I am one of those vegetarians that is kinda grossed out by meat substitutes. I mean, I will eat the occasional dish with tofu or tempeh but it’s not my “go to” way to obtain the protein I need. Maybe you’re not like me and you love meat analogues (perhaps you loved the taste of meat before turning to the veggie side), and that’s great cause you’re getting tons of dense protein in a meat-like way. But there are other ways, unprocessed ways, to get the protein you need. Here is a list of 5 ways for vegetarians to get protein…that aren’t tofu!
It’s important to know that every person needs a different amount of protein per day. The standard is 0.8 grams of protein per each kilogram you weigh! So it’s necessary that you do the math and know how much protein YOU need daily to stay healthy. This list can help you keep creative in the ways in which you reach your daily protein necessity.
NOTE: All of the information pertaining to the amount of protein in the foods listed has been sourced from the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. This is a superb way to look up nutritional information for almost ANY food.
1. NUTS and SEEDS
Do NOT underestimate the positive power that nuts and seeds can have on your diet. First of all nuts are freaking diverse. You can do so much with them, whether it’s a cashew “cheese” sauce, nut butter or plain old trail mix, the nut family provides you with ample ways to get protein. In a ¼ cup of raw almonds there is almost 8 grams of protein! Don’t worry, I haven’t forgot about seeds, whether you like chia, hemp, flax, sunflower, poppy or any other kind of seeds you should know that they are packed with protein. In just 3 tablespoons of hemp seeds there is almost 10 grams of protein. I like to add hemp seeds to my morning porridge and it makes the meal a whole lot more filling! Why not try upping your protein and add your favourite nuts and seeds to meals you already make?
2. BEANS and LEGUMES
Though only some beans are legumes, these two deserve to be inextricably intertwined into the same category. Both are low in fat and cholesterol but high in protein, iron and potassium (winning!). Again, variety is the spice of life with these guys. Whether you enjoy chickpeas, lentils, edamame, kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans, peanuts (yes, they’re considered a legume) or adzuki beans… you’re apt to find something you enjoy. Need some ideas? A full list of legume and legume products (with nutritional information) can be found on the USDA National Nutritional Database.
Eggs are awesome because they can be prepared in an endless amount of ways. Whether you like them fried, poached, scrambled or as an omelette, eggs are a great source of protein. For each large egg you consume, you are getting about 7 grams of protein, tons of vitamins and the healthy fatty acids. Like with anything though, eggs should be eaten in moderation!
There’s not just fibre in veggies! Did you know that you can actually find a lot of protein in them too? You might already know these as “superfoods” but spinach, sprouts and kale are an excellent source of protein and vitamins. Only recently too did I find out that broccoli has a lot of protein, about 6-8 grams per cup! Other options that are high in protein but low in calories and price include mushrooms and corn. Who knew?
I think that my love for dairy is one of the only reasons that I could never go full vegan. I just love cheese too god dang much. But thank goodness for cheese because it is high in protein! Again cheese is one of those things to eat in moderation because it is also high in fat. Though a good lower fat option is ricotta cheese which contains about 14 grams of protein per half a cup (and it’s not tough to eat a half a cup). Another great option for dairy protein is cottage cheese, which is low in fat and contains a whopping 23 grams per cup. I will give you my favourite option for last. Drum roll please…GREEK yogurt! This stuff is amazing for you, especially if you purchase a low sugar/sugar free option. One cup of nonfat Greek yogurt contains 20 grams of protein! Add some nuts and seeds to this, and you’re well on your way to getting your daily requirement of protein.