There’s a misconception about the vegetarian diet that exists even today: that vegetarians can’t be getting enough protein because they’re not eating meat. Actually, this is far from the truth. Of course, we all know animal sources to be a popular protein choice, but that’s not to say that there aren’t plenty of meat-free alternatives which can offer the same, if not a higher, protein content.
Like any diet or lifestyle change, becoming veggie can be difficult to adjust to, and even unhealthy, if you don’t know enough about the foods you’re eating. It’s important that, as a vegetarian, you understand your options for plant-based or non-meat proteins, and incorporate them into your diet appropriately.
You’ll probably be surprised to learn that some of your much-loved foods are fantastic sources of vegetarian protein, so all you need to do is make sure you’re eating lots of them, and you’re good to go. Not only that, but this video should open your eyes up to the lesser-known veggie protein sources that you may be less familiar with. If you’re looking to experiment with your meal options and have fun prepping and cooking new foods, you’ll love the vegetarian diet.
When you’re cutting out meat, it can be difficult to know what to replace it with in your breakfast, lunch, and dinner options. Keep listening to discover the top 8 best protein foods for vegetarians or read the article below.
Top 8 Best Protein Foods For Vegetarians
Almonds are often referred to as a nut, but not many people know that they’re actually the edible seeds found on the almond tree. You’ve probably seen almonds shelled, which is the darker brown nuts in colour, or blanched, which gives them a pale creamy colour. Almonds can be eaten in any form.
The astonishing thing about almonds is that just a tiny serving packs a high protein content. Roughly, one 23-gram serving of almonds contains 6 grams of protein – that’s around 15 percent of your daily intake.
Aside from being a great protein source, almonds are also high in fibre, and incredibly good for you. They’re high in heart-healthy monosaturated fats and contain important nutrients like zinc, calcium, vitamin E, magnesium, and B vitamins.
You can eat almonds on their own as a healthy snack, or add them to your morning porridge, yogurt, or cereals. You can also use them to make your own nutritional almond butter, nut bars, or even milk.
If you’re more of a savoury person, almonds taste great when roasted and added to curries or salads.
As well as being one of the top best protein foods for vegetarians, chickpeas are also considered one of the world’s healthiest foods. Otherwise known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas can be found tinned – so you only need to heat them up to enjoy them – or dried – which require soaking and boiling for up to an hour.
Chickpeas are incredibly fulfilling and have long been valued for their high fibre content. One cup of chickpeas (around 164 grams) contains 29 percent of our daily protein intake, making them a great vegetarian and vegan meat substitute across a range of dishes. Chickpeas have been found to support the digestive tract, regulate blood sugar levels, and even decrease the risk of a heart attack.
You shouldn’t struggle to incorporate chickpeas into your diet as they’re so versatile. They’re a popular vegetarian curry ingredient, but also taste good in soups, salads, and Mexican dishes.
They taste good boiled, roasted, or fried, and can also be blended with lemon juice and vinegar to make homemade hummus.
Converting to a vegetarian diet is a great first step towards following a fully plant-based diet, but there’s no reason to cut all animal products out altogether. Eggs, for example, are a fantastic source of protein, so if you’re looking to move away from meat, but not from animal products altogether, they’re a good option for you.
Eggs are incredibly nutritious, and just one large egg is said to contain around 6 grams of protein. Because they’re also low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals, eggs are a weight loss-friendly source of protein for many vegetarians.
Eating as little as one egg a day has been proven in multiple studies to help you lose body fat, protect your eyes, and improve your cholesterol levels.
It’s important to remember that the way you cook your eggs will determine how diet-friendly they are. The healthiest ways to cook eggs, if it matters to you, is to boil or poach them without oil.
Try eating them with toast, in salads, or in oven bakes for maximum enjoyment. Some fitness lovers even add raw eggs to their smoothies and shakes for a protein hit.
The humble pea is rarely celebrated for its beneficial health properties, and it’s about time it was. You might be surprised to know that peas are actually one of the biggest vegetable sources of protein, offering 8 grams of protein per 1 cup (around 145 grams). That’s more protein than you can find in an egg.
Peas also contain several phytonutrients, which provide us with important antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. If you’re going veggie for sustainability reasons, you’ll be happy to know that peas are one of the most environmentally friendly protein sources you can eat.
There’s no need to really explain how to incorporate peas into your diet – it’s more a question of what you can’t add them to. It’s easy to add peas into almost every dish, from pasta bakes and curries, to roast dinners, soups, stir-fries, and salads. You can boil them, fry them, bake them, or even eat them raw.
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6. Sprouted bread
You might have seen sprouted bread in the bread aisle in your local supermarket recently and wondered what it was all about. Sprouted bread is a kind of bread that’s made from whole grains that have been left to sprout before being milled into flour. It’s considered a healthier alternative to bread made from white or even whole grain flour.
When grains are allowed to sprout, it increases the protein-rich amino acids in the bread, which is why sprouted bread is generally such a good source of vegetarian protein. One serving of sprouted grain bread offers around 15 grams of protein, but is only around 80 calories, and boasts a lower sodium and saturated fat content.
Sprouted bread is normally used as a replacement to white or whole grain floured bread, so if you’re looking to incorporate it into your diet, you need only switch it up for your regular sandwich bread. It tastes delicious toasted or topped with your favourite breakfast or lunch foods like avocado, egg, hummus, or peanut butter.
7. Sweet potato
Sweet potato is a must-have staple food in every vegetarian’s pantry. Known for its unique orange colour, sweet potato is a high protein, high fibre alternative to regular potato. While both are a healthy source of carbohydrates, there’s plenty more to love about sweet potato if you’re a vegetarian in particular.
One 133-gram serving of sweet potato contains roughly 2.1 grams of protein, so they’re a fantastic alternative to meat proteins in many savoury dishes. As well as their high protein content, sweet potatoes are packed full of essential vitamins and minerals, and are a good source of slowly digested carbohydrates for long-lasting energy.
They’re also loaded with fibre, which makes them ideal for controlling appetite, burning fat, and building muscle. The simplest way to cook with sweet potato is to add it to dishes as a meat replacement.
It tastes delicious in curries, soups and stews, or it can be eaten as a healthy, high-protein side dish. Sweet potato can be boiled, fried or roasted, and seasoned to your taste. You can also incorporate it into desserts for a healthier take on a classic recipe.
8. Greek yogurt
If you’re looking to incorporate higher-protein vegetarian options into your breakfasts and desserts, Greek yogurt is for you. Made when milk is strained extensively to remove liquid whey and lactose, Greek yogurt is a thicker-textured yogurt than the normal alternatives.
Greek yogurt has almost double the protein of regular yogurt – around 17 grams per 170-gram container, to be exact. It’s also a fantastic source of calcium, which is key to maintaining bone health. Studies have found that incorporating Greek yogurt into your diet can boost your metabolism and improve gut health, as well as reduce stress, depression and anxiety.
For an easy protein-rich breakfast, you can mix Greek yogurt with berries and granola, or add it to a smoothie for thickening. You can even add it to popular dishes like pasta bakes or curries for a creamy protein hit, or use it when baking desserts like cheesecake, cupcakes and fruit pies.
If you’re thinking about becoming vegetarian this year, there’s certainly plenty to be excited about. There are many ways to incorporate protein into your diet without having to turn to meat products, and eating protein from other sources tends to be a lot healthier.
If you’re hesitant to give the vegetarian diet a try, why not pace yourself? Start by eating veggie once a week, and build up as you feel comfortable. You’ll probably find that you love the switch, and your body will thank you for it too.And don’t forget there are some excellent vegetarian protein powders on the market to give you a boost as well, CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION