50 Sources of Protein for Vegetarians

Categories: Featured, Nutrition

When I became a vegetarian at 10 years old, my mother (and everyone I talked to) was concerned how I would get enough protein.  Everyone associates meat with protein, but the reality is that there are an abundance of protein-rich foods to meet the daily requirements of protein for vegans and vegetarians.

So how much protein do I need?

Rice colours 50 Sources of Protein for Vegetarians

Rice and other whole grains are a source of vegetarian protein

Daily protein needs are the same for vegan, vegetarian and meat-eating teens.  The amount of protein your body needs depends on how big your body is, and how much your body is growing.  For younger teens (aged 9-13) the protein needs are higher per kilogram of body weight because growth is occurring faster at this age.  In older teens (aged 14-18) the needs per kilogram are less – but total protein needs are greater because the body has grown bigger.


Listed below are the protein requirements for teen boys and girls based on age and weight.

Protein requirements for teen boys:

boys protein needs crop 50 Sources of Protein for Vegetarians

Protein requirements for teen girls:

girls protein needs crop 50 Sources of Protein for Vegetarians

How do I make sure I’m getting enough protein?

The best way to make sure you are getting enough protein every day is to eat protein at every meal, and with every snack.  If you need 46g of protein every day you should aim to have 10-15g at each meal and 5-6g with each snack (two snacks per day).

50 Sources of vegetarian protein

Many of the foods listed below are also vegan sources of protein.  With practice it is not difficult to reach your daily protein needs – once you know which foods to eat!


black beans 300x225 50 Sources of Protein for Vegetarians

Black beans have 15g of protein per cup

Black beans (1 cup)                        15 grams
Black eyed peas (1 cup)                 13 grams
Chickpeas (1 cup)                           15 grams
Kidney beans (1 cup)                     15 grams
Lentils (1 cup)                                 18 grams
Lima beans (1 cup)                        15 grams
Pinto beans (1 cup)                        15 grams
Soy beans (1 cup)                            29 grams
Vegetarian baked beans (1 cup) 12 grams

Dairy, Eggs and Dairy Substitutes

Almond milk (1 cup)                        1 gram
Egg (one large)                                 6 grams
Cheddar cheese (2 tbsp)                 7 grams
Cottage cheese (1 cup)                  10 grams
Cow’s milk (1 cup)                           8 grams
Soy milk (1 cup)                          3-10 grams
Soy yoghurt (3/4 cup)                      6 grams
Rice milk (1 cup)                               1 gram


oat bread 300x200 50 Sources of Protein for Vegetarians

Whole grains are a source of protein

Amaranth, cooked (1 cup)            14 grams
Bagel (1 medium)                             9 grams
Brown rice, cooked (1 cup)            5 grams
Bulgur, cooked (1 cup)                    5 grams
Millet, cooked (1 cup)                     8 grams
Oatmeal, cooked (1 cup)                6 grams
Quinoa, cooked (1 cup)                 11 grams
Spaghetti, cooked (1 cup)               7 grams
White rice, cooked (1 cup)             4 grams
Whole wheat bread
(2 slices)                                             5 grams
Wild rice, cooked (1 cup)               7 grams

Nuts and Seeds

mixed nuts 300x154 50 Sources of Protein for Vegetarians

Nuts are a protein-rich snack for vegetarians

Almonds (1/4 cup)                         6 grams
Almond butter (2tbsp)                   5 grams
Cashews (1/4 cup)                          5 grams
Peanuts (1/4 cup)                           6 grams
Peanut butter (2tbsp)                     8 grams
Pistachios (1/4 cup)                       6 grams
Sesame seeds (1/8 cup)                 6 grams
Sunflower seeds (1/4 cup)            6 grams


Asparagus (1 cup)                           5 grams
Avocado (1 medium)                    10 grams
Broccoli (1 cup)                                5 grams
Peas, cooked (1 cup)                       9 grams
Potato, cooked (1 medium)           4 grams
Spinach, cooked (1 cup)                 6 grams
Sweet corn, cooked (1 cup)            5 grams
Sweet potato, cooked (1 cup)         2 grams

Prepared Vegetarian Foods

Seitan (1 cup)                                   15 grams
Tempeh (1 cup)                                31 grams
Textured Vegetable Protein
(TVP) (1 cup)                                     8 grams
Tofu, firm (1 cup)                            22 grams
Vegetarian hot dog                    8-26 grams
Vegetarian hamburger              5-24 grams

About the Author

Dr. Lisa Watson is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor (ND) practicing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Dr. Watson advocates the use of natural therapies backed by traditional knowledge and scientific research to help her patients, family, friends and readers to achieve optimal wellness.

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