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Best Protein Sources For Vegans And Vegetarians

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How To Get Enough Protein When You Don’t Eat Meat

On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m sharing the best protein sources for vegans and vegetarians.

In the past, I’ve done multiple videos on the best high protein sources, which all included animal protein.

However, on a past coaching call inside of our Team Live Lean group, one of the member’s said he was mostly vegan, and was wondering how to get enough amino acids and vitamin B12.

I also received the following question my Instagram:

@demetzy on Instagram asks: I have never eaten meat, so I find it hard to get enough protein. I do eat some seafood though. What are the best protein sources for vegans and vegetarians? What would you recommend for me to get enough protein and to Live Lean?

Well, since you asked, I deliver.

But before I share the best protein sources for vegans and vegetarians, I should first be clear and upfront with you.

I Am Not A Vegan Or A Vegetarian

I believe you get the most complete sources of nutrition from eating a whole food diet comprised of humanly raised:

In other words, I am not an expert on vegetarian or vegan eating, nor do I personally follow this approach.

If I had to categorize my way of eating as a diet, it would be closest to the Paleo Diet.

The Paleo Diet Explained For Beginners

However, I get it, and respect your choice if you ethically don’t believe in killing animals for meat.

Based on that, it’s important for me to be open and do my best in sharing what other non-meat eating vegetarians and vegans do for protein.

All right, let’s do this.

Plant Based Vs. Non Meat Eater

Based on the question, it doesn’t sound like the person is vegan since they mentioned they eat seafood, which is a great source of protein.

Essentially they just said they didn’t eat meat.

So if that just means red meat, you could also include more chicken and poultry in your diet.

However, if you also don’t eat poultry, it sounds like you may be closer to a pescatarian and Mediterranean diet.

The Mediterranean Diet Explained For Beginners

If this is the case, as a pescatarian you could also consume dairy and eggs, which are both higher in protein.

Ultimately, we would need more details from the viewer, including what types of protein he does eat, in order to answer his specific question properly.

However, for this post, let’s assume you are vegan or vegetarian.

You Can Still Consume Enough Protein As A Vegan Or Vegetarian

First of all, if you are a vegan or vegetarian, the good news is you’re not going to lose all your muscle and shrivel away to nothing, due to protein deprivation.

It’s been proven that, as a vegan or vegetarian, you can still change your body by getting enough protein without eating meat, as long as you learn how to do it properly.

This includes focusing on eating the right types, and combinations of foods, that will allow your body to get the full spectrum of the 22 muscle building amino acids.

This is important because amino acids are considered the building blocks to build, repair, and recover muscle and other tissues in the body.

Now, since meat and other sources of animal protein are considered a complete source in all 22 amino acids, it tends to be easier to get enough protein as a meat eater.

However, as a vegan or vegetarian, one of the ways to consume complete protein sources is via food pairing, i.e. food combining.

Again, I am not an expert on vegetarian or vegan eating.

But I do know the basics of food pairing and food combining.

For example, when you pair certain foods together, such as beans and rice, the combination of the amino acids, within those two foods, creates a complete protein source that will help you build muscle more effectively.

Best Protein Sources For Vegans And Vegetarians

First of all, lacto-ovo vegetarians, and even some vegans, eat eggs and dairy, such as greek yogurt.

If you do, these would be your go-to sources of protein, including protein powder supplements.

Protein Powder

Protein Powder - Fitness Superfood #3
  • Protein powder supplement
    • By having 1-2 protein shakes a day, you can easily add 40 grams of protein to your diet.
    • If you are a lacto-ovo vegetarian and consume dairy and eggs, go with:
    • If you don’t consume dairy or eggs, go with a plant based protein powder such as:

If you are a vegan that doesn’t consume dairy or eggs, here are the best protein sources for vegans.

Nuts And Nut Butter

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  • Almonds
  • Pistachios
  • Cashews
  • Walnuts
  • Hazel nuts
  • Brazil nuts

Higher Protein Legumes

  • Peanuts and peanut butter
  • Lentils
  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Navy beans
  • Fava beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Peas


  • Hemp seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Sesame seeds


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Nutritional Yeast

nutritional yeast

Lastly, although it’s not what I recommend, some vegans get their protein from soy based foods.

Soy Based Foods

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  • Soybeans
  • Edamame
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu

Bottom Line On The Best Protein Sources For Vegans And Vegetarians

You can still get lean without eating meat and having a lot of protein in your diet.

Even though a lot of the current vegan bodybuilders and fitness athletes have originally built a strong and muscular physique by eating animal protein, there are a few athletes who have been lifelong vegans.

Based on this, it is possible to get enough protein as a vegetarian or vegan, but as shown earlier, you just have to pay more attention to food combining, to ensure you are getting a complete profile of muscle building amino acids.

And before I finish, I want to clarify my thoughts on what being lean means versus being skinny.

The Difference Of Being Lean Vs. Being Skinny

To me, being lean is when you have a beach body, with good muscle mass and definition.

Being lean is not somebody who is skinny with no muscle.

Sure, a skinny person may have abs because they have very little body fat, but they also don’t have much muscle or strength.

If that is you, I would recommend more protein to gain muscle, since protein is the building block of muscle.

Hopefully that gives you a little bit of help.


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  • Have you ever tried going vegan?
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