How Can I Get Enough Protein on a Vegetarian Diet?

As research continues to underscore the importance of more vegetables in the diet, more and more people are adopting Meatless Mondays, flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan diets.  This is a great question that many people ask about following a plant-focused, vegetarian diet.  Protein is an important part of every meal, including for those who are vegetarian.  Proteins are not only the building blocks of life, but foods that contain protein can help your body feel full for a longer period of time, which can support you in maintaining a healthy weight.  As many foods that contain a significant amount of protein come from animal sources, it typically takes just a little more planning to make sure you are getting what you need.

The average healthy adult needs about 0.7-0.8 grams protein per kilogram of body weight, which means about 50-60 grams of protein per day or about 15-20 grams per meal.  The good news is that there are many vegetarian sources of protein that can help you meet these daily goals.

Here are some good protein options for a vegetarian diet, along with the average amount of protein in each:

  • Beans, lentils and legumes contain about 7g protein per half cup
  • Tofu and soy products contain about 10g protein per cup
  • Nuts, seeds and nut butters contain about 8g protein per two tablespoons
  • Veggie patties typically contain about 10g protein per patty
  • Protein powders contain about 10-20g protein per scoop
  • One egg contains about 6g of protein
  • Milk and dairy products: Milk contains 8g protein per cup and  Greek yogurt can contain up to 17g per cup
  • Quinoa provides 9g protein per half cup cooked

Follow these tips to help make sure you are getting in enough protein at every meal as part of a vegetarian diet:

  • Oatmeal for breakfast?  Add in a scoop of Greek Yogurt or cottage cheese
  • Smoothie in the morning?  Add a scoop of protein powder and one to two tablespoons of nut butter for an extra kick
  • Try hummus (garbanzo bean dip) with carrots or cucumbers as a snack
  • Make a veggie sandwich for lunch – include some avocado or black bean dip
  • Add some tofu or soy crumbles to a pasta sauce at dinner

Happy vegetarian eating!