So where do you get your protein?

This is the most common question I get as soon as someone finds out that I don’t eat meat. “But where do you get your protein?”.

We all need protein. It provides amino acids (the building blocks of life) and is essential for growth and recovery. The amount you need it on a daily basis depends on your weight and activity level.

You can get some idea of your own needs using the table below, but know that in general, people who eat animal products get way too much protein, and people who choose not to consume animals, get plenty as well.

Daily protein requirements in grams per kilogram of bodyweight
Sedentary adult0.8
Recreational adult exerciser0.8 – 1.5
Adult endurance athlete1.2 – 1.6
Growing teenage athlete1.5 – 2.0
Adult building muscle mass1.5 – 1.7
Adult estimated upper limit2.0

What are the best sources of plant-based protein?

Here are some healthier alternatives to animal protein. I personally use plant-protein powders (they also usually have spirulina in them) almost daily in my smoothies, because I do move a lot (hot yoga, walks, hikes, vacuuming, running to catch the bus :)).

I always have my pantry stocked with quinoa, tempeh, all kinds of beans, nuts, seeds, dark green veggies and lentils. These are the cornerstones of my diet, alongside with fermented foods, fresh fruits and veggies.

Plant-based protein sources:

Green peas
Low in calories, virtually fat free, high in vitamin C and rich in both fiber and potassium, green peas provide 5 grams of protein per 100 gram serving.

Adzuki beans, for example contain a whopping 20 grams of protein per 100 grams while chick peas are close behind with 19 grams. Navy and white beans provide a less impressive but still beneficial 8 grams per 100 grams, while pinto beans provide a lowly 1.9 grams of protein.

Quinoa is a seed that resembles a grain and provides 14 grams of protein per 100 grams. Low in fat but a good source of magnesium and phosphorus.


Providing 9 grams of protein per 100 gram serving, containing also iron, potassium, phosphorous, zinc, folate and niacin. I’m a huge fan! Red split, french green, regular green, black lentils and the list goes on and on. Much easier and less time-consuming to prepare than beans.

My faves! Hemp seeds are a good source of protein and are also used to make hemp protein powder. Hemp is high in healthy Omega 3 fatty acids – the same healthy fats found in fish oil. Hemp provides 33 grams of protein per 100 grams of whole, hulled seeds. I also use hemp oil in my smoothies.

Hemp milk
One cup of hemp milk provides 3 grams of protein which is not as much as soy milk but considerably better than both rice and almond milk. Hemp milk also contains vitamins A, D and E and is a good source of Omega 3’s.

Nuts and nut butters
In terms of protein content, almonds and peanuts are the clear leaders of the pack with 6.0 to 7.0 grams of protein per 28 grams/one ounce serving. Pistachios come a close second with 5.8 grams and cashews are in third place with 5.2 grams. Almond butter and peanut butter both contain about the same amount of protein – 4 grams per tablespoon.

A 100 gram serving contains 19 grams of high quality protein. Tempeh, as well as being an excellent protein provider, is very high in calcium and manganese and is considered a very healthy food. Tempeh can be sliced or crumbled into a variety of dishes to add protein.

Providing 8 grams of protein per 100 grams. Always choose organic, non-GMO (and sprouted too if avail.)

Dark green veggies
In addition to being very healthy and nutritious, dark green veggies are also a valuable source of plant based protein. Broccoli provides 4 grams per cup, spinach provides 5 grams per cup, collard greens provide 5 grams per cup and Brussels sprouts provide 4 grams per cup.

Two tablespoon of flax seeds contains 3.7 grams of protein. The same amount of sunflower seeds contains 3 grams of protein. Pumpkin seeds provide 5 grams of protein while sesame seeds provide 3.2 grams. Chia seeds contain 4 grams of protein per two tablespoons. Seeds are also high in fiber, vitamins D and E and healthy fats.

100 grams of buckwheat contains 13 grams of high quality protein. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat.

Rice and beans

A cup of rice and beans contains 7 grams of protein. Choose brown rice over white preferably.

Ezekiel Bread
Providing 8 grams of protein per two-slice serving. Made from wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet, and spelt.

BONUS: These delicious protein bars that are vegan and the perfect on-the-go snack for those of us on the go! Get 20% discount with my code KATLOVESKALE

10 Replies to “So where do you get your protein?”

  1. Love all these plant-based options. What’s your favorite?

    1. Lentils! I love all different kind of lentils because they are so quick and easy to make.

  2. Great resource! I’ve never heard of adzuki beans. Where do you usually find them? I am usually pretty boring and easy quinoa and beans almost every day. I could use some new ideas I think!

    1. I get mine in bulk from our natural grocers, Stop&Shop or Whole Foods.

  3. Hello! Fellow vegan and health coach here. This is a great list! My husband and I joke about making t-shirts that list all plant-based protein sources for when people (inevitably) ask. I appreciate you spreading the good word about getting fueled on a plant-based lifestyle.

    1. That’s a great idea. No words needed, just point the shirt 🙂 .

  4. Thi was always my least fave question when I didn’t eat meat. I ate more protein than most of my counterparts but because it wasn’t meat protein, they just glossed over it.

    Thanks for laying it out.

    Ash –

    1. I’ve been asked it so many times that now that I’m better at answering it I actually enjoy educating people about it. Keeping it short and sweet 🙂

  5. More importantly where did you get that marvelous sweater that you wore in your Instagram pic at the end of August? On the beach in Alameda. It’s beautiful! Fashion over food!

  6. Great post. Seems as though much hard work went in this.

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