There are some non-meat options that could help vegetarians ensure they’re getting their adequate daily protein intake, including beans and nuts or seeds with whole grains.
Vegetarianism and Protein
One question every vegetarian dreads is: “Are you getting enough protein?” To go over the basics, proteins are molecules comprised of smaller components named amino acids. There are 20 different types of amino acids- 12 of those are biologically produced, and the other 9, named “essential amino acids” need to be in your food.
A “complete protein” is one that contains all essential amino acids. Proteins obtained from animals are complete. This includes red meat, seafood, poultry, dairy and eggs. But many of these are off limits for vegetarians, let alone vegans, so what can they do?
Here’s how to ensure that the answer to that dreaded question is always yes.
Get Enough Protein
There are a few non-animal foods that contain complete proteins: Soybeans, blue/green algae, buckwheat, hempseeds and quinoa. Fill up on those and you can be sure to get your daily protein intake.
Another trick is to combine “incomplete protein” foods in order to get yourself a “complete protein” meal. These include beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, corn and peas. The key to having a healthy vegetarian or vegan diet is to focus on variety. If you eat a diverse amount of legumes, begetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts & seeds throughout your day- your protein intake should be just fine/
Want some “incomplete protein” combination recommendations? Here are several delicious options:
Beans (+whole grains):
- Hummus – this is a paste which contains tahini – made of sesame seeds- and chickpeas.
- Rice & red beans in pita bread
- Quinoa and chickpea veggie burgers in a whole-weat bread bun
- Split-pea soup
- Lentil/barley soup
- Polenta and black beans
- Refried beans on tortilla bread
Nuts & Seeds (+ whole grains):
- Crackers with sunflower seed butter
- Almond butter with toasted bread
- Peanut noodles
Beans (+ seeds & nuts):
- Salads With chickpea and sunflower seed toppings