Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Yes, Vegetarians Do Get Protein...

One of the biggest misconceptions that people have when they find out that I'm a vegetarian is that I must lack protein in my diet. To be quite truthful, I didn't give much thought to what I was going to eat or how I was going to get a balanced diet when I gave up meat. I just made the decision and Boom! stopped eating meat. I come from a farm family whose meals primarily consisted of meat, potatoes & veggies. It wasn't uncommon to have a roast beef and the whole shebang on a weeknight, so when I first gave up meat, I had a really difficult time figuring out what I was going to replace the meat with.

I've come a long way in the last 2+ years and now I have to laugh when people ask where my protein comes from. There are SO many awesome protein-rich foods out there!

Here's a list of some great protein sources for vegetarians and vegans:

I want to caution you that this information is solely from my own research and my personal experiences. I am in no way an expert on this topic - I'm just an ordinary gal trying to feed my bod healthfully and treat it with the love & respect it deserves.  


Quinoa is a modern day super food. It is packed full of all of the essential amino acids and just one cup contains 18 grams of protein and 9 grams of fibre. Amazing, right?! Some other whole grains that are rich in protein include brown rice, barley and whole grain breads.

Beans & Lentils

Beans is one of the first things I turned to when I was trying to substitute the meat in my meals. Beans, lentils, chickpeas and peas are all excellent sources of protein and they are extremely versatile! Obviously chilis and bean burgers are awesome food choices and I love adding a handful of beans to a great big salad to amp up the protein and fill me up.

Nuts & Nut Butters

Nuts and nut butters are another great source of protein. It isn't adviseable to make nuts your #1 source of protein, because most are also high in fat, but they are great as a snack or as a crunchy addition to your pasta or salad. Nut butters are also great (pair it with some whole grain toast!). Since becoming a vegetarian, I've discovered that I have a big love for nut butter - cashew butter and sunflower seed butter are two of my favourites!


Eggs are controversial - there are lots of arguments for and against eating eggs. I personally have decided to keep eggs in my diet. I love them, they work with my daily meal plans and I couldn't imagine giving them up completely. One egg contains 6 grams of protein. The downside for eggs is that they are high in cholesterol, so again don't overdo it, but they are great in moderation.


Many people find it hard to fathom that our veggies contain protein. There are tons of different greens that deserve some honourable mention when it comes to protein. Dark leafy greens such as spinach, brocolli, romaine lettuce and kale are great choices. Not only do these greens provide us with some protein, but they are full of vitamins, nutrients, fibre and so much more awesome goodness.

Tofu, Soy or Meat Substitute Products

There are so many meat and dairy substitutes out on the market! I particularly love tempeh bacon, teriyaki-flavoured tofu and veggie burgers. I relied heavily on these protein-rich foods when I initially stopped eating meat. For me, it helped ease the transition and filled the 'gap' I felt was missing when the meat was gone. Now, I make an effort to eat whole fresh foods most of the time, but I do enjoy a little tofu or a veggie burger now and then. There's a lot of conflicting information out there regarding soy and soy-based products, so I would caution you to do your research and draw your own conclusions. My personal feeling is that eating a little bit of soy, in moderation, is okay for me and it's an easy way to get some protein when I'm rushed or feeling lazy and wanting something quick and easy. I especially love pan-fried tofu in a stirfry or a veggie burger on the grill if we're having a get together.

So as you can see, there are SO many ways for us non-meat eaters to get our protein! Here are some of my fave protein-rich recipes:

Do you rely on meat as your #1 source of protein or do you have other foods that you like to have? 
What's a common misconception you've noticed that people have regarding our food/dietary requirements? 

Have a fabulous day, 


1 comment:

  1. This is a great post! It's so important to remember that protein can be found in SO many other foods other than meat! :)