Understanding meat-free protein

Info

When I became a vegetarian (nearly 3 years ago), one of the main questions I was asked was where I get my protein from. This is a classic question from any relative and while I now know where I source all of my nutrients from, I was a little clueless at the time. Even now, I know what foods I should be eating for protein but have little to no grasp over what is the ‘right amount’ or how many grams I eat in a day.

The resources I’ve found online vary in quality and often measure everything by the same quantity. It makes sense to know the amount of protein in 100g of tofu but I’m less likely to sit and eat 100g of nutritional yeast to get protein into my diet… I wanted real portion sizes, so I developed the table below in the hope that someone else may find it useful.

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Protein portionNo. grams protein
35-40g dried TVP mince
(photo below)
20g
100g tofu
(half a taifun tofu packet but varies a lot based on the brand)
13-20g
1 Co-op GRO burger (soya based)15g
2 Linda McCartney sausages14g
138g edamame beans (equivalent to the pots they sell in Pret)13-14g
50g peanuts
(size of a small bag of nuts)
13g
50g almonds, pistachios or sunflower seeds10g
240g can lentils / 100g dried
(green and red have the same levels)
8-10g
50g flaxseeds 9g
25g pumpkin seed
(the amount I would put on a salad but I do like quite a lot)
9g
1/2 can cannellini beans 9g
30g cheese
(the daily amount you’re ‘meant’ to have – try telling my dad that)
8-9g
1/2 can chickpeas8g
50g sesame seeds or chia seeds8g
2 tbsp peanut butter8g
1/2 can butter beans, black beans or kidney beans7-8g
50g cashews, walnuts or hazelnuts7-8g
100g Greek-style yoghurt
(1/5 of a big tub)
7-8g
100g green peas7g
1 egg5-6g
100g dried quinoa4-5g
5g nutritional yeast2-3g
100ml oat milk1g

Don’t forget that vegetables also contain protein so these ‘protein sources’ aren’t the only protein you get in a day. Peas are particularly high in protein but potatoes, avocados, asparagus, sweetcorn and broccoli all contain roughly 4g protein per portion, so remember you eat your veggies too!

I hope this little table is useful! All nutritional information has been roughly estimated based on the products I have in my cupboard and may vary from brand to brand, which is why I didn’t try to be too specific. The NHS says that the majority of adults in the UK should have about 50g protein per day but this depends on your weight and is personal to everyone. I have also heard it said that you should aim to have between 0.6 – 0.8g per kilo of body weight. If you aim to have three to four portions of any of the above in a day then you’re probably absolutely fine, as long as you’re keeping a healthy balanced diet. It’s good to check in every now and then and make sure you’re getting the right amount of nutrients in every part of your diet. Stay healthy everyone!

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I love this TVP! So easy to make into a chilli or a veggie lasagne. It only has three ingredients, so has much less crap in it than other very ‘meaty’ brands… but I personally think it tastes the most realistic
These are my favourite meat-replacement burgers at the moment!
What would anyone do without nooch?