Non-Meat Vegetarian Protein Choices That Help You Stay Healthy

vegetarian protein

Vegans and vegetarians share a common problem; aside from deficiencies in the amino acid lysine, plus iron, zinc, calcium, and vitamin B-12, one of the challenges for choosing a vegetarian lifestyle is to make sure you get enough protein in your diet. However, non-meat vegetarian protein options are often filled with good-for-you things like amino acids, healthy oils (as long as they are raw), and can indeed provide enough protein for most non-meat eaters.

Here is a list of vegetarian protein foods that may help you make wise eating choices to ensure that you remain healthy and get enough protein in your diet, especially if you do not consume animal products of any kind.

Vegetarian protein foods


Lentils are packed full of iron and have a solid 18 grams of protein.  This is a great vegetarian protein equivalent to a three-ounce steak!


A single cup of garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas, contain a whole 15 grams of protein, as does a cup kidney beans or black beans.


Most all nuts, including almonds, pecans, walnuts, pistachios, and so on, are all meat-free vegetarian protein sources, although peanuts are at the top of the list. One ounce of dry-roasted peanuts has almost 7 grams of protein. Also, as long as the nuts are raw and not cooked/roasted, they are loaded with healthy fats! Just try not to eat too many of these delicious vegetarian protein snack wonders!


Just a half-cup serving of tofu (which is bean curd made from soybeans) contains 10 or more grams of protein.


Tempeh is a vegetarian protein food source that is basically a cousin of tofu, but is firmer and chewier. A half-cup serving of tempeh has 15 grams of protein. If you eat it topped with Bragg’s Liquid Aminos instead of regular soy sauce, it is very tasty and you get some extra amino acids in your diet as well! Animal proteins typically have all 22 amino acids—Bragg’s supplies 16 of them.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is technically an animal product since it comes from cow’s milk, as is kefir, but we included it here even though it is not a vegetarian protein simply because there are many vegetarians who need the bacterial cultures for their gut health (note that there are coconut and other vegetarian-based yogurts, but they do not contain the amount of protein that Greek yogurt does).

You can get fat-free plain Greek yogurt, which isn’t filled with sugar. Greek yogurt is thicker and tangier than regular yogurt, makes a great base for homemade tzatziki dip, and provides up to twice the amount of protein than regular yogurt. It depends on the brand/size of the container, but Greek yogurt can provide anywhere from about 13 to 18 grams of protein.


Considered one of the super foods, spinach is a good source of vegetarian protein. This leafy green can provide more than 5 grams of protein, not to mention is aa good source of calcium and iron, too.


Last, but not least, a cup cooked quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is a wonderful little whole grain that provides more vegetarian protein than most of its other grain-family relatives. In this case, quinoa contains more than 8 grams of protein, and has a healthy dose of fiber. Other grains such as brown rice and bulgur wheat are good vegetarian protein options too.

The author of this story is a freelance contributor to National Nutraceuticals’ online news portals, such as Amino Acid Information Center at and Vancouver Health News at  National Nutraceuticals, Inc. also owns and operates a third health news portal focusing on medicinal mushrooms at, plus our newest portal at

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