Have you been asking yourself how can I eat enough protein as a vegetarian/vegan? If you have, you aren’t alone.
Since the age of 9, I had grown up being a strict vegetarian for medical purposes and once I grew accustomed to it, it became second nature. The kicker here is that, I did not know about adequate protein, or daily grams of protein that I should have been hitting. Then when I hit my late 20’s, everything changed. I started developing hormone disorder issues, weight gain, metabolic issues, and numerous years of misdiagnosing and invasive medical testing, I finally received my answer.
When I was younger, maintaining a strict vegetarian lifestyle, was medically necessary, and it did indeed help heal and cure a lot of my G.I. issues. However, our bodies physiologically evolve as we develop and age, and thus so did my nutritional needs.
So, I get it. I get the struggle of maintaining a strong, nutritionally-dense meal plan and consuming enough protein as a vegetarian or vegan. So, before we get to the list of good sources of proteins and also some tips I’ve learned along the way, there are a couple disclaimers.
First: This article will only be references those individuals who are following a plant-based diet (true veganism, true vegetarianism) out of choice and not due to being medically- prescribed. If you are needing medical advice, please contact your PCP or MD.
Second: There are a lot of confusing and misinformation out on the internet as what a vegan or vegetarian is. Many people like to use the label, yet then you will see them “sometimes” eating meat, and “sometimes” eating animal by-products. For the sake of this article, I will be addressing those that have adopted the strict and true nutritional lifestyle of veganism (as defined by the Vegetarian Resource Group) and vegetarianism (as defined by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics).
So let’s get started!!
Baseline Tips to Consider
Depending on what your goals are nutritionally and fitness-wise, will alter the amount of protein you will need to consume as a vegetarian. With this in mind, we will just go over the baseline amount to survive with daily physiological functioning!
Women, according to Healthline, on average need about 46 grams of protein. Again, this is for someone with a sedentary lifestyle.
So, when we think of protein sources, often times the immediate thing that comes to mind is meat. Well, when we take away the meat sources, what are we left with?
For vegetarians that are new to that lifestyle, it can be confusing and overwhelming to know what other sources of protein are out there.
No fear! We we walk you through an awesome list below!
Protein as a Vegetarian: What do I eat?
There are still many great protein sources available for true vegetarians; even less-so for vegans, but we will have a future article out dedicated to Veganism.
Here are a few plant-based protein alternatives:
- Greek Yogurts high in protein (e.g., Two Good Brand )
- Nut Butters (recipe!!)
- Cashew, Almond,
- Non-Dairy Milks
- Almond, Cashew, Oat, Soy
- convenient string cheese, or cheese slices for travel
- adding cheese as a topper into meals to increase protein-density
- great as an easy snack: high in protein and vitamins; flax, hemp, sunflower, etc.
- organic, brown eggs
- good source of soy protein
- approximately 18g/serving
- 10g protein/serving
- diverse usage in meals
- 31g protein/serving
- fermented soybeans
Maintaining Protein as a Vegetarian
If you consistently find yourself struggling to hit your DV of protein, consider supplementing with a high-quality protein powder. This is especially a beneficial option for someone just starting off to increase calories and protein, because you may find it hard to abruptly “eat” more. Additionally, adding in plant-based protein powder into a daily herbal smoothie (also vegetarian and vegan-friendly!) is a great way to get in your vitamins and minerals!
Most of the items on the above vegetarian alternatives list, you can find at Thrive Market. If you haven’t experienced this amazing eco-friendly and whole foods abundance online market, you are missing out! Use the link above for all your grocery needs and get 40% off!!
Key Tip and Reminder: make it easy for yourself!! Have easy, go-to protein sources to snack on throughout the day. Bring snack bags with you in the car if traveling, and always consider LIQUID sources of protein (like shakes)! This helps the protein grams add up throughout the day and soon you will be able to hit your daily intake more consistently!
If you need more resources and examples you can find more protein sources for vegetarians here!