an essential nutrient required for many vital roles in the body

Proteins are made up of amino acids – some of these can be made by the body while others (known as “essential” amino acids) must be supplied by the diet. On a meat-free diet you can obtain of all the essential amino acids you need by eating a variety of different types of plant foods including legumes, grains, nuts and seeds, and soy products.


It was once thought that certain combinations of plant foods had to be eaten at the same meal but it is now known that strict protein combining isn’t necessary as long as you eat a variety of protein-rich foods from day to day.


By body weight:

Women 19-70        0.75g/kg 

Women over 70     0.94g/kg

Men 19-70              0.84g/kg 

Men over 70           1.07g/kg 

Tips for meeting your protein needs:

  • Use legumes such as chickpeas, lentils, and canned or dried beans regularly in your meals

  • Choose wholegrains such as quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth, oats and brown rice

  • Incorporate nuts and seeds in your diet most days, as snack or added to meals

  • Include soy products regularly including soy milk, tempeh and tofu. 

  • Don’t rely on protein powders, which won’t provide the other nutrients (such as iron and
    zinc) found in plant protein foods. It’s best to get most of your protein from whole plantfoods.

Source: Dr Kate Marsh BSc, MNutrDiet, PhD, Grad Cert Diab Edn & Mgt Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian