Vegetarians and vegans are getting more recognition as of late with their specific dietary choices, but one of the most common questions that they are asked is, how do they get their protein? Protein is one of the building blocks for your body; they break down amino acids and help with cell growth and repair. Protein fills you up and keeps you feeling fuller longer than carbohydrates because they take longer to digest. On average, women should consume about 46 grams of protein a day, and men about 56. Those are baseline numbers, and they fluctuate depending on your diet and workout regime, but for the average person, these are a good estimate. While protein is often considered to just be found in meat, it can actually be found in a lot of other foods that are perfect for vegans and vegetarians. Here’s a short list of foods that can fulfill your protein intake for the day.
While a controversial food among toddlers, adults have found that green peas contain a fair amount of protein – about 8 grams of protein per cup, which is about the same as a cup of milk. Peas can be a side dish, added to a pasta sauce, or even blended into pesto.
Nuts (and Most Seeds)
Nuts are high in both healthy fats and protein, which makes them a valuable part of any plant-based diet. Most nuts contain about 5 or 6 grams of protein per ounce. To put it in perspective, about 23 almonds is an ounce. Nuts as a snack are good, both as a form of protein and a way to avoid eating chips or candy. Adding peanut butter on your toast in the morning instead of slathering it with butter both reduces the amount of bad fats you’re consuming, and is a tasty way to start your day with some protein.
For the vegetarians, eggs are a fantastic form of protein. When boiled, there is about 6 grams of protein in them. Great to have during any meal – scrambled eggs for breakfast, egg salad sandwich for lunch, or a salad with egg toppings for dinner – eggs are a great way to get your protein because it can be prepared in so many different ways.
Rice and Beans
Definitely the cheapest and easiest way to get protein, rice and beans in a meal is on par with the amount of protein in meat. There’s about 7 grams of protein per cup. Because it’s such a basic form of protein, it can be altered in so many different ways – adding lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, tofu, the list goes on. Many of those foods are also great forms of protein, all mixed into one bowl. There are also so many different variants for both rice and beans that there are thousands of different recipes that cover the simple ingredients list.
Seitan (pronounced say-tahn)
Seitan, sometimes referred to as “wheat meat” is made from wheat gluten (sorry gluten-free friends!) and has about 20 grams of protein per half cup. Seitan is chewier than tofu, and generally tastes like chicken. It can be used in any recipe that uses poultry because of its similar taste and texture.
Milk (soy or regular)
Milk is a staple in most people’s diets, whether it’s a tall, cold glass on its own, or in a bowl of cereal. Milk usually has about 8 grams of protein in a cup, both regular and soy. Be careful with soy milk: there is a controversy amongst soy milks, organic or not. There is conflicting research that regards its effects on cancer, whether it helps cause or prevents cancer from forming. Buying non-GMO, organic, unsweetened soy is suggested to avoid this controversy.
Protein is found in many different foods and can be consumed in so many various ways that it shouldn’t be a concern if you have the capability to do so. Doing the appropriate research should not be daunting whatsoever – in fact, it will surprise you how many common ingredients you probably already consume that contain protein. So don’t fear, vegans and vegetarians, there’s plenty of things to eat and more!
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