Vegetarians are often bombarded with questions about how they get enough protein. Many parents, peers, teachers, and coworkers will insist that without meat, vegans are certainly protein deficient. This argument may be used to convince vegetarians about the health dangers of their diet, and even nutrition stores will try to convince them that they need protein supplements. However, it is a proven fact that those who eat a plant-based diet naturally get enough protein if they eat a varied diet.
Many foods contain protein that people would not typically expect. Furthermore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advise that each person only needs approximately 0.4 grams of protein per pound of body weight each day.
Since plant proteins are different from meat proteins, vegetarians should aim to consume 0.41 grams of protein per pound each day. This amounts to almost 10% of daily calorie intake. Therefore, an average 180-pound male should consume 74 grams of protein each day.
10 Foods that Provide Vegetarians Adequate Protein for a Healthy Diet
1. Grains – A variety of grains have protein, including oats, wheat, rye, barley, corn, and rice, only to name a few! Think about all the grains you eat each day. One cup of oatmeal has 6 grams of protein, two slices of whole wheat bread has 7 grams of protein, and one cup of brown rice has 5 grams of protein.
2. Legumes – This includes beans, peas, and lentils. One cup of kidney beans has 13 grams of protein alone, and a cup of lentils provides 18 grams!
3. Nuts – Nuts, including peanuts, almonds, cashews, and even peanut butter, are a great source of protein. Two tablespoons of almonds contain 4 grams of protein and two tablespoons of peanut butter contain 8 grams.
4. Seeds – Seeds such as sunflower and sesame seeds make a great snack and are very healthy for you. Seeds are commonly consumed with breads and with other grains. One tablespoon of pumpkin seeds contains 2 grams of protein and a tablespoon of flax seeds contains 1.5 grams.
5. Vegetables – Vegetables, common in a plant diet, are a great way to get protein. One cup of broccoli contains 4 grams of protein, one cup of portabella mushrooms contains 5 grams, and one cup of spinach provides 6 grams.
6. Fruits – Vegetables are known to be a rich source of protein, but few realize that some fruits also contain a considerable amount of protein. One cup of dates contains 3.6 grams of protein, a medium avocado contains 4 grams, and one cup of guava contains 4.2 grams.
7. Tofu – 1 cup of tofu provides an impressive 20 grams of protein. People are more likely to consume only about a half a cup at a time, but still, that’s an easy 10 grams of protein.
8. Soy Milk – Providing 7 grams of protein per cup, soymilk is a great, delicious source for your protein.
9. Veggie Burgers and Other Meat Substitutes – These are becoming increasingly popular, especially “veggie” burgers. Did you know that one veggie patty provides you a whopping 10 grams of protein?
10. Quinoa – Quinoa is considered the king of whole grains. One cup of cooked quinoa will give you 18 grams of protein!
The Key Is Eating A Varied Diet
As you can see from the list above, it’s quite easy to consume the proper amount of daily protein. Let’s say for breakfast you have a cup of oatmeal and a guava, for lunch you have a veggie burger with soymilk, for a snack, you have some peanuts, and for dinner, you have lentil salad with spinach, half a cup of cooked tofu, and kidney beans. That’s 82 grams of protein! Eat a variety of protein foods each day and you will naturally eat well for a healthy vegetarian diet.