The most common myths about going on a vegetarian diet is that after avoiding meat it becomes nearly impossible to meet the suggested guidelines for protein intake.
According to the USDA, women need to get about 46 grams of protein a day and men need to get about 56. Some people, like athletes, pregnant or breastfeeding women, may need more.
USA Today reported that ever since Meatless Monday started this year, Americans are expected to eat 12 percent less meat and poultry than five years ago.
While protein is essential to growth, building muscle, the immune system and heart and respiratory functions, MSNBC explains, meat-free protein has the benefit of generally being lower in calories and fat than the animal variety.
Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, there are lots of other foods that can provide you with the same or more amount of protein as meat.
Here is a list of the top 10 vegetarian sources of protein.
Yes, good old greens will pack a protein punch. One cup of cooked spinach has about 7 grams of protein. Two cups of cooked kale has 5 grams. One cup of boiled peas has 9 grams.
2. Lentils and Beans
A cup of iron-rich lentils packs 18 grams of protein, almost as much as three ounces of steak. One cup of chickpeas contains 15 grams of protein, as does a cup of black or kidney beans.
3. Eggs (not vegan)
Protein Content: 6 g per egg
The protein in eggs has the highest biological value, a measure of how well it supports your body’s protein needs, of any food, including beef. And the yolks contain vitamin B12, deficiencies of which are common in vegetarian diets and can cause attention, mood, and thinking problems while raising blood homocysteine levels, a risk factor for heart disease, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
To get the healthiest eggs, find a local producer whose chicken flocks are small and feed off of grass, bugs, and organic grain; studies have shown that E. coli and salmonella contamination in eggs is directly related to the size of the flock.
4. Organic, Plain, Greek Yogurt (not vegan)
Protein Content: 15 to 20 g per 6-ounce serving
All dairy products are good sources of protein. A glass of milk provides you with 8 grams, but Greek yogurt is a protein powerhouse, with twice the protein and half the sugar and carbs of regular yogurt. In fact, Greek yogurt contains the same protein as a three-ounce serving of lean meat. Top that with a handful of nuts and you could get half of your daily protein intake at breakfast.
5. Almonds and Almond Butter
Protein Content: (between 6 and 8 grams, per handful).
When adding a handful of nuts to your salad for protein, go with almonds. Almond butter is less toxic and allergenic than peanut butter, although the protein amounts are similar by comparison. Still, this is about quality protein, not necessarily the amount.
Protein Content: A firmer, chewier cousin of tofu, a half-cup serving of this soybean-based bite has 15 grams of protein.
Fermented foods ought to be part of everyone’s diet, vegetarian or not. Tempeh is one that is chewy and delicious, even to die-hard burger fans. It’s healthy and a much better bet than heavily processed tofu or “mock meats” that are brimming with poor-quality modified proteins, sodium, chemicals and starchy fillers. In my opinion it doesn’t compare nutritionally or in taste to a juicy steak but as vegetarian options go it isn’t half bad.
Spirulina is 65-71 percent complete protein compared to beef, which is only 22 percent, and lentils, which is only 26 percent.
In addition to being protein-rich, spirulina is an excellent source of vital amino acids and minerals easily assimilated by your body. You would need to consume only two tablespoons of spirulina as a protein substitute for a meal.
Protein Content: Seeds, 6 g per ounce; Hemp Milk, 2 grams per cup
Sold as a dairy alternative or as seeds, hemp is one of very few plant proteins that supply you with all the essential amino acids, acids your body can’t produce on its own to build muscle and create more protein. The fatty acids in hemp seeds and hemp milk also boost your immune system, and the crop itself is highly sustainable, growing as fast as 10 feet in 100 days and naturally requiring very few pesticides.
Protein Content: 1 cup of cooked quinoa (185 g) contains 8.14 grams of protein.
Quinoa is perhaps one of the most perfect non-animal sources of protein on the planet. What makes quinoa (pronounce keen-wah) unique is that it is the only plant based source of complete protein. “Complete” means that it contains all 9 of the essential amino acids that are crucial to human function and health. It is also a wonderful option for those that follow a gluten free diet, since it is completely gluten free.
10. Chia Seeds
Protein Content: 4 g per ounce
Though the protein content isn’t as high as some other vegetarian foods out there, chia seeds pack a huge nutritional punch. For starters, they’re an incredible fiber resource with nearly half (11 g) of the amount you need every day in a single ounce. That helps fill you up and eat fewer calories. They also contain 18 percent of your daily calcium requirement; more than triple that of milk, which helps your bones. Chia seeds have no flavor, so you can add a tablespoon to any food you wish to without altering its flavor, and unlike flax, chia seeds don’t need to be ground in order for your body to absorb all the nutrients.
How do you get your protein? Share with me in the comment box.
Make sure to ‘Like & Share’ this post with everyone.
Click Here to work with me Personally!
PS: How to make money without ever picking up the phone!
Click here to find out how!