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10 Best Protein Sources for Vegans and Vegetarians

Protein for Vegetarians :

That said, certain plant foods contain significantly more protein than others, and new and older studies alike suggest that higher protein diets can promote muscle strength, feelings of

Section 1: Protein sources for vegans and vegetarians

The best sources of protein for vegans and vegetarians are a few grass-fed animals and legumes. With some exceptions, vegetarian protein sources (the meat analogues) are generally easier to digest than the animal protein sources.

In addition to the protein itself, the proteins found in plants contain trace amounts of amino acids. Like animals, vegetarians need certain amino acids in order to grow and maintain their tissues. A good source of plant protein for vegans and vegetarians to start out with is chickpeas, soybeans, tempeh, tofu, quinoa, oats, and edamame.

These and other staples of the vegan and vegetarian diet, make up the protein portion of this article. Note that this is a subset of all the other protein sources. Research-backed Vegan Protein Sources 1.

What is protein?

“Most people think of protein as the macronutrient that comes from meat and dairy,” explains Stephen Rennard, RD, a nutrition consultant in Michigan and author of The Complete Book of Veggie Nutrition. But there’s more to protein than that. “Protein, in general, is the major macronutrient in plants, but some plants have more protein than others,” Rennard says.

In general, plant sources of protein (like beans, nuts, legumes, lentils, and whole grains) offer more than you’d find in meat or dairy. Of course, some of this comes from the meat- and dairy-based nutrition than there is in plant sources. But that’s okay: It’s the complete plant foods that provide the most protein.

Why do we need protein?

These days, the primary reason for eating protein is to promote muscle growth and repair. Proteins in our diet are made up of amino acids, which all belong to one of two “bases” called alpha or beta amino acids.

In order for proteins to work their way from the digestive tract into our muscles, the enzymes in our gut must digest alpha and beta amino acids. We can get our protein from many different sources, however, including meat, dairy, eggs, fish, nuts and seeds, soy and legumes.

In fact, vegan sources of protein are often higher in protein than meat sources due to the diversity of the plant foods we eat. It’s worth noting that protein doesn’t necessarily have to come from animal foods. Whole grains, pulses and legumes are good sources of protein, as is tofu and tempeh.

How much protein do we need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for men is 46 grams of protein per day, while for women it’s 33 grams per day. RDA refers to the amount of protein a person “ought to” consume each day.

Those without a reliable diet plan or guidance tend to use the RDA as a “guideline” or “recommendation.” However, protein can be pretty expensive, and eating meat or dairy is pretty integral to most diets. While I’m all for building muscle and reducing body fat, a vegetarian diet that goes too heavy on animal-based protein is not the way to go.

But that’s another story. On the flipside, my #1 piece of advice for the rest of you is to stay aware of the amount of protein you’re consuming.

Protein sources for vegans and vegetarians

Whether you’re a vegan or vegetarian, protein is an essential component of any diet. For example, vegan dietitian Danielle Nierenberg recommends replacing foods high in protein with vegetables and fruits that have the same amount of protein.

A typical vegan diet might contain about 15 grams of protein per pound of food (which is 30 calories per gram). Nierenberg suggests adding pulses and nuts to this daily intake. A plant-based diet is incredibly diverse in protein sources. But there are some common components you can add to your diet to bump up your protein.

1. Beans

These cheap and versatile beans are rich in protein and fiber. It takes time to prepare on the stove. But when you don’t have time, canned beans come in handy. With so many choices, black beans, kidney beans and Canellini are the most popular. I like to add it to burgers, soups, stews, salads, tacos and sauces.

2. Chickpeas

Also known as chickpeas. This staple food of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, beans are an important source of carbohydrates, protein and fiber. They are usually beige in color, thick in texture, and mild in taste. When chickpeas are roasted until crispy or added to salads and sauces (such as hummus), chickpeas have become a popular snack. The liquid from canned chickpeas is often used as an egg substitute, called aquafaba.

3. Carob, Lentils

The lenses are dry and come in different colors and sizes. There are different types of lentils, ranging from brown, green, fluffy lentils, red, yellow, and black, with different textures and flavors. Learning to make lentils is easy. Each type is suitable for soups, stews, side dishes or salads.

4. green beans

Pea protein, especially powder as a source of vegetarian and vegan food, has become a common way to add. You will often find it in protein powder, fresh, frozen or canned beans. This is because the whole plant retains nutrients and fiber. Easily put in soups, stews, rice and more!

5. Soybeans

In the world, soybeans are one of the most widely consumed foods, and this is for good reason. They are rich in protein and contain all nine essential amino acids. These oval beige oilseeds are commonly used to make soy milk, tofu, tempeh, and textured vegetable protein.

6. Tofu

Tofu is made from soy milk, which is pressed into a hard layer. The removed whey produces different types of tofu. The tofu is soft, medium, firm and very firm. This rich source of soy protein is slightly sweet and can be used in a variety of dishes. Dice and roast, deep-fry, marinate, roast, stir-fry or stir-fry, the options are endless.

7. Edamame

Edamame, which is widely used in Japanese cuisine, is an immature soybean. They are packed in pods, and green beans can be boiled or steamed. A great protein snack that can be added to salads, side dishes or stir-fries.

8. Tempeh

This rectangular pressed cake is made from cooked fermented soybeans. They usually contain grains and flavoring agents, but there are also soy-free versions. It has a strong nutty taste and retains its shape during cooking. It can be pickled and used for stir-frying. Sprinkle or cut into plates to make grilled steak or grilled steak.

9. oat

Oatmeal is an herbal cereal that appears in breakfast and desserts. The trademarks of oats are soluble and insoluble fiber and β-glucan. They also have a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates. It is called unrefined food. They are partially cooked and cut into small pieces in the old-fashioned way, peeled, steamed and pressed, or cooked and dried immediately. Eat it in the form of porridge. Soak it overnight as a ready-to-eat breakfast, make oat milk or add it to snacks as an energy snack.

10. Plain rice

According to the variety you choose, there will be different tastes, textures and nutritional values. Most grains are endosperm, if not removed, they may contain bean sprouts, bran and shell. Because of the shell, the white rice will be softer. Brown rice has not yet been made into long-grain, medium-grain and short-grain rice, and has different textures after being cooked. There are also red rice and black rice, which contain additional antioxidants.


Researchers are only now starting to tease out the exact mechanisms by which meat can boost muscle and promote calorie burning in a context of endurance exercise. It seems to be a case-by-case situation, and there isn’t a universal recommendation among these studies.

Still, based on the studies in mind, you should be able to get all of the protein you need from healthy plant foods like legumes, soy, nuts, quinoa, and peas (just remember not to overload on protein, and to keep the calorie consumption in check as well).

A common misconception about vegetarian diets is that a significant portion of the protein intake must come from nuts and soy. This assumption is inaccurate, and it’s not even supported by any research to date.

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