Protein is an essential part of the everyday diet but for vegetarians, and especially vegans, it can be tough to take in the recommended amount each day. That recommended amount can vary depending on the person’s diet but in general, the Recommended Daily Amount is .36 grams of protein per pound of weight a day. For adult men, that’s about 55 grams of protein and for adult women, that’s about 45 grams of protein a day.
So how can those who do not eat meat incorporate that amount of protein into their daily diet? The choices can vary, depending on the type of vegetarian you are, but there are more options than you may think.
Vegans and Vegetarians:
Nuts are very high in protein as well as other nutrients such as fiber, zinc and magnesium. Almonds, specifically, are great sources of vitamin E and walnuts are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. The FDA recommends eating up to 1.5 ounces, or 1.5 handfuls, of nuts daily. In just one ounce of nuts, you can get up to seven grams of protein, depending on the nut. If you’re not a fan of just plain old nuts, try a nut-butter like almond butter or cashew butter. If you’re worried about the fat content in nuts, don’t be. The fat in nuts is unsaturated fat, which is heart healthy.
While nuts are a great source of protein, seeds are actually an even better source of protein. One cup of pumpkin seeds or squash seeds contains about 12 grams of protein, which is 24 percent of the daily value. One cup of sunflower seeds contains about 25 grams of protein, which is 49 percent of the daily value. Seeds are also good sources of magnesium, manganese, vitamin E and zinc.
Legumes are really just a type of seed that grows in a pod. Beans, peanuts, peas and lentils are examples of legumes and they are all high in protein. A handful of peanuts, for example, has about seven grams of protein while one cup of lentils contains about 18 grams of protein. Edamame, chickpeas and soy beans are also types of legumes that are good sources of protein.
4. Whole Grains
Whole grains are very versatile and can be used to make breads, cereals and pasta and can be added to pancakes, pastries and salads for an extra boost of protein. Quinoa is an excellent whole grain to incorporate into a meatless diet as it is a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine amino acids. Amaranth is another whole grain that is high in protein. One cup contains about 28 grams of protein.
Rice, particularly brown rice, is a good source of protein; one cup contains five grams of protein. Combine rice with beans and you’ll have a complete protein.
6. Soy Products
According to World’s Healthiest Foods, one cup of soy contains 57.2 percent of the daily recommended value. Soy and products made from soy have long been staples of the meatless diet because of the amount of protein they contain. Tofu is probably the most well-known product of soy and just one slice of firm tofu contains about six grams of protein. Natto is an even better choice; just one cup has 31 grams of protein. Although there has been some controversy over eating soy, products that are made from whole soy beans and are not processed, like tofu, miso, natto and tempeh, won’t pose a threat to your health.
7. Spinach And Broccoli
While you may not think of vegetables as being sources of protein, spinach and broccoli are actually good sources of the nutrient. One cup of cooked spinach contains five grams of protein while one cup of cooked broccoli contains four grams of protein.
There are different types of vegetarians, including lacto-vegetarians and lacto-ovo-vegetarians. Both of which can use the following as sources of protein while vegans cannot:
Everyone knows that milk is a great source of calcium, but what everyone may not know is that milk is also a great source of protein. One cup of cow’s milk or one cup of soy milk contains about eight grams of protein.
Since cheeses are made with milk, they also are a great source of protein. Ricotta cheese, for instance, contains 28 grams of protein, or 55 percent of the daily value in just one cup. Cottage cheese is also a good choice. It contains more than 12 grams of protein, or 25 percent of the daily value in one cup.
Lacto-ovo vegetarians differ from lacto-vegetarians in that they include eggs in their diet. Eggs are a good protein source no matter what type of diet you follow. Just one egg contains more than six grams of protein and is very low in calories. Eggs are also good sources of selenium and B vitamins.
Other types of vegetarians include pesco-vegetarians, who eat fish, and pollo-vegetarians, who eat chicken. Both foods are also excellent sources of protein.