The best protein sources for vegetarians
Pulses and derivatives

The best protein sources for vegetarians


It is vox populi that vegetarians do not eat the necessary proteins because they exclude meat from their diet, which is attributed to a large amount of protein. However, such a statement could be defined as a myth.

On average, ” the recommended protein dose to eat is 0.8 grams for every kilogram a man weighs and 0.6 grams per kilogram for women,” says Gemma Oña, SAIA nutritionist. An amount that “vegetarians can cover with vegetable protein, even though they do not consume meat,” says Adriana Oroz, nutritionist at Alimmenta.

That vegetarians cannot cover the recommended protein dose with vegetable proteins, is a myth

Both nutritionists agree that, generally, “you consume more grams of protein than is recommended,” although the calculation depends on your physical activity. A person who exercises will need more protein than someone with a more sedentary life.

As Oroz explains, “vegetable proteins also provide essential amino acids.” They are essential because our body cannot generate them by themselves. Some foods contain the complete protein, that is, all amino acids; others, however, need to be supplemented with more food to do so.

“Plant proteins also provide essential amino acids”

Adriana Oroz

Food Nutritionist

Oroz gives the example of lentils. “Although they belong to the group of legumes, whose 20% of their composition are proteins, they lack an essential amino acid: methionine.” To complete the lack of methionine, the nutritionist recommends consuming rice, which does contain it, although it lacks lysine, an amino acid that lentils do have.

For this reason, ” lentils and rice are mixed in some recipes,” says Oña. On the other hand, Oroz ensures that there is no need to mix them. “You can eat lentils at noon and rice for dinner, that’s enough.”

Pulses and derivatives

“Legumes are a great source of protein, as well as their derivatives (tofu and tempeh) , which contain the same protein concentrate as legumes,” says Oroz. However, as previously explained with the case of lentils, most legumes contain many proteins but “are incomplete,” says Oña, who recommends mixing them with cereals or nuts.


Soy is a food rich in vegetable protein and one of its advantages, according to Oroz, is that “it is easy to introduce into the diet .” An example would be substitute products, such as soy milk, which vegans take to eat protein without the need to consume meat.


For every 100 grams of cereals, 11% of its constitution is protein. Some of the highlights are seitan, oats, and spelling, among others. Oña recommends “combine them with nuts and seeds.”


One of the best-known pseudocereals is quinoa. Although Ordoz points out that “the amount of grams of protein per 100 grams of quinoa is low,” both nutritionists agree that it is one of the few foods with complete protein. Other pseudocereals that could match the protein level of quinoa are amaranth or buckwheat, they explain.


Oroz highlights peanuts, which contain 23 grams of protein for every 100 grams of dried fruit. This could be due to the fact that the peanut belongs to the group of legumes, “although in allergology it is classified as dry fruit,” says Oña, who dismisses it “as one of the best sources of protein because it is very caloric.” The nutritionist recommends “nuts and cashews, among others, mixed with seeds.”

Eggs and dairy

Despite not being vegetables; Eggs and Lactovegetarians and Ovolactovegetarians include eggs and/or dairy in their diet. Oña assures that those who eat these foods get a complete diet since they obtain vitamin B12, a vitamin of animal origin. For this reason, “vegans must strictly prepare their diet and expect to take B12 supplements.”

About Saad Mushtaq

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