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High-Protein Foods for Vegetarians, Pescetarians, and Vegans

I have a diverse set of interests and I especially love researching healthy foods.

Protein-rich foods for vegetarians include dairy, legumes, nuts, seeds, and other plant foods. Learn more about a variety of protein-rich foods and their grams of protein per serving, plus suggestions for pescetarians, too.

Protein-rich foods for vegetarians include dairy, legumes, nuts, seeds, and other plant foods. Learn more about a variety of protein-rich foods and their grams of protein per serving, plus suggestions for pescetarians, too.

Protein Is an 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% to 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.

Common Questions About Protein

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 (for pescetarians) 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 and pescetarians, I have provided them in the information below. Vegans may want to jump to the legumes section (below eggs, dairy, and fish).

Non-Meat Protein Sources

  • Eggs
  • Dairy
  • Fish
  • Legumes, Hummus, and Sprouts
  • Soy, Edamame, and Tofu
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts, Seeds, and Spreads
Eggs are a great source of protein.

Eggs are a great source of protein.

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.

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

Salmon is a great choice for pescetarians. Three ounces of Atlantic Salmon will provide you with about 19 grams of protein.

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.

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.

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.

Soy, Edamame, and Tofu

  • Soy Nuts: One cup of dry roasted soy nuts has 68 grams of protein.
  • Soybean Cheese: One cup of soybean, curd cheese has 28 grams of protein.
  • Edamame: A 3.5-ounce serving of edamame provides 11 grams of protein.
  • 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.

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.

Nuts, Seeds, and Spreads

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.

Grams of Protein in Nuts and Seeds

Food ItemMeasurementProtein 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.

Nut Butters and Spreads

  • Peanut Butter: 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter provides you with 8 grams of protein.
  • Nutella: 2 Tablespoons of Nutella® contains 3 grams of protein.

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.

© 2012 Marisa Hammond Olivares

Comments

Roberta on November 10, 2019:

Dr.said I had high cholesterol so I’m cutting back on animal protein and trying to include more vegetables in my diet.

Marisa Hammond Olivares (author) from Texas on July 20, 2015:

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.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on July 19, 2015:

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.

Marisa Hammond Olivares (author) from Texas on July 19, 2015:

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.

Stephanie Henkel from USA on July 19, 2015:

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!

Michael Nolan from Atlanta, Georgia on December 12, 2014:

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

Marisa Hammond Olivares (author) from Texas on June 12, 2013:

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.

TurtleDog on May 20, 2013:

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

Dianna Mendez on May 12, 2013:

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

The Chewy Mommy on May 11, 2013:

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!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on May 11, 2013:

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

4wardthinker from Sierra Nevada CA on May 11, 2013:

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.

Donna Hilbrandt from Upstate New York on May 11, 2013:

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.

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on May 10, 2013:

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.

Natasha from Hawaii on May 10, 2013:

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!

Marisa Hammond Olivares (author) from Texas on April 27, 2013:

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.

vibesites from United States on April 26, 2013:

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.

Marisa Hammond Olivares (author) from Texas on April 21, 2013:

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

Laura Tykarski from Pittsburgh PA on April 14, 2013:

Thanks for the information -great hub.

Marisa Hammond Olivares (author) from Texas on April 14, 2013:

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

Don Bobbitt from Ruskin Florida on April 14, 2013:

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

Voted UP and Useful.

DON

Marisa Hammond Olivares (author) from Texas on September 16, 2012:

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

kelleyward on September 16, 2012:

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

Marisa Hammond Olivares (author) from Texas on September 04, 2012:

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

Somesh Dutt from India on September 04, 2012:

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

Marisa Hammond Olivares (author) from Texas on September 02, 2012:

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

Victoria Lynn from Arkansas, USA on August 29, 2012:

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

Marisa Hammond Olivares (author) from Texas on July 30, 2012:

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.

Mahaveer Sanglikar from Pune, India on July 30, 2012:

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

Cynthia Calhoun from Western NC on July 30, 2012:

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. :)

Marisa Hammond Olivares (author) from Texas on June 28, 2012:

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.

Stephanie Henkel from USA on June 28, 2012:

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!

Marisa Hammond Olivares (author) from Texas on June 11, 2012:

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!

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on June 10, 2012:

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

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on June 10, 2012:

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

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on June 10, 2012:

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.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on June 09, 2012:

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.

Jessee R from Gurgaon, India on June 09, 2012:

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

Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on June 09, 2012:

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 . . .

Marisa Hammond Olivares (author) from Texas on June 08, 2012:

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

ssiddhanta, thank you so very much.

mwilliams66 from Left Coast, USA on June 07, 2012:

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.

Marisa Hammond Olivares (author) from Texas on June 07, 2012:

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.

Kalmiya from North America on June 06, 2012:

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.

Marisa Hammond Olivares (author) from Texas on June 04, 2012:

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

JP Carlos from Quezon CIty, Phlippines on June 04, 2012:

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

Marisa Hammond Olivares (author) from Texas on June 03, 2012:

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.

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on June 01, 2012:

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! :)

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on June 01, 2012:

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...!

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 01, 2012:

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

Donna Cosmato from USA on June 01, 2012:

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.

Dianna Mendez on May 31, 2012:

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.

Sarah Johnson from Charleston, South Carolina on May 31, 2012:

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.

Cate from Chandler, AZ on May 31, 2012:

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!