When you tell someone that you are vegetarian or vegan, it’s likely that the first thing they will ask is “How do you get enough protein?”. Would you be surprised to learn that going vegetarian or vegan doesn’t mean you have to give up a high protein diet? There are so many vegetarian and vegan food options that contain just as much protein as meat, and often even more. In this article, Russell Jack – a mindfulness and yoga teacher from Southland, New Zealand, shares five healthy and delicious vegetarian food options that will add protein to your diet.
Lentils are a nutritional powerhouse. Each cooked cup (240 ml) of lentils has 18 grams of protein. Lentils can be used in a lot of different dishes from salads to soups. They are also packed with fiber. One cup (240 ml) has 50% of the recommended daily fiber intake. Lentils are also high in folate, magnesium, and iron.
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, can be used for so much more than just hummus. Although hummus is delicious and high in protein, one cooked cup of chickpeas has 15 grams of protein. Chickpeas are also a great source of complex carbs and are rich in fiber, iron, folate, potassium, and manganese.
Who doesn’t love the sweetness that green peas bring to a meal or a snack on their own? The little green pea is actually a lot more mighty than you may think, coming in at 9 grams of protein per cooked cup. That’s actually more protein than a cup of milk. In addition, a cup of green peas will cover more than 25% of your daily requirements for fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and manganese.
Nuts & Nut Butters
Nuts and their respective kinds of butter on average contain between 5-7 grams of protein per one ounce (28 grams) serving. They are also a great source of fiber and healthy fats, and they are a super easy addition to your meals or snacks. Nut kinds of butter can be spread on apples, toast or rice cakes for a quick protein-rich snack. You can also throw nuts into salads or rice bowls for that extra dose of protein. Bonus tip: Try to purchase raw, unblanched nuts when possible because nuts that are roasted or blanched get stripped of valuable nutrients.
We couldn’t make this list without the OG of vegetarian protein: tofu. Tofu, or bean curd, comes from soya. 100 g of tofu has 8 grams of protein. Tofu is super versatile and can be cooked in a ton of ways including frying, stir-frying, blending, and baking. Tofu can be thrown into virtually anything for added protein because it soaks up whatever flavor you’re cooking with.
As you can see from Russell Herbert Jack’s list of protein-packed vegetarian options, it is still absolutely possible to go vegetarian or vegan and easily get your daily protein intake and often much more. What’s more, several studies show a diet rich in beans and other legumes decreases cholesterol, helps control blood sugar levels, and can even help reduce belly fat. Protein deficiencies among vegetarians and vegans are not common.
With all the delicious options, why not try a high-protein vegetarian diet for a meal or two and see how you’re feeling?
About Russell Herbert Jack
Russell Herbert Jack is a yoga and mindfulness teacher from Southland, New Zealand. He specializes in Vinyasa Yoga, Qigong, and guided meditations, helping clients achieve harmony of body, mind, and soul. Russell is devoted to living in harmony with himself and with nature and conveying these skills to others. His classes will help you think clearer, improve memory and concentration, and improve your physical health and mental well-being.