A common concern about following a vegetarian diet is that your diet may be insufficient to meet your protein requirements. However, with good planning and preparation, it is possible for your diet to provide you with all the nutrients that you need.
How to meet your daily protein requirements?
That being said, certain foods contain significantly more protein than others. For example, if you follow a pescatarian diet you will get all 9 essential amino acids from consuming eggs. Plant proteins are generally low in at least 1 essential amino acid, and therefore it is important to ensure that you are including a variety of plant-based protein sources in your diet. With options such as tofu, tempeh, edamame beans, lentils, chickpeas, beans, peas, quinoa, spelt, hemp seeds, soy milk, oats and oatmeal, brown and wild rice, chia seeds, peanuts, tree nuts and nut butters, grains and green leafy vegetables it is easy to ensure that you get variety in your diet, and that you meet your daily protein requirements.
Protein is an essential macronutrient, and a diet which is sufficient in protein can promote muscle strength, satiety and weight loss.
So without further ado, let’s dive into just a few of the best vegetarian protein sources.
4 Protein Sources For Vegetarians
Tofu is a great protein source and an incredibly versatile food. Per 100g, Tofu provides 12 grams of protein! It is made entirely from soya beans and not only contains all essential amino acids but also contributes to your iron, vitamin B and calcium daily intake. There are many types of Tofu that are on offer which is fantastic for creating a variety of sweet or savoury dishes. Extra-firm tofu can be used in stir fries, silken tofu can be used in sauces or desserts (try making a tofu-cheesecake) and medium to soft tofu can be used in almost any.
Note: Tempeh and Edamame beans also originate from soybeans. As they contain a high content of protein, as well as good amounts of several other nutrients, they also make for choices to include in vegetarian (and non-vegetarian) diets.
Lentils are a nutritional powerhouse. At 18 grams of protein per cooked cup, lentils are a great source of protein. Lentils also contain good amounts of slowly digested carbs, and a single cup provides approximately 50% of your recommended daily fiber intake. Furthermore, the type of fiber found in lentils has been shown to feed the good bacteria in your colon, promoting a healthy gut. Lentils may also help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, excess body weight and some types of cancer. In addition, lentils are rich in folate, manganese and iron. They also contain a good amount of antioxidants and other health-promoting plant compounds. They can be used in a variety of dishes, ranging from fresh salads to hearty soups and spice-infused dahls.
Chickpeas are a crunchy bean that provide 14 grams of protein per cup and are a great source of fiber. You can find chickpeas in numerous forms; dried, canned, as a flour or in its most delicious form, as a creamy dip: hummus! They are an excellent source of complex carbs, fiber, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese and several other beneficial plant compounds. Furthermore, chickpeas and beans also help in controlling cholesterol and blood sugar levels and help lower blood pressure.
Note: Most varieties of beans, such as red kidney beans and black beans, are protein-packed legumes which contain a variety of vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds.
Peas. These super little green beans pack a whopping 9 grams of protein per cup. They contain key antioxidant properties, are a great source of omega-3 and maintain your blood sugar levels. What’s more, a serving of green peas can cover more than 25% of your daily fiber, vitamin A, C, K, thiamine, folate and manganese requirements. Green peas are also a good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper and several other B vitamins. Peas can be used as more than just a side dish – throw them into your pasta dish or stew, stuff them into a yummy ravioli, or even try making a heart-warming pea soup or pea and avocado guacamole.