Once upon a time I was a vegetarian for 4 years. Looking back on it, it’s pretty surprising I fared as well as I did in the protein department considering I was nowhere near being well-versed in nutrition. The only thing going for me was that I really liked vegetables. In hopes to save you some struggles that I faced, here are easy ways to incorporate more protein into your vegan/vegetarian, or even just overall diet.
- Plants. Yes, they have protein! Every single one; in fact, they need it to survive in various ways. Eat as wide a variety as you can stomach, for some have amino acids and other nutrients that others may lack. Fun fact: avocado is a fruit relatively high in protein and can be used in a multitude of ways.
- Whole Grains. Their main claim to fame may be complex carbs, but they also have protein. That is, as long as you are not taking the processed route (which I know you aren’t!), so that means brown and whole wheat over white. Try amaranth, barley, quinoa and farro on for size, too.
- Nuts & Butters. Peanut butter is probably a no-brainer, but nuts on their own can sometimes be overlooked. Snacking on peanuts, almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, pistachios, walnuts, etc is a great habit to get into. You can incorporate them into meals (stir fry, salads) as well as blending them into a creamy nut butter.
- Seeds. Same tune as nuts (they both happen to be a great source of amino acids, too) where they are overlooked but oh so delicious and beneficial. Try out quinoa & hemp (complete proteins), chia, flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and the plethora of seeds that exist out there.
- Beans, Legumes, Lentils. The best part about these is that they won’t hurt your wallet but they are a nutritional powerhouse. Peas are also included in this category. I would recommend taking the fresh and dried route over canned, because you never really know what may be happening during the canning process. Plus, you get more bang for your buck when you buy a bag of beans. *Try saying that 10 times fast!*
- Miscellaneous. As always, there are supplements out there to aid you in the protein department, but I really think if you incorporate the above mentioned items into your diet regularly, you should be on the right track. If you really feel the urge though – or if you are highly active – brown rice protein is a good one that does not include whey, and there are a few powders out there that combine various plants high in protein.
Th-th-that’s all for me today, folks. I’ve got some econometrics homework calling my name and some other nonsense to do. Before that though, I think I will treat myself to some Thai food because I can 🙂 Peace, love, and all things pretty.