Research shows that about 7.3 million people in the United States follow a vegetarian-based diet, and the number continues to grow. There are plenty of reasons why you may want to follow a vegetarian-based diet, including health-based or environmental motives. However, some hesitate to go vegetarian because they feel as though they won’t get enough protein. Here, we’ve prepared some easy meal plans that will allow you to get plenty of protein in your diet while still maintaining a vegetarian meal plan.
Breakfast Meal Plans
- Cereal and Milk: Even skim milk has a good amount of protein and, with some high protein cereal, you could be getting ample amounts of protein even with just a bowl of cereal, milk, and some sliced strawberries or a glass of orange juice.
- Yogurt: Start off in the morning with a cup of yogurt and fruit. Just one cup of yogurt can have about 13 grams of protein. You can also add some granola with nuts or chia seeds for an added boost of protein and fiber.
- Eggs: Eggs are a great source of protein for any one on a plant-based diet. Kick off your day with a frittata with spinach, which is about 30% protein. You can also add onions and mushrooms to an omelet or frittata for flavor.
Lunch Meal Plans
- Cheddar cheese: Cook up some mac n’ cheese for a great dose of protein. Just an ounce of cheese has 7.1 grams! You could also make a grilled cheese sandwich or serve cheese on crackers as a light lunch, if you prefer.
- Avocado: Prepare some tortilla soup or a taco with avocado, which contains about 10 grams of protein.
- Pinto beans: At about 12 grams per cup, pinto beans provide a hearty dose of protein. Prepare them in a Southern style, accompanied by some cornbread and coleslaw for a hearty lunch.
Dinner Meal Plans
- Garbanzo beans: Garbanzo beans, or chickpeas, are the wonder-bean with about 14 grams of protein per cup. Chickpeas also have vitamins like folate and vitamin B9 and minerals like manganese, which contributes to the formation of bones. Make a tomato-based shrimp dish with spicy jalapeno and add garbanzos to temper the spice for a great, Cajun-style dinner.
- Soy beans: Before munching on some sushi or sashimi, serve up soy beans as an appetizer. At about 28 grams of protein per cup, soy beans add a punch of protein to any Japanese dinner.
- Tofu: Tofu is extremely versatile and a great “go to” food for any vegetarian. With 22 grams of protein per cup, tofu can serve as the main source of protein for plenty of dishes, from stir fries to soups. However, make sure that you pick fermented soy products, such as miso, tempeh, and some tofu and only eat it in reasonably small amounts. While fermented soy products are attributed to lower incidence of breast and prostate cancer, processed soy food snacks or shakes (especially genetically modified soy), may lead to health problems down the road.
If you’re planning on going vegan, there are plenty of dairy substitutes that can help you get the protein without the animal products. For example, coconut milk yogurt can be eaten in place of regular yogurt, nutritional yeast for Parmesan cheese, or almond milk for regular milk. Use a vegan grocery list to help with shopping and ensure that you get your daily intake of protein as a vegetarian. Simply follow these meal ideas and you’ll stay healthy and energized when cutting meat out of your diet entirely.