Vegetarian foods for Proteins, Iron, B12, Zinc, Calcium, Omega 3

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  2. Page 2 : Be Vegetarian or Vegan, that is the question
  3. Page 3 : Food sources for Proteins, Iron…

In the following tables you can find Vegetarian sources for nutrients that vegetarian people may be concerned about. My advise as a Vegetarian is not to be too calculative with that, but instead to try to diversify the foods so as to receive a little bit of everything that the body needs. Usually, you will naturally seek foods that are rich with proteins when your body needs it.

Some Vegetarian Food Sources for Proteins

Proteins may be the most important nutrient that vegetarians “lose” by not eating animals, but luckily there are other sources for proteins, especially if one is vegetarian and not vegan. See explanations about this issue in the first page.

  • In this table, percentage of Proteins as total weight of product.
Eggs 14 %
Cow milk 3 %
Goat milk 6 %
Cheeses 10 to 40 %
Parmesan cheese 35 %
Gruyère cheese 30 %
Cheddar cheese 25 %
Camembert cheese 20 %
Feta cheese 15 %
Ricotta cheese 11 %
Most beans 25 %
Soy beans 36 %
Lentils 28 %
Tempeh (soy product) 18 %
Tofu 15 %
Soy milk 6 %
Nuts, Seeds, Cereals
Peanuts 26 %
Peanut butter 24 %
Almonds 21 %
Pistacho 21 %
Nuts 24 %
Cashews, hazelnuts 15 %
Sunflower seeds 22 %
Pecans 9 %
Oat 16 %
Quinoa 13 %
Sesame butter, tahina 17 %
Rice – brown 9 %
Rice – white 7 %
Powders rich in proteins (for athletes…)
Soy Protein Isolate 80 %
Whey Protein Isolate (made from milk) 78 %
Chickpeas 9 %
Peas 5 %
Corn 9 %
Fruits are low in Proteins 1 %

Remarks about the Protein table:

  • All info was taken from the U.S National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, you can search there for more foods.
  • The number indicates the percentage of Proteins from the total weight of the product, note that some products are more easy to eat than others, it is easier to drink half kilo of milk than eat half kilo of almonds.
  • The powders rich in Proteins for athletes, are products from which the water has been extracted, so it is no surprise that they contain a  concentrated amount of proteins, usually you drink these powders with milk or water.
  • The indicated amounts of proteins in the table are for raw food, when the food is cooked it looses a lot of its proteins. For instance cooked rice contains only 3 % of proteins, compared to 7 % when it is not. (See the Nutrient Database for the differences between cooked and not).
  • Not all proteins are digested with the same efficiency by the human body. Eggs proteins are digested by the body at almost 100 %, but wheat gluten is absorbed only at 25 %.  This value is called Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score (PDAAS).

Some Vegetarian Food Sources for Iron (mineral)

(Foods with high content of Iron)

  • The numbers, on the right column are for 100 gram of product.
Soybeans 3.55 mg
Lentils 7.54 mg
Falafel 3.42 mg
Sesame seeds 14.55 mg
Pumpkin Seeds 8.82 mg
Spirulina- dried 28.50 mg
Spinach 2.71 mg
Raisins 1.79 mg
Spaghetti, whole-wheat, dry 3.63 mg
Brussels sprouts, raw 1.40 mg
Dried Peaches 4.06 mg


  • The recommended intake of Iron for an adult male is 8 mg a day, for women 18 mg, for pregnant women 27 mg.

Some Vegetarian Food Sources for B12 (vitamin)

  • The numbers, on the right column are for 100 gram of product.
Egg 0.89 µg
Milk 0.36 µg
Cheeses 0.3-1.0 µg
Yogurt 0.50 µg


  • The recommended intake of B12 for an adult ranges from 2 to 3 µg per day
  • B12 is found almost only in the animal world. B12 vitamin is also added artificially (fortified) in many industrial products like breakfast cereals, soy milk and yeast extracts.
  • In case there is B12 deficiency, pills of it should be taken.

Some Vegetarian Food Sources for Zinc (mineral)

  • The numbers, on the right column are for 100 gram of product.
Cereals wheat germ, toasted, plain 16.67 mg
Seeds, pumpkin and squash seed kernels, dried 7.81 mg
Chocolate, dark, 60-69% cacao solids 2.65 mg
Peanuts 3.27 mg
Almonds 3.08 mg
Cheese, mozzarella 2.92 mg
  • The recommended intake of Zinc for an adult is 15 mg per day

Some Vegetarian Food Sources for Calcium (Mineral)

  • The numbers, on the right column are for 100 gram of product.
Milk, 1% fat 125  mg
Yogurt, plain, skim milk 199 mg
Cheese, mozzarella 505 mg
Cheese, cottage, creamed 83 mg
Cheese, gruyere 1011 mg
Ice cream, soft serve, chocolate 131 mg
Almonds 267 mg
Beans, white, canned 73 mg
Soybeans, green, cooked 145 mg
Tofu, fried 372 mg
Chickpeas (garbanzo), raw 105 mg
Hummus, commercial 38 mg
Oranges, raw 72 mg


  • The recommended intake of Calcium for an adult is 1000 mg per day
  • All cheeses like Blue, Brick, Cheddar, Edam, Gouda, Gruyere, Swiss, Mozzarela etc are very high in Calcium.
  • There are in the market fortified products with calcium like fortified soy, almond, rice beverages, orange juice.

Some Vegetarian Food sources for Omega 3

  • The numbers, on the right column are for 100 gram of product.
Flax / Linseed oil 58  gram
Walnut oil 11 gram
Canola 7 gram
Soybean oil 7 gram
Wheatgerm oil 7 gram
Flax / Linseeds 20 gram
Pumpkin seeds 8 gram
  • The recommended intake of Omega-3s is 220 mg per day (it varies a lot between organizations)
  • Omega 3 is found mainly in Fish and sea food.

Remark: I have mentioned in the tables above some nutritients that vegetarians may be concerned about because they are abundant in animals and they are the most common deficiencies found in Vegetarian people, but :

  • If you are vegetarian, it doesn’t mean that you lack these nutrients. (go for a medical check from time to time, to find out)
  • The body needs a lot of vitamins and minerals and not only the ones mentioned above (the body needs Vitamin A, B, C, D…, minerals, fibers and more) so make sure to eat daily a lot of fruits, vegetables and cereals and to vary the diet.

Where can I find books and videos about Vegetarianism ?

First, I would like to recommend 2 books that are not treating directly with vegetarianism but are about the history and future of humankind. In these books, the author, Yuval Harari, puts our relationship with other animals in context. The author is vegan himself. These are best sellers, very interesting books : Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind and : Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow.
You should also read the best seller Eating Animals from the famous writer Jonathan Safran Foer.
Next you should watch the famous video of the animal right activist, Gary Yourofsky. This video has been translated into several languages and the lecture is notorious around the world. See also Gary Yourofsky website. for a lot of information about vegetarianism.
The largest animal rights organization in the world – Peta.
You can find endless sites with Vegetarian recipes. Just for example : VegWebVeganyumyumMouth Watering Vegan.

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