The best way for vegetarians and vegans to get enough protein is to eat a balanced diet. This is especially true for vegans, who do not get protein from eggs or dairy products.
Whole grains, soy products, beans and legumes are all vegetarian protein sources, but vegetables, nuts, seeds and some fruits can also be surprising sources of protein. Incorporating veggies and fruits and adding nuts and seeds to meals are easy ways to add more protein to meatless meals.
Fruit and Vegetable Protein
Many vegetable contain a small amount of protein, usually 1-2 grams per serving. Eating the recommended number of servings can provide up to 10 grams of protein. In a well-balanced diet small amounts of protein gleaned from vegetables add up.
Some vegetables contain significant amounts of protein. A medium potato, for instance, typically contains about 7 grams. There are many ways to cook potatoes, but an oven baked potato topped with a serving of broccoli and cheese (or soy cheese) is a simple and satisfying meal with around 15 grams of protein.
Many people do not know that avocados are high in protein. The fruit of one avocado contains 4 grams of protein Sliced avocados are a great addition to salads, and a topping for veggie burgers and sandwiches, and, of course, guacamole is a delicious on nachos and burritos.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are another important source of vegetarian protein and are also high in many vitamins and minerals. Many different varieties of nuts and seeds make healthy, high protein snacks. but incorporating them into a healthy vegetarian diet doesn’t have to mean munching on raw nuts and birdseed. Here are a few ways to add more nuts and seeds to a meatless diet:
- Toasted nuts on salads
- Walnut pesto tossed with pasta or spread on sandwiches
- Peanuts, cashews or sliced almonds added to vegetarian stir fry
- Nuts on cereal, or pancakes,
- Finely chopped nuts mixed with breadcrumbs on a casserole
For sandwiches there are many nut butters besides peanut butter. Sunflower butter, cashew butter, almond butter and hazelnut spreads are all available from natural foods stores. This is good news for people who are allergic to peanuts, as well as for vegetarians who need more variety in their diets.
Vegetarian and Vegan Proteins
Vegetarians and Vegans can get protein from many sources: soy products, meat analogues, whole grains. Proteins from whole foods like vegetables, nuts and legumes should be an integral part of a well-planned meatless diet.