15 Foods High in Natural Plant Protein

No, I am neither vegetarian nor vegan or vegan to use the popular English expression. Sorry to disappoint you. In fact, I eat everything. But maybe I'm wrong, because I don't know everything. And no !

So why write this article about natural vegetable proteins ?

On the one hand, because I know that some of my readers have chosen this way of eating. I totally respect this choice.


For human and animal health

And if you're one of them, I want to help you find the right sources of protein, because it's important for your health, as you'll see later.

On the other hand, like certainly many people, I am sensitive to the provenance of the meat I eat. And that can be scary!

Why ?

Unless you live deep in a cave on a remote island, you've heard or seen reports of animal abuse in slaughterhouses. Although some of them have made some progress.

And then, what about the conditions in which animals are reared on industrial farms? THIS IS A HORROR!!!

I completely understand that people give up eating meat for these reasons.

The challenge of natural vegetable proteins

If you are one of those who refuse meat, you know how difficult it is to find the 8 essential amino acids. This is an important issue for vegans and vegetarians who practice bodybuilding and fitness.

Especially since the average recommendation for them is 2.2g of protein per pound of body weight per day. This means that a reasonably thin man weighing 80 kg should consume approximately 176 g of protein.

But, how to find them when you don't eat meat?

This is why, in a few minutes, you will discover 15 sources of vegetable proteins. And since many vegetarians consume them, I will just make a small aside on eggs.

But first, let's get back to the question...

Should animals be eaten?

Why the question is worth asking

For many people, the book Should animals be eaten? by Jonathan Safran Foer was a revelation.

Should animals be eaten?
  • Safran Foer, Jonathan

It's a fantastic book, in which Foer proposes to find the answers to questions about the origin of meat.

There are many books that talk about the ethics of consuming animal products.

But, what's great about “Should we eat animals? », is that Foer allows vegetarians, vegans, animal advocates, meat eaters and factory farmers to have their say.

So you have a complete view of the subject.

Against animal abuse

Jonathan Safran Foer presents a number of powerful arguments that leave you with the meal in the middle of the glottis:

  • It is estimated that on a global scale, and this almost every year, 2 out of 3 farm animals come from factory farming. In the United States, it is believed that 99 % of the meat consumed comes from this type of production.
  • Since 1946, factory farms have been adding antibiotics to livestock feed to make animals grow faster and more efficiently, thereby increasing profits. In the United States, nearly 80 % of all antibiotics sold are for livestock and poultry, not humans (about 66 % in the European Union). Overuse of antibiotics accelerates the emergence of infections affecting humans, which means that eventually many standard medical treatments will either fail or turn into very high-risk procedures.
  • While some 800 million people on the planet are hungry or malnourished, the majority of the corn and soy grown is fed to cows, pigs and chickens.
  • There is a scientific consensus that animal exploitation is one of the biggest causes of global warming, surpassing even the transport industry.
  • Animals suffer in factory farms. Cows, pigs and even chickens are capable of feeling a host of emotions such as fear, pain, despair and grief.

You can, in good conscience, eat meat or not.

vegetable proteins and factory farming
This is no life for an animal...

But objectively, there are good reasons for all of us to eat less meat when it comes from factory farming. Anyway, it is often catastrophic for our body, saturated with antibiotics and chemical products.

There are good reasons why we eat less meat from factory farms

I also know that some refuse to eat meat for reasons other than animal abuse.

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For example, some of you find it disgusting to put dead animal flesh in your mouth.

It can be understood.

why i eat meat

You know, I'm from Bordeaux (nobody's perfect) and before settling in Africa I lived in a region where farm animals are free almost all year round.

The proof in pictures, with 2 blondes from Aquitaine admiring our rabbit Gribouille (which I did not eat):

free-range vegetable or animal proteins
Meuh, what is this little cow with long ears?

I swear to you that these cows are not stressed.

In the Pyrénées Atlantiques, many farm animals live a good life. Go compare that to factory farms in Texas, you'll be horrified!

During the nearly 10 years that I lived in West Africa, the animals were even more free than that, since I spent my time crossing cows (a kind of zebu, more thirsty zebu 😄), pigs, goats, sheep and chickens in the streets and paths.

I don't see any harm in consuming these animals. However, I remind you that this is only my point of view, huh… However, I must admit that I have greatly reduced my consumption of animal products in recent years.

But back to our topic: the vegetable proteins.

Admit that the transition is remarkable 😉

Advantages and disadvantages of vegetarian or vegan diets

Plant-based diets high in fiber and protein have been linked to lower mortality risk and better food quality.

And sometimes this way of eating is cheaper than consuming premium meat (unless you're buying directly from the producer).

Although there are many good things about vegetarian and vegan diets, their main drawback is their low protein content.

This is a problem, because protein plays a very important role in your overall health. They are part of the macronutrients that your body does not know how to produce, unlike carbohydrates.

They are also involved in muscle building and fat loss:

  • Protein is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of your body's tissues. They are used to make bones, skin, nails, hair, muscles, cells and enzymes.
  • When you create a calorie deficit, your rate of tissue breakdown exceeds your rate of tissue growth and you lose weight. Those who eat more protein lose less muscle and burn more fat.
  • Protein fills you up, which means you eat fewer calories without feeling hungry.
  • The protein has a high thermal effect. Compared to carbohydrates, your body burns almost twice as many calories to assimilate them.

Fortunately, all vegetarian and vegan diets are not necessarily low in protein.

In fact, there are plenty of high-protein foods out there.

And compared to factory-farmed meat, they're almost always much healthier.

15 protein-rich vegetarian foods

One thing to note is that all vegetable proteins are not “complete”.

To be considered "complete", a protein must contain all 8 essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. These are lysine, threonine, leucine, isoleucine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan and valine.

This does not mean that incomplete proteins are useless, far from it. You only need enough of each essential amino acid each day.

If you are consuming incomplete protein, you need to make sure you get the other essential amino acids from other foods.

Consuming a variety of protein foods, as opposed to just one, will allow you to get all the essential amino acids.

That said, most dietitians agree that plant-based diets contain such a variety of amino acid profiles that vegans are virtually guaranteed to get all of their amino acids with very little effort. .

Here are the TOP 15 high-protein vegetarian foods:

1. Dried beans (8g of protein per 100g)

Associated with rice (preferably complete), beans are a source of complete protein.

Plus, they're cheap.

Know that 125 g of dried beans contain as much protein as a steak of meat or fish.

2. Mycoprotein (11 g vegetable protein per 100 g)

Originally developed to address global food shortages, mycoprotein is often sold under the "Quorn" brand.

It is made from a certain type of mushroom grown in vats and processed into a meat substitute.

Its proteins are complete.

However, as it is usually bound with egg white, Quorn is not normally accepted by vegans.

3. Tofu (8-15g of protein per 100g)

natural vegetable protein from tofu

Tofu is made from soybeans. It is rich in iron and calcium.

Its proteins are complete.

Opt for the firmest tofu available. Because the harder the tofu, the higher its protein content.

4. Millet (13g protein per 100g)

The generic term “millet” designates several species of plants of the family of Poaceae (grasses).

These are food grains, with very small seeds, grown mainly in dry areas, especially in Africa and Asia.

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Most often, however, the term refers to a particular variety, the pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum). It is the most common variety around the world.

These plants are often called millet.

Numerous amino acids (protein constituents) are present in millet: isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, cystine, phenylalanine, tyrosine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.

It also contains large quantities of minerals: phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc as well as vitamins B1 and B6.

5. Buckwheat (13g protein per 100g)

Buckwheat is not a type of wheat, but a relative of rhubarb.

It therefore does not contain gluten.

It is a complete protein source that can help lower cholesterol and treat diabetes.

6. Quinoa (14 g of vegetable protein per 100 g)

Unlike most grains, quinoa is complete protein-wise.

It also provides plenty of fiber, iron, and magnesium.

It's a great substitute for rice, and it's versatile enough to make muffins, donuts, and cookies.

You even find it in the form of organic spaghetti.

7. Amaranth (14g protein per 100g)

Amaranth is not a real cereal, but belongs to this family because of its nutritional composition. It is a very small seed cultivated for thousands of years in Mexico, South and Central Africa, Nepal and India.

This seed provides better quality protein than other seeds, but also more iron, zinc and calcium.

Its proteins are incomplete.

Amaranth is low in leucine, another essential amino acid, but leucine is found in excess in most other cereals.

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8. Rolled oats (15g of protein per 100g)

It is a famous whole grain in Anglo-Saxon countries such as the United Kingdom, where it is eaten in the form of porridge.

Rolled oats are rich in essential nutrients. Indeed, oats provide about 15 g of protein and 58 g of complex carbohydrates per 100 g, allowing you to fill up on energy.

That's why many bodybuilders and other athletes have included it in their breakfast.

In addition, it is a significant source of B vitamins and also minerals (potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and iron). However, it is prohibited for gluten intolerant people.

9. Nuts (15g of protein per 100g)

vegetable protein nuts
vegetable proteins natural nuts

A special mention goes to almonds, walnuts and cashews.

The skin covering the nuts contains valuable nutrients for heart health and immunity, such as fiber, vitamin E and omega 3 fatty acids.

Their main drawback is that they are very high in calories. It is therefore better to avoid consuming large quantities.

Which is sometimes very difficult when you have opened a bag of cashews (almost impossible for me). I like ! 

Organic Walnut Kernels - 1kg - Pieces - Vacuum-packed
  • Organic Walnut Kernels
  • 1kg organic walnuts
  • Vacuum-packed for better preservation

10. Tempeh (18g protein per 100g)

With its nutty flavor and firm texture, tempeh goes well with many dishes.

It is made from crushed fermented soybeans and formed into a compact cake.

Its proteins are complete.

11. Chia seeds (21g of protein per 100g)

Chia (you must pronounce “kia”) is a herbaceous plant native to Mexico that belongs to the sage family.

The term chia is derived from chiyan which designates sage Salvia hispanica in Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs.

This sage is grown for its seeds, which were part of the staple diet of the ancient peoples of Mexico.

Chia seeds contain 21 % of protein. They are also a good source of vitamin B9, calcium, magnesium, antioxidants and minerals.  

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12. Lentils (23g of protein per 100g)

Lentils are high in (incomplete) protein and other essential nutrients, including iron, potassium and a host of antioxidants.

Iron can help fight anemia, which is more common among vegans and vegetarians.

13. Hemp seeds (25g of protein per 100g)

Hemp seeds are among the most complete and richest foods in the world. Their virtues are numerous.

Their insoluble dietary fiber content makes them easily digestible.

They also contain polyunsaturated essential fatty acids, including omega 3 and 6.

On the menu, their crunchy texture and nutty taste will go very well with seasonal salads.

Hemp seeds go well with many dishes, so feel free to concoct your own recipes.

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14. Seitan (75g of protein per 100g)

Seitan is a protein-rich product, usually made from wheat or spelled flour or gluten.

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Gluten is demonized by many people these days, but aside from people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance, it's nothing to worry about.

Seitan is a mixture of gluten (wheat protein), herbs and spices simmered in broth. Its proteins are incomplete.

15. Spirulina (55g and more of protein per 100g)

The spirulina, low in calories, contains an incredible amount of nutrients in a very small volume.

Its content can however vary according to its geographical origin, but also according to the methods of cultivation, drying and grinding.

It contains 55 % to 70 % of protein of excellent quality (proportion of amino acids and optimal digestibility), either 2.5 g to 3.5 g of vegetable protein per 5 g of powder.

It is an exceptional source of various carotenoids (mainly beta-carotene, but also cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, etc.), around 22 mg/5 g. In particular, it provides an astronomical amount of beta-carotene, i.e. from 12,000 IU to 25,000 IU per 5 g of powder.

It is also an excellent source of iron, from 3 mg to 8 mg per 5 g.

The only problem is that you can hardly consume large amounts of it. It is therefore more of an exceptional supplement than a food, but it really has its place in your kitchen.

I recommend organic spirulina from Nutri&Co:

Nutri&Co Organic Spirulina

Protein supplements dedicated to vegetarian and vegan athletes

As many sportsmen are vegetarians today, the manufacturers of dietary supplements have worked on the subject.

I spotted 2 examples that were particularly interesting because they don't contain soy.

At this time, I'm not sure enough that soy supplements have no effect on estrogen levels. This is why I remain cautious about these products.

But there are supplements based on vegetable proteins from yellow peas, brown rice, chia seeds, hemp, etc.

Their prices are now very interesting compared to animal proteins.

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NutriZing Organic Pea Protein Powder - Protein 80% -...
BodyMe Organic Vegan Protein Powder Mix | Raw Maca Cinnamon | 1kg |...
Our opinion
Protein from 3 vegetable sources with different flavors and sweeteners
Vegan organic pea protein for your dishes, coffees and desserts
A combination of 3 vegetable proteins, maca, cinnamon and turmeric
Our rating
Current price
24,99 €
21,47 €
34,00 €
Click for more information
nu3 proteine vegan 3K - vanilla protein drink 1kg -...
nu3 proteine vegan 3K - vanilla protein drink 1kg -...
Our opinion
Protein from 3 vegetable sources with different flavors and sweeteners
Our rating
Current price
24,99 €
Click for more information
NutriZing Organic Pea Protein Powder - Protein 80% -...
NutriZing Organic Pea Protein Powder - Protein 80% -...
Our opinion
Vegan organic pea protein for your dishes, coffees and desserts
Our rating
Current price
21,47 €
Click for more information
BodyMe Organic Vegan Protein Powder Mix | Raw Maca Cinnamon | 1kg |...
BodyMe Organic Vegan Protein Powder Mix | Raw Maca Cinnamon | 1kg |...
Our opinion
A combination of 3 vegetable proteins, maca, cinnamon and turmeric
Our rating
Current price
34,00 €
Click for more information

*See also the French organic proteins of Nature Force and Nutri&Co of superior quality

Recipes adapted for bodybuilding and fitness

Fitness specialists have also looked into the question of foods without animal protein.

This is the case of American coaches Karine Losier and Dave Ruel.

Among the 250 recipes of their Lean Cooking method, you will find 15 dedicated to vegetarians.

But if you order vegetable protein supplements like the ones I just told you about, you will also benefit from 74 protein smoothie recipes.

And all that for twenty euros.

Recipes to lose weight Slimming Cooking

Don't forget the eggs (if you're not 100% vegan)

I know eggs are a bit controversial because it's still an animal product. They are therefore not suitable for vegans or vegetarians.

But I have to mention them because they are generally accepted in vegetarian diets and have many health benefits.

And they contain 13g of premium protein per 100g.

If you buy organic farm eggs or the hens are free range, I don't see how the animals are being mistreated. We don't even put a gun to their head to lay 😉

Conclusion on vegetable proteins

It's true, being vegetarian involves some dietary constraints. These constraints are even greater for vegans.

This kind of choice is easily understood when we look at the issue of animal abuse.

But it is also a health issue when you see the way these animals are “fed” in factory farms.

If you are one of those people who have made the choice to go without food from animals, your challenge is to find enough protein on your plate.

But it's not impossible, as this article has shown you.

Even if you practice bodybuilding, solutions are available to you in the form of supplements.

I now invite you to discover my articles proposing 22 vegetarian and vegan recipes rich in protein.

I sincerely hope that this article will be useful to you, even if you are used to eating meat.

Put a little more sweetness on your plate to say NO TO CARNAGE! Eat a little more non-animal protein.

I recall the definition of the word carnage: Violent and bloody massacre, killing of many animals, butchery.

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Last updated on 2022-03-03 / Affiliate links / Some images are sourced from the Amazon Product Advertising API

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