What are good vegetarian/vegan protein options?

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Fast Facts:

Read these if you want just the basic recommendation

1) For more information on overall protein requirements, click here.

2) Being a vegan (not consuming/using any animal products) or vegetarian (not eating meat) is NOT a health decision. Adopting either lifestyle is no healthier than consuming meat; this is more of a moral/ethical decision than one that is health-based.

3) Choosing vegetarianism or veganism can make meeting nutrient requirements more difficult, and thus, there is a risk of not ingesting a sufficient amount of essential vitamins and minerals.. Therefore, to prevent any deficiencies, it is suggested that you take a good multi-vitamin and focus on a nutritious diet.

4) Vegetarians and vegans may also find difficulty meeting their protein requirements. Good protein options are (in order of quality): seitan, tofu, tempeh, boca burgers, edamame, green peas, lentils, amaranth, soy milk, quinoa, black beans, chickpeas, nonfat milk (vegetarian only), and egg whites (vegetarian only). Supplements such as Vega Sport’s Performance Protein Shake and Protein Bar can also be good ways to increase high quality protein. These are pea-based protein, and have a very similar protein quality to meat/dairy-based protein.

5) Vegans and vegetarians must be careful with overall calorie consumption in an effort to increase protein intake. The protein sources listed above all include a significant amount of extra calories from carbohydrate (meat-based proteins do not). In an effort to meet protein requirement s, individuals may find it may be very easy to consume an excessive amount of calories.

Scientific Support & Evidence:

Read this if you want to know what we based our recommendation on

1) Due to the high level of carbohydrate and fat in vegan/vegetarian diets, individuals should focus on whole and minimally processed foods (such as those listed above), to provide essential nutrients and a full spectrum of essential amino acids. Doing so will aid in weight management AND provide much needed essentials nutrients.

2) Since meat and dairy products provide a significant number of essential nutrients to the body, vegetarians, and even more so with vegans have to make a concerted effort to consume a number of the foods listed above to ensure they do not develop any deficiencies.

3) Essential nutrients (and their functions) commonly deficient in vegans/vegetarians are listed below. If you’re having issues with any of the functions below, you should evaluate your diet to determine how to correct the deficiency:

Essential amino acids: important for recovery from exercise and numerous bodily functions. Symptoms of low essential amino acid intake are primarily related to impaired recovery.

Iron: involved in energy production. Symptoms of low iron intake include fatigue.

B12: involved in energy production and nerve function. Symptoms of low B12 intake are fatigue and muscle weakness. However, more severe symptoms such as numbness in the hands or feet can also occur.

Calcium: involved in muscle contraction and bone mineralization. Symptoms of low calcium intake are associated with reduced bone mineral density and muscle spasms/aches.

Vitamin D: aids in calcium absorption and is involved in immune function. Vitamin D also aids in the reduction of inflammation. Symptoms of low Vitamin D are associated with bone and muscle weakness.

Links to Other Informational Resources:

Click below if you’d even like more in-depth information

1) Peer-Reviewed Journal Article: Health effects of vegetarian and vegan diets

2) Peer-Reviewed Journal Article:Health effects of vegan diets

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