Many vegans and vegetarians are all too familiar with the question: “But where do you get your protein?!”
There are many misconceptions about protein and its role in our daily diet – how much we need, how much is too much, how much is too little – so it’s no surprise that many people balk at the idea of a diet that eliminates the primary source of protein in most Westerners’ diets. Meat, while popular, isn’t the only source of protein out there!
The average person needs to consume about .8 grams of protein per kilogram, or 2.2 pounds, of their body weight each day(1). Many people on high-protein diets are getting much more than their recommended daily intake of protein per day(2).
Aside from meat, protein can be found in many plant-based sources – legumes, nuts, seeds, and certain whole grains all contain some amount of protein. Here are some commonly used sources of non-meat protein.
1. Chia Seeds
There’s a lot to like about chia seeds – they’re packed with protein, and also loaded with fiber to help fill you up and suppress your appetite for longer.
2. Greek Yogurt
Athough high in calories, Greek yogurt packs a punch when it comes to protein – it has about twice as much protein as regular yogurt.
A healthy alternative to rice, there’s virtually no nutritional downside to quinoa, an ancient grain that is a complete protein in and of itself. Recently gaining fame as a superfood, this grain is not only full of protein, but iron and fiber as well. Another whole grain worth looking at is teff.
Cheap and easy to prepare, lentils are a popular part of vegetarian cooking, especially east Asian and Indian cooking. Just one cup can provide you with nearly 40 percent of your recommended daily intake of iron, and may even help lower your cholesterol.
Hempseed is an often overlooked source of protein, but with ten grams of protein for every 2 tablespoons, as well as a healthy helping of all nine essential amino acids, this seed should be on your shopping list, especially if you’re vegan.
Almonds are full of protein, as well as healthy monounsaturated fat – a “good” fat – and fiber. They provide about 5-7 grams per ounce.
Avocados are known for their creamy taste and texture, and for being another source of “good” fat, but they’re also an excellent source of protein!
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