To help you stay healthy and strong, we’ve compiled a list of the best proteins sources for vegans and vegetarians. A common concern about vegetarian and vegan diets is that they might lack sufficient protein.
These high protein diets can provide you with all the nutrients you need as well as promote muscle strength, satiety and weight loss.
Here are 10 foods that contain a high amount of protein for vegetarians.
1. Chickpeas and Most Varieties of Beans
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, is another legume with a high protein content. Both beans and chickpeas contain about 15 grams of protein per cooked cup (240 ml). They are also excellent sources of complex carbs, fiber, iron, folate, phosphorus, potassium, manganese and several beneficial plant compounds.
Moreover, several studies show that a diet rich in beans and other legumes can decrease cholesterol, help control blood sugar levels, lower blood pressure and even reduce belly fat.
2. Green Peas
The little green peas contain 9 grams of protein per cooked cup (240 ml), which is slightly more than a cup of milk. Serving a green peas covers more than 25% of your daily fiber, vitamin A, C, K, thiamine, folate and manganese requirements.
Green peas are also a good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and several other B vitamins. You can use peas in recipes such as pea and basil stuffed ravioli, thai-inspired pea soup or pea and avocado guacamole.
3. Spelt and Teff
Spelt is closely related to gluten-containing wheat, whereas teff originates from an annual grass, which means it’s gluten-free. Spelt and teff provide 10–11 grams of protein per cooked cup (240 ml), making them higher in protein than other ancient grains.
Both are excellent sources of various nutrients, including complex carbs, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and manganese. They also contain good amounts of B vitamins, zinc and selenium.
Spelt and teff are versatile alternatives to common grains, such as wheat and rice, and can be used in many recipes ranging from baked goods to polenta and risotto.
Seitan is a popular protein source for many vegetarians and vegans. It’s made from gluten, the main protein in wheat. Unlike many soy-based mock meats, it resembles the look and texture of meat when cooked. It contains about 25 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). This makes it the richest plant protein source on this list.
Seitan is also a good source of selenium and contains small amounts of iron, calcium and phosphorus. You can find this meat alternative in the refrigerated section of most health food stores, or make your own version with vital wheat gluten using this recipe.
Seitan can be pan-fried, sautéed and even grilled. Therefore, it can be easily incorporated in a variety of recipes.
5. Tofu, Tempeh and Edamame
Tofu, tempeh and edamame all originate from soybeans. Soybeans are considered a whole source of protein. This means that they provide the body with all the essential amino acids it needs.
Edamame are immature soybeans with a sweet and slightly grassy taste. They need to be steamed or boiled prior to consumption and can be eaten on their own or added to soups and salads.
Tofu is made from bean curds pressed together in a process similar to cheesemaking. Tempeh is made by cooking and slightly fermenting mature soybeans prior to pressing them into a patty.
All three contain iron, calcium and 10-19 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). Edamame are also rich in folate, vitamin K and fiber. Tempeh contains a good amount of probiotics, B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium and phosphorus.
6. Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeast, sold commercially as a yellow powder or flakes. It has a cheesy flavor, which makes it a popular ingredient in dishes like mashed potatoes and scrambled tofu.
Nutritional yeast can also be sprinkled on top of pasta dishes or even enjoyed as a savory topping on popcorn. This complete source of plant protein provides the body with 14 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber per ounce (28 grams).
Lentils are a great source of protein. They can be used in a variety of dishes, ranging from fresh salads to hearty soups and spice-infused dahls. Lentils contains 18 grams of protein per cooked cup. They also contain good amounts of slowly digested carbs, and a single cup (240 ml) provides approximately 50% of your recommended daily fiber intake.
Furthermore, the type of fiber found in lentils has been shown to feed the good bacteria in your colon, promoting a healthy gut. Lentils may also help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, excess body weight and some types of cancer.
In addition, lentils are rich in folate, manganese and iron. They also contain a good amount of antioxidants and other health-promoting plant compounds. They are good source of protein and contain good amounts of other nutrients. They may also help reduce the risk of various diseases.
Hempseed comes from the Cannabis sativa plant, which is noted for belonging to the same family as the Cannabis (marijuana) plant. But hempseed contains only trace amounts of THC, the compound that produces the marijuana-like drug effects.
Although not as well-known as other seeds, hempseed contains 10 grams of complete, easily digestible protein per ounce (28 grams). That’s 50% more than chia seeds and flaxseeds.
Hempseed also contains a good amount of magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc and selenium. What’s more, it’s a good source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the ratio considered optimal for human health.
9. Oats and Oatmeal
Oats are delicious and another easy way to add protein to any diet. Half a cup (120 ml) of dry oats provides you with approximately 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. This portion also contains good amounts of magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and folate.
Although oats are not considered a complete protein, they do contain higher-quality protein than other commonly consumed grains like rice and wheat.
You can use oats in a variety of recipes ranging from oatmeal to veggie burgers. They can also be ground into flour and used for baking.
10. Soy Milk
Milk that’s made from soybeans and fortified with vitamins and minerals is a great alternative to cow’s milk. Not only does it contain 7 grams of protein per cup (240 ml), but it’s also an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D and vitamin B12.
However, keep in mind that soy milk and soybeans do not naturally contain vitamin B12, so picking a fortified variety is recommended. Soy milk is found in most supermarkets. It’s an incredibly versatile product that can be consumed on its own or in a variety of cooking and baking recipes.