Vegetarian Protein Foods

Tell someone you’re vegetarian, and the first objection you’ll likely get is, “But where do you get your protein?” (Nevermind what kind of shape the person asking is often in.)

I personally have not let the protein issue affect me, choosing instead to cook and eat a wide variety of foods and trust that I’ll get enough protein and all of the essential amino acids, and I’ve never felt better.  However, if you have any signs of protein deficiency, you should absolutely start making sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet.

For someone who cooks all the time, simply eating a variety of whole foods will likely get you the protein you need.  But for someone whose schedule doesn’t allow for much cooking at home, getting enough protein from vegetarian foods (and the right kinds) can be a problem.

My mother is one such case.  A few weeks after she became vegetarian, she noticed that something wasn’t right; she didn’t have the energy that she did when she ate meat.  Suspecting that the problem was not enough protein, she spent a few weeks researching amino acids and protein in vegetarian foods.

This page is the result of such research.  If you’re in a similar situation, I hope it helps you out. (Be sure to check out vegan Registered Dietician Matt Ruscigno’s post on vegetarian protein for more information.)

A little background

There are 20 amino acids that link together to form peptides.  Peptides are then linked together to form proteins.  There are thousands of different proteins that carry out a large number of jobs in our bodies.  We don’t have to worry about consuming all the proteins- our body makes those.  We just need to make sure we have all 20 basic “building blocks” (amino acids).  Our body (except with certain illnesses or genetic abnormalities) makes 11 of them from chemicals already present in our body, so we really only need to be concerned about consuming the nine that our body cannot make.  The nine amino acids that we need to get from our diet are called “essential amino acids.”

Chemical makeup and the role of amino acids in the body

The molecule of an amino acid is made up of a carboxyl group of atoms (one carbon, two oxygen and one hydrogen), an amine group (one nitrogen and two hydrogen atoms) and a side chain.  The side chains consist of a combination of carbon, hydrogen, sulfur, nitrogen and/or oxygen and it’s the configuration of these that differentiates one amino acid from another.  The branched-chain amino acids are isoleucine, leucine and valine and these are the amino acids responsible for muscle structure.

The amino acids tyrosine, phenylalanine and tryptophan are the aromatic amino acids, having a side chain with a ring-shaped formation and are necessary for the production of the neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin.  Serotonin is important for healthy and restful sleep as well as elevating and stabilizing mood and in the modulation of human sexuality, appetite, and metabolism.  Melatonin is important in the regulation of the circadian rhythms (the interior body clock) and is a powerful antioxidant associated with the protection of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.

Lysine plays an important role in absorbing and conserving calcium and in the formation of collagen.  Too little lysine in the diet can lead to kidney stones and other health related problems including fatigue, nausea, dizziness, loss of appetite, agitation, bloodshot eyes, slow growth, anemia, and reproductive disorders. At risk for a low lysine disorder could be vegetarians who follow a macrobiotic diet and athletes involved in frequent vigorous exercise.

Daily requirements and good non-meat sources of specific amino acids

The requirement for the non-essential amino acids has changed considerably over the last 20 years.  The following table lists the recommended daily amounts for adults by the World Health Organization, along with the standard one-letter abbreviation.  (Recommended daily intakes for children during their first year can be as much as 150% higher, and 10-20% higher for children three years and older.)

Important: This chart lists the vegetable/nut/legume sources with the highest amounts of the amino acids per a 200 calorie serving.  However, this may NOT be the most practical source!  For instance, 200 calories of watercress provide an abundance of essential amino acid daily requirements, but having only 4 calories per cup, 200 calories would equate to 50 cups!  Or egg whites are a terrific source of essential amino acids, but 200 calories of egg whites mean you would need to eat 11 eggs!  Not my way of starting the day.  With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of great, enjoyable food sources to meet the daily requirements, at the end of this page.

Amino acid WHO Mg/ kg body weight   WHO Mg/ 55 kg (121 lbs) WHO Mg/ 80 kg (176 lbs) Good dairy/egg sources (per 200 calories) Best vegan sources (per 200 calories)
I Isoleucine 20 1100 1600

Egg whites 2754 mg

Cottage cheese lowfat  2022 mg

Soy protein 2650 mg

Watercress 1691 mg

Chard 1540 mg

Spinach 1322 mg

Sunflower seed flour 1474 mg

Kidney beans 1297 mg

L Leucine 39 2145 3120

Egg whites 4233 mg

Cottage cheese lowfat 3540 mg


Soy protein 4226 mg

Watercress 3017 mg

Alfalfa seeds raw 2322 mg

Kidney beans 2103 mg

Tofu 2500mg

Sesame flour 2307 mg

Sunflower seed flour 2148 mg

K Lysine 30 1650 2400

Egg white 3358 mg

Cream cheese 2859 mg

Cottage cheese lowfat 2784 mg

Soy protein 3319 mg

Watercress 2436 mg

Tofu 2253 mg

M Methionine+ C Cysteine 15 (total) 825 1200

Egg whites 1660 mg

Sesame flour 994 mg

Seaweed spirulina 908 mg

Soy protein 690 mg

F Phenylalanine+ Y Tyrosine 25 (total) 1375 2000

Egg whites 2435 mg

Cottage cheese lowfat 1856 mg

Cottage cheese 1489 mg

Cream cheese 1465 mg

Cheddar cheese 1363 mg

Soy protein 2862 mg

Cottonseed flour  1870 mg

Sesame flour 1596 mg

Kidney beans 1473 mg

Spinach 1428 mg

T Threonine 15 825 1200

Egg white 1942 mg

Watercress 2418 mg

Soy protein 1755 mg

Spinach 1496 mg

Sesame seed flour 1250 mg

Sunflower seed flour 1202 mg

Kidney beans  1230 mg

W Tryptophan 4 220 320

Egg white 673 mg

Mozzarella cheese 399 mg

Cottage cheese lowfat  383 mg

Soy protein  695 mg

Spinach 690 mg

Sesame flour 659 mg

Sunflower seed flour 451

Watercress  544 mg

Turnip greens 400 mg

Broccoli rabe 390 mg

Asparagus 322 mg

Kidney beans  303 mg

Oat bran  280 mg

V Valine 26 1430 2080 Egg white 3371 mg

Soy protein 2554 mg

Watercress 2491 mg

Mushrooms, white 193 mg

Sunflower seed flour 1703 mg

Sesame seed flour  1682 mg

Snow/snap peas  1595 mg

Kidney beans 1503 mg

*Some sources claim histidine to also be an essential amino acid as it is additionally required by infants and growing children. Also, cysteine can usually be synthesized by the human body under normal physiological conditions if a sufficient quantity of methionine is available.

Concerns over soy supplements as the main source of amino acids

If you choose to supplement your diet with whey or soy protein, consider the following:  There is a mixed consensus about whether soy contains all of the essential proteins.  Some sources claim that it does.  Others site that it is not complete- missing methionine, while others report that soybeans are “limiting” in methionine and cysteine.

Methionine assists in breaking down fats and thus prevents build-up of fat in the arteries and liver.  Since it is converted to cysteine, it also assists with the removal of heavy metals (including lead) from the body.  It’s also a powerful antioxidant, removing free radicals produced in the natural metabolic processes of the body.

But limiting or lacking in even one amino acid can have serious health implications.  Muscle and other protein structures could be dismantled to obtain the one amino acid that is missing.  Many experts suggest combining soy products with legumes or whole grains to achieve the ideal balance for the body’s requirements.  Or, if relying heavily on soy for protein requirements, it would be good to consume foods high in methionine, such as sesame seeds and brazil nuts.  Except for spinach, potatoes, or corn, most fruits and vegetables contain little methionine.

Cysteine can usually be made by the human body if a sufficient quantity of methionine is available.  Otherwise, cysteine can be found in eggs, milk, whey protein, ricotta, cottage cheese, yogurt, red peppers, garlic, onions, broccoli, brussels sprouts, oats, granola, wheat germ

An interesting note:  A heavy dose of cysteine may be useful in preventing or combating some of the negative effects of alcohol, including liver damage and hangover.

Concerns over soy-rich diets

The jury is definitely out as to whether consuming a soy-rich diet is good for you .  Many reports indicate that soy’s abundant isoflavones can prevent illness and promote good health.  Isofavones are a type of phytoestrogen, a plant hormone that in chemical structure resembles a weak form of human estrogen.   The isofavones can compete at estrogen receptor sites, blocking the stronger version produced by the body.   Proponents claim that this can reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancer, reduce the risk of heart disease, reduce menopausal symptoms and can slow or reverse osteoporosis.

Other studies present a strong case supporting the dangers of excess soy consumption, claiming that soy products contain:

  • Phytoestrogens: (isoflavones) genistein and daidzein, which mimic and sometimes block the hormone estrogen (not a positive result as in the studies above)
  • Phytates: block the body’s uptake of minerals
  • Enzyme Inhibitors: hinder protein digestion
  • Hemagglutinin:  a clot-promoting substance which causes red blood cells to clump together. These clustered blood cells cannot properly absorb oxygen for distribution to the body’s tissues, and are unable to help in maintaining good cardiac health.

With so much conflicting information, I would be hesitant to rely heavily on soy products  or soy-related supplements to satisfy the bulk of my protein requirements.

Best Protein Sources for Vegetarians

I’ve compiled a list of some of the best protein sources within different food groups, comparing what could be considered a normal serving:

Food                                           Amount          Calories    Protein      Notes

Nuts and Seeds

Pumpkin/squash seeds       1 oz, 85 seeds    126 cal        5 gm             all aa in proper ratio

Black walnuts                           1 oz                       173 cal        7 gm            low in lysine

Pine nuts                     1 oz, 167 kernels         190 cal      4 gm         low in lysine

Roasted almonds         1 oz, 22 count             171 cal       6gm         low in lysine and methionine

Pistachios                     1 oz 49 count              161 cal        6gm          all aa in proper ratio

Sunflower seeds                     1 oz                  166 cal         5 gm         low in lysine

Peanuts without shells           1 oz                   160 cal         7 gm         low in lysine

Cashews                         1 oz 18 kernels         164 cal          4 gm        all aa in proper ratio

Hemp seeds                            2 T                   160 cal         11gm         all aa in proper ratio

Flax seeds                               1 T                    100 cal         4 gm


Dairy Products

Ricotta cheese lowfat                ½ c          171 cal              14 gm        all aa  high in lysine

Romano cheese                       1 oz           108 cal               9 gm         all aa in proper ratio

Cheddar cheese                       1 oz           113 cal               7 gm         all aa in proper ratio

Provolone cheese                    1 oz             98 cal                7 gm        all aa  high in lysine

Mozzarella                              1 oz              71 cal               7 gm        all aa high in lysine

Parmesan                                 1 oz            116 cal                7 gm       all aa high in lysine

Gouda cheese                           1 oz           100 cal                 8 gm       all aa high in lysine

Swiss cheese                            1 oz            100 cal                8gm        all aa high in lysine

Feta cheese                      ½ c crumbled      200 cal              21 gm       all aa

Cottage cheese 2% low fat      1 cup          163 cal               28 gm       all aa

Egg                                       1 whole           77 cal               6 gm         all aa

Egg whites                           1 whole           16 cal                4 gm         all aa

Milk                                      1 cup              137 cal             10 gm        all aa

Yogurt low fat                      1 cup               137 cal            14 gm        low in tryptophan



Corn yellow canned             2/3 cup               80 cal              3 gm        high in lysine

Sun-dried tomatoes          ½ cup (1 oz)           72 cal             4 gm         lacks 5 aa

Soy beans                             1 oz                      35 cal            4 gm        all aa, but a little low in methionine+cystine, phenylalanine+tyrosine

Cowpeas (blackeyes)          2 oz                       74 cal               4 gm         all aa

Navy beans                        4 oz                         88 cal              8 gm         all aa, low in methionine + cystine

Peas                                    4 oz                      108 cal               8 gm      all aa except no trypotophan

Lima beans                         4 oz  cal                88 cal                5 gm       all aa, low in methionine + cystine

Brussel sprouts                    1 cup                    65 cal               6 gm.    low in leucine, lysine, methionine + cystine, phenylalanine + tyrosine

Spinach                            1 cup chopped        65 cal                6 gm      low in methionine + cystine

Broccoli                            1 cup spears           52 cal               6 gm      low in methionine + cystine

Potato                               1 med with skin     161 cal              4 gm     all aa in proper ratio

Asparagus                         ½ cup                     20 cal                2 gm    all aa in proper ratio



Apricots dried                    ½ cup                   190 cal              3 gm       low in methionine + cystine

Peaches dried                     ½ cup                   185 cal             3 gm       low in trptophan and lysine


Cereal, bread, grains and pasta

Oat bran                              1 oz                     59 cal               5 gm       low in lysine

Oats                                     1 oz                   109 cal              5 gm        low in lysine

Wheat flour                          1 oz                    95 cal             4 gm         low in lysine

Spaghetti, whole wheat     dry 2 oz              198 cal              8 gm         low in lysine

Egg noodles                      dry 2 oz               219 cal              8 gm          low in lysine

Buckwheat                           1 oz                    96 cal              4 gm        all aa in proper ratio

Couscous dry                       1 oz                  105 cal               4 gm          low in lysine

Bulgur                             dry 1 oz                  96 cal               3 gm          low in lysine

Millet raw                             1 oz                 106 cal               3 gm         low in lysine

Bread, pumpernickel           1 slice                 65 cal               2 gm          low in lysine

Bread, reduced cal white      1 slice               48 cal               2 gm         low in lysine

Rice, brown long grain cooked  1 cup         216 cal               5 gm         low in lysine

White rice, cooked               1 cup                194 cal              4 gm         low in lysine

Whole wheat bread              1 slice                 69 cal              4 gm         low in all aa except tryptophan

White bread                         1 slice                 67 cal             2 gm         low in lysine

Oatmeal bread                     1 slice                 73 cal             2 gm         low in lysine

Rye bread                            1 slice                 83 cal             2 gm         low in lysine

Whole wheat pita bread    4” diameter           74 cal             3 gm         low in lysine

Pita white enriched            4” diameter          77 cal              3 gm        low in lysine


Combination suggestions

If low in lysine-  Combine with ricotta, provolone, gouda, mozzarella, parmesan, gruyere, swiss cheese, soy, tuna, salmon

If low in tryptophan-  Combine with oat bran, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds,  black walnuts, sunflower seeds, cashews, pistachios, almonds, cod, lobster, tuna

If low in methionine + cystine, :phenylalanine + tyrosine  combine with chestnuts, brazil nuts, halibut, oatmeal, sesame seeds, oat bran, eggs

Sources and more information




  1. What a great blog! I stumbled upon you thanks to a Twitter re Health Blog Helper from Remarkablogger. I am vegetarian, and most of the time run and do weight classes in the gym (Bodypump), but every so often I don’t have the energy for either!! I’m sure a lot of this comes down to protein. I’m going to try studying some of the stuff here and see if I can use it to tweak what I do! Thanks for the info, and good luck with your great work here!

    • Hey Christine, I’m glad you found me! You could be right that it’s the protein. I do well just eating a variety of foods and not worrying about grams of protein or anything like that. But for some people, that doesn’t work. When I’m feeling a lack of energy, it’s because I’ve been eating junk vegetarian food (pizza, fake meats, not enough substantial food). Keep me posted with how it goes!

      • In response to your Sept. 8th reply to Christine–you said that when you feel a lack of energy it’s because of junk vegetarian food, and you out fake meats. How do you feel about protein sources such as Morningstar? Please be kind–I love some of their food, such as the Chicken tenders and the Tomato and Mozzarella Pizza Burger! I don’t give my 1-year-old any meat, but I do give him Morningstar as a protein source. I also give him edamame.

        • Wendy, I think some of the Morningstar protein sources are ok; I just try not to eat too much processed soy. Some of the “fake meats” are made without soy, so there are definitely some good ones out there (and maybe Morningstar makes some no-soy things). I don’t think soy is bad; it’s just processed soy that I try to avoid. And definitely edamame is good, since it’s not processed!

          • Stephanie says:

            I need help with my daughters protein sources. What advice can u give?

          • What do think about the Quorn products? We eat meatless nuggets and they taste good. My daughter loves them as well as organic, no GMO soy.

          • Melissa says:

            The only soy that is ‘good’ for you is fermented soy. This does not include edamame or tofu.

        • I will just share that a while back I did some research on veggie burgers, and across the board Morningstar came out the worst in terms of use of GMO soy, alongside a host of other not so great additives. I think there are much better meat subs out there that are also healthful!

          • Are you able to list any of the fake meats that were higher quality? Thanks in advance!

          • Quorn products for sure are amazing, gmo free, soy free and organic. The taste and texture is by far the best ive tasted in vegetarian “meats”. Ive been eating quorn for almost 10 years and love all their products, especially the roast. Ive fooled so many meat-eaters with their chicken and even they loved it. I love making “chicken” tacos and enchiladas with shredded Quorn chicken nuggets and taco seasonings. I encourage everyone to try their products.

        • I contacted Morningstar Foods and they admitted their food is almost all GMO food. I threw all my chick nuggets and veggies Dogs in the garbage. BTW Burger King veggie burgers are Morningstar Farms GMO.

          • Yes, Morning Star is not a good choice of foods for anyone not just vegetarians. Check out your local health food stores. There are so many more options. You can also check out several options online by googling veggie protein burgers. If you have time you can make them from home and freeze them for later use.

          • Rather than questioning what are the ingredients of these processed products – just say no. Using Whole Foods that are predominantly organic (non pesticide or GMO) will get you so far ahead of the health curve it’s not even a far game at this point. Add exercise we and your golden.

            Check out Matt’s recipes for nut burgers on the sit and your away to the races with mega protein options.

      • Hey there,

        Thought I’d drop back and let you know how things were going. Over the last months I’ve made a concerted effort to eat real food – so meals made fresh from a mixture of vegetables, beans, lentils, seeds, quinoa, nuts, and a small amount of carb like rye bread, potato, rice, or pasta – and it has made all the difference. So long as I do this, and keep high GI carbs out of the equation as much as possible, my energy is consistently good.

        Thanks for your help!

        • Charles Ostrom says:

          Finally, someone mentions the “grain of the gods”.

          Quinoa is so versatile and nutrient packed and thanks to Costco affordable there is no good reason not to incorporate it.

          I’ve been eating it for over 15 years, before it was “fashionable” to do so”.



      • Regarding “fake meats”; a recent issue of “Nutrition Action” notes that a specific brand of “veggie burgers” have an main ingredient called “myco-protein”. The article notes that this is processed mold. Beware!!

        • The brand you’re referring to is Quorn and mycoprotein is a fungi, not mold. Some people have an allergic reaction to it but this is very, very rare.

          • I liked the taste of Quorn products and the texture, but we abruptly stopped eating it when my young daughter got hives all over her body and had trouble breathing after eating it. After doing some research, I don’t think allergic reaction to it is as rare as they say. Just be careful when first trying it. I will way that none of the rest of us had any problem.

          • My daughter, and for that matter since I wish not to be a short order cook the rest of the family, has become a pescatarian and loves Quorn products…the rest of us have not given up chicken (free range, organic), but when we’re having chicken, she chooses mycoprotein. I’ve decided to research and since the brand name is used here, decided to begin here. Any consensus on whether it’s an acceptable form of protein?…Does it carry the amino acids required for healthy development?

      • Leighann Anderson says:

        Hi, I noticed that fish was mentioned; vegetarians don’t eat fish. I eat a lot of pulses/legumes, nut butters, dried fruit, green vegetables, seeds and grains and my protein intake is fine. Iron is another mineral of concern and my intake of that is fine. I get my blood tested occasionally. The things I mentioned also have iron; however, it is better to get it from food that is combined with others. Supplements are not really absorbed by the body that well so it’s pointless buying them.

  2. Great stuff here! I’d love to post a link from my blog! I think it’s so important for vegetarians not to rely on soy as their sole protein source; you’ve done a great job highlighting the combinations available. I know that I feel best with lots of protein, with much of it coming from non-meat sources.

    • Soy is Genetically engineered food. Almost, most of it, now. Those Silk soy products, for ex., come from GMO plants since Monsanto, etc. have taken over most of the growing. I look
      for non-GMO Tofu. relying on one source of protein means you may not be getting all your amino acids in the right ratio. Vary the diet. get some organic eggs from a local farm/producer. Change up your meal plans every once in a while. Breakfast: Oatmeal, then eggs one day, then yogurt, then corn grits, back to eggs, buckwheat pancakes, back to oatmeal, etc. Do the same with Lunch, dinner. Variety. and you can add “boosters”, like adding shredded cheese to the grits or nuts to the oatmeal. Have some grass fed beef. or fish. a couple times a week. Cottage cheese/feta cheese added to salad. or with beets. good combo with balsamic vinegar. Beans/Lentils, Quinoa/cous cous or homemade tobuli made with bulghar wheat and parsley/lemon juice, add chopped tomatoes/cucumbers. Easy to make. Do it while watching your favorite show. A lot of the prep work for this stuff can even be done while sitting. Chickpeas are a good “booster” to add.

      • gayle wright says:

        Right on sister! an also soy is high is bad estogen which can give breast cancer , so yes no soy of any kind is the way to go!! your comment is fantastic! also alot of the grain these days are not of the old type an give people gluten intolerant problems, which is bad for the brain!!

      • sterre says:

        There’s no evidence to suggest that GMOs are bad for you, despite significant testing.

        That’s not even getting into the part where a lot of soy products that are sold to feed people (instead of ones used to feed livestock) are certified by the non-GMO project, to the chagrin of people like me who are scientifically literate, but still enjoy tofu.

        Also, seriously? You’re suggesting eating meat in response to a vegetarian?

        • you’re absolutely right, sterre – many tests have been done on GMOs and there is no evidence they are harmful in any way. i also couldn’t believe Pat was suggesting to eat meat…

          • GMOs are most definitely harmful. Monsanto does its own studies which of course prove they are safe so they can make money. There have been no longer terms studies done on these foods. There is no proof they are safe and they are clearly hiding thw reason why. Billion dollar chemical companies should not be trusted to say whether their food is safe or not. They created corn that produces its own insecticide and then we eat it…

          • There have not only been studies. But there have been incidents over the years as well. For instance, GMO corn was analyzed and compared to various heirloom corns. The nutrition content is much much lower in GMO. Pair that with all the controversial stuff. Do you really think the answer to global health can come from a company that makes POISON? Even more disturbing is the fact that Bayer is taking over the company. Because the next level is coming soon. Control through DRUGS. Theres more darkness than one wants to admit. Not only do we need to eat natural foods. But we need to grow them ourselves.

  3. Great information! I was a aware of the need to combine certain foods to maximise their useable protein content, and this is a really good guide for how to do it. The nutritional requirements for my large frame are high, especially with the wight training I do. Being smart about which food combinations I injest will save me $$$ along with its other benefits.

  4. I am a vegetarian and a runner as well (though not of your caliber). A friend of mine recommended your blog and I love it! Have you tried quinoa? I use it in several recipes.

    • Melissa says:

      I had a quinoa porridge at a restaurant in Ft Lauderdale, FL that was incredible. Sweetened with agave and had berries on top. I never considered making it sweet as opposed to savory. Delicious!

  5. I recently had a 4 day vegan trial, and it scared me just a little. I want to move towards a flexitarian diet. I know that it is not vegetarian, but at least it is better than eating meat 3 times a day everyday. I grew up eating meat with practically every meal, but the environmental impacts/ways animals are treated are frightening. Thanks for posting this info!! I love to see the science!

    • Hi Nicole. It’s funny that you mention how the vegan thing is a little scary; I’ve eaten a lot of vegan meals recently and noticed how easy it was compared to when I first considered what it would be like to eat vegan. I started as a pescetarian, then gradually got the desire to get rid of the fish, and recently I’ve WANTED to move away from dairy products. It’s amazing how natural it feels when you make the progression slowly. I think flexitarian is a great place to start, and even if you stay there, that’s nothing to be ashamed of compared to the way most people eat. Good luck!

      • I absolutely agree with the above! 🙂 I was pescetarian for ~20 years and then moved to full veggie very, very easily. Now my conversion to vegan is starting by not buying any animal products to cook with at home (90% of my food intake comes out of my own kitchen) and the only dairy and eggs I consume are when I’m disorganized and need something in a fix (it seems sometimes the only vaguely healthy option at my work is the wholewheat egg sandwich!), or someone (friend/family) has lovingly cooked me something that may contain milk or eggs but is still vego.
        If I mess up I don’t get upset with myself, I just remember not to make the same choice again in future.
        & I think of all the money I’m saving by eating vegan; it’s so cheap when you cook it all yourself!
        Good luck to Nicole! Enjoy the journey 🙂

      • Charles Ostrom says:

        Forks Over Knives

        Changed my outlook on eating immensely.

        Nutritionally, economically, environmentally, morally.

        On Netflix.

    • fyi check out alicia silverstone’s book, it is about that flexitarian sort of thing

      she really cares about the vegan responsibility dealie so at least she is coming from the right place

    • Little steps. Have meat at only one meal a day. then try skipping a day here and there. Nothing says you have to have the usual Three on your plate: meat, potatoes/vegetable. Why can’t it be TWO Veggies and whole grain rice? for example. Why not a sandwich and soup? We used to have grilled cheese/tomato soup night often when I was growing up. Or eggs for dinner. If you have pancakes for breakfast, you don’t get ice cream that day. that’s like 2 desserts. make a homemade blueberry pie. half the sugar. Eat that for lunch. Mix it up. who says you always have to follow the Leave it to Beaver three meals a day Plan? Sometimes I just “graze” all day, never really eating a whole “meal” at once, all day.

    • Melissa says:

      Great idea. Extremism in any one area of the diet IMO is not a good idea. It is nicer to animals to eat less of their products but there specific things in animal proteins that your body needs and you can’t get anywhere else, so cutting it out completely is not an option. If you can get pasture raised/wild caught (in most cases) and soy free feed ie. chicken, eggs, that is the best but good luck finding it, best bet is a co-op, but that can get costly. So everything in moderation my mom always said 🙂

      • Melissa says:

        Great idea. Extremism in any one area of the diet IMO is not a good idea. It is nicer to animals to eat less of their products but there are specific things in animal proteins that your body needs and you can’t get anywhere else, so cutting it out completely is not an option. If you can get pasture raised/wild caught (in most cases) and soy free feed ie. chicken, eggs, that is the best but good luck finding it, best bet is a co-op, but that can get costly. So everything in moderation my mom always said 🙂

        • Not so. There are vegan food plans that provide every single thing your body needs.

          • Charles Ostrom says:

            I concur.

            Where do animals that are carnivores get their nutrients?

            Thoroughbred race horces are vegan, as are gorillas.

            Both have muscle mass that defies the conventional teaching of animal based protein being necessary for a healthy diet.

            True story.

        • Wendy Sydnor says:

          Humans were not designed to eat meat. We can get everything we need from an alkaline diet ( no meat, no dairy, no processed foods, no genetically modified organisms).

          • Our bodies have become chemical waste dumps for “Big Food Conglomerates”.

            Just go whole food plant based diet – look after your body it’s the only place you have to live.

  6. Great list and good info, but it seems a little incomplete. Quinoa has all the essential amino acids ( And it seems like a lot of others are missing as well. Nonetheless, I’m glad you have info up about this!

    • Thank you Tracy! Like I said, my mom put it together… I don’t really look at that sort of info and just eat a variety of foods. But I’ll see if she’s willing to give it another read over.

  7. I’m loving your blog, but this has to be the most complex explanation of protien I’ve ever read on a blog. Your mother sure is interested in protien facts.

    The short version: eat from at least 2 groups (Grains / Vegetables / Nuts / Legumes) and your covered. Have you ever tried to not eat from at least 2 of those groups in a day? I mean come on; rice and bananas all day is about the only way you could manage it. If you can pack down rice with nothing on it for 3 squares a day there’s something different about you.

    If Tim VanOrden can run like he does on a “no protien” raw diet, I’m sure your mother was probably more upset about the lack of fat in her diet than the protien. It’s easy to convince yourself your body is craving protien when really your hankering for a nice hunk of saturated fat.

  8. Awesome blog!
    As a vegetarian my main source of protein is mycoprotein which is derived from a mushroom like fungis. Only one brand, quorn, makes fake meats with this. I prefer it over soy based proteins simply because I don’t like the taste of a good portion of the soy products Ive tried.

  9. This is really one of the best discussions I’ve seen on amino acids and the “protein myth.” Thanks so much for sharing. I usually eat meat for lunch and dinner, but I also eat a wide variety of vegies and legumes as well. I think I’m inspired to try to ditch the meat for a week and see where it takes me and how I feel!

    • Thanks Dana, glad it helps you. Your diet sounds similar to mine a while ago; I ate very healthy food but still a lot of meat. Everything got so much better when I gave up the meat. You should at least try.

  10. Wow! That is the most comprehensive protein information I have ever seen on one page! Great research! Good job. Cheers

  11. Hi!

    As an athlete, I love this post as I am going back and forth with remaining a meat-eater or becoming a vegetarian.

    This is one of the few posts that clearly outlines what I need to eat to eat to maintain my protein requirements as a vegetarian. THe only issue is cooking time. As a business owner, I don’t have a lot of time to cook – is it possible to provide a post on quick recipes that account for all your protein requirements plus nutrients as an athlete (without the use of supplements)?

    Also, other than Scott Jurek, would you know who else is pure vegetarian runner? I’m writing a post on my blog about vegetarian runners and was wondering who else I can add.



    • Hey Alok,

      Thanks for the post suggestion. I’ll think about that one and see if I can come up with enough material for it.

      As for pure-veggie runners, I really don’t know any other than Scott Jurek. I’m sure there are some; I just don’t really follow the pros (if they are that) very carefully. Brendan Brazier might be an obvious one. He’s a vegan triathlete who has a few books out.

      • Love the site Matt…

        I am a vegan athlete since 2007, prior to that I was a huge meat eater. I listened to a presentation about a raw food diet and how the health benefits were incredible. After that I spent about 2-3 weeks doing a lot of research on the vegan topic and decided I would give it a try to see if it helped my running.

        I became a Vegan cold turkey and within 3 days found I had more energy in the afternoons. Within two months I ran my fastest race in a while and won a bronze and silver medal at the World Masters Track & Field Championships. Two years later I would win two silver and a bronze at the World’s. This past winter I ran my fastest race in 10 years and won silver at the World indoor championships.

        To be getting faster at age 46 is not usual and I attribute a big part of it to the vegan diet.

        Since I became vegan I am much more aware of the animal rights and environmental aspects of being vegan. It is interesting how I turned a blind eye to it when eating meat.

        I only wish that I had known about the benefits when I was competing in the Olympics many years ago, who knows how much better I would have done 🙂

        Keep up the great work.


        • Hi Paul, thanks for your comment. It’s truly inspiring that you’ve seen such improvements at your age, especially for someone who was already performing at an elite level before becoming vegan.

          I look forward to hearing more from you and I hope you keep reading and commenting! Are you a raw-food guy too, or just vegan?

          • Could not make the transition to raw food. Not because I don’t think it would help more because I just don’t have the time to really be able to prepare all of the meals to be totally Raw. I would say I am about 50 -60% raw. Maybe one day I will make the complete transition.

  12. This is so great! I looked over the protein section before, but was particularly interested today since I’m trying to eat vegan as often as possible. Who knew that pumpkin seeds, pistachios, and cashews (my favorite) were complete proteins? I’m excited to make my own trail mix for snacks with these. Is there a difference between when “all aa” is written next to a food and “all aa in proper ratio”? Or are those two sentences saying the same thing?

    • Amanda, my guess is that when she wrote it, she meant “all aa in proper ratio” to mean more than “all aa.” While “all aa” has all the amino acids, perhaps they are not in the proper ratio. I wish I knew more. I like this document and a lot of people seem to appreciate it, but I don’t fully understand it myself!

  13. Thanks for this blog. I found it really helpful. I’ve been eating vegetarian for about 2 weeks now and I’ve been trying to do the proper research to make sure I get all the essential nutrients I need. I like to jog and I noticed that for the last 2 days I was feeling a little low on energy and lightheaded at times so I’m thinking that I might not be getting the right combination of aa’s particularly lysine. Hoppefully I’ll be able to fix that. Thanks alot for the info! Btw, can anyone tell me if consuming Hempseed oil is just as good as the seeds themselves?

    • I forgot to mention but I also wanted to know if you tell me where lentils might fit into that chart? Do they contain all the essential aa’s?

      • What can anyone tell me anything useful about chia seeds? I’m hearing alot about them and people are talking about them like they’re a miracle food. How are they as far as protein goes? Do they have other significant nutritional value? Thanks for any help..

    • Jesse, also consider iron deficiency as a cause of fatigue; that’s not uncommon among vegetarians and vegans who don’t make sure they’re getting enough.

      Hempseed oil is not a substitute for whole hempseed. The oil is valuable as a source of good fats, but it doesn’t have the protein, carbohydrate, and fiber that the whole seed does.

      To answer your questions in your other comments, I’m not sure about lentils and amino acids, but that should be easy to look up. They are a favorite protein and complex carb source of mine. And I believe that chia does have a decent amount of protein per volume, but you’d need to eat a lot of chia to really get a significant amount. So you probably can’t treat that as a primary protein source. I believe it’s the omega-3 fatty acid content that makes people call chia a miracle food.

  14. I have been a vegatarian for about 15+ years now (I’m currently 28). I wandered into a GMC shop (where they sell powders and whatnot) to see if they had any chews for my longer runs. What ensued was a lengthy conversation about what my diet is lacking. The guy said I need fish oil, a hearty multi-vitamin and protein powder to help sustain the necessary amino acids in my body. I remarked that 15 years without was doing me just fine to which he cited I was still young. I am not an exemplary vegetarian by any means but I do know I need to start being more aware of the amino acids, vitamins and proteins I’m getting (or not getting in this case). Any suggestions regarding dietary supplements?


    • Beth, that’s kinda funny. Of course those people want you to buy supplements. And I’m sure they’re trained to believe that high-protein should be the goal of all diets.

      I think iron might be important, maybe an omega-3 oil (from plants), and I like hemp protein too, though it doesn’t really provide all that much protein. And I take greens powder. I’m not the examplary vegetarian either, though. Check out Brendan Brazier’s books, he talks about supplements and other whole foods that do the job of many supplements. He’s more exemplary than we are!

  15. Thank you for the FANTASTIC information!! I’ve been looking for this kind of resources. I love weight training, but lately have had a lack of desire for traditional proteins (meat, fish). So good to know someone out there has this info. Thank you for sharing!

  16. Sabine B. says:

    Your Blog is great. I am so happy to have stumble upon it. I have been a vegetarian for 5 years and have recently decided to become a vegan. I’m also training for my first marathon and I want to make sure I’m geeting enough nutrients. Thanks alot for sharing your knowledge.
    Sabine B.

  17. JAMES SMOTHERS says:

    Amino acids-carrots have 20 of the 22 amino acids. Add carrot juice to any recipe for a energy drink. Also bread and flour and grain products are not souble in water, this can clog up the system. I think all grains and dairy should not be in your diet. I have arrived at this opinion through reading different authors.

  18. Matt, I LOVE your site, it’s super informative. I’ve been on and off a vegan/raw vegan diet for a few years now, and am finally ready to make the switch to a high raw vegan diet, once and for all. I noticed in one of your comments above that you mentioned not knowing of a Pro Vegan Runner other than maybe Brendan. Well, Tim Van Orden is a Raw Vegan in his 40s, who is winning races all over the place! He’s absolutely done amazing things after he switched to a Raw Vegan diet. I definitely recommend you look him up:

    Thanks again for putting this site together, I’m thoroughly enjoying it!

  19. P.S. for one of the BEST lectures I’ve ever heard on the “Protein Myth”, check out Tim Van Orden’s video:

    IF that link doesn’t work, try watching on his site:

  20. Concerned about my health, I started searching for alternative protein sources before I reduced/gave up meat.
    Thank you for compiling this great list of protein sources for vegetarians. I will use it as a guide toward my journey to a healthier life style.

    Best wishes!

  21. Wonderful, wonderful information thank you so much for presenting it so well. I can see a lot of work has gone into producing this site. A great read for people detoxing or colon cleansing who are looking for alternative protein foods rather than meat. After reading your content they may well decide to cut out meat altogether!

  22. Hi, I stumbled upon your web site, & I love it. I’ve been lacto/ovo for about 2 yrs and don’t think I’ll ever go back to meat. I get most of my protein from low fat dairy and beans along with whey powders. Everything is great, but I have lost a little strength over time. I’m not a “runner” I run a couple of times a week mixed in with other cardio workouts. I’ve always been more of a weight lifter. Like I said I’ve lost a little strength in some of my lifts and have been thinking of adding some more protein to my diet and found this article very helpful. I will continue to read your posts. Have you found any similar veggie blogs geared more toward the weight lifting crowd? Keep up the good work

  23. sprouted lentils provide complete protein, and they are so easy to make i’ve always got a tub of them in my fridge for a zero preparation snack

  24. I’m so glad to have found your blog! I recently decided to become a vegetarian and I’m really trying to eat only fresh, local and organic foods. I grew up eating meat with every meal, so when I told my family about my decision protein was a big concern, especially since I play rugby and started competing in triathlons. From your post and from how you describe your eating habits, as long as I eat a variety of foods I don’t need to overwhelm myself with protein worry! Thank you for your post!!

  25. naturalmelisa says:

    As was already stated by so many others-I do best when I DON’T try to count levels of protein in each vegetable/fruit/grain, etc. I just try to rotate a variety of colorful fruits and veggies, as well as keep the greenest leafy veggies I can find in mmy fridge on the weekly basis. I love sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds! I have to do better with my grain intake, though. I used to have such a low energy level-NOT anymore!:)

  26. well hopefully this do helps because I have been a vegetarian for almost 7 months and I am in my school’s swimming team which leaves me with no energy to even drive and I am worried about the long term effects and I am also loosing some hair. I want to eat healthier but my family isn’t vegetarian and they don’t really support me but they get mad because I don’t eat, but what am I supposed to eat if all it is in my house is white breads (I’m not fan of bread) and meat. They do have vegetables but just lettuce and tomatoes usually. Hopefully I can make them understand that i need their support. I am going to start eating more of your list (:

    • I am about 4 years late to this conversation, but if you are still vegetarian and still struggling I’d love to lend a hand. I am celebrating my 20th anniversary this year, and have been on a roller coaster of lectures, books, research, and a constantly changing nutrition plan. It’s taken me 20 years to finally feel like I have a grasp on what a healthy balance means to a vegetarian.

      It’s not easy. I grew up in Kansas where there wasn’t a single vegetarian, and my hunting family didn’t quite support my choice. I endured lecture after lecture about how I would stunt my growth. And I probably did, because I was ill informed and ill equip to handle such a huge change to my diet.

      I reached a very unhealthy time about 10 years ago, living off salads, boxed noodles, and processed foods left my immune system in shambles. But through research and change, I am now in the best shape of my life and feel so good I love to share it with anyone who will listen.

      Let me tell you, there’s a better way. Depending on where you live your resources might be limited, so it’s good to be well educated so you’re ready to confront any obstacle. First, arm yourself with the knowledge of what your missing nutritionally from your lack of meat, and then find a way to add that through plant based foods. Spinach saved my life. I never liked spinach, but as a vegetarian sometimes you must force yourself to learn to love the foods you hate, otherwise you have no choice but to shrivel up as an unhealthy bean or go back to the meat. So I found ways to enjoy foods I hated. First, I added spinach to lasagna instead of meat. And slowly my love of spinach grew, and I found myself adding it to everything. Make an egg sandwich and put spinach on it – delicious!

      Nuts are your best friend – quick, no cooking required, tons of protein. Family going for sushi? Order edamame and you’ll be eating as much protein then those eating fish! Avocados, Quinoa, Yogurt, Beans – what am I saying there’s a whole list on this page! Your options are endless, you just have to be a little adventurous and know that no one will do it for you. Only you can change how you eat. Also eat every 3 hours, you can eat in smaller portions and cram as much protein in as possible. Hummus is the most amazing creation ever, eat lots of hummus!!! Tofu is also super easy to enhance with flavor and is SO adaptable.

      Being a vegetarian is all about compromise, unless you want to be an unhealthy vegetarian. So learn to cook, force yourself to love the things you hate, and keep researching.

      Most importantly, don’t let anyone get you down. I chose this path when I was 12 years old, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I was teased by schoolmates and lectured by family. Only my mom had my back, even though she didn’t understand it she did her best to supplement my nutrition. Stay strong, and know that being a vegetarian doesn’t mean being unhealthy or sacrificing everything. It just means working a little harder, but the reward is worth it.

  27. Hi,
    Love your site.
    I’m 57 years old & have been a vegetarian since I was 16 years old. I’m moving towards a vegan diet. I do however eat greek yogurt. I agree with No Meat Athlete, an assortment of nuts, grains, legumes, fruits & veggies is the healthiest way to go. I train at Krav Maga Worldwide 6 times a week (Where most of the atheletes are on the paleo diet :() & am now running off to a 4 hour Olympic lifting class. My kids call me the Enegizer Bunny. I feel fit & healthy & plan to keep doing what I’m doing for many years to come 🙂

  28. I love this website! I am grateful my running buddies put me onto your blog! I have been vegetarian for the past 20 years and am moving to full vegan on January1st! I have been using fish oil (1500 mg of Omega 3/6) twice a day. Can you recommend an alternative to the Omega oil from what im currently using? I am using Nordic Naturals Fish oil. but once i go vegan, i am not goinng to be conntinuing w/ Nordic. My capsuls will run out on Saturday! Any suggestions would be helpful.

    • Georgina says:

      If you’re eating fish oil you are NOT a vegetarian!!!!

    • Flora Udo’s Choice Udo’s Oil, 3-6-9 Blend is a great substitute for fish oil for vegetarian/ vegan. It comes in a bottle and is refrigerated. You can order it online or find it at your Health Food stores.

  29. Thank you for this! I have been vegetarian for about a year and a half now, however I suspect that I’m not getting enough protein. I’m printing this list and posting it on my fridge! Hopefully I can start getting my diet balanced out a little better.

  30. Thanks for the info! It really helped!

  31. carlos concepcion says:

    I just want to say thank u! U are a god send. I used to run marathons when I used to eat meat but I’ve recently turned vegetarian (1/2 year now) and was not sure if i could run another marathon with the same power as I used to. And the fact I’m toying with the idea of competing in a triathlon. This will help a lot in my training!

    • Bill Pearl who was a 3 time Mister Universe champion was also vegetarian. I have no doubt you can do a triathlon on a vegetarian diet. Try 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 10 oz of your favorite juice to boost your energy. It works great for me on long runs. This idea was mentioned in “Born To Run,” by Christopher McCullough. Tarahumara Indians made a similar brew with chia seeds that helped them on ultra marathon runs.

      Good luck!

  32. i like u r site i am in search of proteins which help me in building blocks of the body can u please help me.

  33. … been a vegetarian since ’94 but have not consciously monitored my protein intake. However I have been very active physically (5 marathons, moderate weight lifting between runs and a little rock climbing). At 64 years young, I have no doubt you can get sufficient protein from non-meat sources.

    Thanks for the research. It is very helpful.

  34. I have been a vegetarian for a year and a half, but before that I never really cared for the taste of meat or seafood. Thank you for this website!! It has so much information. I love it. I hate when people ask me where I’m getting my protein from now. I eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and beans. I’m healthier now than ever before.

  35. my mom is 55 years lady she has lose some percent of eyes power please tell me what kinds of foods,can increase my mom eyes power.

  36. Brande Harris says:

    Hi, I am a doctor and I have an editorial recommendation , if you don’t mind. Instead of recommending that people “talk to their doctor” you should recommend they “ask their doctor for a referral to a dietician” I tell you from experience, none of the doctors I work with are well versed enough in diet and exercise to give rational advice. Otherwise, no complaints with your work! In fact, I’m going to be transitional to a more vegetarian lifestyle myself. (and subscribing to your newsletter in about a week) Thank you for your efforts!

  37. Thank you so much, I’m a soccer player and I’ve been noticing a huge decrease in energy I have when I run, and I’m on a tight schedule and we are put on strict diets, my diet was already strict with being a vegetarian and I had to cut down on my fat/calorie ratio and lately I’ve been feeling lightheaded and nauseous. This could really, really help me with my problem, thank you very much.

  38. Pankaj Chaumal says:

    Thank You ..No-Meat-Athlete for this remarkable Blog..
    I think the largest number of Vegetarians live in India…(correct me if I am wrong)
    And most of the strict vegetarians I meet have protein deficiency (at least they say so).
    Being a gym enthusiast, I have been contemplating for long to make/plan a complete diet for myself which can take care of my protein requirements.
    This write up surely will help to ..
    Appreciate and Thank You for this.
    Good Luck and God Bless!

  39. Great information! One of the best, most user-friendly resources I’ve found for vegetarian protein and for a balanced perspective on soy. (Or to say, I agree! Not too much soy, and little or no refined soy, and non-GMO). Thank you! I’m a vegan (14 years), a homeopathic practitioner, athletic, and a nutrition educator and “encourager”. I’ve been taking and being a distributor for the whole food supplement Juice Plus for 8 years, and feel it is a really good support for ongoing good health (a good protein powder, too, called “Complete”).

  40. Coffee House Philosopher says:

    In Regards Soy: Now that greater than 90% of the soy planted in the US is GMO, I believe it should not be relied on as a source of protein, or food in general, unless you are sure of the source. In other words knowing your farmer(s) is now more important than ever.

  41. So glad I stumbled on this article! This is such helpful information. I am always looking for ideas of foods to eat to gain more protein. Thanks for compiling this list!

  42. 01Cent Wise says:

    I have been a vegetarian for over 25 years (I’m 46), and probably am an “unhealthy” vegetarian, eating pretty much whatever I want (I don’t cook) but do eat lots of Mexican food, cheese, and salads. I have been naturally thin my entire life, until this year when I went through medical menopause. I’m struggling to change my routine but know I must. I’ve read women in meno should eat up to 120 g per day of protein as well as watch glutamine intake. Would you agree with this? Do you have any information on weight loss/ vegetarian diets for menopausal women? Also, I am not a runner, hope this doesn’t disqualify me from your site 🙂 thanks for any information or help you can provide.

  43. This is a great list! I’ve been veggie for a few years and have a tendency to become anemic, so I really need more protein in my diet to keep my energy up. This will be really useful to me! 🙂 Lisa

  44. Ahoi 🙂
    Matt, I think you did the right thing, to state the amounts relative to the calories. In my opinion, it would be even better if you could also calculate the amounts in regard of the portion size of the food.
    Then it would be possible (and easy) to apply this information and make a feasable meal plan.

  45. Conspicuously absent from your list are beets, kale, and quinoa. Is there a reason?

  46. What a great source to find! I’ve been looking into the essential amino acids, specifically the biochemical behaviors and the dietary sources/intake totals and this is so relieving to find. You wouldn’t believe how much work I’ve already put in to find all that information! Thanks so much for your in depth dietary analysis, this is greatly appreciated 😀

  47. Hi Matt, is it possible to get the list at the end of this blog post in PDF format?

  48. I am on day 4 of my vegan journey and am actually surprised about how easy it has been. My daughter and I are a little concerned about wanting cheese soon, but so far I haven’t. I think the main thing is to be prepared ahead of time for each next meal, and to try not to let yourself get hungry – when you are hungry, cravings start. So far so good. Glad I found your site!

  49. Hello. You list breads and eggs as good to eat. My doctor doesn’t want me to eat any carbs, no eggs or drink juices. What is your take on my doctors recommendations, and how many grams of sugar in fruit drinks should I drink?


  50. Could I get a print friendly copy

  51. Patricia Favero says:

    This is so useful – thank you! The second question I’ve gotten, especially when pregnant, was how do you get enough iron. I apologize if you’ve posted about this in the past. If you have, can you post the link? I recently noticed a 1/2 cup organic canned pumpkin has 15% rda. So I’ve added that to the repertoire, which otherwise only includes beans and grape nuts (90% rda in 1 serving). In the past when I’ve looked up spinach, I wasn’t impressed by the numbers or how you had to combine it for max absorption.

  52. Why vegans struggle weight and strength
    Why many vegans are weak, and fat…

    12 oz can tuna

    55 grams protein
    250 calories
    0 grams carbohydrate
    0 grams fat


    3 2/3 c. chickpeas

    55 grams protein
    986 calories
    165 grams carbohydrate
    15 grams fat


    2 1/2 c. soybeans

    55 grams protein
    635 calories
    50 grams carbohydrate
    30 grams fat

  53. Elisa Harvie says:

    Great blog!…A warning about chia seeds…They are great, however, I wound up in the hospital because I used them incorrectly!…I made a protein smoothie with one tablespoon of unsoaked chia seeds. They apparently expanded in my stomach and caused severe pain caused by constipation!…I have since heard of one other person that had the same problem. I would not use more than one teaspoon at a time. The doctors who know little about nutrition told me it could be diverticulitis but blood tests later ruled it out.

  54. I have tried and love Gardein products, and was hoping to understand how they compare to Morningstar products in terms of additives, etc.

  55. Love this! I’ve been a vegetarian for 10 years and love it! I’ll never go back. I am currently breastfeeding AND pregnant, so I’m struggling to feel full – so I was looking for a list like this. Thank you for putting it together!

  56. A very good post I have ever read on ‘proteins’ till now.

    I am going to make my food plan using the information given here.

    Thanks a lot.

  57. Gurpreet singh says:

    Dear Sir /madam, ur information is very useful and plzz suggest me that m trying to loose my weight but I have very low energy and stamina to exercise and also m vegetarian.. So plzzz suggest me full of veg protein and energy source so I can exercise and reach my ideal weight. Now m 82 kgs and height is 170 cm and my goal is 66 to 70 kgs..

  58. Kathleen Aldi says:

    Thank you very much for all of the helpful vegetarian info!

  59. What is gm supposed to be? g is the correct abbreviation for grams…

  60. Thanks for being the most comprehensive and understandable entrance to better health. Today I agreed to go vegan for the remainder of May (for my birthday-my gift to my body). I especially enjoy the non-judgemental conversations about where each person is on the road to reducing unhealthy food. Its a community that understands progress – slow, slippery and sometimes not healthy. My change is motivated from the NPR news story of the hospital in Texas that has gone vegan for its patients, staff and visitors. Now, vegan is so much harder than vegitarian. But, once the dairy is gone from my fridge, a little brie, butter and eggs, I will do my best til the end of the month.

  61. Nice work done. Please share some diet plan.

  62. wow…great info……but no info on how to make tasty high protein 3 meals a day……i will give some advice to all reading….basically my traditional food…..sessame seed balls made with brown sugar ,ghee and jaggery, chickpea flour balls made with brown sugar,ghee and jaggery, roasted chickpea flour with brown sugar mix with water and buttermilk for summer season , spinach cottage cheese dish with whole wheat flour roti or mix flour roti, mustard spinach leaf dish with unleavened corn roti ……the list is endless r some high protein foods which r easy to make ,tasty n give feeling of fullness too

  63. This is the best meatless protein food list EVER ! many Thanks!

  64. Really appreciate this page, thank you for sharing.

  65. amzaing Blog!
    As a Vegetarian Marathon runner, I feel it is very useful too.

  66. Hello my name is Mackenzie. I am a female athlete. I compete in Cross Country and Track, so i am a runner. I have been looking a lot into becoming vegetarian. Not only for the animals, but my health. I struggle a lot with digestion and that obviously has a lot with what i eat. I am a pretty small girl i am about 5’6 and weigh 110. Ive always been pretty tiny. I would love to continue my vegetarian lifestyle but i wanna make sure I’m doing everything right! I in no way want to lose weight obviously, it mostly for my health and of course the cute animals! If you could help me with all i need to know that would be amazing, or even just a few of your tips.:) I’ve read many articles and yours has really helped me. Thank you so much!

  67. Thank you so much for writing this article. I found it very informative as I try to find more vegan protein sources.

  68. What an exhaustive list! I’m amazed by your thoroughness here. This will be so useful for myself and also my patients that have vegetarian restrictions. I always aim to take into consideration each patient’s wants and needs, and this is now another tool I will use to give that personalized service.

  69. Patricia Ellis says:

    Thanks for the shopping list. I would like to stop getting your emails as I am a handicapped person I can no longer do the things I did before so I just needed a healthy diet .
    Patricia Ellis

  70. This is an awesome meatless protein resource! I had no idea the amino acid makeup of some of the foods I was eating, and I will use this going forward. Totally helps with that protein kick after my crossfit workouts.

  71. Jane Smith says:

    Hi, I really appreciate all your research and great information you post. I learn so much from you!

    I have a question: how “bioavailable” is plant protein to us veggies? Are there data showing how well we digest and absorb plant proteins v. animal protein? It’s one of the things my flesh-eating friends harp on about :-/

    I’d love to have something to counter-argue with!

  72. Hey Matt, where did you get those recommendation numbers for each of the amino acids?
    Great article btw!!

  73. As a vegetarian of over 40 years I still look for advice and thank you for putting this together.

    Please note though – parmesan cheese is NOT vegetarian – a common and frustrating error by many restaurants putting a “V” next to dishes with parmesan in – other cheeses are also made using the enzymes found in the stomach linings of slaughtered calves so people should check. Another mistake is advertising as vegetarian, items that have been cooked (often deep fried) where meat or fish has also been fried, these are not then vegetarian.
    Thanks again for your help.

  74. Monika Bhardwaj says:

    Great Blog Mr.NoMeatAthelete 🙂 … it has soooo much detailing about, how the body functions and the comments from the readers are helpful too. I am a vegetarian since childhood, have been into sports and every time I was getting hammered by the assumptions & questions, people has been telling me – that ‘Vegetarians are weak physically’. Well I am doing Crossfit now from last 1 year. Considering the style of workout it is , yes I have to stay high on proteins intake, but I am able to compete with my co-crossfitters who are hardcore meat-eaters.

    Adding ‘Sweet Potato’ in the diet once in a day helps a lot – as it is high in nutrients and provide energy to the body with less calories.

  75. Sagar Desai says:

    Loved reading this blog! However I have a few questions. I am a vegetarian and I do a lot of fitness, but I am trying to gain muscle weight. I drink this protein shake called Premier Protein with 30g of protein after each of my workouts (5x a week). I was wondering if you’ve heard of this and if so, should I continue to drink it because I’ve heard protein shakes can be good and bad for you. Also, I am a college student so accessing all this food is not that easy since many dining halls are serving primarily meat. Do you have any advice for foods I can try? My breakfast consists of scrambed eggs and fruit. Lunch is a slice of pizza, fruit (strawberries/pineapples/canteloupe/banana), and a bowl of spinach. Dinner is usually the same as lunch. I want to increase my calorie intake but with the right foods so hopefully you can guide me in the right direction!

  76. My wife and I both grew up eating meat. Fast food. Sweets The typical “kill yourself” diet. Being in our 40s we have had to worry more about our health and our kids. So after trying so many things over the years, we finally settled on a vegetarian diet. The Forks Over Knives film really gave us the needed insight. So we decided to try giving up meat and oil as much as possible. While I don’t believe a perfect diet is possible. We can at least make the effort. So far I am amazed at how easily this has happened for us in the past month. It seems to be about trying many different recipes and finding some that deliver both the nutrition and the taste. There are many great recipes that mock “unhealthy” foods. But I am suspecting that I may or may not be more carb sensitive than I previously thought. Otherwise, it seems to work well for us. We’re still learning each day. Our youngest daughter likes giving up eating animals. But our son struggles with not having his steak. lol.

  77. Im completely shocked that people WANT to eat processed foods! Nothing that is bought in a packet or box is natural… eat fresh fruit and vegetables people – these are the only items that you KNOW for sure what is in them.

  78. Elisa Harvie says:

    Please see my warning about chia seed!…use SPARINGLY!…

  79. Anand Jain says:


    We are vegetarian. My son (8 years old) is diagnosed with food allergy specifically to Lentils and pulses. His allergy sometimes is very critical (Anaphylaxis stage). Understand that pulses has large quantity of proteins. Now that he should not have pulses, what is your recommendation so that sufficient protein is fed to him. He is not allergic to Milk products. Any vegetables, fruits and milk products which has good aminoacids and proteins.


  1. […] them stronger. Every meal should contain some sort of protein, and this doesn’t necessarily mean chicken or eggs. Try salsa featuring black beans, or a handful of chia seeds added to a […]

  2. […] High Protein Vegetarian Foods – No Meat … – A list of vegetarian protein foods, complete with protein contents and amino acid profile information. […]

  3. […] Although some meat in your diet is good, we eat way too much meat in our modern diet, especially red meat. Meat makes us sluggish because the body has a hard time digesting it and breaking it down because of its high fat content. I’m not dissing fats in meat at all; as a matter of fact, I feel that fats in meat are essential to a healthy diet. However, if you want to have energy all day, eat a lot of veggies, a little bit of grains, a little bit of fruit, some seafood, and a little bit of meat. I think 2-4 oz of red meat is sufficient for a meal. And if you are worried about protein, there are plenty of other ways to get protein besides meat. […]

  4. […] you’re a vegetarian, check out this article on how to increase your protein […]

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