The Best 10 High-Protein Foods for Vegetarians

Incorporating a greater variety of plant-based foods and adhering to a well-structured vegetarian diet can provide all the necessary nutrients required for your age, gender, and activity levels while offering numerous additional advantages.

A diverse vegetarian diet consisting of whole foods generally has lower levels of saturated fat and higher amounts of folate, fibre, and vitamins C and E. Most vegetarians easily achieve the recommended daily intake of fruits and vegetables, with many surpassing this suggestion.

Plant-based diets consume fewer natural resources, resulting in a reduced environmental impact. If you are worried you are not getting enough protein in your diet and want to know what foods to eat, then below are the best foods to eat that are high in protein if you are a vegetarian.

Are plant-based foods a good source of protein?

Protein is a nutrient that people transitioning to a plant-based diet often worry about. However, there are numerous valuable plant-based protein sources available.

Some plant proteins are labelled ‘incomplete’ because they lack one or more essential amino acids required for growth and repair. By consuming a varied diet with different plant protein sources, you can ensure you get all the amino acids your body needs. No evidence indicates that individuals following a diverse plant-based diet are likely to experience a deficiency in this crucial macronutrient.

We have analyzed various plant foods in terms of their protein content and the amount they provide in a typical serving, allowing you to select from our list confidently.

Our top 10 plant-based proteins are

1. Tempeh

Tempeh, which is produced from fermented soybeans, is a protein-rich food. With a 100g serving offering 20g of protein, it boasts a higher protein density than tofu.

Soy provides all nine essential amino acids required for growth, repair, and immune functions, making it a valuable addition to plant-based diets.

If you’ve never cooked with tempeh, try roasting or stir-frying it with a generous amount of spices to achieve a delightful, rich flavour.

2. Lentils

Lentils are an affordable, easy-to-prepare option that adds a ‘meaty’ texture to dishes like vegan lasagne or sweet potato cottage pie. Around one-third of the calories in lentils come from protein, making them one of the highest protein legumes by weight.

Compared to whole grains such as oats, wheat, barley, and rice, pulses like lentils contain approximately double the protein content. Combining the two creates an ideal mix, complementing each other by providing essential amino acids. Adding three heaped tablespoons of cooked lentils to your meal will yield around 9g of protein, fibre, folate, and potassium.

3. Peanuts

Peanuts, despite their name, belong to the legume family, which also includes soybeans, lentils, and garden peas. People often call them groundnuts because they grow in pods along the ground instead of on trees.

Eating a small handful of peanuts or 2 tbsp of peanut butter supplies around 8g of protein. Add peanuts to a vegan curry or create peanut butter to add to porridge or a smoothie for a powerful protein boost.

4. Tofu

Derived from cultured soy milk, a 100g serving of tofu delivers approximately 8.1g of protein. Tofu comes in various forms, such as silken, firm, and marinated, making it an incredibly versatile ingredient – try using it in tofu breakfast pancakes or crafting a Japanese-inspired salad.

If you’re new to tofu, take some time to learn how to cook it properly.

5. Beans

Kidney, black, pinto, and many other bean varieties serve as essential staple foods in various cultures and offer high protein content per serving.

Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, also boast significant protein levels.

Most bean types provide around 15 grams of protein per cooked cup (170 grams). They are excellent sources of complex carbs, fibre, iron, folate, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, and numerous beneficial plant compounds.

6. Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds originate from the Cannabis sativa plant, which shares the same family as the cannabis plant. However, hemp seeds contain only trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the compound responsible for the (feeling high) psychoactive effects of cannabis.

Though not as well-known as other seeds, hemp seeds offer 9 grams of protein per 3-tablespoon (30-gram) serving. They also have high levels of magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, and selenium, providing a good source of omega-six and omega-three fatty acids in the ratio ideal for human health.

Interestingly, research suggests that the type of fats found in hemp seeds may help decrease inflammation and alleviate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and certain skin conditions.

7. Soy milk

Soy milk, derived from soybeans and typically fortified with vitamins and minerals, can be an excellent dairy milk alternative for those avoiding dairy.

With 6 grams of protein per cup (244 mL), it is also a rich source of calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12. Soy milk can be found in most supermarkets. It is an incredibly versatile product we can drink on its own or use in various cooking and baking recipes.

8. Oats

Consuming oats offers an effortless and tasty method to incorporate protein into any diet.

Half a cup (40 grams) of dry oats delivers roughly 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fibre. Oats also contain magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, and folate. While not classified as a complete protein, oats have a higher quality protein than other popular grains like rice and wheat.

Oats can be used in various recipes, from oatmeal to veggie burgers, or ground into flour for baking purposes.

9. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are an excellent protein source because they contain 5 grams of protein per ounce (28 grams), significantly contributing to daily protein intake. As a plant-based protein, they are ideal for vegetarians and those looking to change their protein sources.

Chia seeds offer a range of essential nutrients, such as iron, calcium, selenium, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds. Their versatility in recipes further enhances their appeal as a protein source.

10. Spirulina

Spirulina is an excellent protein source for vegetarians because it offers a high-quality plant-based protein with all the essential amino acids needed for peak health.

As a nutrient-dense superfood, it provides 8 grams of protein per 2 tablespoons (15 grams). It contains essential nutrients like iron, B vitamins, and antioxidants.

Its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties further enhance its appeal as a protein source, making it an ideal choice for vegetarians seeking to diversify their protein intake.

Why do we need protein?

Protein is an essential macronutrient required for numerous vital functions in the human body. It facilitates tissue growth, repair, and maintenance and immune system support. Protein also plays a critical role in enzyme and hormone production and is an energy source when needed.

Consuming sufficient protein helps maintain muscle mass, supports metabolic processes, and improves overall health and well-being.


The top 10 high-protein foods for vegetarians offer a diverse and nutritionally rich selection for those seeking to maintain a balanced and healthful diet. Vegetarians can effectively meet their protein requirements and enjoy the associated health benefits by incorporating these plant-based protein sources.

These foods provide essential amino acids and deliver an array of vitamins, minerals, and fibre that contribute to overall well-being. Vegetarians can enjoy a sustainable, delicious, and nutrient-dense lifestyle by embracing these protein-rich options.