Vegetarian or Vegan Protein and Amino Acids

protein and amino acids

If you are vegan or vegetarian, or are considering that diet and lifestyle change, you may be wondering what some of the best sources of protein and amino acids actually are. Here is a list of some high-protein vegetable-based foods that also provide necessary amino acids for health.

Protein foods like meats, eggs, and fish naturally have all 22 amino acids, but what about vegetarian sources? Here are some choices that will help keep you healthy and fit, since these are also much lower in fats and other things that are linked to cardiovascular problems…

Veggie-based foods with protein and amino acids

Plant foods that contain protein can also provide you with amino acids that are required by the body. Essential amino acids are those that must be provided through diet, while non-essential amino acids are made by the body. Soybeans and spinach are excellent sources of protein and amino acids suitable for vegan and vegetarian diets, for instance.

Vegans are typically low in the amino acid lysine, so pay attention to low-lysine foods, such as grains. Another essential amino acid is methionine, and legumes are low in that. To ensure you are getting enough of both, think about combining proteins with each other, or with other vegetables. Your body can store protein and amino acids for later use, so these do not necessarily have to be eaten in the same meal, or even the same day.

Nuts and seeds are also important sources for protein and amino acids. Variety is key!

Five top vegan foods highest in protein and amino acids

Black beans have 7 grams of protein and amino acids as well, plus are low fat. A half a cup is only 110 calories. Combining beans and rice (brown rice is especially healthy since it is a complex carbohydrate) with some fresh vegetables is an excellent way to get enough protein and amino acids into your diet.

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah), which is actually a seed, not a grain, is also an excellent choice. A quarter cup (uncooked), which makes about a cup once cooked, provides protein and amino acids. Specifically, 7 grams of protein, plus it is a complete protein since it is the only grain that contains all of the amino acids necessary for health.

Tofu, made from soybeans, has 10 grams of protein and amino acids in a mere half-cup serving. It can soak up flavors of other foods it is cooked with, so is rarely eaten alone.

Another cooked soybean product is tempeh, which is also a complete protein. A half-cup has a huge 15 grams of protein and amino acids, but also 9 grams of fat, so be careful overeating this delicious protein food!

Lastly, raw nuts—also higher in fat, although the fat is healthy when raw, and not so good for you when cooked/roasted—are packed with nutrients, protein and amino acids, and fiber, plus they help you lose weight as long as you don’t overdo it.

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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