Everyone knows that meat is a great source of protein. It’s why so many competitive bodybuilders load up on chicken breasts in an effort to increase muscle mass before big competitions. But can non-carnivores easily reach their daily protein requirements, too?
Many folks believe that it’s difficult—if not downright impossible—to get adequate amounts of protein while adhering to a strict vegetarian or vegan diet. But in truth, there are many plant-based protein sources that can provide non-meat eaters with the recommended daily dose of the essential nutrient. And we’re not just talking about popular meat substitutes, like tofu, tempeh and seitan.
Here we’ve outlined five other simple, satisfying ways to pack in more protein if you choose not to dine on fish, chicken, beef or swine:
Shake it up
Who doesn’t enjoy a rich, creamy protein shake or smoothie? They are a smart (and delicious!) way to make sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs. The protein in protein powder can be derived from a wide variety of non-animal sources, including whey, soy, rice, hemp–even peas and pumpkin seeds! Simply follow the package directions for a thick, nourishing shake, or experiment with your own recipes to keep mealtime interesting.
This one goes out to all the vegetarians out there…Dairy products, like low-fat milk, cheese, eggs and yogurt are packed with protein. So go ahead and indulge in that gooey cheese omelet. Enjoy a bowl of non-fat Greek yogurt topped with fresh fruit and granola. And if you’re a vegan, don’t despair. Dairy substitutes, like almond milk, also contain the vital nutrient.
After all, they’re chock-full of protein. A quarter-cup of organic raw almonds, for instance, contains seven grams of the good stuff. Other smart choices include organic pistachios (six grams of protein per quarter cup), raw cashews and organic walnuts (both boast five grams of protein per quarter cup). And let’s not overlook the protein power of peanut and other delicious nut butters
Snack on seeds
If you think seeds are for the birds, it’s time to reconsider! They’re a wise way to help ensure a protein payday. A quarter-cup of raw pumpkin seeds, for example, contains 10 whopping grams of protein. Raw sunflower seeds also pack a powerful punch with six grams of protein per quarter cup. Other protein-rich choices include hemp and poppy.
Binge on beans
Well, not really. But do consume them, along with legumes (e.g., peas and lentils) and grains, on a regular basis to boost your protein intake. Enjoy these protein-packed foods in their pure form as a side dish or incorporate them into your favorite recipes. Think black bean burgers, hummus, quinoa salad, lentil stew…the possibilities are endless!