So you’re a vegetarian. So am I (kinda)! Which means you don’t eat meat (where are you going with this, Alana…). Which means you are missing out on a major source of protein. Protein is an extremely important part of the diet, healing and building muscles and keeping us nutrient-full. The more protein in the diet, the more full you remain. Here are some great ways for vegetarians to get protein:
1. Beans. Beans, beans, the more you eat them, the more you…gain a great source of protein and fiber! That’s how the song goes, right? My personal favorite is black beans. There are many types available: black, refried, kidney, white, chick peas, red, pinto, and many many more! Always get the beans with no salt added for a lesser sodium intake and a healthier meal over all. Soy beans (edamame) and white beans have the highest protein content, but all are still good choices. Great meal options with beans are: rice and beans, bean, cheese, and cheese burrito, bean soup, and bean salad. There are so many ways to put this into your diet, so do it today!
2. Soy. Soy is an excellent source of protein for the vegetarian (or for anyone). It is indeed a bean (or legume), but it has its separate category because it has such a big part in the vegetarian diets. You can find this in all kinds of forms now: Morningstar products, protein bar products, protein shake powder, and more! It is easy to find in such products, just search it up. Morningstar products are just as good as meat products, most taste absolutely delicious!
3. Tofu. Tofu is made from soy, called ‘bean curd’ because it is used from soybean juices and curded. Tofu is huge in the Asian cultures. There are soft and firm types of tofu, depending on how you want to cook or eat it. You can eat it raw, of course, too. But it’s great to either bake or lightly stir fry with some seasoning such as soy sauce, yeast, or garlic. And easy way to get a great source of protein.
4. Mushrooms. Mushrooms, in the plant world, are a live source of protein. So instead of dead proteins that you would find from soy or other processed protein sources, mushrooms are live fungi from the ground. This source of protein is very healthy and nutritious for you, having a high protein count, depending on which type of mushroom you get. Some variations are oyster mushrooms, portabella mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, white mushrooms, and many more. I used to hate mushrooms until I became a vegetarian. I then started eating them more and now I love them. Get them a part of your diet!
5. Eggs. Eggs are definitely a great source of protein (if you’re not a vegan). You can hard boil them, scramble them, omelette them, fry them–the list is endless. There are so many great ways of adding this into your diet for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. One egg can range from 6-9 grams of protein.
6. Nuts. Another great, natural source of protein. It is also a place to get your good, natural healthy fats as well (that you NEED). Nuts come in all forms and sizes from peanuts to cashews to almonds to pistachios, if you want good protein, you better get nuts about nuts. They are an excellent snack, but can also be used in main dishes such as in your greek yogurt for breakfast, salad for lunch, and stir fry for dinner. Almonds rule the nut world for healthiest and most protein.
7. Greek Yogurt. Now, I’m not talking about the sugar-filled Yoplait yogurts that you’ll find for a good price. I’m talking Chobani, Fayeh, and Oikos. Preferably, get plain. The best of the best have a high protein count of 22 grams, the lowest you can find at around 7 grams. Greek yogurt may take some getting used to, but you can sweeten it with fruit or honey, or add granola to it as well. You can also add it to cooking dishes, such as curries and sauces. Make sure you get greek yogurt in for one meal of the day! Delicious.
8. Protein powder. Now these are made up (usually) of whey, soy protein isolate, and other milk products to create a densely packed protein addition to your diet. Goes very well after a workout too (when you need the most protein to start repairing those muscles). See this post for more information of what protein powder we like the most. You can make shakes, milkshakes, smoothies, and even your own protein bars! Great snack or meal replacement, and usually low in calories.
9. Cheese and other dairy products. Dairy is, of course, a good source of protein as it comes from an animal. You just need to be wary of how much you are consuming due to fats and calories (if you’re counting them). Cheese is delicious and comes in many forms from different animals (cheddar cheese and goat cheese are my personal favorites). Milk is good too, as is cottage cheese.
So there you have it, vegetarians, nine sources of protein ranging from fungi in the earth to processed curd. Now you have no excuses of not getting you daily protein intake–look how many options you have! Never skimp out on the protein, always get to your limit, it will keep you full longer, and keep your muscles happy.