8 Protein Options For Vegetarians

Updated on September 12, 2016

There are a few differences in the vegetarian and vegan diets, though protein is still very important. So it should hold true that there are some foods that provide vegetarians with protein that a vegan would not eat. Remember vegans eat NO animal products and vegetarians may not eat meat, although some still consume fish and animal products.

Through the years I have had many vegetarian friends. So I have picked up some very simple ways to add protein when preparing dinner for my vegetarian guests. You will no doubt find the information useful if you are new to cooking for a vegetarian.

Seafood such as Lobster is a great way to add protein to any meal.
Seafood such as Lobster is a great way to add protein to any meal.

1. Seafood

Seafood brings an abundance of protein to the table. Here are my favorite four seafood items to prepare:

  • Tuna
  • Lobster
  • Shrimp
  • Cod

The beauty of preparing these for vegetarian friends is they each hold an amazing flavor. They all pair very well with steamed vegetables too. No need to add any animal products when preparing any of these delicious protein-rich seafood options. Some vegetarians also shy away from seafood, some do not. It is always a good idea to check with your vegetarian friends and family before preparing seafood for them.

2. Milk

Milk can come from many sources not just cows. Milk is a great way to add additional protein to a vegan diet, or recipe. Here are a few milk options for added protein:

  • Camel Milk
  • Goat Milk
  • Cow Milk
  • Soy Milk
  • Nut Milk
  • Coconut Milk

The various types of milk are listed with highest protein content first. While camel milk may not be something easy to find in your area, goat milk is the next highest as far as protein content. Coconut milk has very little protein content, coming in at 0.3 grams. So coconut milk will not add a large amount of protein it is a great choice for creating sauces or baking for friends that obstain from all animal products.

Danish Fontina
Danish Fontina

We use danish fontina cheese to create homemade alfredo, and other cheese sauces. It works very well and melts evenly when using it for cooking purposes. It has a great flavor profile and is great as a stand alone snack.


3. Cheese

Cheese is a great source of protein depending on the type of cheese you are serving. Cheese makes a great addition to many recipes, as well as a handy stand alone snack. Here are a few great cheeses for protein:

  • Parmesan
  • Swiss
  • Mozzarella
  • Fontina
  • Low Fat Cheddar
  • Low Fat Monterey

So many cheeses so little time! You can make some mouth-watering recipes and add protein with all these cheeses. A vegetarian pizza is a great way to please guests. Mozzarella is a great choice for vegetarian pizza and contains 28% protein! Fontina is a very creamy cheese that melts smoothly, making it a great choice for cheese sauces and dipping.

4. Eggs

Who doesn't love eggs? Eggs are traditionally a breakfast food, but they make a great companion to dinner as well. Here are a few of my favorite eggs:

  • Guinea
  • Duck
  • Chicken
  • Quail

Guinea eggs have more protein than chicken eggs, making them a great choice for additional protein for your vegetarian pals. Using duck eggs when baking cakes produces a super moist and rich cake. I prefer to do my baking with duck eggs, and my guests always rave about how great my cakes are.

5. Salmon

Salmon is one of my favorite protein sources, and luckily my vegetarian friends do not mind eating it. Choosing a wild caught variety is best. I never purchase farmed salmon. There are many different variety of salmon available. Here are a few to choose from:

  • Chinook
  • Chum
  • Coho
  • Pink
  • Huchen

Depending on your area you may be limited to certain varieties of salmon at your local market. This is a protein option that you may want to ask your vegetarian friends about before serving. Some vegetarians have no issues consuming fish, while others are less likely to enjoy it.

6. Yogurt

Yogurt is not only a great source of protein but also a very versatile ingredient! Here are several different yogurt options:

  • Greek Yogurt
  • Traditional Yogurt
  • Yogurt Powder

Greek yogurt is by far my favorite, and contains a lot of protein. Traditional yogurt contains much less protein than any Greek yogurt on the market. Yogurt powder is traditionally used for making smoothies and can add additional protein with ease.

Using plain Greek yogurt in sauces, or even when baking will add additional protein. I enjoy using Greek yogurt with honey as a filling for my pumpkin rolls. It not only mimics the traditional cream cheese filling. It is lower in calories and adds protein to an otherwise guilt ridden dessert!

7. Cottage Cheese

Cottage cheese can be used in many recipes to add protein. It also pairs well when served alongside fruit or vegetables. Cottage cheese can be used to create a great filling for vegetarian lasagna. Cottage cheese can also be paired with a little honey and some dried nuts and fruit for a delicious protein packed breakfast!

Using a multipurpose whey protein powder will allow you to add protein to many dishes! Just like these pancakes!
Using a multipurpose whey protein powder will allow you to add protein to many dishes! Just like these pancakes!
Quest Nutrition Quest Protein Powder, Unflavored, 25.6 Ounce (Pack of 1)
Quest Nutrition Quest Protein Powder, Unflavored, 25.6 Ounce (Pack of 1)

This is the multipurpose whey powder I use at home. I make pancakes and muffins for my kids. Who would otherwise never have enough protein in their diets. It is easy to use, and does not take any more time to make pancakes with it.


8. Whey Protein Powder

Finally we have Whey Powder. A bi-product from the cheese making process. It is considered to be a complete protein and contains all the essential amino acids. Whey protein powder can be used to create protein pancakes, muffins and many other amazing dishes. I use a multi purpose whey powder in my home. It helps me to make dishes for my picky kids who never seem to want to eat anything with protein. Making protein pancakes with whey powder has helped ease my mind about the lack of protein they want to eat.

Keep in mind when using whey powder for baking that it will take additional moisture to keep your baked goods from coming out dry and rubbery. It is something you will likely have to search for a reputable recipe for. Or do as I do and test recipes until you find one that works for you.


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