Before you go all-vegetarian, you might be worried about getting enough protein in your diet. We all know the easiest way to eat protein is through meat. In reality, there are a lot of plant-based foods that are delicious and packed with protein too. Check out the list below for healthy sources of protein that are animal-free!
Beans contain comparable amounts of protein to meat, but are totally vegetarian friendly. They come in lots of varieties (chickpeas, pinto, black, kidney, etc.) so you can use them in a wide variety of recipes. Use them to make meatless burgers, chili, salads, or hummus for a meal that is high in lean protein. It will keep you full for hours!
These little legumes pack a nutritional punch! They are high in fiber, iron, and protein and contain almost zero fat. They are small, flat disks that come in a variety of colors and have a hearty, almost nutty flavor. Vegetarians can use them in place of ground meats to make protein-rich, meatless chili, meatballs, meatloaf, or Shepard’s pie. Lentils are also delicious in curries, salads, and soups.
Unlike most grains, quinoa contains tons of protein, over 8 grams per cup! Because it contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need but can’t produce on their own, it is considered a “perfect protein”. It can be used in place of other grains like rice, pasta, or couscous to add protein to a vegetarian meal. Use it in soups, salads, or bowls with veggies for a delicious, filling meal. It even tastes great as an alternative to oatmeal for breakfast! Quinoa serves as the perfect blank canvas for any sweet or savory dish.
Like all legumes, peas contain a high amount of vegetarian protein. One cup of peas has the same amount of protein as a glass of milk! Even if you hate eating peas straight up, you can still reap their health benefits by blending them into a pesto or hummus; spread it on a sandwich, mix with pasta, or eat on crackers for a tasty, sneaky source of protein.
An easy way to add a dash of protein to your vegetarian meals is with a sprinkle of seeds. Add hemp, sesame, or sunflower seeds to a smoothie, salad, soup, or oatmeal to get extra protein without even noticing. You can even use chia seeds to make a creamy pudding-like treat that will fill you up and feel decadent without eating junk food.
Just when you thought green veggies couldn’t get any better for you, here’s another reason to eat lots of them: they are a good source of protein! Along with the fiber and antioxidants in greens, they have significant amounts of protein, though not as much as is found in legumes. Stack them high in salads, pastas, soups, and grain bowls to reap all the health benefits green veggies have to offer.
Raw and dry roasted nuts like almonds, cashews, and pistachios are full of healthy fats and protein. Enjoying them by the handful or in the form of unsweetened nut “milks” is a vegetarian-friendly way to add some extra protein to a meatless diet. Eating nut butters on toast or crackers is another yummy way to incorporate protein into snacks. Just watch out for excess sugars and oils!
Just because you don’t eat meat doesn’t mean vegetarians are out of options when it comes to protein. Legumes, nuts, and seeds offer tons of healthy lean protein in an otherwise vegetable-heavy diet. They are good for you and make tasty meals too! Protein is your best bet for energizing your body and balancing your health. If you feel any effects like lethargy or increased hunger in your new diet, talk to your doctor or nutritionist about other supplements you can add. Products like ASEA can help your body on a molecular level and increase your energy. To discover what is ASEA and to find other options for supplementation, research here first.