30 Vegetarian Protein Sources (Plus, the Perfect Protein Smoothie!)

Getting enough protein can be tough when you’re a vegetarian, especially if you’re on the strict side and fish, eggs or dairy (in addition to beef and chicken) are on the list of foods you don’t eat. Being a vegetarian athlete or active person makes things even trickier because your daily protein needs are going to be higher than those of someone who does not exercise regularly. Although the recommended daily intake of protein varies depending on your age, gender and weight, it’s said active individuals should aim for about a gram of protein per pound of body weight daily.

So how does someone who eliminates some of the top protein foods out there meet this requirement? Knowing which plant foods pack the biggest protein punch, and piling plenty of them on your plate during meals throughout the day, will help you reach your target number with ease.

Here is a list of protein rich foods that will keep you both fueled up and satisfied:

Food Serving Size Protein Content
Soy beans 1/2 cup (dry) 17 grams
Edamame 1/2 cup 13 grams
Lentils 1/4 cup 13 grams
Black beans 1/2 cup 7 grams
Chickpeas 1/2 cup 7 grams
Pinto beans 1/2 cup 6 grams
Lima beans 1/2 cup 6 grams
Black-eyed peas 1/2 cup 6 grams
Seeds & Nuts
Pumpkin seeds 1/4 cup 9 grams
Sunflower seeds 1/4 cup 6 grams
Almonds 1/3 cup (dry) 6 grams
Almond butter 2 Tbsp 5 grams
Peanut butter 1 Tbsp 4 grams
Powdered peanut butter 2 Tbsp 6 grams
Pistachios 1/4 cup 6 grams
Walnuts 1/4 cup 5 grams
Quinoa 1/4 cup 6 grams
Whole wheat bread 1 slice 4 grams
Whole wheat pasta 2 oz. 6 grams
Rolled oats 1/2 cup 7 grams
Protein Powder
Brown rice protein powder 1 scoop 11 grams
Plant protein powder 1 scoop 22 grams
Tofu 4 oz. 10 grams
Veggie burger 1 patty 13 grams
Soymilk 1 cup 6 grams
Soy yogurt 8 oz. 6 grams
Dairy protein
Greek yogurt 6 oz. 18 grams
Low-fat cottage cheese 4 oz. 11 grams
Low-fat cheese 1 oz. 6 grams
1% milk 1 cup 8 grams

For a quick, protein-packed snack that doubles as a meal replacement, add a scoop of brown rice protein powder and a tablespoon of Vitacost’s new powdered peanut butter–PBSLIM–to a simple smoothie. Here’s one of my favorite recipes:

Scoop in some PBSLIM for a smoothie packed with protein and peanut butter flavor!

PBSLIM Peanut Butter-Banana Protein Smoothie

Protein count = 43 grams

1 Tbsp. PBSLIM Powdered Peanut Butter
1 scoop vegetarian vanilla protein powder
6 oz. plain Greek yogurt
½ banana
½ cup soymilk
Ice cubes


Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.


Mrs. Fitness

Mrs. Fitness

IFBB figure professional Melissa Transou, a fitness expert, wife and mother, blogs about the unique sports and nutrition needs of women and female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com. Email her atmelissatransou@yahoo.com.
Mrs. Fitness

About Mrs. Fitness

IFBB figure professional Melissa Transou, a fitness expert, wife and mother, blogs about the unique sports and nutrition needs of women and female athletes exclusively for Vitacost.com. Email her at melissatransou@yahoo.com.

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18 comments on «30 Vegetarian Protein Sources (Plus, the Perfect Protein Smoothie!)»

  1. A 3 oz. serving of Eden Foods Whole Grain KAMUT(R) Wheat Ditalini has 14 grams of protein – it makes nutritional sense to choose a high quality, nutritionally efficient whole grain pasta!

  2. Jamie Ryan Lockman says:

    Eden Foods Whole Grain KAMUT wheat ditalini has 14 grams of protein for a 3 oz serving.

    1. mrs. fitness says:

      Jamie – I love the suggestion. Eden Foods does give us a high protein whole wheat pasta which is a perfect addition to the list. Thanks!!!

  3. Guy says:

    I am wondering why two important sources of amino acids and protein are not on this table: chia and hemp seeds. Vitacost sells both of these ingredients and they are tasty and not very expensive. Hemp seeds are particularly delicious in smoothies, such as in the banana-almond milk-agave smoothie. Please add these so more people know about them.

    1. mrs. fitness says:

      Guy, thanks for the suggestion those are two great additions for the chart. And you are correct they are not very expensive and easy to add to meals and shakes!

  4. Kacey says:

    It says here that active individuals should aim for about a gram of protein per pound of body weight daily. Other sites say to multiply your weight in pounds by 0.37 for the minimum in grams. I see a range of 43 – 97 grams for 120 lbs on other sites, not 120 grams.

  5. Susan Betz says:

    About one in 50 people is now allergic to peanuts. One of them lives with me. I can’t imagine getting peanut dust everywhere knowing a peanut allergic person is in the vicinity.

    1. mrs. fitness says:

      Kacey, for a person working out in the gym trying to gain lean muscle 1-1.5 grams of protein per body weight is optimal. Not everyone has this fitness goal so for the active person who is using weight bearing exercises (which is breaking down the muscle )they need to strive for 1 gram per body weight to help repair and replenish the muscles. It is hard to consume that much protein for the average person, so if they can get close to that in a day they are doing good.

  6. Eging Lu says:

    This article was a great resource for vegetarian protein options. I’ll definitely try some of them!

    1. mrs. fitness says:

      Susan, I understand your concerns about nut allergies and how this isn’t an option for your family. I tried to add other protein sources that were not in the nut family to help people in your situation.

    2. mrs. fitness says:

      Eging, I’m so happy you can use the list. Sometimes we overlook certain foods that can be added to our diets as being high protein.

  7. This blog embodies so many food myths I don’t know where to start commenting. I strongly recommend you view the presentation The Dangerous Truth About Protein at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2R07FL1wVo4&feature=youtu.be

    1. mrs. fitness says:

      Thank you Janice I will do that.

  8. Reggie says:

    I’m a bit disappointed to read the whole ‘difficult to get enough protein as a vegetarian’ nonsense. Also, vegetarians don’t eat fish, if they do, they are not a vegetarian! Vegans and vegetarians that don’t live on potato chips or candy have no problem getting the correct amount of protein. Too much protein is unhealthy for our body and people eat too much protein as it is. Lay off on the protein scare and worry about minerals and vitamins that many can lack. Eating a variety of vegetables, grains, beans, nuts and seeds along with a little seasonal fruit is all we need to be healthy. Sugar robs our body of essential nutrients and is full of empty calories. That’s what we need to worry about!

  9. Gaurav says:

    Non vegetarian diet causes a lot more toxicity in the human body than plant based diet. And toxicity in the body is one of the main causes of all disease in modern times. e.g. cancer, organ failure, etc all result from toxicity at the core.

  10. Eva Seibert says:

    On the topic of soy, GMOs, protein etc, a very interesting book called Rich Foods Poor Foods addresses those subjects. Almost makes you afraid to eat, but the book offers some very significant changes you can make in your food choices and educates about the food we are eating.

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