One of the most difficult aspects of being a vegetarian is ensuring that you are getting enough protein in your diet. A common misconception among non-vegetarians is that protein can only come from meat. Clearly, the wide majority of vegetarians are well aware that there are protein sources other than meat, but many do not realize just how many options there are. There are a number of great vegetarian and vegan recipes that are not only incredibly healthy, but they are also quite delicious as well. Whether you are vegetarian or not, you should be able to benefit from the addition of these healthy protein sources.
Supplement Using Prepared Meat Substitutes
Perhaps the simplest way to ensure that you are getting enough protein in your diet is to simply purchase prepared meat substitutes from an online distributor. This is an especially good idea for vegetarians or vegans who often struggle to find options when they first switch from a diet that had included meat. There are many healthy options, and many of the companies take great care to ensure that their packaged foods are not only healthy, but tasty too. Check the label to ensure that it meets your needs, looking for:
- Protein content (ideally ten grams or more)
- Low sodium and low sugar content
- Ingredient list (these are listed in order, from most prevalent to least)
- Total calories
Use Complete Proteins, Such as Quinoa
Complete proteins contain all of the essential amino acids, and finding complete proteins that are also vegetarian and vegan friendly can actually be somewhat difficult. Fortunately, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) represents a great option for vegetarians who are seeking a complete protein. One cup of cooked quinoa contains 18 (!) grams of protein, making it an important part of anyone’s diet, vegetarian, vegan or otherwise. The simplest way to incorporate quinoa into your diet is to use it like you would use rice. You can make any number of tasty dishes that are high in protein simply by making quinoa a part of your diet.
Add Beans to Dishes
Do you want to make your favorite rice dish high in protein? All you have to do is to add beans to it. Beans – and lentils and legumes too – are great sources of protein for vegetarians and vegans alike. They are incredibly versatile and work in any number of dishes, which is one of the main reasons why they are so popular as part of a vegetarian diet.
Use Protein Supplement Drinks
While this is not necessarily ideal in terms of dietary options, protein supplement drinks can be helpful to the vegetarian diet. Since there are some vegetarians who still struggle to get enough protein in their daily diet, this is a quick and easy option for them. Better yet, try making fruit and vegetable smoothies that include spirulina, a superfood that is just loaded with protein (and it is a complete protein at that) and other beneficial nutrients. It works really well in any number of green smoothies and vegetable juices.
Tofu and Tempeh
Tofu and tempeh are typically the mainstays or staples of the vegetarian diet as they both contain a great deal of protein. Tofu works really well in a variety of dishes since it is capable of absorbing the flavors that it is cooked in. This versatility has made it a common co-conspirator in many vegetarian and vegan dishes. Tempeh, which is made from cooked and partially fermented soybeans, is similar to tofu but is a bit more firm than its counterpart.
Peanuts and Peanut Butter
For vegetarians and vegans on the go, peanuts and nut butters are quick and easy options as a protein source. They are also high in fat, so perhaps they should not be your main, and certainly not your sole source of protein.
The vegetarian and vegan diet can be incredibly healthy when done properly. Both vegetarians and vegans report feeling better and more energetic as a result of their diet and lifestyle, and a number of studies show that this diet reduces the risk factors associated with a number of harmful diseases. To truly reap the rewards of a vegetarian or vegan diet, make sure that you are focusing on consuming enough protein each day, and that you are paying attention to giving yourself a great deal of variety in your diet.