Protein Foods for Vegetarians

Protein Foods for Vegetarians
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There is much talk about the necessity of a protein rich diet, but what exactly is protein and what role does it play in a healthy body? A protein is comprised of a long train of amino acids linked together and is a component of each one of the human body’s cells, organs and tissues. Proteins are the building blocks to all of the body’s major components such as: skin, muscles, blood vessels, tendons, hair, teeth and bones. Proteins within the body are continuously being broken down and need to be replaced by the foods we eat. The typical American diet includes protein from animal sources such as chicken, beef and pork, however, there are plenty of protein foods available for vegetarians as well.

The recommended daily intake amount of protein for women ages 19-49 is 45 grams, while men ages 19-49 should be consuming 55 grams. These numbers are thought to be an accurate amount for at least 97% of the population. Two variables that are not accounted for in those statistics include pregnant and breastfeeding women. During pregnancy, it is recommended that women consume 51 grams of protein daily, while women who are breastfeeding should consume between 53 and 56 grams per day.

Protein Foods for Vegetarians



Wheat Bread


Two of the most protein intense foods for vegetarians are tempeh and seitan. Tempeh is made from soybeans that have been cooked after having their outer hulls removed. They are then mixed with an edible mold culture called rhizopus oligosporus. Though this may not sound very appetizing, it is much the same process that is used when making blue cheese or other fermented products. Tempeh is often described as having a slightly meaty flavor reminiscent of mushrooms. It can be flavored during the fermentation process or smoked to create a more intense “Meat like” flavor. One 8 ounce serving of tempeh yields an impressive 41 grams of vegetarian protein.


Seitan is a protein product that is created from whole wheat. Some refer to seitan as “wheat meat.” Seitan is created through a process that removes both the starch and the bran from whole wheat flour. The resulting product is a food that contains a high gluten content but has no saturated fat or cholesterol. Seitan’s ability to take on the flavor and texture of many meats makes it a natural substitute in many recipes that traditionally call for meat. Just 3 ounces of seitan will provide 31 grams of protein.

Additional Protein Foods

The following is a partial list of the highest protein foods for vegetarians, with their serving sizes and grams of protein.

  • 1 cup cooked soybeans 29 g.
  • 7 oz. Chick Peas 16 g.
  • 8 oz. Baked Beans 11.5 g.
  • 5 oz. Tofu 10.3 g.
  • 8 oz. Cow’s milk 9.2 g.
  • 4oz. Lentils 9 g.
  • 8 oz. Soy milk 8 g.
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter 8 g.
  • 1 egg 7.5 g.
  • 1oz. Peanuts 7.3 g.
  • 2 slices whole wheat bread 7 g.
  • 1 oz. hard cheese 6.8 g.
  • 1 cup oatmeal 6 g.
  • 7oz. brown rice 4.4 g.


Photo Credit: “Tempeh”

Photo Credit: “Fresh Green Chickpeas”

Photo Credit: “Wheat Bread”

Photo Credit: “Soybeans”