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Complete Protein Sources for Vegetarians and Vegans

Updated on March 12, 2010

Protein is one of the most important foods for a healthy body. Every single cell in your body contains protein and we need to constantly provide our bodies with proteins so it can repair damaged cells and make new ones. For most people, their main source of protein comes from meat products. For vegetarians and vegans it isn't as easy as eating a piece of meat and it requires a little more thinking to make sure you get the protein you need in your diet. Protein is found in just about everything, but many protein sources are not complete proteins. Typically these incomplete proteins are lacking vitamin B12. In order to be healthy while not eating meat you need to make sure you get sources of complete proteins each day.

As I mentioned before protein is found in just about everything. If you are a vegetarian that eats dairy and eggs, it won't be that much trouble. Make sure you eat a serving or two of dairy or eggs each day and you should be fine. Meat, dairy and eggs contain all nine amino acids that make up a complete protein. Plant foods do not. You can, however, combine different incomplete protein sources to make complete proteins. Vegetables typically contain so little protein that it doesn't count, so I will focus on the good sources of incomplete protein.

Whole grains, seeds and legumes all contain good amounts of incomplete proteins. By combining these you will provide your body with complete proteins. Keep in mind that all grains are not whole grains. Whole grains have not been processed and still have their nutrients intact. White flour and white rice are not whole grains and will not provide you with protein. Keep that in mind when eating. Legumes are any type of dried bean for example, lentils, black beans, and pinto beans. Seeds such as sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and nuts are great sources of incomplete protein.

There are plenty of easy ways to ensure you get complete proteins each day. I am sure you have heard the phrase "beans and rice" before. That's because beans and rice go so well together. Their individual proteins complement each other so well that eating them together is very good for you. Other ideas include popcorn and nuts, corn bread and beans, lentils and peas, whole wheat toast with peanut butter and whole grain cereal with nuts.

Once you take some time to figure out complete sources of protein for your body it shouldn't be very hard to figure out a diet that works for you. Protein is vital for our bodies to function. If you are willing to eat fish this is another protein source for you. If you are a vegan who doesn't eat eggs or dairy, you might consider taking a vitamin B12 supplement just to make sure that your body is getting everything it needs to be healthy.  Happy eating!


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    • emufarm profile image


      6 years ago from Iowa

      Thanks for this article! I am leaning towards going vegetarian, and getting this kind of information in a quick article is really helpful.

    • jj12 profile image


      8 years ago from England

      I also like to include avocados where possible and find Quorn is great for stir frys.

      Married to a meat-eater, I often make a curry/stir fry with vegetables only; then separately fry some meat (for hubby) and add half the curry/stir fry mixture to the meat and then, with remaining mixture, add nuts or Quorn or Cauldron marinated tofu (if a stir fry - tastes WAY better than normal tofu and the texture is better to) for myself.

    • lisa brazeau profile image

      lisa brazeau 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Wonderful and informative! I went from being a vegetarian to veganism many years ago and can never seem to gather enough info. Thank you!

    • entertianmentplus profile image


      8 years ago from United States

      Great Info Thanks

    • sheila b. profile image

      sheila b. 

      8 years ago

      Informative and so well written.

    • Amber Allen profile image

      Amber Allen 

      8 years ago

      A very informative and well researched hub.

      Congratulations on reaching your 400th hub!


    • breakfastpop profile image


      8 years ago

      Very interesting article. I toy with becoming a vegetarian and then order an hamburger!

    • 2patricias profile image


      8 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

      Thanks for this.

      Pat's M-in-Law is a vegetarian and frequently complains that she is tired all the time. We suspect that part of the problem is that she eats insufficient protein, and this info may help.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      A well researched and informative hub. Thank you for writing it.

    • RKHenry profile image


      8 years ago from Neighborhood museum in Somewhere, USA

      I'd get bored.


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