Protein is an essential macronutrient for the human body. A protein-rich diet can assist in many ways including stabilising blood sugar levels, improving brain function, aiding in recovery and supporting general health and wellbeing. 

Protein is commonly found in beef, fish, dairy and eggs. These are considered complete proteins because they contain enough of the essential amino acids.

Our bodies need protein and for those on a vegan or vegetarian diet can still consume the protein they need for their bodies. While some plant sources of protein are considered incomplete protein sources, you can still consume enough of the essential amino acids and protein by eating a combination of different foods together.

Vegetarian protein sources can be found in many of your favourite foods. You don’t have to search far for them at all. They’re probably sitting in your cupboard right now!

Our cupboards are made up of many foods: oats, rice, nuts and so much more.

Some of these food items contain amounts of protein and especially when eaten together, they can offer many benefits and can be a great option for those on vegan and vegetarian diets.  

How tempted are you to go to your cupboard right now to have a look at what’s inside? 

Now that you’re in front of your cupboard, have a look through its contents. Let’s discover some of the best vegetarian protein sources you can incorporate into your diet.

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An easy way to consume protein, oats are a popular food that can be added to many recipes, such as muesli, muffins and pancakes. 

Approximately half a cup (120ml) of dry oats contain around 6 grams of protein and 4 grams of fibre. 

While oats are not regarded as complete proteins, compared with other grains such as rice and wheat, they contain higher-quality proteins. 

Delicious and easy to consume, oats offer a nutritious way to incorporate protein into vegetarian or vegan diets.

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Nuts, seeds and nut butter

Nuts, seeds and nut butter are some of the top vegetarian protein sources hiding in your cupboard. These foods are also great vegan protein sources. 

Depending on the nut and seed mixture, about 28 grams can contain approximately 5-7 grams of protein.

It’s important to keep in mind that blanching or roasting nuts may damage the nutrients in nuts. So, opt for raw and unblanched nuts if possible.

Another tip is to choose natural nut butter so you avoid ingredients such as oil, sugar and excess salt.

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Rice and beans

As you dig deeper into your cupboard, you’ll probably come across rice and beans, great vegetarian protein sources you can easily consume. 

Enjoyed together, rice and beans form a complete source of protein because they contain all nine essential amino acids.

Approximately one cup (239 grams) of rice and beans contain around 12 grams of protein as well as 10 grams of fibre.

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Although an ancient grain, quinoa is popularly used nowadays in many households. We are seeing it more often on restaurant menus and in recipes


A complete protein, quinoa can be enjoyed as a breakfast porridge or added into a salad.

Appeasing to the palette, quinoa has a crunchy texture and nutty flavour. Amongst other vegan and vegetarian protein sources, it’s no wonder this is a favourite. 

Approximately 8 grams of protein is found in one cup (185 grams) of cooked quinoa.

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Chia seeds

There are many great vegetarian and vegan protein sources hiding away in our cupboards and one of them is chia seeds. 

Chia seeds contain all nine essential amino acids. They are small round seeds that are usually the colour of black or white.

Some use chia seeds in smoothies and juices or add them to their yoghurt.

At Happy Way, we use chia seeds in some of our protein powders for antioxidant goodness!

Around 28 grams (two tablespoons) of chia seeds contain approximately 4 grams of protein. 

If you’re not used to incorporating chia seeds into your diet, we can change that. Check out our recipe for the perfect chocolate protein chia pudding.

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Peanut butter sandwich

This next one might excite you! It’s delicious and one of our favourites we like to keep in the cupboard. It’s one of the tastiest vegetarian protein sources.

To gain all of its goodness and protein, two slices (62 grams) of whole wheat sandwich bread together with 32 grams (two tablespoons) of peanut butter offer around 14 grams of protein. That’s equivalent to eating two eggs. The average egg has around 6-7 grams of protein.

Though, these are estimate figures as the amount of protein can vary depending on the brand of bread and peanut butter you consume. 

It’s also important to choose peanut butter that is made with minimal ingredients – for example just peanuts and maybe a small amount of salt.

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Don’t turn your nose up at lentils. Lentils are nutritional powerhouses. It’s vegan and vegetarian protein sources like this that can be very beneficial.

Lentils contain around 18 grams of protein per cooked cup (240mls). Use lentils in soups, salads or curries.

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Vegan protein powder

A popular product is vegan protein powder. This offers a great way to consume and enjoy protein. 

If you don’t have this in your cupboard, then we encourage you to check it out!

Happy Way’s Like a Vegan Vanilla Flavour Protein Powder offers 21.6 grams of protein per 30 gram serving. Organically grown and gluten-free, we use ingredients such as rice protein for lowering blood sugar and psyllium husk for weight control and general intestinal health. Vegan and vegetarian protein sources like protein powder can be great for some! For more, discover our range of vegan protein powders.

It’s amazing what you can find in your cupboard – snacks, spices, protein-source foods… And last year’s Easter chocolate. How’d that go unopened?

Our cupboards are packed with lots of different food items that contain good amounts of protein. 

While foods such as beef, fish, dairy and eggs contain protein, those on vegan or vegetarian diets can still consume protein by eating a variety of different foods together. 

By simply consuming rice with beans can help you to obtain the essential amino acids. And who can’t go past a peanut butter sandwich? 

Perhaps now you’ll be looking at your cupboard a little differently, knowing that behind those doors are opportunities for protein-rich meals that are great vegan and vegetarian protein sources.

For further information and advice, please consult your health care professional.

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