Have More Protein Than Beef


Protein gets a lot of attention, especially in a plant-based diet where the issue of complete and incomplete protein comes into play, along with protein per amount of weight, which is something else to consider. For instance, we don’t need to combine foods as we once thought to form a complete protein (such as beans and rice). That protein myth died years ago, thankfully when we found out our bodies are capable of using all sources of amino acids to form complete proteins.

Not Just Grams…What to Consider When Measuring Protein

It’s also important to consider that amounts in grams aren’t the only thing that matters when measuring protein in a food. You should also consider how much percentage of total calories protein makes up in a food. For instance, beef and animal foods are high in calories and though they contain a good size amount of protein, per amount of calories, beef and animal proteins (even fish) are higher in cholesterol-forming saturated animal fats, where most of their calories come from. Plant-based foods, on the other hand, have fewer calories, a variety of sources of amino acids that form complete proteins in the body, and per weight, their percentage of protein in the number of total calories is relatively high.

Some plant-based foods are higher in protein percentage than others, however, so making sure to include a variety of plant-based foods in your diet is important for achieving the amount of protein your body needs. Beef contains 7 grams of protein per ounce for about 75 calories, so let’s compare some better plant-based options that don’t come with the health risks beef and animal proteins do.

Here are five foods with more protein per ounce than beef that also come with a higher percentage of protein per amount of calories:

1. Spirulina

Soy-Free Foods With More Protein Than Beef

Per ounce, this food is 65 percent protein, the highest amount of protein percentage of all foods. In just 1 teaspoon, you’ll get 4 grams of protein, which is unheard of for all other foods. Spirulina is also a great source of iron, providing 80 percent of your daily needs in just 1 teaspoon, for only a total of 30 calories. You can add this blue green algae to your smoothies to mask the taste, and know you’re getting in a nice dose of B vitamins, protein, iron, and vital trace minerals. Since it’s also alkalizing, spirulina also reduces inflammation, unlike animal foods that contribute to it.


2. Spinach

Soy-Free Foods With More Protein Than Beef

Spinach contains 51 percent protein (about 5 grams per cup for only 30 calories). It’s also a good source of iron and Vitamin C, and offers a delicious taste that is easy to enjoy. This much-loved green is also a great source of folate, an important vitamin for women that contributes to strength, brain function, and reproductive health. Adding a couple cups of spinach to your smoothie, salad, wrap, soup, or any other way, is an easy way to sneak in 10 grams of protein without the need for a powder whatsoever.

3. Hemp Seeds

Soy-Free Foods With More Protein Than Beef

Hemp is one of the best, easy-to-use foods that’s rich in all essential amino acids. Per ounce (about 2 tablespoons)  has 10 grams of protein, is high in fiber, and most of its calories come from beneficial proteins and omega 3 fatty acids, along with some lesser-known beneficial omega 6 fatty acids that actually lower cholesterol. Unlike animal-based proteins and sources of fat, hemp is very alkalizing to the body and also boosts the mood and energy thanks to high amounts of magnesium. It can also increase metabolism due to it containing 45 percent of your daily iron requirements in just one ounce. You can also use hemp protein, another fantastic way to get this whole food into your diet. We enjoy it in smoothies, raw treats, but you can even stir it into oatmeal and bake with it in place of flour if you like.

4. Broccoli

Soy-Free Foods With More Protein Than Beef

Per calorie, broccoli has more protein than beef, which about 4.5 grams per 30 calories. Broccoli is also packed with amino acids, fiber, Vitamin B6 to improve your mood and is one of the best vegetables linked to fighting cancer. Red meat has repeatedly been linked to cancer, so give the florets more attention in your kitchen. Here are 12 Yummy Ways to Use Broccoli that will lead your muscles and heart to thank you over and over again!

5. Almonds, Almond Butter or Peanut Butter


Soy-Free Foods With More Protein Than Beef

Almonds and almond butter both provide 7 grams per protein in one ounce, along with heart-healthy fats and Vitamin E. They’re also a good source of calcium and provide high doses of beneficial magnesium. Peanut butter is another high source of protein, with 8 grams per two tablespoons of peanut butter. While higher in calories than beef per ounce, these nut butters are rich in amino acids per ounce and also recommended as a good source of plant-based protein, even by the USDA.

Combine all these foods into a smoothie for a crazy, high-protein meal that your body will love and one that will shock you in how great it tastes! You’ll never know it contains good-for-you veggies!

The No Beef Plant-Based Protein Smoothie



  • 1 cup spinach
  • 4 frozen broccoli florets (gives it a surprisingly great thick texture and the other ingredients hide the taste)
  • 1/2 cup frozen organic mixed berries or blueberries
  • 1 tablespoon cacao powder (also a great source of protein and more iron than beef)
  • 2-3 tablespoons hemp seeds
  • 1 tablespoon all natural raw almond butter or plain, all natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk like almond milk or water
  • 5 ice cubes
  • sweetener of choice (stevia, 1/2 a banana, a date, a fig, or maple syrup)

Directions: Add all the ingredients to your blender, blend and enjoy!

Don’t Forget…

You can also use other foods high in protein and amino acids such as pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, maca powder, goji berries, and even oats and quinoa or teff. Remember that plant-based foods have everything we need when we eat a variety of them and be sure to get enough during the day.

What’s your favorite source of plant-based protein?

Also see: How to Tell if You’re Getting Enough Protein, 5 Allergen-Free Sources of Protein, and 10 Plant-Based Foods Packed with Protein.

We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!

Lead Image Source: Courtney Boyd Myers/Flickr

Want to read more posts like this? Sign up for our newsletter below!​

Browse through some recent posts below:

Amazon Launches All-Vegan Online Baking Store after ‘Great British Bake off Episode’

5 Homemade Dairy-Free Feta Recipes!

Tofu Feta Cheese

10 Beautiful Bisque Recipes

#WeeklyMealPrep: Butternut Squash, Cranberries, Black Beans and Brussels Sprouts!

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili [Vegan, Gluten Free]

Disclosure: One Green Planet accepts advertising, sponsorship, affiliate links and other forms of compensation, which may or may not influence the advertising content, topics or articles written on this site. Click here for more information.

74 comments on “5 Soy-Free Vegan Foods That Have More Protein Than Beef”

Click to add comment
Marty Shrader
2 Months Ago

Wow, you only need to eat 10 cups of chopped broccoli or 10 cups of spinach or 12 tablespoons of peanut butter a day to get your daily protein needs met.

4 Months Ago

Hi awesome article! I do have a criticism, and that is that measuring volume (i.e. teaspoon, litres etc.) and comparing to weight (grams, ounces etc.) is inaccurate and misleading. To say 1 tsp of spirulina equates to 4 grams of protein just leaves me wondering how many grams could be packed into a 5mL teaspoon. Let\'s have fair and accurate comparisons folks. Thanks for the great article, empirical oversights notwithstanding.

Elizabeth Ortega
9 Months Ago

I love it

Elizabeth Ortega
9 Months Ago

Thanks Olivia ❤️

Olivia Fanaroko
9 Months Ago


Judith Meiklejohn
9 Months Ago

Mackenzie Moor

Michael G. Dunn
9 Months Ago

Rahil Muhammad

Haas Regen
9 Months Ago


Irene Lehner-Adam
9 Months Ago

Magdalena Adam

Samantha Silva
9 Months Ago

Eric Cope take more notes


Subscribe to our Newsletter

Follow us on

Do Not Show This Again


Submit to OneGreenPlanet

Terms & Conditions ×