Vegetarians are often faced with one critical question by meat eaters, “Where do you get your protein?”
The fact is, protein is abundant in plant foods, and while certain dietary deficiencies are common (but avoidable) among vegans and vegetarians, it’s possible to receive all essential amino acids by eating a completely vegan or vegetarian diet. Some plant foods, like avocados and quinoa, contain all essential amino acids and are therefore considered a complete protein. Incorporating these foods into your recipes can ensure you will receive all the protein you need.
How to Get Your Protein on a Vegetarian Diet
The body requires essential amino acids in order to function properly, yet vegetarian sources of complete protein are sparse. Meat provides a complete protein, but it’s probably not the best food option for ethical, environmental, and health reasons. Typically, vegetarians will pair certain foods in order to complement one another’s amino acid profile to make a complete protein. In other words, you would choose one vegetarian food that contains certain essential amino acids and pair it with another plant food that contains the amino acid the other food is lacking. Beans and rice is a common example. As mentioned previously, you can also incorporate quinoa, avocado, and even hemp into your diet. These three foods do contain a complete amino acid profile.
10 High-Protein Vegetarian Recipes
One of the caveats to following a healthy lifestyle is the lack of ideas when it comes to meal planning. If you’re concerned you’re not getting enough protein in your vegetarian diet, here are some recipe ideas to help you out.
1. Quinoa “Fried Rice”
If you’re a fan of traditional fried rice, you might be interested in this recipe. Quinoa is more nutritious than white and even brown rice, containing a heftier amount of amino acids, fiber, and healthy fats.
2. Chickpea and Kale Soup
Kale never disappoints, at least in the health department. This chickpea and kale soup recipe contain a great deal of protein and fiber, and you’re also receiving vitamin A and vitamin C. This is a perfect winter soup. Use your favorite spices and add a few more chopped vegetables to the mix.
3. Curried Black Bean Ratatouille
This vegetarian take on a classic French dish is perfect for a sophisticated vegan dinner party. Black beans add protein and fiber and give the ratatouille a deep, rich color.
4. Large Southwestern Stuffed Peppers
Stuffed peppers are a fun way to get a lot of nutrition. If you eat cheese, use raw milk cheese to top these off as soon as they come out of the oven or off the grill.
5. Vegan Chili
Chili is a delicious autumn and winter dish that serves perfectly well on its own. This vegan chili provides an immense amount of fiber and protein from the beans. You can also add avocado to the dish after serving to increase the protein content. Also, experiment with adding 1 cup of cooked quinoa or buckwheat in place of the bulgur at the end of cooking, about 5 minutes.
6. Vegetarian Omelet
If you’re an ovo-vegetarian, then you know how important omelets are to you in the morning.This high-protein breakfast food is packed with the goodness of vegetables to get your day started off right.
7. Carrot Slaw with Smoky Maple Tempeh Triangles
Carrots are high in vitamin A and vitamin C and make a perfect bedding for these tempeh triangles. Tempeh is fermented soy, so it provides all of the benefits of soy without the harmful effects of traditional, unfermented soybean.
8. Black Bean Salad
This black bean salad recipe is a perfect summer side dish that you can bring to picnics or luncheons. You can bulk it up by adding your favorite vegetables and beans.
9. Almond Butter Cookies
Almonds provide a great deal of fiber and healthy monounsaturated fats. Almond butter provides a tasty base for these high-protein cookies, and the oats give you fiber.
10. Black Bean Burgers
Black beans are so versatile that they can even be used to make vegan burger patties! Not only are they high in fiber, combined with the spices in this black bean burger recipe, they provide the color and taste similar to traditional burgers.
What are your favorite vegetarian recipes that are also high in protein? Let us know in the comments!