One of the biggest issues surrounding vegetarian or vegan Food has to do with protein.  Meat eaters get their protein from beef, poultry and fish, but what do you do if you’re cutting meat out of your diet?  Here are some ideas that will get you started on the right path to finding protein substitutes you’ll love.

A Cup of Broccoli Has What?

When you’re looking for a protein substitute, you’re searching for food that will help you build muscle and give you energy. Did you know that vegetables have some of the key essential muscle-building nutrients? It’s true. A cup of broccoli has 3 grams of protein.

Other Choices

Protein is also found in soy products, eggs, dairy, whole grains and cereal.  Also included on the protein hit parade are nuts and seeds. The thing you’re trying to do is to layer your protein sources thereby replacing the protein you received in meat. Take marine phytoplankton considered as the densest and nutritious food in the world.

Nuts

Nuts are a great source of protein.  A handful of almonds gives you enough protein in the middle of the day to ramp up your energy and keep you going. A quarter cup of peanuts has as many as 9 grams of protein.  The same size serving of walnuts has 4 grams and pistachios are 6 grams.

Soy

Let’s talk about a protein substitute that is often maligned: Tofu. That’s because tofu, typically, is tasteless.  Some people don’t like the texture, but tofu can be used in so many applications.

For example, let’s say you want to have a Mexican taco night but you want to do it meatless. What would you do to replace the ground beef or chicken in your favorite recipe? The answer is extra firm tofu. What you do is take a block of tofu, cut it up in small quarter inch dice pieces and then hit it with some of your taco seasoning mixture and sauté it.  Slap it into a hard or soft taco shell and add your favorite toppings.

Another superior protein resource is tempeh. It gives you as much as 21 grams of protein in just half a cup.

Legumes

These are jammed packed with protein.  Black beans have a whopping 15 grams of protein for 1 cup and chickpeas have the same amount.

If you love lentils – and who doesn’t? – 1 cup of cooked lentils includes 18 grams of protein.  Try cooked lentils in a cold salad with sliced cucumber and fennel and top it with a vinaigrette.

Dairy

We love cheese and it’s a great substitute for meat protein. Cheddar cheese contains 7 grams of protein per ounce, and it’s pretty delicious!

As you can see, substituting protein in a vegetarian or vegan diet isn’t hard at all.  Give it a try and surprise your family with a high protein vegetarian meal.

 

Photo Credit:  istockphoto.com

What are some of your favorite protein substitutes?