Good, Better, Best: Vegetarian Protein

Good, Better, Best: Vegetarian Protein

Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This page may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I have recommended. There is no additional cost to you whatsoever.

Becoming vegan is among the most impactful issues an American can do to scale back their environmental footprint, as a result of meat, particularly beef, is so carbon-intensive.

Many extremely processed and luxurious objects like wine and chocolate generate emissions comparable to some meats. However, for individuals who aren’t prepared to surrender their glass of wine or get rid of all animal merchandise from their diets, quite a lot of more easy strategies may also help you considerably cut carbon emissions out of your food plan.

Past research have proven that vegetarian diets are generally healthier. But many individuals are nonetheless involved about getting sufficient protein with out consuming meat. Researchers at Arizona State University lately developed an algorithm to rank some frequent protein-rich meals based mostly on the ratio of their dietary effectivity and value to the atmosphere. Here is how completely different vegetarian proteins examine.



Insects have solely lately began gaining attention as a sustainable protein supply for people and their pets, however based mostly on the restricted obtainable knowledge, grasshoppers got here out forward of all farmed animal proteins for his or her stability of excessive protein content material (65%) to low environmental influence.

Obviously, this meals supply isn’t vegan, however many vegetarians who’ve moral qualms about different animal proteins might not be involved with killing bugs. Eating them, however, will nonetheless show psychologically difficult to most North Americans and Europeans, regardless of converts’ assurances that grasshoppers are a crunchy, nutty deal with. For those that can’t fairly face a plateful of bugs, cricket flour could also be a extra palatable introduction to insect protein.


Like tofu, tempeh is comprised of soybeans. Because tempeh is higher in protein than tofu, it ranked increased on the examine’s listing.

Tempeh is comprised of cooked soybeans which might be fermented after which shaped right into a agency, dense cake. Like making sourdough, you are able to do this at home. Tempeh has a nutty taste by itself, however like tofu, it absorbs the flavors of different meals in a dish.

Curiously, the examine didn’t embody the supply of tofu and tempeh: soybeans. Soybeans have nearly as a lot protein as tofu and require much less processing than both tofu or tempeh. Soybeans are additionally meat-alternative alternative.


Overall, the nutritional benefits of chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, might exceed these of soy. Their protein content material is akin to tofu.

But regardless of the environmental and GMO issues related with soy, at the very least one study has proven chickpeas to have as a lot as 40% extra damaging local weather impacts than soybeans.

chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans
Image by PDPics from Pixabay


According to the ASU examine, three of the 5 best protein sources aren’t really vegan. For this listing, these proteins are included as “higher” moderately than “greatest” in consideration of the moral and non-climate impacts of animal agriculture.


Whey is the watery portion of milk that separates and is eliminated throughout cheese manufacturing. This signifies that, like leather, whey is a byproduct of the meat and dairy industries’ environmentally dangerous agricultural practices and it shares the identical complicated issues.

Whey is often consumed as a flavored protein powder added to drinks or different meals. Because of its animal origin, whey protein comprises a spread of important amino acids that might not be as available from vegan sources.


Like grasshoppers, seafood is clearly not a vegan meals supply, however pescatarians — those that don’t eat meat however do eat fish — depend on seafood for a few of their protein.

The local weather and environmental impacts of seafood fluctuate greater than most different protein sources, however from a protein-to-global-warming-potential standpoint, giant, wild-caught ocean fish like tuna and salmon are onerous to beat. Choose Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) licensed tuna or salmonids like arctic char that aren’t as overfished as salmon.


Pea Protein

The protein-to-global-warming-impact ratio of pea protein is inferior to seafood. But this vegan possibility remains to be probably the greatest decisions.

A cup of peas comprises 8 grams of protein – almost as a lot as one egg. Pea protein is a powdered complement with almost twice the protein content material of complete peas. It comprises 9 important amino acids and is comparatively excessive in iron – an actual plus for vegetarians and vegans.

Soy Protein Isolate

While the hormonal impacts of soy merchandise are probably overhyped, soy protein isolates do include some health and environmental baggage.

These closely processed isolates have few essential vitamins past protein, however include quite a few unhealthy components; it’s onerous to seek out non-GMO choices, and all the same old environmental impacts of soy are nonetheless related. But based mostly strictly on the ratio of protein to greenhouse fuel potential, soy protein isolates are among the many greatest decisions for vegan protein.

Image by forwimuwi73 from Pixabay


Vegans and vegetarians alike can breathe a sigh of reduction that essentially the most sustainable protein supply is a complete meals.

Relative to their protein content material, the carbon emissions from a serving of peanuts are nearly negligible. These legumes have a whopping 25.8 grams of protein per serving – that’s a bit greater than beef. They are additionally low-carb and excessive in nutritional vitamins and minerals. As lengthy as you don’t have a peanut allergy, groundnuts are an almost good protein supply.

Feature picture by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay. This article was initially printed on October 22, 2020.

You Might Also Like…