If you’re trying to build build muscle on a vegetarian diet, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself “how can I get enough protein?”
Equally, if you’re trying to lose weight and tone up with a high protein diet, I bet you’ve asked yourself the same question.
So, we’ve carefully created the High Protein Vegetarian Meal Plan! We’ve also taken into account the difference in calorie requirements and made one version for building muscle and one for losing weight and toning up. The plans contain loads of quick and tasty recipes high in protein, ideal to support you with your fitness goals. See below for more details.
1. Our High Protein Vegetarian Meal Plan
To cover a wider range of possibilities we designed each meal plan slightly differently. Due to differences in calorie requirements between men and women, Version One took a 5’6’’ 160 lbs female as an example. Version Two took a 5’9” male. Naturally either meal plan is suitable for any gender, please see the notes below on how to personalise them for your exact needs.
Version One: High Protein Vegetarian Meal Plan for Weight Loss
The goal is to lose weight and tone up.
The daily caloric intake is 1600 kcal – and is geared towards a 5’6’’ 160 lbs female.
- 18% protein in a 1600 kcal diet equals 80g protein
- You’ll get roughly 0.5g of protein/lb
Version Two: High Protein Vegetarian Meal Plan for Building Muscle
This meal plan is designed to build muscle.
The daily caloric intake is 2500 kcal – ideal for an avg. sized male (around 5’9”).
- 20% protein in a 2500 kcal diet equals 125g protein
- You’ll get roughly 0.75g of protein/lb
How to download and use the meal plan
Ready to get started? Simply sign up in the box at the top of this page, or visit this page to get your free copy of the high protein meal plan. From there we’ll send you an email, so keep an eye on your inbox and get ready to enjoy a week of tasty meals!
What kind of recipes are in the meal plan?
The below menu shows the meals included in the 2500 calorie version of the plan, which is designed to build muscle. In the full plan you’ll also find tasty extras and snacks to keep you satisfied and increase your protein intake throughout the week.
The 1800 calorie plan features many of the same tasty veggie meals, accompanied by different snacks and extras to reduce the total calories.
You’ll notice that we’ve included 3 days where you eat the previous day’s leftovers. This reduces the amount of time you’ll need to spend in the kitchen, making it even easier to stick to the plan.
The first day kicks off with 3 of our favourite recipes:
Plus, snacks and extras that we’ve included in the meal plan.
We’ve kept things simple by repeating day 1, so you can simply store and eat the leftovers without having to lift a finger in the kitchen!
The recipes for day 3 are high in both protein and deliciousness! We’ve also shaken up the snacks (which you can find in the plan.)
The fourth day brings in 3 new recipes, including our famous vegan chickpea curry which you won’t want to miss. As always, snacks in the plan.
Another leftover day. Sit back, relax and enjoy yesterday’s awesome culinary creations.
We’ve provided a fresh batch of high protein recipes for day 6 including our much loved overnight oats in a jar which are packed with protein and incredibly easy to prep!
You know the drill – snacks in the plan 😉
For the final day of the plan, simply enjoy the leftovers from day 6.
Note: We’ve created these meal plans in a way that most of you can use them. But of course you should be following your own needs. Luckily calories are super easy to adjust with our “meal add-on”.
Not hungry anymore? Stop eating or skip the snacks. Or is it just not enough? Support your dishes with another meal add-on or add some fruits, nuts, yogurt or hummus to the daily snacks.
You might think that the protein share in our meal plan is still not high enough. After all, it doesn’t reach the 1g protein/lb rule often promoted in the bodybuilding world – although that’s a very contested issue, as you’ll see further on down.
Of course it’s possible to amp up the daily protein intake as a vegetarian to that amount. But let’s do two things first: see what options we have and read up on how much protein we really need.
2. Vegetarian Protein Sources
If you eat a bowl of yogurt with oats as a snack and some cheese on a sandwich or in a salad then you already take in a very decent amount of dairy. If you overdo it, you might get problems with acne (back to age 16, yaay!) or your poop.
To eat 2-3 cups of cooked legumes you will probably need two meals. In my opinion that’s enough. Here’s why: first, the more beans, peas, chickpeas or lentils you eat the more of a fart festival you’ll be.
Second, even though legumes are considered to be super healthy in mainstream medicine, there is some controversy about the dangers of their high phytic acid content. Phytic acid makes it more difficult for your body to absorb nutrients like iron, zinc and calcium. BUT: if you cook legumes properly you reduce the phytic acid amount to a safe degree. Still, like with everything – better not to overdo it.
Actually, let me post that Lentil Bean Salad in here, so you can give it a try right away!
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ cup tomato puree
- If using dried red lentils then prepare according to package instructions (or just add 1 part red lentils to 1.5 parts of water with a little salt in a pot. Bring it to a boil and then let the lentils simmer for about 12-15 minutes depending on how soft you like them. Season with a little more salt, when the lentils are cooked. Alternatively you can cook them in veggie broth for extra flavour).
- Meanwhile cut the spring onions and bell pepper. Also grate the garlic.
- Get a big bowl and throw in all the ingredients, including the lentils and beans.
- Finally, if using, add the tomato sauce (as much as you like), give it a stir, do a taste test and, if necessary, season one last time with salt and pepper.
Obviously soy belongs to the family of legumes. But it deserves a separate paragraph as it’s used in so many meat replacement products. It has been stated it’s safe, but also I’m sure you’ve heard many people say soy can cause health problems (here’s an excellent piece on that issue). I’d aim for a soy yogurt, some soy milk or tofu every second day or so. Again, moderation is key.
Grains (Bread, Pasta, Rice, Oats, etc.)
Grains are a great way to accompany almost any dish. Be it oats in your yogurt, brown rice with a veggie curry or a slice of bread for your soup. Plus they contain a decent amount of protein.
The drawbacks: Similar to legumes, they contain a high amount of phytic acid. And of course ramping up on grains also increases your calorie count a lot due to their high carb content. That again can lead to fat pads above your muscles 😉
Nuts & Seeds
It’s great to have them in your diet, not only for protein but also for various other nutrients (iron for example; flax & chia seeds for omega-3). By increasing your protein intake through nuts, you’ll move up your overall calorie intake a lot. They are incredibly nutrient dense.
Also, too many of them might lead to digestion problems. There’s a reason you feel usually pretty stuffed after two handful of nuts or seeds.
Are healthy and among other nutrients are an awesome source of protein. I personally think two a day is enough though. I mean seriously. This literally means you have 2-3 chickens running (or standing) around somewhere producing eggs ONLY FOR YOU.
When I see high protein recipes calling for 6 egg whites I can only shake my head. It’s the epiphany of “I don’t care, I need to look good. Me”. At some point it’s got to go beyond me and my body.
Green Vegetables and Leaves
The more the merrier. We should try to get some greens on our plates every day, ideally twice. If you eat more greens to improve your protein intake, you probably won’t get health problems, nor will you put on weight.
The only downside is you’ll have to eat loads! I’d love to see you munch two bunches of broccoli a day for 18g of protein. Difficult task.
As vegetarians these are pretty much the options we have, when we’re looking for protein. As you can see many sources can have drawbacks, if you overdo them. Admittedly, some of them are less confirmed than others.
Either way, this is reason enough for me to put the first priority of our vegetarian high protein meal plan on a balance. If you put the focus first on adding as much protein as possible, it is likely to result in an unbalanced diet, which might lead to health problems.
3. How much protein do vegetarians actually need?
The RDA, recommended daily allowance, is at 0.36g of protein per pound of body weight (0.8g per kg). By percentage that would be roughly 10% of your daily caloric income. Note that is the minimum requirement for a non-active sedentary person to not get sick. That means a full-on couch potato would just get by on that daily intake.
But how much protein do we need to thrive?
Of course this depends on your goals. But in general you can say if you want to build muscle you need more protein than if you just want to maintain your weight. A higher protein intake is also likely to be beneficial for weight loss. Although the guys from Harvard aren’t as sure as some others about the impact in this article about how much protein you need each day.
So, if you’re hitting the gym – be it for building muscle or losing weight – a healthy recommendation would be to aim for 17 – 20% percent of calories in protein per day. That would translate into roughly 0.5g – 0.7g per pound – up to double the RDA.
The more protein the better?
In the bodybuilding world often times 1g of protein per pound is recommended in order to make sure you don’t lose any “gainz”. The validity of this rule has been doubted times over in the past. Various studies found that your body can take advantage of anything up to about 0.8g of protein per pound – given that you train like an athlete (check out this study of 23 power lifters for example).
There’s also some discussion, without a clear conclusion, about the dangers of high protein diets (around 30% of calories in protein), especially in regards to kidney disease.
Whether it’s true or not – as with everything – moderation is key. Not to mention that you’d have a really tough time to reach such a high volume of protein on a vegetarian diet (well, on any diet actually) without using protein powder.
We have to admit that the question “where do you get your protein, bro?” is not such a bad one after all – especially if you’re pursuing fitness goals. But just filling up the meal plan with vegetarian high protein recipes and then just sending you off is not our style. This post has been prepared to give you as much information as possible as a vegetarian seeking a high protein diet.
For a vegetarian it is definitely possible to get in loads of protein in a healthy and this is what we’ve done with our meal plan. Though getting all the way up to the “bodybuilding rule” of 1g/lb is very tough. You can do it, but we have serious doubts that it’s very healthy and whether it’s actually necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve answered some common questions we received about the meal plan, but if you can’t find an answer please let us know in the comments.
What if I don’t want to make one of the meals?
If you don’t like some of the recipes or just want to skip one, no problem! Simply cross them off the meal plan. Each meal in the plan is assigned a letter, which corresponds with the grocery list so you can remove them there too and not worry about buying food you won’t use.
How many people is the plan designed for?
The meal plan is designed for one person and the nutrition and grocery list is based on this. You can easily adapt it though if you’re cooking for more than one though. Each meal in the plan links to the recipe on our website. The recipes include a handy tool that lets you enter how many servings you want to make and it will automatically update the ingredients needed – nifty huh? Just make sure to also update the grocery list in the plan where necessary.
Are there different versions of the meal plan?
Yes, there are two meal plans. A 1600 kcal/day (designed to help you lose weight and build muscle) and a 2500 kcal/day (designed to help you build muscle). If you want to tweak the plan based on your own individual calorie intake calculations, we recommend modifying the snacks to reach your daily calorie limit. Alternatively you can always vary the calories of a meal by adding or removing certain ingredients to adjust to your individual level.
Can I still drink whilst following the plan?
This is completely up to you, but for best results we recommend avoiding sugary soft drinks and alcohol, and sticking with water, tea and coffee instead.
When should I start with the high protein vegetarian meal plan?
Begin whenever you like! You can download the meal plan instantly here.
Life after the meal plan
Your high protein diet journey probably won’t end after 7 days. We’re confident many of the recipes in our meal plan can become staples in your household, but we realise that you may want to shake things up and try new dishes once you have the basics down!
We’ve got hundreds of delicious and healthy recipes online already. Just use the search on our main page to find your next favourite, or click the link below to browse our high protein selection.
See you in the gym!
We would like to take a moment to note that this post is for information purposes only. It does not claim to provide medical advice or to be able to treat any medical condition. It makes no claims in respect to weight loss or building muscle, either in terms of the amount or rate at which said could be achieved. If you have any concerns regarding your health please contact your medical practitioner before making changes.