Nov 21

Sources of Protein: Vegetarian and Vegan

Are you geared up to eat?



My stretchy pants are ready.

Before you start the Thanksgiving extravaganza, I have an awesome guest post from Allie about vegetarian protein sources.

Allie decided to start training for a her own figure competition, and began working with my trainer a couple of months ago.  We’ve worked out together a few times and let me tell you – this girl lives up to her blog name (Forgotten Beast).  She is a beast.

You guys know the crazy amounts of protein I’ve been eating?  Well, Allie has a very similar nutrition plan, only she’s doing it vegetarian!  While you may not need quite as much protein as we try to eat, it is important to have an adequate amount (typically 0.8g per pound of body weight for athletes).


Instead of a typical What I Ate Wednesday, check out the creative ways Allie crams in the vegetarian protein in a day.

Be sure to click here to head over to Jenn Peas and Crayons to get to see how everyone else is ramping up for Turkey Day!


Hey kids, I’m Allie! You may have seen me pop up on Laura’s blog from time to time, since this wonderful guest-blog-post-host inspired me to get on the figure competitor train and has put up with me showing up on her doorstep three times now. Training for a figure competition requires mega-protein, and I’m trying to do it on a vegetarian diet.  This may seem impossible, but I wanted show just how easy it can be with some pointers/ideas for getting vegetarian protein in any diet.

Soy, Beans and Lentils

I’m grouping these together to keep it short and sweet. I mean, those are the pretty obvious sources of vegetarian protein, right? But if you’re in a rut or just don’t know what to do with it, you’ve got to give Laura’s Chick-less Nuggets and TVP Oatmeal (20g protein) a try – or pick up a package of tempeh (23g) to make “meat” sauce, stir-fries and more.


Nuts and Seeds

I feel like nuts are another obvious source of veggie protein—but what about seeds? Sunflower seeds (7g protein), pumpkin seeds (9g protein) and hemp seeds (11g protein) are all fabulous sources of protein – and they taste pretty darn good too.



Whole eggs (7g protein) and egg whites (4g protein) are some of the most adaptable proteins. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert – there’s no wrong time for scrambled eggs, PB & Jeggs, or an omelet.



Greek yogurt tops the charts in the protein-from-dairy category (23g protein in brands like Fage and Trader Joe’s). Other good dairy-based protein sources include cottage cheese (15g protein) and ricotta.


Vital Wheat Gluten

Not an option for the wheat and gluten-free among you, but otherwise?  23g of protein in one serving – and there are SO many ways to use VWG. You can make your own seitan, faux chicken, faux breakfast sausage (Editor’s Note: I’ve made Allie’s recipe with TVP and it is really good!), high-protein bread and more.  Save money and all the preservatives and sodium you find in the vegan “meat” options at grocery stores by making your own.


Protein Powder

Protein powder is an easy way to get a protein boost.  While it is not a replacement for real, whole foods, it can supplement shakes, meals and an overall balanced diet.  There are so many good vegan protein powders out there that there is no reason feel powders are limited to those who can/want to drink whey and casein.  (Or beef protein powder. Really? Has anyone tried this?)


Greens and Veggies

Of course I can’t omit the veggies! Don’t let these precious grams of protein go unnoticed! While a serving may only have 1-3g of protein, if you get 5-6 servings in a day, you’re adding 15g of protein!


So How Do You Put It All Together?

Here’s a sample of what a day may look like for me (keep in mind I’m eating seven meals and aiming for crazy amounts of protein – just like Laura – you only need a few of these to meet everyday health goals!):


  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt and fruit (24g)
  • Post-Workout: Peaches and cream smoothie (Vanilla protein powder, frozen peaches, hemp seeds, almond milk) (36g)
  • Morning Snack: Lentil flatbread topped with peanut butter (22g)
  • Lunch #1: Tempeh “bacon” and sautéed collard greens (26g)
  • Lunch #2: Vital wheat gluten “chicken” salad (27g)
  • Dinner: TVP and cottage cheese “hot pocket” with a side of oven-roasted broccoli (42g)
  • Dessert: Egg white topped with cranberries and sugar-free syrup (17g)


Grand Total? 194g of protein


And not an animal in sight.  Half of these options are vegan as well, so, even if you omitted the eggs and dairy (and I do mean omitted—not even substituted one of the other many amazing and completely plant-based protein options), this day would still have 140g of protein – much more than average daily protein needs (which seem to be around 50 – 100g for ladies, from what I’ve read).

While I’m not a huge fan of numbers when it comes to food and nutrition, they can be a helpful guideline, so I’ll include this: this entire day comes in at under 2000 calories and balances out to a 40/40/20 macro ratio.

I hope this answers some questions/busts some myths about vegetarian protein!


Thanks again to Allie for such an incredible post.  I am so impressed by her dedication!  For Thanksgiving I’m taking a few days off to relax.  I hope you all get to do the same.  

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

How are you “falling into good habits” over the holiday season?

Do you make an effort to get protein throughout the day?  Post-exercise?



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  1. Miz

    um wow?
    you had me committed at 194!!

  2. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets

    One hundred ninety four grams. Damn, that’s impressive; you go girl! I love seeing you bust the protein only comes from meat myth; it makes my day.
    In other news, I just recently switched from a non-dairy yogurt to a Greek yogurt with honey and it is to die for delicious. Where have I been on this one? How many months have I lost? Oh well, I’m making up for that time now. Have a great Turkey Day!

    1. Laura

      Greek yogurt is a favorite snack! I like to buy the plain and mash up fruit or pumpkin and spices in it to create my own flavors.

    2. Allie

      I gave up on finding good dairy-free yogurts, they all seem to be cups of sugar and fake flavor with no real food value. Love the Greek yogurt tang, goes with sweet, goes with savory, and yup, protein!

  3. Fran@BCDC

    Great post, Allie! Yes, that’s a whopping lot of protein! Over the past 6 months or so, I’ve been tracking my protein (not always consistently) and I am trying to add protein overall. I’ve been told I need more as I get older (who me?!?) That’s one of my 2013 goals…consistently add more protein…Make me accountable!

    1. Laura

      You are so right. It is especially important for women as we age – that bone density is SO important. My grandmother had osteoporosis and I never want to end up in a brace like that.

    2. Allie

      Just keep making your cottage cheese salads/mixes, those always look so tasty! ;)

  4. Laura @ LauraLivesLife

    Great information – I am not a vegetarian, but I like easy sources of protein and most of the time that is vegetarian!

  5. Sue

    Awesome post, Allie! Lately I’ve been neglecting my protein intake, but I guess paying more attention to it can’t hurt. Your recipes look great, especially that lentil flatbread. I need to try that!
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  6. Danielle

    Great post! Super impressive how all that plant protein adds up. Great tips!

  7. Khushboo

    Love Allie & this post! It drives me nuts when people ask vegetarians/vegans where they get their protein from! As Allie has shown, it’s more than possible without crazy concoctions or spending an absurd amount of moolah! Although I am not racking up as much protein as you guys daily, I still make a conscious effort to include a protein source in my meal I don’t know if it’s for real or just psychological but I definitely notice a difference in my hunger levels when protein is absent!

    1. Laura

      Protein for sure keeps you full longer – another reason to make sure you’re getting enough around these holiday months. It helps curb the snack-y urges. :)

  8. Sam @ Better With Sprinkles

    I never thought of making my own high-protein bread…I’m going to have to try that sometime! I aim for a high number of protein, because my workout goals right now involve gaining muscle. I don’t count anymore, but I’m probably around 115-130 grams a day.

    1. Laura

      Sounds like you are off to a great start. I’d say that amount is perfect for someone with your goals.

  9. Jody - Fit at 55

    WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a great guest post & Allie – great info!!!!! I am not a vegetarian nor gluten free but it never hurts to add it in every so often or on “Meatless Monday”! :) Some amazing eats there – just like Laura!

    I don’t compete but I certainly lift as you well know so YES, I get my protein in for sure!

    I take the holidays like very other day of the year. I plan to eat my normal way & then I plan for a treat or two. I keep up my workouts as well! :)

    Hope you have a wonderful one!

    1. Allie

      Thanks Jody! And yep, this info can definitely apply to meat-eaters as well, as who doesn’t love to branch out/try new things every so often?

  10. Alex @ Brain, Body, Because

    194?! Whoa! That’s really impressive.

    I also make an effort to get protein throughout my day and, also being vegetarian, it does take a little bit of planning and thought to ensure that I hit my goals. This post is really helpful, thank you!

    1. Laura

      Alex – I have an earlier post with a veg-protein chart. Maybe this will help you out too: http://www.sprint2thetable.com/2012/07/vegan-protein-sources-recipes/

      1. Alex @ Brain, Body, Because

        Thanks, Laura! That’s an awesome resource and I love that you linked recipes. Pinned!

  11. Kristina

    you KNOW I love this topic. and I am impressed with your diets during training and competition – that is intense! I am making it a priority to try tvp oatmeal next week!! need to see what this is all about! and vital wheat gluten, how I love thee – I wish you loved me back!

    happy Thanksgiving to two of my favorites! XO

    1. Allie

      I hope you’re giving it a go–perfect fall food to shake up the usual oatmeal routine.

  12. Laura

    Awesome post! I was curious about plant based diets and high protein… I’m impressed that Ali can handle both. Happy Thanksgiving, Laura!

  13. Kierston

    I always make sure I eat protein with every meal!

    I have yet to try Tempeh….Is it tasty?

    1. Laura

      Tempeh is my favorite vegan protein. It can taste bitter to some starting out, but that’s easily avoided by steaming it. I made tempeh crab cakes a while ago and my (non-vegan) friends said they were like the real thing. I also like to roast mine with veggies. It gets nice and crunchy!

    2. Allie

      It’s a lot like tofu–it’s all in how you cook it! But it does make great burgers/meat sauces/(and crab cakes? Did I somehow miss this recipe??) as it has a little more density/structure/texture than tofu.

  14. Alex @ therunwithin

    this is seriously awesome, thank you so much for sharing this. I love getting new sources of protein that won’t upset my stomach.

    1. Laura

      Not sure if you saw this old post, but I have a chart of veggie protein sources that might be useful too: http://www.sprint2thetable.com/2012/07/vegan-protein-sources-recipes/

  15. Ali @ WHOLEistically Fit

    Thanks for all the great info.! I’m definitely going to check out the high-protein bread recipe and look into vital wheat gluten. It sounds interesting and I don’t think I’ve tried it before. :)

    1. Allie

      Vital wheat gluten is my current favorite–cheap, easy, and so many options for how to use it!

  16. MassachusEATS

    Great info – thank you for sharing! :)

    LOVE the funny someecard too, btw!!!!

  17. Amanda @ .running with spoons.

    It used to drive me crazy when I was veggie and people would ask me where I get my protein. Seriously? It’s in everything! Back when I was lifting and exercising more intensely, I aimed for around 120g a day, but now I don’t track anymore. Some days are more carby, and some days are not proteiny… as long as I feel good, I just go with the flow :)

    1. Laura

      That’s the best philosophy. I’m always wanting more carbs after a leg day or a run.

  18. Devon @ Health in Equilibrium

    Oh I just bought that same Vega protein powder!! Can you let me know how it is?? I normally use sunwarrior, but that one was on sale. Great post though. There are so many great sources of protein that don’t involve meat. I think I could live on eggs and lentils and be happy :)

    1. Laura

      I like SunWarrior best for the nutritional stats, but Vega is tasty.

    2. Allie

      I buy it for the stats/ingredients and not the taste–I’ll be the first to admit that there are better-tasting options out there, but Vega is great in terms of the protein it provides and the ingredients it contains. So it really depends on how you’re going to use it/what you are expecting.

  19. lindsay

    i’m so impressed my allie and by laura! such amazing combos with amazing vegetarian food. PB & Jeggs are a fav

  20. Tara @ Sweat like a Pig

    It’s impressive how you can eat that much protein without meat!! I think I told you this already, but there is a figure competitor here in the UK who prepped for comp by drinking 8 protein shakes a day for 12 weeks. Um, yeah, that would kill me.

    1. Laura

      Really?! That much protein power goes right through me, if you know what I mean… LOL!

  21. Lisa

    Great post! Wow, that is an impressive amount of protein! If I eat too much protein I tend to get horrible stomach aches, but I definitely eat enough just try not to go overboard. My favorite sources have got to be eggs, peanut flour and greens of course!

    1. Laura

      That can certainly happen! I did a lot of experimenting and found that my limit is around 180g and it has to be mostly from “real” sources (not powders/supplements).

  22. janet @ the taste space

    What an awesome post. I have always wondered what the total breakdown of a high protein diet was.. and how many calories were consumed in total. This totally blows my mind. Love it, girls! :)

    1. Laura

      That’s so great to hear!! I’d actually recommend more calories than that for someone building. I aim for 2500 a day.

  23. Brittany @ Delights and Delectables

    I love this!! I love my veggie proteins. I love getting mine through eggs, lentils, and Sunwarrior protein powder. I try to be very conscious to get enough protein after my workouts.

  24. Linz @ Itz Linz

    I am yet to try hemp seeds! I really want to though – I keep hearing wonderful things about them!

    1. Laura

      I love them! Adds a good texture and nutty flavor to yogurt and the like.

  25. Nadiya

    Excellent post! It truly is super easy to get all your protein through a plant based diet if you know what to eat. Not to forget all the little add ins you can add to your food like chia, sesame, and flax seeds. It all adds up.

    I never knew that veggies had proteins too 0.0 Are there any specific ones that have more then others?

    1. Laura

      Nadiya, check out this older post I did on vegan protein sources. It was a chart with the protein count of many veggies: http://www.sprint2thetable.com/2012/07/vegan-protein-sources-recipes/

      Looking back, I’d also add asparagus to it.

    2. Allie

      I second checking out that list–but as a quick rule? Dark leafy greens. Those things we’re supposed to eat lots of anyway, I hear tell.

  26. Angela @ Happy Fit Mama

    As a semi-vegetarian, I like this a lot! So many people are clueless about what to eat for protein sources and will only stick to the obvious. My favs are beans, lentils and nuts.

  27. Kammie @ Sensual Appeal

    194g protein, wow that’s a whole lot of protein! haha :)

  28. Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli

    194 grams?! That’s INSANE…in a good way! Lovin’ all the ideas/recipes you threw out! How’s that lentil flatbread on your tummy? Wonder if I could do it?

    1. Laura

      Insane in the membrane…

    2. Allie

      Nope, I definitely can’t do it anymore. I miss it :( Threw the recipe in for my example day, since most people can, you know, digest things. A skill that would come in handy.

  29. Holly

    Wow lentil flatbread! I wish I had a blender so I could try that.

    I didn’t realize greek yogurt has so much protein in it. It’s good to know, and makes me feel even better about all the muffins I’ve been baking with it!

    1. Laura

      Greek is an amazing protein source! I like to buy it plain and add a bunch of spices and fruits for fun snacks. If you freeze it, it travels well and becomes the perfect fro-yo consistency in a couple of hours.

  30. Ellie@Fit for the Soul

    This is a crazy detailed post girl! Wow, and it’s funny because most people (at least me) don’t think of vital wheat gluten as a protein source.

    1. Allie

      It’s definitely a great one, since, well, it’s the protein from wheat. But since gluten-free is now a big health movement, it isn’t always one that’s talked about.

  31. Eating 4 Balance

    Great job with the protein! Love all of the suggestions, and I love seeing a vegetarian who gets enough! Awesome tips. Good luck with the training. :)

  32. Life's a Bowl

    I’m all about protein [and whole grains] lately- they help keep me satisfied and not hungry within an hour after eating :) Especially cottage cheese, eggs, Greek yogurt, lentils, seeds! I don’t use protein powder because I tried it once and almost gagged [TMI, sorry!] but am not opposed to it… Just gotta find a tasty brand/ flavor!

    1. Laura

      How did you try the powder? I can eat it just mixed with water, but I love it in my own blended smoothie creations. SunWarrior is what I use most often.

      1. Allison @ Life's a Bowl

        I mixed it into a smoothie and it tasted like gitty grass :P Definitely need to try a different kind and get over my silly fear!

    2. Allie

      There are definitely some awesome protein powders out there (and some really, really awful ones). PlantFusion is definitely my first recommendation!

      1. Allison @ Life's a Bowl

        I’ve never tried that! I have a packet of Vega that I picked up but has been sitting in my cupboard for months…

  1. Thanks for Thanksgiving! « ForgottenBeast

    [...] The wonderful Laura of Sprint2theTable asked me to do a guest post for her while she’s enjoying the snows of Colorado (and the vegan cooking skills of Heather!). So, while I put in the fastest half-day of work possible before making the trek to my family’s place for Thanksgiving, check out my (pretty darn awesome, informative and modest) guest post on making vegetarian protein easy. [...]

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