Are you considering becoming vegetarian but wondering how to get enough protein into your diet? Maybe you are already a vegetarian and want to add some quick fixes to your daily menu to ensure you are meeting your quota. Or just maybe, you are one of those meat eaters who constantly pesters vegetarians with questions about how they get the grams of protein that they need. This article shares 11 delicious sources of protein that are meat-free. You will see that they offer far more in terms of nutrition that just protein….in fact, we think that everyone could benefit from enjoying these foods.
Proteins are the building blocks of the human body. Every cell needs it to repair and grow. It is necessary to make enzymes, hormones, bones, muscles, skin, blood…..and more! It can not be stored by the body, so we need to have a regular intake of protein to keep healthy.
Having too little protein in our diet can cause real problems. Low energy, muscle pain and insomnia are all symptoms of not getting enough.
What are the best sources of protein for a vegetarian?
Whoever you are, this article aims to debunk the myth that vegetarians are depriving their body of protein. Whatever their reasons for choosing not to eat animal products, they can do so without fear of malnutrition! Even non-vegetarians can benefit, by reducing their meat intake and supplementing with some of these suggestions to reduce the risks of heart disease and cancer that are associated with a diet high in animal products.
1. Nut Butter
Let’s start out with my favourite, which just happens to have the highest level of protein on our list. Nut butter! That includes peanut butter, almond butter and cashew butter. A couple of tablespoons of any of these will deliver an impressive 8 grams of protein.
Peanut butter also provides potassium and also magnesium, Vitamin B-6 and even a good dose of fibre. It is high in fat, so don’t overdo it. You can enjoy nut butter in smoothies, and it makes a delicious dip for apples.
Lentils are a phenomenal source of non-meat protein, and they also provide plenty of fibre. They are a source of many essential minerals too, so are a great addition to your diet. They can be enjoyed as a side dish, as well as in soups, chilis and casseroles. With 25 grams of protein per 100 grams, they provide around the same amount as a chicken breast gram for gram.
3. Hemp Seed
Hemp seeds are an easily digestible form of protein as well as being a natural anti-inflammatory. You can get hold of them relatively easily at health food stores. They are simple to incorporate into your diet, by adding to soups, salads, smoothies and baking. You will get around 23 grams of protein per 100 grams of hemp seeds that you consume.
Hummus, made from chickpeas, is another great source of vegetarian protein. It is rich in calcium, healthy fats and antioxidants, which makes it an even better choice. 100 grams will provide 8 grams of protein, which you can more than double if you eat that amount chickpeas directly. Hummus is delicious as a dip and tastes great on a salad.
5. Black Beans
Black beans are the perfect vegetarian protein source for individuals with diabetes, because they assist in maintaining stable blood sugar levels. They are digested slowly and release energy over time. You can use them as a meat substitute in many meals, add them to stir fries, or mash them into a dip. 100 grams of black beans will provide 21 grams of protein.
Raw almonds are a winning choice for non-meat protein. They are a great on-the-go snack, and contain fibre, calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium to boot. Eat them any time as they are, or add them to roasted vegetables and when baking for a crunchy treat. 100 grams of raw almonds will provide 21 grams of protein.
7. Sunflower Seeds
This tiny superfood is a fantastic way to sneak protein into your meals, as well as magnesium and selenium, which has been found to help prevent cancer. Sprinkle them all over whatever you are eating – cereal, salad, yoghurt, side dishes, mains…..the choice is yours. You will enjoy 21 grams of protein for every 100 grams that you consume.
The gluten free super grain is also a good source of protein. It contains many trace nutrients that can keep you healthy too. It can even help to control your sugar levels and blood pressure. It is a delicious substitute for rice or pasta, and provides around 14 grams of protein for every 100 grams.
Yes it is true! Vegetables also contain protein, and kale is one of the best. It is also high in fibre and plenty of other cancer fighting goodies, so this is one vegetable that should make a regular appearance on your plate. Enjoy as a side dish, and try making them into kale chips! 4.3 grams of protein is lurking in every 100 grams of kale.
I know that you already know, that broccoli is amazing. But maybe you didn’t know that it contains protein? It is another wonder veggie that should be eaten on a regular basis, as a side dish, in casseroles, soups and salads. You can find 2.8 grams of protein in every 100 grams of broccoli.
Last on our list is the humble avocado! They are a fantastic source of healthy polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, and have more potassium per gram than a banana. They do not contain the greatest amount of protein, but along with all of the other benefits they should not be overlooked. You can add a bit of avo to almost any meal, they make smoothies incredibly creamy and can be used as a tasty dip. 2 grams of protein per 100 grams is not exactly breathtaking – but every little counts!
We hope that you have enjoyed discovering new non-meat ways of adding protein to your diet. Are there any others that you enjoy regularly? Or any of these that you fancy trying? We would love to hear from you.
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