If you’ve chosen a diet that’s primarily vegetarian with mostly plant based options, it can be easy to get adequate protein. There are excellent protein sources for vegetarians that are easy and relatively inexpensive. In fact, some of these are good options for meatless Mondays and money saving menus. Everyone can enjoy some savings now days and slightly switching your menu to more plant based can do it.
What can vegetarians eat?
Vegan diets are devoid of any animal products, where vegetarians still include animal products like dairy and eggs, just not the flesh of animals. Lacto vegetarians include milk products. Ovo vegetarians include eggs and lacto-ovo include both. It’s often tough to get complete proteins on a vegan diet and you have to combine food to ensure you have complete amino acids. When you include eggs and milk it’s far easier.
Start with egg salad, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, whole milk, cheese or cottage cheese.
All of these are included in a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet and all can be an excellent energy source. Eggs are an exception source of protein. It’s more bioavailable than most plant based protein or even than some other sources of animal protein. Milk products are also good, unless you’re lactose intolerant. Both milk products and eggs are budget savers. You can add hard-boiled eggs to salads and include fruit and yogurt with your meal for extra protein.
Some vegetable sources provide complete proteins.
Quinoa, buckwheat, pistachios, chia seeds, soy and hemp seed are complete proteins. You can add them to salads, use them in main dishes or make them the star of your favorite meal. Other plant based proteins have to be combined to get a complete protein. Luckily, you don’t have to do it all at one time and it can be done throughout the day. However, one great combination that includes all essential amino acids is red beans and rice.
- Soy products are popular sources of protein. Tempeh, cooked and fermented soy, has 15 grams of protein. Tofu, soy milk and edamame are other sources of protein from soy. Edamame can be added to Buddha bowls, stir-fried, roasted or used as a snack.
- There are tons of ways to use lentils and beans so you’d never have to repeat a dish two Mondays in a year. Lentils have almost 9 grams of protein per cup, plus contain many other nutrients necessary for good health, including fiber.
- Even green vegetables can have lots of protein. Broccoli has approximately 4 grams per stalk, while kale has two grams per cup.
- Nut butters are a good source of protein. Put it on whole grain or sprouted bread and top it with thinly sliced apple, banana or jellies or jam with no added sugar. When buying nut butters, read the label. It should have just one ingredient, nuts.
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