If you are a vegetarian, it is likely that somebody has told you that your diet is unhealthy because you don’t get enough protein. Protein is an important part of your diet, and if you workout regularly, it’s vital to your recovery. If you are lacking in protein, you may lose muscle mass or experience soreness in muscles. It can also lead to weaker bones and a weaker immune system. But the idea that vegetarians are always unhealthy because they don’t get enough protein is a common myth.
Meat is a great source of protein and people that follow a traditional diet do get a lot of their protein from meat products. However, there are plenty of different foods that are packed full of protein, so even if you don’t eat meat, it’s easy enough to fit it into your diet. These are the best protein sources for vegetarians.
Any products that are made from soybeans are a great source of plant-based protein. The most common form of soy product that you find in stores is tofu, which contains 10g of protein per ½ cup. It’s a great, versatile food that you can use in so many different ways. A lot of people think that tofu is a bit boring and bland, but it’s actually a great vehicle for flavor, so if you cook it right, it can be delicious. Some lightly deep-fried tofu makes a great addition to a broth. You can also make a healthy stir fry with lots of vegetables. Soft tofu can even be blended to make a vegan alternative to a cheese sauce.
You’ve probably had edamame beans before now, but a lot of people don’t realize that they are just immature soybeans, making them a great source of protein. Edamame contains around 8.5g of protein per ½ cup, is healthy and makes a great snack alternative.
Chickpeas are another versatile protein source that contains roughly 7.25g of protein per cup. It’s easy to add chickpeas to your diet if you make them into falafels. You can get an extra protein boost if you add some yogurt dip as well. You could also make hummus from chickpeas, and making your own is a lot cheaper than buying it in. Some homemade hummus with some carrot sticks to dip in is a great protein-rich snack. It’s also a great healthy alternative to butter in your sandwiches. Baking chickpeas in the oven for around 20 minutes makes them nice and crispy and is the perfect addition for salads or wraps.
Nuts are one of the best sources of plant-based protein there is. Peanuts contain 20.5g of protein per ½ cup. They’re a good healthy snack as long as you get the unsalted kind. However, you do need to be careful because they contain high levels of fat. Even though it’s a healthy fat, you still need to limit your intake. Peanut butter is a great addition to your diet as well, and it’s a very popular food to eat after a workout.
Almonds are also a good source of protein, although they don’t contain as much as peanuts; they have around 16.5g of protein per ½ cup. Almonds also contain high levels of vitamin E, which is important for healthy skin and eyes.
Lentils of all kinds are rich in protein, and they also contain high levels of fiber. A ½ cup of cooked lentils provides you with around 8.85g of protein. They’re great because you can add them to so many things. They’re good for making curries with, and you can put them in stews to help thicken them up as well. Lentils can be cooked on their own as an alternative to rice, and you can even add them to salads. If you want a cost-effective way to bulk out meals and increase your protein intake at the same time, lentils are ideal.
Quinoa is another great alternative to rice that gives you more nutrients, and it has a high protein content as well. A cup of quinoa contains around 8g of protein. It also contains high levels of magnesium, iron, manganese, and fiber, making it a great food to add to your diet. Quinoa can be used in much the same way as lentils in that you can add them to stews, salads, or even as a side. Quinoa is also great as a main dish, especially if you add vegetables and flavorings to it.
If you are a vegetarian, you don’t need to worry about getting protein in your diet as long as you eat a variety of plant-based protein sources, and with these 5 protein-rich foods, you are well on your way!