highlighting protein sources for vegans & vegetarians
If you caught my Instagram Live this past weekend then you know that I promised I would put together a post on vegetarian protein sources and what better week to do it than #caitsplatesneakyveggies week?! (also for those that have asked, working on the best solution to share what you missed in the live!)
A common misconception out there is that if you’re vegan or vegetarian you’re automatically not going to get enough protein, but that’s definitely not the case! There are plenty of great non-meat protein options out there (as you’ll soon see!). This list is not exhaustive, but hopefully gives you a good number of sources to work with! I’ve noted those that are lacto-ovo vegetarian (i.e. you include dairy and eggs) and vegan, etc.
For reference: it is currently recommended that we get 0.8g protein per kilogram of body weight. So if you weigh 140 pounds, that equates to about 50g protein/day which is around 10% of calories. There’s a lot of controversy around protein (some believe we should get more, some less) so it’s hard to say what exactly the magic number is. Overall, it’s best to aim for protein from a variety of sources and get around 0.8g/kg body weight per day (knowing that there will be days you get more and days you get less than that exact amount).
So let’s get started!
NUTS (almonds, walnuts, peanuts, etc.) – also vegan
How much protein? Almonds: 6 grams in 1 ounce (about 23 whole almonds); Walnuts: 4 grams in 1 ounce (about 14 walnut halves); Peanuts: 7 grams in 1 ounce (about 28 peanuts)
Ways to incorporate: Try these greek walnut sliders, make trail mix by mixing 1/4 cup unsalted almonds, 1/4 walnuts, 2 tablespoons dried cranberries & 2 tablespoons chocolate chips, throw a tablespoon or two onto oats (like these cinnamon raisin walnut apple oats), into yogurt parfait or on top of pasta (like this pesto pasta dish with walnuts)
BEANS (black beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans, etc.) – also vegan
How much protein? ~8 grams per 1/2 cup serving
Ways to incorporate: Try these chickpea mediterranean gyros, this double bean & corn avocado bowl, this vegan breakfast hash, these pesto sweet potato noodles with white beans or check out this post featuring 17 ways with black beans!
GREEK OR SKYR YOGURT – for lacto-ovo vegetarians
How much protein? ~23 grams per 1 cup (depending on size/brand)
Ways to incorporate: Try this apple & peanut butter granola parfait; add it into frittatas like this veggie-packed yogurt frittata, into smoothies (it would make a great addition to this 4-ingredient green smoothie); use it in your tuna salad sandwiches
LENTILS – also vegan
How much protein? 8 grams per 1/2 cup cooked
EGGS – for lacto-ovo vegetarians
How much protein? 6 grams in 1 large whole egg
Ways to incorporate: Hard boil some for easy grab and go breakfasts & snacks; scramble some up with veggies and stuff them into a sweet potato toss them into a salad, or bake them up with some veggies & cheese like this pesto egg & veggie bake.
CHIA SEEDS – also vegan
How much protein? 3 grams per 1 tablespoon serving
TOFU & SEITAN – also vegan
How much protein? 10 grams in 1/2 cup firm, raw tofu
Ways to incorporate: Try these spicy thai basil noodles with tofu, this chili-spiced tofu bowl, these spicy sweet potato noodles with tofu, this mexican cauliflower rice with tofu (all of which will also work with seitan!), scrambled tofu up in place of eggs for a breakfast meal or blend silken tofu into your smoothies.
QUINOA – also vegan
How much protein? 8 grams per 1 cup cooked
Ways to incorporate: Try this quinoa salad stuffed sweet potato, this summer veggie mexican quinoa bowl, this roasted veggie & quinoa wrap, this instant pot veggie chili or this tri-colored quinoa roasted root veggie bowl
EDAMAME – also vegan
How much protein? 5 grams per 1/4 cup shelled
Ways to incorporate: Pair with brown rice veggie sushi, toss shelled edamame into salads or serve steamed edamame with a little sea salt for a snack
GREEN PEAS – also vegan
How much protein? 8 grams per 1 cup
Ways to incorporate: Serve as a side at dinner, toss into pasta or add to soups
HEMP SEEDS – also vegan
How much protein? 4 grams per 1 tablespoon
Ways to incorporate: Throw on top of smoothie bowls, mix into oats or toss into yogurt bowls
NUT BUTTERS (peanut butter, almond butter, etc.) – also vegan
How much protein? 3.5 grams per 1 tablespoon
Ways to incorporate: Try these peanut butter apple baked oats, these peanut butter banana breakfast cookies, super cluster peanut butter granola, check out any of these 16 crazy good peanut butter recipes or, just eat by the spoonful!
Note – it’s best to always check labels (most will specify!) to ensure that what you’re getting wasn’t processed with non-vegetarian/vegan sources.4