How Much Protein do Vegetarians Need?

| Friday, February 22nd, 2013

This pyramid courtesy of

The U.S. recommended daily allowance of protein is .8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight (.36 grams per pound) for the general population. (example: 140# person needs 83 grams a day) Keep in mind that athletes need more than others. You don’t need as much protein as most people think, and it’s easy to get what we do need from a half dozen, common foods, eaten just a little bit at a time throughout the day. Great examples are beans, nuts, seeds, grains, soy, and even greens.

So how do vegetarians get protein? Here are 10 sources.

1. Veggies: Greens pack a protein punch. One cup of cooked spinach has about 7 grams of protein. The same serving of French beans has about 13 grams. Two cups of cooked kale? 5 grams. One cup of boiled peas? Nine grams.

2. Hemp. Toss 30 grams of hemp powder in your smoothie and get about 11 grams of protein – just like that.

3. Non-Dairy Milk. 1 cup of almond milk can pack about 7-9 grams of protein. Eat with some fortified cereal and you’ve got a totally protein packed breakfast.

4. Nut Butter/nuts. A couple of tablespoons of either peanut butter, almond butter and cashew butter has 8 grams of protein. Amount is varied with individual nuts

5. Quinoa. Quinoa is gluten-free and has 9 grams of protein per cup.

6. Tempeh. (locally made in Asheville!), One cup of tempeh packs about 40 grams of protein! That’s more than 5 eggs or a regular hamburger patty.

7. Lentils. With lentils, you can make rice dishes, veggie burgers, casseroles and more. One cup cooked delivers a whopping 18 grams of protein!

8. Beans. They really are the magical fruit. With one cup of pinto, kidney or black beans, you’ll get about 13-15 grams of protein, a full belly and heart-healthy fiber.

9. Chickpeas, 12 grams/cup- Need a good hummus recipe?  Try mine!

10. Sprouted-grain bread. Ezekiel brand for example. There are 18 amino acids (including the essential 9) present in this unique bread – from all vegetable sources. You’ll get about 4 grams of protein in the bread alone.