Navigating conflicting information about protein sources and daily requirements can be tricky, especially for vegetarians and vegans. Because vegetarians don't eat meat, they may need to be more vigilant about monitoring their risk of protein deficiency and including variety in their diets.
Where Vegetarians Can Find Protein
The majority of plant-based eaters do get more than enough protein by eating a balanced diet that include dairy products, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, beans, and grains. However, some plant-based and dairy foods are better sources of protein than others. They include yogurt, milk, soy milk, cheese, legumes, beans, nuts, nut butters, whole grains, tofu, and veggie burgers.
Protein Powders, Drinks, and Bars
Companies who cater to vegetarians offer many options for including protein in your diet in the form of protein drinks, powders, and bars. Check out the labels carefully to see if they are made from soy protein, whey protein, pea protein, or some combination of these ingredients and that they are low in sugar. One of the benefits of protein powders is they can be mixed with the drink of your choice for a quick and easy protein boost like an almond milk protein shake. Granola bar type snacks like vegan protein bars often include the same ingredients in powders but are more convenient because you don't have to prepare them.
High Protein Vegetables and Grains
Vegetables are the staple of a vegetarian diet and keeping a list of high protein vegetables like broccoli and peas on hand helps you make the most of your meals. You'll also want to have a list of high protein grains handy so you can include foods such as barley and wild rice in your pantry. Other high protein vegetarian foods include eggs, quinoa, and beans.
Vegetarian Meat Substitutes
If you like to have vegetarian meals that resemble meat textures and colors, you can find many options for vegetarian meat substitutes. Vegetarian substitutes for ground beef include lentils, mushrooms, and tempeh you can use in tacos and pasta recipes. Textured vegetable protein (TVP) is another option that's made from soy flour and shaped into a ground meat texture. Try out different substitutes in different recipes to see which fake meat works best for each.
The body uses protein to build, repair, and sustain muscle tissue and strength, and it simply rejects excess protein that it doesn't need. If you're a vegetarian or vegan and are concerned about eating enough protein, find out more by referencing your personal protein requirements, which protein sources for vegetarians you eat most, and how to boost your intake if necessary. Vegetarians and vegans who are eating a properly balanced diet that includes foods from all areas of a vegetarian food pyramid shouldn't ever have to worry about falling short of their protein needs.