12 Protein Sources For Vegetarians To Fulfill Your Protein Requirements

Medically reviewed by G. Liakeas, MD FACT CHECKED

Proteins are one of the most crucial nutrients required by the human body. They are responsible for the repair and growth of new cells in the body. Proteins are also known as building blocks of the human body.

They directly affect the muscles by giving them strength. You could find an enormous amount of protein in the surroundings themselves. Several types of meat products provide proteins in high quantities.

Sadly, the sources of protein for vegetarians are limited. Experts believe that a well-planned meatless diet could rather infuse better-quality of protein into the body.

There are certain plants in nature that provide immense quality protein. On the other hand, vegan diets tend to contribute more health benefits comparatively. 

In this article, we will discuss all the sources of protein from which vegetarians may reap benefits. Having said that, one could also use some of the protein sources if they follow a pegan diet.

protein sources for vegetarians
  1. Seitan

    Seitan is as popular for protein richness as the complexity of its name. This vegan food item looks and feels like meat and tastes like it. This food item is way different from soy-based mock meats.

    Seitan is also famous as wheat meat and is the richest plant protein source available out there. Besides protein, this food product provides selenium, iron, calcium, and phosphorus.

    Now, because seitan is created from gluten, people with gluten disorders should avoid the consumption of this product.

  2. Tempeh, Tofu, And Edamame

    Soybeans are famous among vegetarians and have been commonly used to replace animal meat for them.

    Tempeh, tofu, and edamame are by-products of soybeans that are quite popular in East Asian culture.

    Soybeans are considered to be a complete source of protein that provides all the required amino acids to the body. Each Soybean by-product has its properties.

    Edamame is considered an immature soybean and has a sweet and grassy taste. Filled with protein, these soybeans could be consumed with soups, wraps, sushi, salad, and rice rolls.

    Tofu, on the other hand, is formed through a similar process of cheesemaking which is made from bean curds.

    Tofu doesn’t have a taste of its own but blends very well with the ingredients that are put with it to make the dish.

    Tempeh is made by cooking and fermenting mature soybeans and then pressing them into blocks.

    Tempeh adds a nutty flavor to it. Tofu and Tempeh are extensively used in burgers, soups, stews, curries, and many more such food items.

    All of these products contain iron and calcium in good amounts besides protein.

  3. Lentils

    Lentils are heavily popular in South Asian countries. With the heavy amounts of protein in it, lentils come out as one of the best sources of protein.

    This vegetarian food product is commonly used in salads, soups, and also spicy lentils which are most popular in South Asian countries. Vegetarians would love to consume lentils for protein purposes.

    Besides protein, lentils are also rich in fiber that keeps your stomach full for quite a decent time.

    Lentils also promote a healthy gut due to the relationship of the fiber in it with good bacteria in the colon.

    On the other hand, lentils have also been proven to prevent people from heart diseases, diabetes, excess body weight, and a few types of cancer.

    The antioxidant contained in the lentils too keeps your body healthy from oxidation. This food item is quite famous across the globe too besides its heavy influence on Indian dishes.

  4. Beans

    The variety of beans available in the market has been quite a good source of protein among vegetarians.

    Beans are treated as staple food items among many cultures. Kidney, Pinto, and black beans are some examples of beans that are available for consumption in the market.

    Chickpeas are another type of beans available which are the most popular type of beans available in the market.

    Besides protein, each type of bean is also considered a good source of fiber, potassium, folate, iron, phosphorus, and complex carbs.

    These vegetarian protein houses are considered to decrease blood sugar levels, cholesterol levels, belly fat, and other such conditions.

    Beans could be consumed in many ways, be it by roasting or cooking them.

  5. Nutritional Yeast

    Nutritional yeast is a deactivated version of yeast sold in the market as a yellow powder. This food item is very commonly used in mashed potatoes or scrambled tofu.

    The cheesy flavor of nutritional yeast makes it very popular among such dishes. It is also sprinkled over pasta and popcorn and is considered a complete source of protein.

    Besides protein, nutritional yeast also provides a good amount of magnesium, copper, zinc, and manganese to the consumer of this food item.

    One thing to note is that not all the nutritional yeasts are consumable, therefore it is very vital to check the label before buying the product to prevent any adversities that it may otherwise cause.

  6. Amaranth

    It is a gluten-free grain that will add variety and value to your diet. One serving (one cup) of amaranth weighing up to 246 grams provides 9 grams of protein.

    It has a perfect nutty flavor and additionally provides iron, phosphorus, and manganese. Amaranth could be a quick replacement for rice. It is also cooked similarly.

    It may also be a great addition to your grain salad.

  7. Spelt And Teff

    These food items, Spelt and Teff are quite common as a variety of ancient grains. Joining the teams with barley, einkorn, farro, and sorghum, is the highest source of protein among them.

    Spelt comes as a type of wheat that is full of gluten.

    Besides protein, these food products are also rich in fiber, iron, zinc, selenium, manganese, complete carbs, magnesium, and phosphorus.

    Spelt and Teff are also commonly used in place of wheat and other grains which it replaces in many dishes from baked goods to risotto.

    Teff is also an ingredient in flat bread quite famous in East Africa.

  8. Hemp Seeds

    Hemp seeds belong to the cannabis plant family and are a genuine food product derived from Cannabis Sativa.

    This cannabis product is not sketchy since it contains only a trace of Tetrahydrocannabinol which is responsible for the famous effect of cannabis.

    Luckily, Hemp seeds are quite rich in protein. Besides this, they also provide magnesium, calcium, zinc, selenium, and iron. 

    Moreover, they also are a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

    According to a study the fats included in the hemp seeds are good enough to reduce inflammation, premenstrual syndrome, menopause, and many skin conditions.

    These seeds could be used in smoothies, granola bars, energy bars, and a few more vitamins.

  9. Almonds

    Almonds have several health benefits. More importantly, they could be a great source of plant-based protein.

    Adding them to smoothies, eating a handful of these nuts, or even drinking almond milk is a perfect boost to your high-protein diet.

  10. Green Peas

    Green peas too are very famous across the globe and are used in a variety of dishes. Green peas contain a fair good amount of protein in it.

    This food product has been used commonly in Asian food.

    Besides protein, these peas could also provide a good source of fiber, manganese, magnesium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, thiamine, folate, and a few vitamins like vitamins A, C, and K.

  11. Plain Greek Yogurt

    Yogurts are gut-friendly foods. Plain Greek yogurt contains double the amount of proteins compared to normal ones.

    224 grams of plain Greek yogurt has 17 grams of protein in it. Live cultures in the yogurt make it rich in probiotics.

    Always prefer unsweetened yogurts to cut down on sugar and excess calories.

    Having said all that, if you have a short budget for your protein intake, you might want to note that plain nonfat greek yogurt is one of the cheap protein sources.

  12. Soy Milk

    Soy Milk is a fortified form of milk made from soybeans. This milk is fortified with vitamins and minerals.

    This type of milk is a genuine alternative for people who avoid dairy milk due to personal reasons or lactose intolerance.

    This milk is rich in protein besides calcium, Vitamin D and Vitamin B12. It is an incredibly versatile product with its usage in a variety of cooking and baking recipes.

    Since soybeans and soy milk do not naturally contain Vitamin B12, therefore it is recommended to consume a rather fortified version of soy milk.

    Besides this, one should go for an unsweetened version of soy milk.

Conclusion

Protein is one of the macronutrients required to sustain a healthy life. It is required for the repair of tissues, and healthy growth of muscles and bones. Mostly when it comes to protein sources, meat and eggs top the charts.

This leaves the vegetarian cult wondering if there’s no way they get enough protein. Fortunately, there are abundant veg protein sources available. 

Dairy products like milk and cottage cheese are also rich sources of protein. If you are a vegan, you could also replace it with vegan alternatives like soy or sunflower seed milk and tofu respectively.