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7 Best Protein Sources for Vegetarians

These are the best protein sources for vegetarians to easily get plant-based protein in their diet, including our favorite high protein meals recipes!

Collage of vegetarian high protein ingredients

It’s the question every plant-based eater has heard at some point. “If you’re vegetarian, where do you get your protein?” And it’s kind of like…what? Plant-based protein is everywhere and it can be so delicious!

When thinking about protein, it’s important to remember two things: amount and quality. The average person needs 50-60 grams of protein each day, an easy number to reach on a plant-based diet.

But you also need to think about protein quality. Protein is made up of amino acids, and there are nine essential amino acids that we need to get from our diet. Most meat products are complete proteins, meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids. Plants, on the other hand, are often incomplete proteins. This simply means that you need to eat a variety of plant protein sources to ensure your body gets all the amino acids it needs!

Here are a few plant-based protein combos that when eaten together make a complete protein source (we call these complementary proteins!):

Here are 7 of my favorite vegetarian protein sources and how to use them in everyday cooking. I hope this inspires you to try out some new ingredients!

1. Tofu and Tempeh

Tofu and tempeh are made from soybeans, which are a complete protein (meaning they contain all the amino acids the human body needs). Tofu and tempeh contain 20 and 30 grams protein in 1 cup.

Tempeh on a white background

2. Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is different from regular yogurt in that a lot of the liquid whey is drained out, making for a more protein-rich yogurt, by volume. Greek yogurt contains 23 grams protein in 1 cup.

Close up photo of Greek yogurt

3. Legumes

Plenty of protein and fiber are only part of the reason why I love legumes …they’re just so tasty and versatile! Legumes include beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas. Most legumes contain about 15 grams protein in 1 cooked cup.

Close up photo of chickpeas

4. Nutritional Yeast

Nutritional yeast is complete protein is a deactivated strain of yeast that tastes a lot more appealing than it sounds. It’s deliciously cheesy, savory, and eggy. Nutritional yeast contains 9 grams protein in 2 tablespoons.

Nutritional yeast in a jar

5. Quinoa

Quinoa is another complete protein that can take the place of less protein-rich grains, like rice and couscous. It contains 8 grams protein in 1 cooked cup.

Close up photo of quinoa

6. Eggs

Wouldn’t be a roundup of vegetarian protein sources without the humble egg! The color of the egg shell has nothing to do with nutritional content, but being pasture-raised will make for more nutrient-rich eggs. There are 6 grams of protein in 1 large egg.

Brown and white eggs in a carton

7. Chia Seeds

Chia seeds are easy to work into your diet via smoothies or yogurts (and high in healthy fats too)! They contain 4 grams protein in 2 tablespoons.

Close up photo of chia seeds

These are some of my favorite protein sources for vegetarians in everyday in everyday cooking, but there are many more not included here! Some other popular vegetarian ingredients high in protein include: seitan, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), freekah, farro, flax seeds, rice, and nuts/nut butters.

Hi, I’m Sarah!

Showing you how to make easy vegetarian recipes, one ingredient at a time.  Read more

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