It is necessary to define the term vegetarian before beginning to talk about foods that are high in protein for a vegetarian diet plan. Vegetarian is a term used to describe a person that does not eat animals, while a vegan is someone who does not eat any food derived from animals. The difference between the two mainly involves dairy products and eggs, which a vegetarian diet includes, but a vegan diet disallows. Even among vegetarians, eggs are debatable, and some vegetarians who drink milk and eat cheese will avoid eggs.
With both a vegetarian and vegan diet, one of the biggest obstacles to overcome for proper nutrition is how to get nutrients that are mainly derived from meat. Among these are proteins and iron. Below will be a list of foods that fit into a normal vegetarian diet, but contain more than average amounts of protein.
While not listed, it is important to note that fruits and vegetables which make up the majority of a vegetarian diet all contain protein to lesser amounts. For an adult with average activity levels, 50 grams of protein per day is a suitable target.
1. Nuts and seeds – There are many types of seeds that are an excellent addition to a salad and almost all seeds provide large amounts of protein. Nuts and seeds also provide many healthy fats that are needed by the body for proper functioning. While fat is usually a bad word in nutrition, the fats found in nuts and seeds actually reduce cholesterol levels. Adding seeds on top of a salad, along with some nuts as a between meal snack will provide about a third (20g) of the protein you need in a day.
2. Kidney beans and Chick Peas – As a vegetable, it is hard to believe, but on a per ounce basis, kidney beans contain more protein then many meats. Chick peas (really a bean) are also an excellent source of protein and can easily be a part of any salad. A small helping of either one will add about 15g of protein.
3. Milk and Cheese – An eight ounce of glass of milk provides about 8g of protein to your diet. Adding a glass of milk to your breakfast and lunch will add considerably to your protein intake for the day.
4. Eggs – If part of your diet, an egg contains about 8g of protein and adds some important amino acids that are not found in many vegetarians protein sources.
5. Honey – High in many vitamins and minerals, honey also contains a large amount of protein and includes the difficult to find amino acids of tryptophan and lysine. These two amino acids are necessary for normal body growth, but are very difficult for vegetarians to obtain. Because honey is so high in vitamin, mineral and protein, it should be considered as the sweetener of choice for all vegetarians.
While it is fairly easy to get to 50g of protein in a vegetarian diet, care must be taken to vary the sources as possible to be sure that all the amino acids are obtained. If this is a new vegetarian diet, considering taking a protein supplement for the first few weeks until you hone our diet to naturally include sufficient protein.
Article by PRS.