Protein density of different foods

I wanted to see if it was possible to reduce meat consumption but still get high enough protein in the diet. The obvious answer is “It’s harder, because meat tends to be higher in protein than other food types.”

But then you go on vegan websites and they insist it’s just as easy to keep protein high on a vegan diet. I kept reading things like “Cauliflower is chock full of protein”. That might be true, relative to the total calories in it. But you’d need to eat like, a kilo of the stuff to get a decent absolute amount. So you need to check protein by weight, and by calorie:


The list of foods mainly comes from labels of things I’ve eaten, but with some research online with sites like Fat Secret etc.

The most protein dense foods (towards the bottom left) are the protein powders – no surprise there.

Outside of that, you see a cluster of red points – the meat and fish products. The only vegan product in this patch is tempeh, and the only vegetarian ones are Quorn and low fat mozarella.

Above that cluster, meaning more calories per gram of protein, but around the same weight of food you’d need to eat as meat and fish, are some vegan options – first beans, then nuts.

To the right of the protein dense cluster, meaning about the same calories as the meat products but less dense in terms of weight, are some vegetarian options – eggs and some dairy products.

The rest are spread far away from the high-density cluster.

There is a third relevant variable not accounted for here – price. It would be good to do a 3D version with price on the Z axis. Even if you were willing to eat a kilo of cauliflower and spinach every day, the impact on your bank balance might put you off.

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