Many vegetarians can attest that the most commonly asked question about their diet is “But what about protein?” Though it may seem impossible to many carnivores, it is easy to follow a vegetarian protein and still get enough protein.
In fact, the Harvard School of Public Health says that vegetarian and meat sources of protein are equally healthful. In fact, vegetarian protein may have some advantages over animal protein sources. For example, you will get more protein in a serving of steak than in a serving of lentils, but the calorie and fat content will obviously be much higher in the steak. Depending on your point of view and your health views, eating lower calorie vegetarian protein can make a lot of sense.
Common Sources of Vegetarian and Vegan Protein:
- Tofu – This is certainly the most well-known meat substitute, and for good reason. Tofu, a food made of mashed soy bean curd, absorbs the flavor of whatever it is cooked with. This versatility makes it perfect as an ingredient in everything from Indian food to vegetarian lasagna. One half cup contains 10 grams of protein.
- Seitan – Seitan, otherwise known as “wheat-meat”, closely resembles meat when it is cooked. This quality makes it an ideal ingredient in non-meat burgers or barbecue. This gluten-based food has 10 grams of protein per veggie patty or 21 grams of protein per 100 grams.
- Quinoa – The Incas called this delicious food the “mother grain”. It is considered a complete protein, which means it contains every essential amino acid. This inexpensive grain is easy to prepare and add to a plethora of recipes. One cup contains about 18 grams of protein.
- Beans and Lentils – Besides being incredibly versatile and easy to find in every area, beans and lentils are a high-protein fiber packer. These proteins are great for cooking, and also have a well-earned place in both Indian recipes and healthy lentil recipes. A cup of beans may have about 13 grams of protein.
- Nuts – Nuts are great on salads, in pasta recipes, or just by themselves in their natural state or made into nut butter. Though nuts aren’t usually a good choice for a primary protein, supplementing a diet with nuts is convenient and delicious. Depending on the nut, a ¼ cup will have around 5-9 grams of protein.
Using these foods as a substitution to meat and other animal products helps keep vegetarians and vegans healthy. Even meat-eaters can benefit from these healthy choices.
- “Protein: Moving Closer to Center Stage”, Harvard School of Public Health
Better meals begin with better planning. We can help.