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17 Best Vegetarian Protein Snacks: Try Now!

Looking for vegetarian protein snacks? Scroll down!

There is no denying that vegetarian and vegan diets are on the rise, whether to achieve optimal health or for environmental and moral reasons.

And that is why we should study this diet thoroughly to know the health benefits or the potential health issues that might happen and how to avoid them or treat them if they occur.

Therefore, we will dive into one of the people’s primary concerns when they consider following this diet: Protein. Most of us link protein to red and white meat that comes from animals.

But what are the other sources of protein from nature?

We will answer this question and much more in this article.

And to be even more specific, we will also give you simple and delicious protein snacks to ensure you can get your daily amount of protein required for optimal health and different body functions.

But first of all,

What is the importance of protein in the body?

Simply put, the human body needs protein to help the body repair damaged cells or replace them and make new ones.

Moreover, protein is vital for growth and development in children, teens, pregnant women, and the developing fetus.

Immune Health:

Proteins help form antibodies which are essential to fight different infectious microorganisms.

Antibodies are proteins in your blood that help protect your body from harmful invaders like bacteria and viruses. (1)

Without these antibodies, bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other infectious particles would multiply in the body and cause diseases that cannot be controlled without antibodies.

And once the body has produced antibodies against a particular bacteria or virus, a certain type of cells called “memory cells” memorize the invaders so that if this particle ever enters the body again, the immune system will recognize it immediately and fight it. (2)

As a result, your body develops immunity against the diseases to which it is exposed. (3)

Transportation and Storage of Nutrients:

The body has a type of functional protein called transport proteins.

These proteins carry vitamins, minerals, glucose, oxygen, and other substances through the blood circulation and into cells. (4)

One of these functional proteins is hemoglobin.

It is a protein present in the red blood cells of the body. It binds to oxygen and carries it from the lungs to different body tissues. Also, it is responsible for the red color of the blood.

Other types of functional proteins are glucose transporters that move glucose through your cells. And lipoproteins that transport fats in your blood circulation.

And one of the most fascinating facts about transporter proteins is that they are specific in function, meaning they will only bind to specific substances. (5)

Proteins responsible for storage are ferritin, which stores iron(6), and casein, which is present in milk and is essential for growth.

Growth and development:

The human body breaks down the same amount of protein used to build and repair tissues.

Other times (like starvation or prolonged fasting, as we mentioned earlier), it breaks down more protein than it can create, thus increasing the body’s needs. (7)

And when a person is recovering from an injury or an athlete. They require more protein to cope with the body’s demands. (8)

Enzymes:

Enzymes are proteins that aid the different biochemical reactions within the human body.

Because the structure of enzymes allows them to form a type of bond with other molecules inside the cell, they catalyze reactions essential to metabolism. (9)

To show how vital enzymes are in our bodies. Some bodily functions depend on enzymes: (10)Digestion, energy production, wound healing, and muscle function.

Hormones:

Hormones are called the chemical messengers of the body. And that’s because they aid communication on the cellular level.

Their origin and factory in the body are endocrine glands.

After production, they leave the endocrine gland and migrate to their target tissues or organs through blood circulation.

Moreover, these hormones control different body functions like blood sugar level, growth, and even the whole body’s metabolism.

Body Structure:

Another type of fibrous protein in our body provides certain cells and tissues with stiffness and rigidity.

For example, keratin, collagen, and elastin are responsible for forming the connective tissues of certain structures in the body. (11)

Keratin is a structural protein in your skin, hair, and nails. At the same time, Collagen is the structural protein of your bones, tendons, ligaments, and skin.

And elastin is highly elastic, allowing many body tissues to return to their original shape after stretching or contracting, such as the uterus, lungs, bladder, and arteries. (12)

Provides Energy:

Protein can provide the body with four calories per gram.

However, the last thing the body uses for energy is protein since this valuable nutrient has multiple important uses throughout your body, and it also requires a high amount of energy to break down by the body.

And that’s why the most accessible energy source for the body is carbohydrates, and if they are not present, then fats. (13)

However, in a state of starvation (18 to 48 hours of no food intake), the body will break down skeletal muscle so that the amino acids can supply the energy it needs to function correctly. (14)

Recommendations for proper protein intake:

The amount of protein you need in your diet will depend on your overall calorie needs.

The daily recommended protein intake for healthy adults is 10% to 35% of your total calorie needs.

One gram of protein supplies four calories. Therefore, a person on a 2000-calorie diet could eat 100 grams of protein, or 400 calories from protein, giving 20% of their daily calories.

Here are 17 plant-based high-protein ingredients to add to your vegan and vegetarian protein snacks:

Thirty grams portion of most protein-rich vegetarian foods contains 7 grams of protein.

Different types of beans, lentils and split peas, nuts, and seeds, including almonds, hazelnuts, mixed nuts, peanuts, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, tofu, tempeh, and other soy protein products.

The next section will mention the best plant-based protein sources and how to incorporate them into delicious vegetarian protein snacks.

Beans:

There are many varieties of beans: black, white, pinto, heirloom, and more. But one thing all beans have in common is their high amounts of protein.

Some plant-based foods have the most elevated protein. For example, two cups of red kidney beans contain about 28 grams of protein and more than three cups of cow’s milk.

Salads are one of the healthiest vegetarian protein snacks in which you can eat beans.

For flavor enhancement, add this delicious sauce: vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce, a small amount of minced garlic, and brown sugar to taste.

Add kidney beans, red beans, sweet corn, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, and Bell peppers.

Peas:

One cup of peas contains 7.9 grams of protein, close to 8.23 grams in one cup of reduced-fat milk.

On the other hand, chickpeas contain about 7.3 grams of protein in just one-half of a cup. Moreover, they are also high in fiber and low in calories.

To enjoy chickpeas in many vegetarian protein snacks, add them to other vegetables to make a salad or roast them with your favorite spices in the oven or even the air fryer. A lot of people seem to enjoy eating roasted chickpeas as a snack.

Also, one of the best vegetarian protein snacks you can make with chickpeas is hummus. Add chickpeas, mixed herbs, tahini, and walnut oil to a blender. 

Black-eyed peas are another example of peas that are high in protein.

One cup portion provides about 12 grams of protein and six grams of fiber, vitamin B, vitamin A, magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, and zinc.

You can enjoy Black-eyed peas in vegetarian protein snacks by adding them to your favorite salad.

But if you also want to add them to your main dishes, you will be happy to know that you can add them to anything from soup to stir-fried vegetables.

Tempeh and Tofu:

Tempeh has 16.9 grams of protein per half a cup. At the same time, tofu contains about 21.8 grams per half-cup serving.

Which makes them excellent sources of protein. Also, the head of tofu and tempeh is soybeans, a stable ingredient in delicious Asian cuisine.

One of the great things about tofu, for example, is its versatility.

You can mash soft tofu to a spreadable paste or season your hard tofu and stir fry it with unlimited options of sauces and spices, as they can completely change in taste and absorb the flavor of whatever you put on it. Which makes it the best vegetarian protein snack of choice.

Edamame:

Edamame is immature soybeans. These beans in this specific growing period are stable in Japanese cuisine. It can be eaten as it is, making them the most accessible vegetarian protein snack.

One cup (155 grams) of edamame contains around 18 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber, and large amounts of folic acid, vitamin K, and manganese.

It is a massive benefit for bodybuilders, as folate may be necessary for optimal muscle mass and strength, particularly in older adults.

Also, boiled edamame, which contains nine grams of protein per two-thirds of one cup, can be served hot or cold and sprinkled with salt.

You can enjoy them raw or boiled and add them to your salad or favorite pasta dish.

Pea Milk:

Pea milk offers unique properties, making it relatively better than almond or oat milk alternatives.

That’s because pea milk from yellow split peas does not cause allergic reactions in people, unlike nuts, soy, and even animal dairy.

Moreover, pea milk contains eight grams of protein per cup. We advise you to choose a brand of milk that fortifies their pea milk with critical nutrients like calcium and vitamin D, which people receive from milk from animal sources.

You can add pea milk to coffee, cereal, creamy soups, sauces, or other vegetarian protein snacks like crepes.

Milk alternatives aren’t only for people who are lactose intolerant.

Soy, almonds, oat, and other milk alternatives can be great plant-based protein sources. Plain soy milk has one of the highest protein contents amongst plant-based milk alternatives.

But watch out for lots of added sugar and flavors when choosing your milk alternative.

Dairy-Free Yogurt:

You can find yogurts made with nuts, like almonds and cashews, pea protein, soy, and coconut.

And those alternatives offer the same probiotic benefits as their traditional counterparts.

And some brands even produce plain Greek almond-based yogurt with about 10 grams of protein per serving.

To use nondairy yogurt as a vegetarian protein snack, you can make parfaits, overnight oats in yogurt with chia seeds, cinnamon, and honey, smoothies, yogurt mixed with fruit, nuts, coconut flakes, love, and toasted oats, or even make a simple yogurt cucumber salad: add your yogurt, salt, pepper, minced garlic, squeeze half a lemon and add your diced cucumber.

This salad is one delicious healthy vegetarian protein snack if you want something savory on the go.

Nuts:

All nuts contain healthy fats and protein, so they are essential to a plant-based diet.

They are also versatile; add them to your dishes or everyday vegetarian protein snacks.

For example, crushed walnuts on top of salad, pistachios in vegetarian homemade pesto sauce on top of pasta and salads.

You can also make a trail mix with your favorite nuts and seeds, the most straightforward snack.

You can make vegetarian and vegan banana bread for Nut butter with only banana, brown sugar, vanilla extract, dairy-free yogurt, cinnamon, flour, and nut butter.

Hemp Seeds:

Hemp seeds are very nutritious and have high amounts of protein, providing about 9.5 grams of protein per three tablespoons.

You can add hemp to your cereals and trail mixes, or you can add them to smoothies, pesto, or home-baked goods for a healthy vegetarian protein snack.

Chia Seeds:

Chia seeds are high in protein and healthy fats like omega 3; some might even consider them super food due to their fantastic health benefits.

Moreover, you can add them to any meal or vegetarian protein snack you can think of. You can sprinkle chia seeds over salads, stir them into yogurt or oatmeal, or blend them into smoothies.

Also, chia seeds plump up and take on a gelatinous texture when you soak them in a liquid, forming a rich and creamy treat similar to pudding, especially if you keep them overnight in yogurt.

A very delicious snack is overnight chia seeds in yogurt, honey, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. And right before you eat it, add your fruits of choice on top.

Buckwheat:

Buckwheat is a type of seed that people ground into flour and use in place of traditional flour for its health benefits and the fact that it is gluten-free.

One cup (168 grams) of cooked buckwheat contains 6 grams of protein, high amounts of vitamin B, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and fiber.

You can use it for baking goods and add different seeds and nuts to optimize protein intake in this healthy vegetarian protein snack.

Sesame seeds and Sunflower Seeds:

Sunflower seed kernels contain five grams of protein per one-quarter cup. At the same time, sesame seeds contain about 6.4 grams.

This makes them the perfect addition to your vegetarian protein snack, as salads and trail mix with different nuts and even some dried fruits.

You can also eat Sunflower seeds toasted and salted without adding them to anything. And adding sesame seeds to your meals and sauces will be nutritious and delicious.

Seitan:

One of the most popular chicken meat substitutes in different plant-based diets, Seitan is made from wheat gluten and seasoned with salt and other spices.

Seitan is also called vital wheat gluten as it contains a lot of protein, about 46 grams per half a cup serving.

People describe Seitan that it looks like duck meat and tasting like chicken. So, you can try using it as an alternative to chicken in different salads and dishes.

Quinoa:

Uncooked quinoa contains more than 24 grams of protein per one-cup serving.

Quinoa also contains all nine essential amino acids that the body needs for growth and repair but cannot produce, making it one of the most popular superfoods amongst nutrition gurus.

Plus, quinoa is amazingly versatile.

You can add them to your favorite soup or vegetarian chili. Some people boil them and use them as rice next to stir-fried vegetables.

You can also serve quinoa with brown sugar and fruit as a vegetarian protein snack or toss the seeds with vegetables and a vinaigrette to make a nourishing salad.

Leafy Green vegetables:

Although vegetables generally don’t have as much protein as legumes and nuts, some contain significant protein, antioxidants, and fiber.

For example, one cup of raw spinach contains one gram of protein. And one cup of chopped, cooked broccoli contains about 5.7 grams.

Suppose you don’t like traditionally cooked spinach. In that case, you can add them to your vegetarian protein snacks as a salad dressing by blanching the leaves, adding lemon, garlic, and olive oil, and mixing them all in a blender to form a delicious paste to add to your salads. 

And if you do not enjoy the taste of raw broccoli, you can toss them in olive oil and your favorite spices then put them in the oven or the air frier w cook a little.

Cocoa Powder:

Unsweetened raw cocoa contains one gram of protein per tablespoon.

To use cocoa powder to make hot chocolate, use two teaspoons of cocoa powder, sugar or diet artificial sweetener of choice, plant-based milk, and a small amount of cinnamon and nutmeg. 

Mix nut butter, cocoa powder, and honey to make chocolate balls.

You can add dried raisins and nuts of choice to make it even more delicious and nutritious. Also, you can use cocoa powder with nut butter and nuts to make delicious vegetarian protein snacks with high protein content.

 You can make your vegetarian homemade chocolate and add nuts and dried fruits to give an extra kick of taste.

Plant-Based Protein Powders:

There are also some hacks to getting protein as a vegan or vegetarian, such as trying vegan protein powders, as protein powder is a good way of getting plant protein in a condensed form.

Many different types and options exist to replace whey protein powder with a plant-based alternative essential for bodybuilders.

In the market, powders are made from peas and almonds, whole grains (like brown rice, buckwheat, millet, and seeds), and legumes. 

Moreover, some brands of almonds protein powder contain 60 grams of protein per cup. But protein content varies from product to product, so check the label before you decide on the product you want to purchase.

Protein powders are an easy way to boost the protein content of your vegetarian protein snacks.

They are easy to use and incorporate into recipes, like smoothies, pancakes, soups, and healthy treats like puddings. You can also add them to yogurt with dried fruits and chia seeds.

Nutritional Yeast:

Fortified nutritional yeast is a popular staple in plant-based diets as a reliable source of vitamin B12.

And vitamin B12 is responsible for nervous system health, helps produce energy, forms red blood cells, and is essential for weight and resistance training to avoid injuries and strain on the peripheral nerves.

Checking the label to ensure your nutritional yeast is fortified with vitamin B12 is a must since many vegetarians and vegans are at risk of vitamin B12 deficiency.

Even more, some brands of nutritional yeast provide ten grams of protein per 20-gram serving. 

The way you can add nutritional yeast to your vegetarian protein snacks is quite simple. You can sprinkle nutritional yeast onto popcorn, cooked veggies, or potatoes.

Some people even use nutritional yeast in plant-based soups for a savory treat.

Why eat vegetarian protein snacks? 

Protein is a vital part of any diet. On a super fundamental level, protein contains amino acids, which are the very building blocks of cells.

On a more day-to-day level, protein helps to build and maintain muscle mass and regulate appetite. So it’s essential to eat plenty of protein if you are trying to lose weight or gain muscle.

In more detail, the protein comprises 20 building blocks known as amino acids.

The human body can make 11 amino acids independently, but the other nine must come from food sources. These nine building blocks are called essential amino acids.

However, not all foods contain all nine amino acids. These are called incomplete proteins.

The foods containing all nine essential amino acids are called complete proteins, except for soy, hemp, quinoa, chia seeds, pea protein, and buckwheat.

Most plant-based foods lack a few essential amino acids. That’s not to say they’re less critical or less nutritional because people eat various foods, and incomplete protein sources naturally complete each other. 

And that is why we recommend that you not simply stick to only two or three plant protein sources and ignore the rest.

And that is why we mentioned different simple ways to make nutritious vegetarian protein snacks using multiple plant-based protein sources.

Benefits of Plant-Based Protein:

Eating more plant-based and less animal protein may benefit your health and the environment. Benefits of plant-based protein may include:

  • More fiber and vitamin intake 
  • Low or no sodium overall intake
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
  • Little to no saturated fat compared to protein from an animal source. Which is one of the main culprits in cardiovascular system diseases.
  • Less risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and according to some healthcare professionals, less chance of certain types of cancer

Summary:

Regarding nutrition, many options will boost your health and well-being no matter what diet or lifestyle you choose to follow.

And plant-based diets are healthy if you know how to provide your body with different needs and nutritional requirements without artificial testosterone supplements that pose many side effects!

We hope we were able to offer fun vegetarian protein snack ideas that you can use to your benefit.

Let us know in the comment if we can help you. And as always, stay safe.

Dr. Lin Wei Chen

Dr. Lin Wei Chen

Dr. Lin Wei Chen, PhD in Sports Medicine from the University of Hong Kong and a Master's in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Beijing University, is a trailblazer in integrating herbal wisdom with modern fitness science. With over 10 years in sports medicine, Dr. Lin specializes in natural approaches to muscle growth, stamina, and men's health, revolutionizing how we enhance physical performance. His unique perspective, combining rigorous scientific research with age-old herbal practices, offers innovative and effective solutions for athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike. Renowned for his patient-centered approach, Dr. Lin's work not only elevates physical capabilities but also empowers individuals towards holistic well-being.
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