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Best High Protein Foods for Vegetarians and Vegans

Updated on July 19, 2015
Protein rich foods for vegetarians include dairy, legumes, nuts, seeds and other plant foods. Provides a variety of protein rich foods and includes grams per serving.
Protein rich foods for vegetarians include dairy, legumes, nuts, seeds and other plant foods. Provides a variety of protein rich foods and includes grams per serving. | Source

Protein: Essential Nutrient

Protein is an essential nutrient in the human diet. This means the body needs to consume protein as it can not create it itself. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) advises us to consume anywhere between 10% - 35% protein in our daily diet. Although we need protein to help support muscle development, a diet of increased protein will not produce muscle mass.

Do certain people need more protein? Yes.

  • Women that are pregnant or breastfeeding need more protein in their diet. The increased protein in a woman's diet supports lactation and fetal growth.
  • Athletes can also benefit from increasing their protein intake. The added protein may help promote muscle recovery after athletic events.

Beef and dairy are a common source of protein. What do you do if you are a vegetarian or vegan?

  • Vegetarian: Meat is obviously withheld in a vegetarian diet. Some vegetarians may or may not include eggs, dairy or fish in their daily meals.
  • Vegan: Vegans do not eat any animal products. Vegans attain their dietary needs through the consumption of legumes, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

Although meat and dairy provide the highest level of protein, there are alternatives for those that choose to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. Although dairy, eggs and fish are considered optional for some vegetarians, I have provided them in the information below. Vegans may want to jump to the legumes section (below eggs, dairy and fish).

Eggs are a great source of protein.
Eggs are a great source of protein. | Source

Protein Sources: Eggs

One large egg (about 50 grams) provides 6 grams of protein. Eggs are versatile and can be prepared in a variety of ways. A veggie omelet will boost up the nutrition level and can provide you with an additional tasty source of protein. Consider a mushroom and spinach omelet for an extra boost of colorful flavor and protein.

Milk and other dairy products are an additional source of protein.
Milk and other dairy products are an additional source of protein. | Source

Protein Sources: Dairy

Yogurt

One cup (8 ounces) of plain low fat yogurt provides you with approximately 13 grams of protein. Don't forget, the dairy in yogurt is a great source for calcium - about 45% calcium.

Cottage Cheese

One cup (8 ounces) of plain low fat cottage cheese provides you with approximately 27 grams of protein. Add a variety of seeds for an additional punch of protein.

Milk

One cup (8 ounces) of whole milk has about 8 grams of protein.

Salmon is a great choice for Pesceterians

Three ounces of Atlantic Salmon will provide you with about 19 grams of protein.
Three ounces of Atlantic Salmon will provide you with about 19 grams of protein. | Source

Protein Sources: Fish

Fish

Three ounces of Atlantic Salmon has approximately 19 grams of protein.

Shellfish

100 grams of bay and sea scallops will provide you with approximately 23 grams of protein.

Legumes provide a nice variety of flavors when seeking a protein source.
Legumes provide a nice variety of flavors when seeking a protein source. | Source
Sprouts grow from protein rich legumes and are a great topping for salads, wraps and sandwiches.
Sprouts grow from protein rich legumes and are a great topping for salads, wraps and sandwiches. | Source

Protein Sources: Legumes, Hummus and Sprouts

Legumes

Legumes include a variety of beans as well as peas. Beans are an excellent source of fiber, B vitamins, iron and calcium. Legumes that are a great protein source include:

  • peas
  • lentils
  • kidney beans
  • garbanzo beans
  • soy beans
  • navy beans
  • black beans
  • chickpeas

Hummus

Hummus is a paste made from chickpeas. One cup of homemade humus contains 12 g of protein.

Sprouts

Sprouts are grown from legumes and are a decent source of protein.

  • Alfalfa sprouts: 1 cup has 1 gram of protein.
  • Mung sprouts: 1 cup has 2 grams of protein.
  • Lentil sprouts: 1 cup has 7 grams of protein.
  • Kidney sprouts: 1 cup has 8 grams of protein.

A 3.5 ounce serving of edamame will provide you with 11 grams of protein.
A 3.5 ounce serving of edamame will provide you with 11 grams of protein. | Source

Protein Source: Soy and Edamame

One cup of dry roasted soy nuts has 68 grams of protein.

One cup of soybean, curd cheese has 28 grams of protein.

Edamame

A 3.5 ounce serving of edamame provides 11 grams of protein.

Protein Source: Tofu

Tofu is made with bean curd and soy. Tofu is versatile and can be prepared in a variety of ways.

  • 3 ounces of tofu contains 9 grams of protein.

Tomatoes and broccoli are sources of protein.
Tomatoes and broccoli are sources of protein. | Source

Protein Source: Vegetables

Dried Tomatoes

A 1/4 cup serving of sun-dried tomatoes provides 2 grams protein.

Mushrooms

A 1/2 cup of cooked mushrooms has 2 grams protein.

Spinach

A 1/2 cup of cooked spinach contains 3 grams of protein.

Broccoli

A 1/2 cup of broccoli provides you with 2 grams of protein.

Brussels Sprouts

A 1/2 cup of brussels sprouts provides you with 2 grams of protein.

Corn

A 1/2 cup of sweet yellow corn will give you 3 grams of protein.

Artichokes

A medium artichoke contains 4 grams of protein.

A variety of nuts are a rich source of protein. Enjoy them in your salads, granola or as a simple snack.
A variety of nuts are a rich source of protein. Enjoy them in your salads, granola or as a simple snack. | Source

Protein Source: Nuts, Spreads and Seeds

Protein: Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are an amazing source of protein. They are great as a snack or as a salad topper. You can even add them to your oatmeal, granola or smoothies. Although nuts and seeds can be high in fat they are not usually the dangerous heart clogging animal fats found in beef.


Butters and Spreads

  • 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter provides you with 8 grams of protein.
  • 2 Tablespoons of Nutella┬« contains 3 grams of protein.

Measurements and protein grams for nuts and seeds

Food Item
Measurement
Protein Grams
Flax seeds
1 Tablespoon
4 grams
Hemp seeds
1 Tablespoon
6 grams
Pumpkin seeds
1 oz.
3 grams
Sunflower seeds
1 oz.
3 grams
Almonds
1 oz.
3 grams
Cashews
1 oz.
2 grams
Peanuts
1 oz.
3 grams
Pine Nuts
1 oz.
2 grams
Pistachios
1 oz.
3 grams
Walnuts
1 oz.
3 grams
Hemp seeds are a great source of protein.
Hemp seeds are a great source of protein. | Source

Meal Choices

The beauty of the foods listed above is that they can be combined and used in multiple protein rich recipes. Soups, salads, sandwiches and wraps can become wonderful sources of protein. Get creative and stay healthy.

┬ę 2012 Marisa Hammond Olivares

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    • Sparkle Chi profile image

      Cate 4 years ago from Chandler, AZ

      Fantastic information! I am always looking for good information about protein sources that are not meat and dairy, and you have done a great job collecting this information!

    • ChaplinSpeaks profile image

      Sarah Johnson 4 years ago from Charleston, South Carolina

      So happy to hear that Nutella is a protein source! I really like this hub - the information, layout, chart and pictures. I learned some new facts about some foods, especially the different vegetables. Thanks for sharing a very useful hub.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Love your measurement chart as I think this will help to keep track of the amount and keep the calories down. All great food suggestions and this will help those who live this life style. We try to have at least one day when we do not eat any meat. Your protein suggestions will be implemented well here. Thanks for sharing.

    • DonnaCosmato profile image

      Donna Cosmato 4 years ago from USA

      Awesome hub! I'm always looking for new and tasty ways to get more protein into my little guy's diet. He's autistic and will not eat any meat except fish, so mealtimes are a hassle. I see lots of new options to try, and your chart is an unbelievable asset for a quick reference. Voted up and shared.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      This is excellent information for me, as I am moving quickly toward being a vegetarian. Your information will be very helpful Thanks.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Oh you mention so many things I love - homemade hummus, yum! I didn't realize so much protein is in that...I puree a can od chickapeas and add any spice or roasted red pepper - love it!

      And all this time - I didn't realize the diff between a vegan and a vegetarian...!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      I'm always looking for new sources of protein as I have a hard time with red meat. This is very useful information. Thank you MissOlive! Voted up and more! :)

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      Sparkle Chi, Your comment brings me great joy. Thank you very much.

      ChaplinSpeaks, three cheers for Nutella! Although it does not have a very high protein content it is nice to know it is still in there. Thank you for stopping by to read and comment. I greatly appreciate it.

      teaches12345, I'm glad you liked the chart. I'm considering creating a chart for all the foods listed but I don't want to break up the layout. Perhaps I'll add another one at the end of the hub. I'm thrilled you came by. A no meat day is a wonderful idea!

      DonnaCosmato, my little guy has autism too! He LOVES meat though - too much actually. I'm working on expanding his food choices. Best wishes on finding foods your son likes. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

      Pamela99, I've tried being a vegetarian a few times but it is not an easy task with my meat loving son and husband. My daughter is a veggie lover and she is home for the summer. It will be much easier with her. Cheers to you for healthy choices! I'm glad this info has helped.

      RealHousewife, Hi Kelly, homemade hummus with red pepper sounds great! yes, hummus definitely has lots of protein. I am so happy to see you! Thanks for visiting :)

      TToombs08, I'm pleased to have researched this topic and to have provided the info. Thank you so much for your warm comment and votes.

    • jpcmc profile image

      JP Carlos 4 years ago from Quezon CIty, Phlippines

      I'm a huge fan of bean sprouts and nuts. I can eat them all day.

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      jpcmc, I have to agree. I love them in my salads. Thank you for stopping by. :)

    • Kalmiya profile image

      Kalmiya 4 years ago from North America

      Thanks for the info on protein in non-meat sources. I'm always searching for these. My current favourite is nut butters, especially almond butter although it's expensive.

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      Kalmiya, various butters are awesome for protein and various nutrients. I have to admit I worry a bit about the sugar and calorie content. Plus, they make me crave bread. Almond butter does sound great though - too bad it is a bit pricey. Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • mwilliams66 profile image

      mwilliams66 4 years ago from Left Coast, USA

      Awesome hub. My son (now in college) is a vegetarian and has been since he was 5. I am very thankful now that he is on his own that there are the brands of meat alternatives that exist today. I do struggle to try to get him to take the time to eat a more well rounded diet and I think that your suggestions will be an immense help. I find the portion size chart to be particularly helpful.

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      mwilliams66, this makes me feel great. I'm glad I provided info for you that you can use.

      ssiddhanta, thank you so very much.

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      This is a great resource Miss O., not just for vegetarians but those looking to increase their protein intake. I've always worried about my niece who has been vegetarian for maybe 10 years now. Her son, who is now 7, also eats vegetarian. And I worried they didn't get enough protein. But, I've learned over the years they are fine and healthy. I'll pass this great resource on . . .

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 4 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      very detailed and useful hub... I believe nowadays with new health complications each day... some of us are prescribed to go on a no-meat diet.

      Such people can strictly adhere to what you have for us here and still maintain a healthy life style... without feeling weak

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      An excellent and helpful hub for me missolive as I am a vegetarian and

      looking for more ways to get protein. You have given so much information including a chart well detailed. Voted up, useful, awesome and interesting.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Marisa, this hub should be rated as one of the best both in content and visual appeal. I don't think one needs to look further for info on this topic.

      Voted up and all the way across. Shared on FB, hubpages and pinned.

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Beautiful hub! I have a niece who's a vegetarian so I want to share this with her!

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      I am supposed to eat more fruits and veggies, plus higher protein. So this is good info for me. Thanks!

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      Thanks everyone! Protein is an important part of our diet and it is great to know we have options when we are steering clear of red meat. A vegetarian lifestyle is becoming more commonplace as we try to keep ourselves healthy. Fast food sure messed up several generations. Take care of yourselves and thank you for stopping by to read, comment and share. To your health! Cheers!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

      I found this information on high protein foods for vegetarians to be so useful and interesting. As we try to cut back on red meat, it is necessary to include protein in other foods. I was surprised at the protein found in some sources like sun dried tomatoes and artichokes. As always, I enjoyed your beautifully designed and well researched hub!

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      Hi Stephanie, thank you so much. I was pleasantly surprised to find decent protein sources in various fruits and vegetables. I'm glad we have options. I appreciate your lovely comment and compliment. Thanks a million.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 4 years ago from Western NC

      I'm not a strict vegetarian, but I eat mostly no meat. This is a great hub - I'm glad I stumbled upon it. I love edamame and tofu and nuts and beans and rice...I could be a regular herbivore! I had to pin this because I think a lot of people will be interested. :)

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 4 years ago from Pune, India

      Well researched, well written Hub, thank you for sharing the information.

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      cclitgirl, thank you Cyndi! I try to avoid meat. I'm not a vegetarian though. Fruits, grains and vegetables are incredibly tasty and healthy - we really don't need it. I too enjoy all the foods you listed. YUM! Thanks for reading, commenting and pinning.

      jainismus, thanks for the great comment - I appreciate it.

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Awesome info! Great ways to get more protein besides meat. Attractive hub, too. Nice photos!

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      Victoria Lynn, glad you liked it. It is always nice to know what the sources and alternatives are. Thanks for reading.

    • Somesh Dutt profile image

      Somesh Dutt 4 years ago from India

      Fantastic info provided in brief. Loved your hub. Please keep writing such beautiful hubs.

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      Somesh Dutt, I'm glad you liked it...I'll do my best to keep trying. Thank you for your great comment.

    • profile image

      kelleyward 4 years ago

      Fantastic hub MissOlive. I'm linking this to my hub about high protein breakfast ideas. Voted up and shared! Kelley

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      kelleyward, thank you so much. I'll have to do the same...so glad to share with you. Thanks for the votes too.

    • Don Bobbitt profile image

      Don Bobbitt 4 years ago from Ruskin Florida

      Missolive- Like all of your other Hubs, this one is well written, beautifully structured and very informative.

      Voted UP and Useful.

      DON

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      Hi Don, glad to see you found my hub and enjoyed it. I appreciate your lovely comment and support. MO

    • LauraD093 profile image

      Laura Tykarski 4 years ago from Pittsburgh PA

      Thanks for the information -great hub.

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      LauraD093, Glad you found it informative, thank you for reading and commenting.

    • vibesites profile image

      vibesites 4 years ago from United States

      I'm not a vegetarian or a vegan but I'm slowly veering towards that stage, I hope I would be successful at this. I try to get as much non-animal protein as possible, thanks for your hub I now know more other sources of protein. Up and useful.

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

      vibesites, I am glad to hear this info will be useful to your goal of maintaining a non-animal protein diet. I try to live a vegetarian diet and this list does comes in handy when I'm 'behaving'. Thank you for stopping by to read, vote and comment, it is very much appreciated.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      Very useful! I knew about soy beans and legumes being good sources of protein, but I wouldn't have guessed brussels sprouts and broccoli have so much!

    • Kathryn Stratford profile image

      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      This is an excellent list of protein sources. Thanks for sharing this with us! Even though I'm not a vegetarian, I like to get my share of protein without consuming too much animal protein.

    • donnah75 profile image

      Donna Hilbrandt 4 years ago from Upstate New York

      I have been eating a veggie diet for almost 5 months now. My family is going through the questioning phase, which of course includes "how will you get enough protein?" The reality is that most American meat eaters get too much protein. Your ideas here about including a variety of plant proteins supports that if we eat a well rounded veggie diet, then we will get the protein we need. This is an important health message. Thanks for sharing it. Voted up and useful.

    • 4wardthinker profile image

      4wardthinker 4 years ago from Sierra Nevada CA

      Nice hub. I am always looking for ways to get more protein since I don't eat much meat. Greek yogurt is my new favorite esp. Fage`brand. I think it has about 27 grams of protein.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      Good morning I have bookmarked this article as it is filled with much information that I was seeking. And you saved me all of the work of having to look and look for it.

      I was a vegetarian for 20 years and am pretty much now actually. I prepare non vegetarian dishes for those who are not vegetarians and I still eat some of the dishes.

      However veggies are preferred. Knowing the protein sources from veggies is especially helpful

      Well done

      Angels are on the way :) ps

    • profile image

      The Chewy Mommy 4 years ago

      This was a great article and thank you for providing measurements. I had no idea sprouts and some vegetables had as much protein as they do!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      Excellently written and very useful. This will be helpful to those needing the information.

    • TurtleDog profile image

      TurtleDog 4 years ago

      Wow, no idea edumame was so rich in protien. Nice job. Caught this post on Twitter and it brought me back to my favorite spot ... Hubpages lol

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 3 years ago from Texas

      Natashalh, I'm thrilled to know I added new info for you. It is great to know we can get protein from other sources. Thank you for reading and commenting.

      Kathryn Stratford, thank you, glad to share. I'm not a vegetarian either, but my daughter tries to lead a primarily vegetarian lifestyle. It is good to know where else to find protein.

      donmah75, good for you! I know exactly what you are talking about, I managed a vegetarian diet for 9 months and my family hounded me with questions...and temptations! lol Glad I could supply useful information for you. By the way, be sure you are getting B12 through supplements, there aren't any plant sources of B12.

      4wardthinker, yes, Greek yogurt is an exceptional source of protein. Thank you very much for reading and commenting.

      pstraubie48, thank you very much for bookmarking my hub, I'm glad it has proved to be a great resource for you. I'm in awe of you being a vegetarian for 20 yrs. Angels! Yay!

      The Chewy Mommy, I'm thrilled you liked it, glad you found some new sources of protein to consider in your daily diet.

      teaches12345, thank you for your lovely comment and support! It is always a pleasure.

      TurtleDog, edamame is one of daughter's fav snacks, they really are a great source of protein. I am beyond thrilled to know you spotted this on twitter, too cool! Thank you for reading and commenting.

    • michaelnolan profile image

      Michael Nolan 2 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Vegetarians do not eat fish. Pescetarians do, but vegetarianism does not include the consumption of flesh include fish.

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 22 months ago from USA

      Came back for another read as we are expecting a visit from our vegan grandson in a couple of weeks. I always need a little help when planning vegan menus while he is here! As always, found your hub super informative and well done!

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 22 months ago from Texas

      Hi Stephanie, it is a pleasure to see you here. Just remember vegans do not eat any animal products. This includes dairy and eggs. I bet he would enjoy a nice variety of bean salads. Beans, nuts and grains are the way to go.

      I'm very glad to see you have stopped by to read my hub again. Enjoy your visit with the family.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 22 months ago from Oakley, CA

      Thank you for this article supporting vegetarian and vegan dietary choices. I get SO weary of people asking the question, "But where do you get your protein?" Grr... there is protein in just about all foods, in varying degrees, so vegetarians are not depriving themselves.

      Voted up, interesting and useful. Also shared.

    • missolive profile image
      Author

      Marisa Hammond Olivares 22 months ago from Texas

      DzyMsLizzy, thank you! There are plenty of nutrients in natural foods and people tend to forget the goodness available. I'm not a disciplined vegetarian and I'm certainly not a vegan but I do try to lead that lifestyle as much as possible. I did stick to vegetarianism for quite a long stretch and yes, I too was constantly drilled with the question, "where do you get your protein". There is plenty of non animal protein for us to choose from and I always feel so much better when I stay away from beef. And when I stay away from packaged and canned food for that matter. :)

      I'm thrilled to see you stopped by to read and comment. Thank you for the votes and shares too.

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