How to Get Enough Protein in a Vegetarian Diet

Becoming a vegetarian is a great way to live a healthy, eco-friendly life — if done correctly. Making sure there is enough protein in a vegetarian diet, as well as specific vitamins and minerals typically found in high quantities in animal products, is essential to ensuring a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle. Going vegetarian is usually a decision to become more healthy. Be responsible and expand the diet with high protein vegetarian food.

What is the Daily Recommended Amount of Protein?

Protein is necessary for growth and development, it is used as a source of energy, and it helps with the production of hormones, antibodies, enzymes, and body tissue. Adequate amounts are critical for the body to thrive — major deficiencies can lead to a weakened immune system, poor growth, and a loss of muscle mass. On the other hand an excess is unnecessary and can even disrupt the body. Too much can upset the acid-alkaline balance and put extra pressure on metabolism and digestion, especially when a lot of animal protein is consumed.

This is great news for vegetarians; with a little effort it is easy to get enough protein in a vegetarian diet. In fact the low-fat, plant-derived sources of protein and amino acids are also great sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. A protein-rich vegetarian diet is a healthy, well-balanced diet.

So how much is necessary? What is the daily recommended amount of protein? According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the Institute of Medicine suggests eight grams for every 20 pounds of body weight. For most adults, anywhere from 50 to 70 grams per day is plenty.

nuts almonds seeds

High Protein Vegetarian Food Sources

What are good vegetarian sources of protein?

  • tofu —11 grams for 4 ounces
  • quinoa — 9 grams for one cup of cooked quinoa
  • pinto beans — 12 grams for one cup cooked
  • lentils — 18 grams for one cup cooked
  • black beans — 15 grams for one cup cooked
  • almonds — 8 grams for one-fourth cup
  • soy milk — 7 grams for one cup of milk
  • peanut butter — 8 grams for 2 tablespoons
  • amaranth grain — 9 grams for one cup cooked
  • brown rice — 5 grams for one cup cooked
  • oatmeal — 6 grams for one cup cooked

Try Mutual Supplementation When Going Vegetarian

When adding high protein vegetarian food to the diet, consider using mutual supplementation. This technique can be used by vegetarians to enhance the nutritional value of each meal. By combining foods and different types of amino acids it is possible to form complementary proteins, which act as complete proteins in the body. To use mutual supplementation simply eat one vegetable-based protein source with another.

For example, when eating beans also eat one of the following:

  • corn
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • brown rice
  • wheat

When having brown rice for dinner, add:

  • beans
  • nuts
  • seeds

Great examples of mutual supplementation meals and snacks include whole wheat bread with almond butter, corn and bean salad, and brown rice with chopped walnuts.

There is Protein in a Vegetarian Diet

It is possible, and even easy to get plenty of protein in a vegetarian diet. With great plant-based protein food sources such as beans, nuts, whole grains, and soy products, there are endless possibilities for nourishing meals. Animal products are not a necessity!

On the other hand, enough protein, at least 50 grams a day, is important to maintain well-being. If thinking about becoming a vegetarian, be sure to include plenty of high protein vegetarian foods each day. Snack on walnuts and sesame seeds, eat whole grains instead of white-flour products, learn how to cook with tofu, drink soymilk, and incorporate beans and corn into meals.

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