Vegetarian Sources of Protein

Vegetarian Sources of Protein


Vegetarians take a lot of criticism for their decision to not eat meat. Most people who do not know otherwise stick their naive noses where they don’t belong, shake an accusing finger at a vegetarian friend and proclaim “You probably do not get enough protein!”


It’s true that meat provides the most amount of protein per serving size.  But “eat more protein” does not necessarily translate into “eat more meat.”  There are many ways to get vegetarian sources of protein in one’s diet.


One benefit of using plant or dairy based sources for protein is this: in addition to protein, your body gains a whole host of other complex nutrition, fiber, vitamins, phytonutrients, and minerals along with the protein.  That’s not to say that meat supplies only protein, but it doesn’t always pack the nutritional punch that greens, cheese, eggs, or beans do.


If you’re vegetarian, never fear.  You’re likely getting plenty of protein. But just in case you want to be sure, here are a few suggestions for getting your protein in during the day.



  • Almonds are the perfect snack.  Almonds are also a good source of magnesium, fiber, manganese, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, and selenium, B complex vitamins, Vitamin E, and… protein.  1 cup of almonds is a whole 26 grams of protein.  Spread some almond butter on whole grain toast, or bring a snack size bag of them with you when you go out.  
  • Beans come in all different types and flavors.  Black bean soup is very simple and tasty.  Kidney beans can be added to soups or salads for additional protein.  Hummus has fortunately become popular in the United States!  The protein in hummus comes from the humble garbanzo bean. Beans provide us with copper, manganese, vitamin B1, phosphorus, protein, magnesium, and iron.
  • Cheese is a fabulous source of protein.  Eat it straight, in your eggs, or with soups and salads.
  • Eggs – for those vegetarians who are comfortable eating them – are fabulous sources of protein.  They also provide omega-3 fats, lutein, iron, minerals, and carotenoids  For breakfast, a few eggs can provide you with almost half of your daily protein needs for the day.  Make some hard boiled to bring with you on the go.
  • Spinach is surprisingly high in protein and there are many ways to eat it.  1 cup has 5 grams of protein, and when cooked, one can easily get 2 cups in at a time. A spinach salad uses at least 2 cups.  Spinach is a well known superfood that provides the body with loads of nutrition and vitamins.



See? Vegetarians have plenty of opportunity to get protein in without using meat.


Below is an at-a-glance list of vegetarian foods and their protein amounts.


Vegetarian Sources of Protein


Almonds (1 cup) – 26.0

Avocado (1/2 medium) – 2.5

Barley (uncooked, 1 cup) – 16.5

Beans, baked (1/2 cup)  –  8.1

Beans, kidney (1/2 cup) -7.2

Beans, lima (1/2 cup) 5.4

Beans, navy (1/2 cup) 7.5

Beans, sprouts, mung (1/2 cup) 2.1

Bean soup (1 cup) 7.6

Bread, rye (1 slice) 2.1

Bread, white (1 slice) 2.0

Bread, whole wheat (1 slice) 2.3

Broccoli (2/3 cup cooked) 3.3

Butter (1 pat) 0.8

Cauliflower (1 cup cooked) 2.5

Cheese, American (1” cube) 4.1

Cheese, cheddar (1” cube) 4.4

Cottage cheese (1/2 cup) 13.6

Parmesan cheese (1 Tbsp) 2.3

Cheese, Swiss (1 inch cube) 3.8

Coleslaw (1/2 cup) 2.9

Corn, cooked (1/2 cup) 2.8

Corn bread (1 square) 5.0

Cream of Wheat (3/4 cup) 3.1

Custard (1/2 cup) 7.2

Egg, (1) 7.0

French toast (1 slice) 5.4

Lentil Soup (1 cup) 5.0

Macaroni and cheese (1/2 cup) 8.4

Milk, malted (1 cup) 11.0

Milk, whole (1 cup) 8.0

Minestrone (1 cup) 5.0

Oatmeal (1/2 cup) 3.4

Onion soup (1 cup) 8.1

Peanut butter (2 Tbsp) 8.5

Pea soup (1 cup) 13.3

Peas, fresh (1 cup) 3.8

Pizza, cheese (1/8 of 14”) 9.4
Spinach (1 Cup)  5

Yogurt, plain (1/2 cup) 4.4