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?


  1. says

    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!

    • Laura says

      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.

    • says

      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!

  2. says

    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!

  3. says

    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!

  4. says

    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!

    • Laura says

      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. :)

  5. says

    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.

  6. says

    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!

  7. says

    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!

  8. says

    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

    • Laura says

      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!

    • says

      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.

  9. says

    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 :)

  10. says

    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 :)

    • says

      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.

  11. says

    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.

  12. says

    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!

    • Laura says

      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).

  13. says

    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?

  14. says

    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!

    • Laura says

      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.

    • says

      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.

  15. says

    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. […] 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. […]

  2. […] protein sources […]

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