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How Do Vegetarians Get Protein?

By: Sara Raffensperger, Editor,
How Do Vegetarians Get Protein

If you're a vegetarian, you've definitely been asked how you get your protein (perhaps many times). It's a fair question because many people get their daily protein from meat. Luckily, there are plenty of non-meat sources of protein that vegetarians can eat. In fact, it makes your meals even more interesting because you have more to choose from. If you're an omnivore and you have a vegetarian coming over for dinner or your child came home from college declaring their new meatless diet, then don't panic. There are plenty of vegetarian proteins that you can serve without just giving them a salad.

If you decide to try eating a meatless diet, then don't think that you're just going to be eating grilled cheese sandwiches for every meal. On the contrary, you can make a ton of healthy recipes that don't include meat and they're really easy to make too. We've collected some of our favorite vegetarian recipes for you to try after you find out about all of the different vegetarian protein sources.

What Proteins Do Vegetarians Eat?

It is totally possible to eat less meat and still get your daily requirement of protein with vegetarian protein sources, which usually contain more fiber and cost less than animal proteins. Whether you want to start doing weekly Meatless Mondays or if you want to make a transition to being a full-time vegetarian, then these are some of the best vegetarian sources of protein for you to incorporate into your diet.

Vegetarian Sources of Protein

  1. Quinoa. (8 g/1 cup) It's a trendy ingredient these days, but for good reason. It's delicious and very easy to make because the process is very similar to rice. Quinoa makes a great addition to salads or as a replacement for rice or pasta.

  2. Chia seeds. (4 g/2 Tbsp.) Chia seeds are small and easy to include in different places. Blend them in smoothies or include them in baked goods and you can sneak in protein in unexpected places.

  3. Black beans. (15 g/1 cup) Beans are a great ingredient to use when you're looking for vegetarian proteins. You can include them in your tacos on Taco Tuesdays or make a side of rice and beans. You can also make a salsa with beans as a snack! Other legumes like lentils, white beans, pinto eans, garbanzo beans, and black eyes peas also pack a protein punch.

  4. Peanut butter. (8 g/2 Tbsp) Peanut butter is a simple and delicious way to get protein for even the pickiest eaters. A peanut butter sandwich makes an excellent pre- or post- workout snack.

  5. Seitan. (21 g/ 1/3 cup) Seitan is a high-protein vegetarian food made from cooked wheat gluten (so this is not a celiac-friendly option!). It would make an excellent substitution for meat in Mexican food dishes.

  6. Vegetables. There are a surprising amount of vegetables that have protein in them. Asparagus, artichokes, avocados (a delicious super food!), cauliflower, kale, mushrooms, Brussel sprouts, and sweet potatoes are all packed with 2-4 grams of protein.

  7. Grains. Other than quinoa, there are plenty of other grains that pack a protein punch too. Amaranth, barley, oat bran, millet, wild rice, and rye are grains with with 5-7 grams of protein. You can find breads or pastas made with the grains or blend them straight in a smoothie.

  8. Greek yogurt. (15 g/150 g) You can use yogurt in almost everything. Make a smoothie, mix it in oatmeal or soups, top tacos or burritos with it, or make eggs with it. You might even be able to bake with Greek yogurt and add some sneaky protein in almost all of your meals and snacks.

  9. Hummus. (7 g/2 Tbsp) Hummus is the perfect snack for vegetarians and vegans. It's a spread made from ground chickpeas and sesame seeds. It's originally from the Middle East but it's becoming more and more popular in the West. Put it out as a snack or appetizer with chips or with pita!

  10. Eggs. (6 g/ 1 large egg) Eggs can be tricky sometimes because some vegetarians won't eat them, so check first. If they are willing to eat eggs, then you can put them in just about everything. They're wonderful for breakfast, on sandwiches, or wrapped in a tortilla.

Vegetarian Foods with Protein

Now you know how many vegetarian sources of protein there are, then you can try some of these delicious vegetarian recipes. All of these easy recipes are healthy and meat-free. They're so good that you won't even miss eating meat!

What's your favorite vegetarian dish?

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