When talking to people about the fact that we are on a vegetarian diet, they often ask two questions. The first is, “What do you eat?” What they are really asking is, “Isn’t eating vegetarian bland and boring?” I recently wrote an article answering that question. Now let’s tackle the second question people ask. “How do vegetarians get protein?”
Protein Only Comes From Meat, Right?
Because the meat industries have done such a great job of marketing, people routinely think that protein only comes from red meat, poultry, fish or dairy. The fact is that there are many plant-based sources of protein. And, from a cooking standpoint, it’s great because you can incorporate some of these into just about any meal.
What About the Aminos?
Some people will criticize plant-based proteins saying that they don’t contain all the essential amino acids. There are plant-based proteins that actually do contain all the essential amino acids. And, there are plant-based products, such as Bragg Liquid Aminos, that will ensure that all essential amino acids are part of most, if not, every meal.
My husband, Dale addressed the topic of essential amino acids in an article, Overcome the Downside to a Plant-Based Diet. For those of you that want to dive deeper, this is a really good article to read.
Vegetarian or Vegan?
Please note that we are vegetarians, not vegans. The distinction is that we do not eat meat, but we do consume dairy products like eggs and cream for our coffee. There, of course, is protein in dairy products. But our main sources of protein come from vegetables and fruit. You’ll see these plant-based protein sources in a list below.
But I Don't Want to Lose Weight
When incorporating plant-based protein sources into your daily regime, we recommend watching the calorie intake along with the fat content. Even good fats. Yes, you can over-indulge and gain weight on a vegetarian diet. And we always recommend organic (as best you can) as well as 'sprouted' for easier digestion (nuts, grains, breads). A simple App we use to keep track of calories, carbs, and protein intake is MyFitnessPal in the Google Play Store or the App Store.
How do Vegetarians Get Protein? How About a Smoothie?
A lot of our daily protein goes into our morning shake or smoothie. And no, we don’t use a protein powder. We have a power-packed shake to start our day. Our personal recipe is located at Morning Smoothie Recipe.
We also easily add protein to our salads (hemp hearts/seeds). And there are great options to incorporate protein into dinner. Yes, I'm getting to the list... keep on reading.
If You Just Can’t Enjoy Life Without Meat
If you can't 'live without' meat or feel like you need to give yourself 'a treat', go with fish as your 1st choice. Always wild-caught, & salmon is the best choice. 2nd would be grass-fed or wild game beef. And the 3rd choice would be organic, free-range chicken. Before we went full vegetarian, we limited eating meat to once, max twice a week. A great source online for the best meat is Farm Foods Market. Check them out especially if finding high-quality meat is difficult in your area.
Our Health Coach
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Should I or Shouldn't I?
If you are teetering back and forth on a decision to stay with eating meat or give it up altogether, check out our article, Plant-Based Diet Pros and Cons. This will help you make the decision. But be prepared that if you do continue to eat meat, you’ll have this knowledge about the effects of eating meat in your head every time you take a bite of that steak!
EXCELLENT PLANT-BASED PROTEIN SOURCES:
*How do vegetarians get protein? In no particular order, I’ve noted how I use some of these plant-based protein sources.
- Chia Seeds (soaked) (make chia pudding or in a shake)
- Hemp Hearts (in shake or salad)
- Ground Flax Seed (in a shake)
- Bee Pollen (in a shake)
- Sunflower or Pumpkin Seeds (in salad or snack)
- Brazil, Hazel or Walnuts (nut allergy restricts us to these)
- Rolled Oats (in shake or solo)
- Brown or Wild Rice
- Lentils (love in homemade soup)
- Lentil Pasta
- Beans (in a salad, homemade soup, solo for dinner)
- Potato (red)
- Avocado (in a shake, salad, snack)
- Spinach (cooked or in a salad)
- Soybeans (in a salad, solo, snack)
- Bone Broth (organic only, grass-fed beef)
- Eggs (organic, free-range only)
- Feta Cheese (in a salad)
- Nut Butters
- Ezekiel Bread
And there ya have it. Hope this was helpful!