The first response that you will likely get if you decide to become a vegetarian is “how are you getting your protein?” No matter what your diet preference is, you will need to have a regular intake of protein to keep your energy up throughout the day. If you do not like to eat meat, you still need to get your protein from somewhere. Finding alternative high protein foods for vegetarians is possible though.
One of the most common myths about the vegetarian diet is that after ditching meat it becomes almost impossible to meet the recommended guidelines for daily protein intake. But it is not as big a deal as many think. Protein is an essential nutrient that plays a key role in the functioning of your body.
Protein is essential to have a healthy immune system, to promote proper growth of the body and to build muscles, amongst others. A study found that meat-free protein is lower in calorie as compared to the animal variety – great news for weight watchers!
There are many foods that do not contain meat and are great protein sources for vegetarians or vegans. Here’s a list of 5 high protein foods for vegetarians:
Almond and almond butter
Almond is a nut with several benefits, apart from having a high amount of protein. 5-6 serving of almonds contains approximately 8 grams of protein. Almonds are very low in saturated fats and when it comes to almond butter, they are less allergenic and toxic than some other varieties of butter such as peanut butter. Add some roasted-crushed almonds to your salad for that crunchy-healthy twist! In many traditions, people eat 5-10 soaked almonds with a glass of warm water first thing in the morning.
Tofu and other soy products
Soy is one of the most common high protein foods for vegetarians. You may have tasted soy milk and tofu, but have you ever tried soy yogurt, soy nuts, soy ice-cream, or soy cheese? Help a cup tofu contains 10 grams of protein and one full cup of soy milk contains 7 grams of protein! The good news is still not over – you can add tofu to almost ANYTHING you eat such as pasta sauces, salads, soups, stir-fries and the list goes on.
Beans, lentils and legumes
2/3 cup of cooked chickpeas contains 10-15 grams of protein, as does a cup of black or kidney beans. One cup of canned kidney beans contains around 13.4 grams of protein. Having beans and grains together is a classic combination and provides complete protein. Like the other beans, baked beans are high in protein as well and are a smart way to snack between meals while taking advantage of the protein content.
At last, a fruit rich in protein – Avocado! About 8 ounces of mashed avocado contain 5 grams of protein. It also provides fiber, folic acid and zinc. Unlike many other fruits, avocado is a very rich source of fats, really good for the health of your heart. An interesting fact to know here is – the protein found in avocado is more nutritious than the protein found in the milk of a cow. This fruit is great added to any vegetarian or vegan diet.
Yes, good old greens veggies will pack a protein punch! One cup of cooked spinach has approximately 7 grams of protein and one cup of French beans has around 13 grams of protein. 2 cups of cooked kale – 5 grams. One cup of boiled peas – 9 grams. So, toss a few veggie burgers on the grill or in the microwave, and your daily protein requirement will be taken care of.
There are many foods that work as good sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans. Combine these foods with other nutrient rich foods and these vegetarian options will definitely help you provide the daily recommended amount of protein.
Make sure you do not stick to one type of food and try out different sources of vegetarian protein. When you are on a vegetarian/vegan diet, you have to choose right and be open to different tastes and foods as the protein you consume comes from vegetarian sources. There are a lot of high protein foods for vegetarians, so you will be able to have a varied diet with all the protein you need.
Be tuned in to the needs of your body and be a healthy vegetarian!