The best vegan and vegetarian sources of protein

by Michael Davis in Nutrition

Why is protein important?

Diets that meet protein requirements promote muscle strength and muscle building, are more satiating, and aid with weight loss. Protein is the main component of muscle, skin, bones, organs, and nails. The bottom line is that protein is a key part of any diet.

A common problem with vegan and vegetarian diets is that people who follow them often fail to eat enough protein. This is especially important if you are weight training and are looking to put on muscle and gain strength. Read this blog about how much protein you should be eating.

When it comes to choosing which proteins to include in your diet, it’s important to note that there are some sources of protein which are better than others. Here are some things to consider when choosing:

1- Protein per calorie (density)

You should consider the amount of protein per 100kcal a food has. If a food is high in protein but also high in calories, this means it’s going to be harder to stick to your calorie goals. Take for example cheese, which is high in protein but also high in fat. Ideally you want to prioritise foods that are low calorie and high in protein.

2- Digestibility (bioavailability)

The bioavailability of a protein refers to how usable a protein is when it enters the body. Some proteins sources are more absorbable compared to others.

3- Quality (amount of essential amino acids)

Protein is made up of amino acids. There are 20 amino acids. 9 of them are essential meaning that they cannot be produced by the body and are obtained through your diet. The remaining 11 are non-essential, the body can produce these. Your body breaks down protein from foods into amino acids and uses them to create new proteins which can be used by the body. Whereas meat and dairy proteins provide high levels of essential amino acids, most plant proteins are considered incomplete, meaning that they often lack at least one essential amino acid. A solution to this is to include a variety of vegetarian or vegan sources of protein in your diet.

Based on these 3 factors, here are some of the best vegetarian and vegan sources of protein.



– Whey protein is considered on of the best sources of protein. It is the most absorbable (bioavailable), the most complete (quality) and is low in calories. 100 grams of whey protein contains a whopping 75 grams of protein.

Cottage cheese is a high volume, high protein, and low-fat milk product. It is one of the best vegetarian proteins that is low in calories. It is also complete as it comes from milk. 100 grams contains around 12 grams of protein

Eggs are a protein rich food, the egg white is very high in protein and low in calories. The yolk is more calorific but high in nutrients. One large egg contains 72 calories and around 6 grams of protein.


Beans, peas, and lentils (legumes) are high fibre and high protein. Their quality isn’t very high meaning they lack some essential amino acids. Some examples include soybeans, peas, lentils, and kidney beans. 100 grams contains around 10 grams of protein.

Tofu (soybean) is considered a complete source of protein; it contains all the amino acids your body needs. The downside to tofu is that around half of the calories come from fat. 100 grams contains around 10 grams of protein.

Seitan is a protein made from gluten. Gluten is the main protein of wheat. It is very low in fat (100 grams contains les than 1 gram of fat and 25 grams of protein)



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