Vegetarians and vegans need to be extra vigilant about their protein intake since most sources of protein are animal based. If you are a lacto-ovo vegetarian, then you can still consume eggs and dairy products but if you practice a different type of vegetarianism or are vegan then you will have to look for alternatives.
It’s still crucial to get enough protein in your diet, especially when trying to lean out or build muscle mass. Read on for some vegetarian and vegan friendly sources of protein that you can incorporate into your diet with little effort.
Made from soybeans, tofu has a very high protein content and often gets overlooked because many people find the texture a little weird! However, with a little experimentation, almost everyone can find a texture and a cooking method to make tofu appealing. Tofu comes in textures from soft to extra firm and can be prepared to taste like almost anything. This versatile meat substitute also clocks in at 40 grams of protein per cup!
Green peas often get overlooked as a source of protein for vegetarians – but they are packed with it! A member of the legume family, just like beans, a cup of peas contains 7.9 grams of protein, which is about the same amount of protein as a glass of milk. Add them to salads, serve them as a side dish, or if you aren’t a pea lover, blend them into a hummus, pesto, or soup to reap their muscle building benefits.
Chickpeas have nearly 15 grams of protein per cup while still being high in fiber and fairly low in calories. Add chickpeas into salads or blend them with olive oil to make hummus. Try adding different seasonings and ingredients into hummus like basil, lemon zest, roasted red peppers, jalapenos, or garlic to add some variety. Use the hummus to dip veggies into or as a salad dressing!
Beans are one of the most versatile forms of vegetarian protein available, in large part due to the variety of beans available. It doesn’t matter if you choose green beans, black beans, kidney beans, or white beans, they are all great sources of protein and filling fiber. Black beans and kidney beans make the basis for delicious, protein packed vegetarian chili or taco salad.
Black beans can be blended into a muscle-building, Mexican-inspired dip for veggies, while white beans are tasty on a salad or in soup or blended into an Italian style white bean hummus. The sky’s the limit with this adaptable veggie that can house more than 13 grams of protein per cup.
5. Nuts and Nut Butters
Essential to a vegetarian diet, nuts are rich in protein and heart healthy fats. An ounce of nuts can contain anywhere from 5 to 6 grams of protein. Sprinkle some chopped nuts over a salad or oatmeal to add in some filling protein. Opt for raw nuts when possible as roasting can damage the fatty acids contained within nuts and make them worse for your health. If whole nuts aren’t for you, you can still benefit from nut butter. A tablespoon of peanut butter has 4 grams of protein and tastes delicious on apple slices or spread onto a banana.
Often lumped into the grain family though it’s technically a seed, quinoa is a protein powerhouse. It includes all of the essential amino acids the body needs but can’t produce on its own. Due to that, nutritionists consider quinoa a complete protein, which is rare in a vegetarian food source. One cup of cooked quinoa has 8.1 grams of protein. Get your protein fix with this versatile grain substitute by boiling some in milk and topping with berries for a hot breakfast cereal or serve it in place of rice or pasta.
7. Leafy Greens
This one may shock some. Leafy greens actually contain enough protein to add up when eaten in abundance. 2 cups of spinach, about half of an entree sized salad, contains 2 grams of protein. Broccoli contains as much as 8 grams of protein per cup. Pair spinach and broccoli with some beans and nuts for a protein rich salad that’s satisfying and tasty.
These recipes have good sources of protein and are suitable for lacto-ovo vegetarians.