Vegetarians and vegans need to eat protein too! While many animal products are great sources, it is not necessary to eat meat, eggs or even dairy to get enough. There are plenty of great high protein foods for vegetarians and vegans to enjoy. By regularly including them in your diet it is possible to eat an incredibly healthy high fiber, high nutrient vegetarian diet, while also meeting your body’s needs for protein.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, there is no perfect number for how many grams of protein are needed each day. As a general rule, the typical 2000 calorie diet should include about 75 grams, although less or more may be required depending on your body weight and activity level. Simply eating a well-balanced diet and ensuring that you are including plenty of healthy protein sources is the easiest way to get enough, even for people who don’t eat meat.
Soybeans, Soy Milk and More
One of the most popular animal product alternatives is soy. From fresh soybeans to a block of tofu, soy products are nutritional powerhouses. Soy is a good source of minerals, including iron, manganese and calcium. It also contains isoflavones, which may help support bone health.
One-half cup of cooked tofu contains about ten grams of protein. One cup of soy milk contains seven grams. Low in fat but high in nutrition, soy is a great high protein food for vegetarians.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great addition to any healthy, well-balanced diet, although few people eat these high-fiber, nutrient-dense foods on a daily basis. Vegetarians and vegans who are trying to include high protein foods in their diet may end up discovering the health benefits of nuts and seeds. From walnuts, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, to vitamin E-rich sunflower seeds, nuts and seeds make excellent high protein snacks.
One quarter cup of raw pumpkin seeds provides almost nine grams of protein, as well as important nutrients such as magnesium, iron and vitamin K. One ounce of dry roasted almonds has six grams of protein as well as many B vitamins. Nuts and seeds do tend to be high in fat, but they are rich in heart healthy unsaturated fatty acids.
From kidney beans to lentils, beans are another great protein source for vegetarians and vegans. As with nuts and seeds, they are high in fiber. Beans are also low in fat and make a great meat alternative for anyone trying to lose weight. While nutrient content varies with each type of bean, as a whole these foods are great sources of vitamins and minerals, including iron, potassium and folate.
How much protein is found in beans? One cup of canned navy beans provides the body with 20 grams of protein, as well as 13 grams of dietary fiber. A cup of cooked lentils is comparable, with 18 grams of protein. Another benefit of beans is that they are inexpensive and easy to cook.
Soy, nuts, seeds and beans are all great high protein foods for vegetarians and vegans to enjoy. Aside from being excellent protein sources, they also provide many other health benefits, making them great foods for everyone to add to their diet once in awhile.
Linus Pauling Institute
World’s Healthiest Foods