A chopping board with a variety of vegetarian foods high in protein.

Best high protein vegetarian foods

It is a common concern that those following an exclusively vegetarian or vegan diet may not be able to get enough protein through food alone.

After all, some of the biggest sources of protein are meat and fish, both of which vegetarians and vegans do not eat.

However, with some forward planning, the good news is that you can get all of the protein you need through some vegetarian high protein foods. The recommended daily intake of protein is 55.5g for men and 45g for women.1

However, you should look to increase your protein intake if you do a lot of training or you live a very active lifestyle.

Here are some of the best protein rich foods for vegetarians:

Eggs

First up on our list is eggs.

These can be eaten as part of a vegetarian diet (but not as a vegan diet, since vegans do not eat anything which is derived from animals).

Eggs are a good source of protein for vegetarians, with over 6g of protein in just one large egg.2 Eggs are super nutritious too as they are excellent (or should that be egg-cellent?) sources of selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals like zinc, iron and copper.3

The great thing about eggs is that they are incredibly versatile.

There are lots of healthy ways to eat eggs included boiled, scrambled, poached and in an omelette.

Nuts

A 28 gram portion of mixed nuts contains around 5g of protein.Nuts which are highest in protein include peanuts, almonds, pistachios, cashews and walnuts.

Not only are they full of protein but nuts are also loaded with antioxidants, which help to combat oxidative stress caused by free radicals.

Free radicals are unstable molecules which can cause damage to cells.5

Nuts can be eaten as a nutritious snack and, thanks to their high protein content, they will keep you feeling full in between meals.

Spinach

Well – did you see the muscles on Popeye? Ok, so eating spinach might not make our biceps grow immediately but it is full of nutrients and high in protein.

A 100g portion of spinach contains almost 3g of protein and just 23 calories, making it one of the best veg protein sources.

Spinach is also rich in lots of other vitamins too including vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C as well as being a good source of magnesium, iron, potassium and calcium.6 Spinach can be added to just about any dish for added nutrients. Try including it in a vegetable lasagne, in curries and as a side dish.

Oats

Oats are one of the highest vegetarian protein sources, with almost 17g of protein for every 100g of raw oats. They are also 11% fibre, offering more soluble fibre than any other grain.7

Start your day with some overnight oats. Soak them the night before, add your desired flavours and toppings and then just pop them in your bag for a delicious breakfast on the go.

Oats make for a great breakfast, as both protein and fibre help to fill you up quicker and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

Eating them at breakfast time should keep you feeling full up until lunch and stop you reaching for unhealthy snacks.

Lentils

Lentils are part of the legume family and they are made up of over 25% protein, making them one of the highest non meat protein sources.

As well as this, around 128g of lentils contain almost half of your recommended daily fibre intake so they are another satisfying food which will keep you feeling satiated.8

Again, they can be added to lots of dishes like curries, salads and soups.

Chickpeas

Another member of the legume family, chickpeas have been grown in Middle Eastern countries for thousands of years but they have become very popular in the UK in recent years, thanks to their nutrients.9

One serving of chickpeas contains between 10 and 15 grams of protein. As well as this, they also have 9-12g of fibre and 34-45g of carbohydrates.

They are also rich in some vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron and phosphorous.

Chickpeas make a good addition to salads and they are also the basis for a hummus dip which makes for a delicious vegetarian snack.

Just chop up some carrots, peppers and cucumber to go with it.

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Last Updated: 8th January 2021

bhupesh-panchal2

Author: Bhupesh Panchal, Regulatory Affairs

  • Joined Holland & Barrett: April 2019
  • Qualifications: Masters Degree in Toxicology, BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry

Bhupesh started his career as a clinical toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products. After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.

Bhupesh specialises in vitamins & minerals nutrition, health benefits & safety of botanicals and traditional herbal medicines. View Bhupesh's LinkedIn profile. In his spare time, Bhupesh likes to cycle and has been learning to speak Korean for several years.

 

Sources: 
  1. https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/body-building-sports-supplements-facts/
  2. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/ingredient-focus-eggs
  3. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/8-benefits-of-nuts#TOC_TITLE_HDR_4
  4. 8 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/protein-for-vegans-vegetarians#TOC_TITLE_HDR_4
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