vegetarian sources of protein

Proteins consist of smaller molecules called amino acids. Proteins are amazing nutrients because they are the base for skin, bone, muscle, and the human structure. Proteins are known as macro nutrients as they are present in every cell in our body. Proteins are the building blocks of life. Protein is critical for growth and maintenance of our body tissue and is indispensable to make substances such as hemoglobin, hormones and enzymes.

Protein is essential in your diet and if your diet lacks protein regularly, it leads to body processes slowing down, the main organs such as the heart and liver may decrease in size and many other diseases. However eating too much does not cause increased growth.

The Recommended Dietary Allowance of protein per day for the average sedentary man is 53 grams and for the average sedentary woman is 46 grams.

Vegetarian sources of protein

Wheat gluten

Wheat gluten also called seitan, wheat meat, and wheat protein. It looks similar to meat and is a popular meat substitute. Wheat gluten is a plant-based protein that contains very low fat. Wheat gluten can be added to dishes like soups and sandwiches. The amount of protein in wheat gluten is equal to the amount of protein in lean meat. However it does not contain all essential amino acids that you require each day.

Every 100 grams of wheat gluten contains 75 grams of protein which is 150% – more than the RDA.

Peanut butter

Peanut butter contains one quarter protein in it. Also, they are high in fibre, potassium, healthy fat, vitamin E, magnesium and vitamin B-6. Peanut butter is tastier if you spread it on bread, toast, rice cakes, wholegrain toast and fruits such as banana and apple. The fibre and protein content of peanut butter keeps you feel full for a longer time. So it helps you lose weight.

Every 100 grams of peanut butter contain 25 grams of protein that is 25% of RDA.

Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds are one of the best balanced nutrition profiles. It contains all essential nutrients such as fibre, protein omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids, magnesium, iron, potassium and all essential amino acids. It also contains disease- fighting antioxidants called phytosterols. It supports heart health. Hemp seeds are best to add to smoothies and with baking and cooking ingredients.

Every 100 grams of hemp seeds (shelled) contain 37 grams of protein.


The health benefits of almonds are wide, and used as a healthy solution for a number of diseases like constipation, heart disorders, impotency, anemia, cough, respiratory disorders and diabetes. Almonds are rich sources of vitamin E, calcium, protein, iron, phosphorous, and magnesium. You can eat almonds directly on an empty stomach to increase the nutrient absorption or soak overnight and eat in the morning.

almonds in the clay bowl
© Kyzil24 | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Every 100 grams of almonds contain 21 grams of protein which is 42% of RDA.

Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are a nutrient power pack. Sunflower seeds and its oil both provide a number of health benefits. It acts as an energy booster, good for bones, mental and heart health, prevents cancer, and protects skin and hair. Roasted seeds are used in salads, pickle, bacon and barbecue or eaten plain.

Every 100 grams of sunflower seeds contain 21 grams of protein which means 42% of RDA.

Sunflower seed

Black beans

Black beans are high in fibre and a good source of plant based protein. Like other legumes black beans also contain several vitamins and minerals in it. It helps maintain healthy bones, lowers blood pressure, prevents cancer, prevents constipation and promotes healthy digestion. You can make black bean soup or cook and use it as a side dish, like in many Mexican recipes.

Black beans

Every 100 grams of black beans contains 21 grams of protein which means 42% of RDA.


Tempeh is a soy product that originated in Indonesia. It has higher contents of protein, vitamins and minerals. Considering its nutritional value, tempeh is used worldwide in vegetarian cuisine. It gives a number of health benefits such as reduction in cholesterol, increase in bone density, promotes muscle recovery, and also reduces menopause symptoms. You can eat raw or cooked tempeh or you can also use in soups, salads, stir fries, stews and sandwiches. Tempeh is a great substitute for meat.


Every 100 grams of tempeh contains 19 grams of protein which is 38% of RDA.


The white part of the egg is full of protein. The yellow part contains more vitamins and minerals. Also egg contains all essential amino acids. All are highly important to maintain good health. Eggs are a good choice to get complete protein but they are high in cholesterol. Since maximum of four eggs per week is recommended for kids.


Every 100 grams of boiled egg contains 13 gram of protein which is 26% of RDA.

Cottage cheese

Cottage cheese supplies good amounts of protein, B complex, healthy fat, calcium and vitamin B12. Calcium is good for bone health just like B complex which is helpful in metabolic activities. Vitamin B 12 is needed for proper brain function. Cottage cheese need not be cooked and it can be eaten directly or it can be added to salads.

Every 100 grams of cottage cheese contains 11% of protein which is 22% of RDA.


Green soybeans also called as edamame, is one of the most widely consumed foods in the world. They are easy to cultivate and also extremely good for human health. Soy beans contain fibre, large amounts of protein, folate, vitamin B6, vitamin K, vitamin C, riboflavin, thiamine and minerals. The antioxidants in soy beans help to prevent cancer, fibre prevents constipation, vitamins and minerals are useful for bone health. Soy beans can be eaten as a snack before or between meals.


Every 100 grams of edamame contains 11 grams of protein which is 22% of RDA.

Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt contains double the amount of protein as regular yogurt. Greek yogurt is fat free and good to consume post-workout because it helps in strengthening muscles.

“Canadian researchers from McMasters University reported that 20 grams of protein is sufficient to promote muscle synthesis”.

Every 100 grams of Greek yogurt contains 10 grams of protein which is 20% of RDA.


Lentils are dried seeds of legumes. The three different types of legumes are brown, red and yellow.  Lentils are excellent sources of protein, fibre, iron, magnesium, and potassium. They are low in fat and cholesterol free. You can eat lentils by adding with vegetables, soups, mashed up and in the form of patties.

Every 100 grams of lentils contain 9 gram of protein which is 18% of RDA.


Tofu is derived from soya milk. It is made by coagulating fresh soya milk and then pressing into white blocks. Tofu contains good amounts of protein, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, iron, copper, zinc, and vitamin B1.


Some of the health benefits of tofu:

  • Unique content of tofu prevents stomach cancer
  • Prevents and treats obesity
  • Protects from type 2 diabetes
  • Fights against free radicals
  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties protect the blood vessels from oxidative and inflammatory damages.

You can eat tofu as a hamburger patty or by adding in soups and stews.

Some of the other protein rich vegetarian foods are:

Kale, Hummus, Spinach, Pumpkin seeds, Black walnuts, Pistachios, Swiss cheese, Sun dried tomatoes, Broccoli, Potato, Dried apricots , Dried peaches, Oats, Cooked white rice.

Kalaivani Selvaraj, MBA, got her Master’s degree in Human Resources. Due to her interest in natural healing, she pursued studies in the field of alternative medicine and is certified in Aromatherapy by Isla Verde Spa Training Academy. Ms. Kalaivani Selvaraj is also certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.