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Protein Substitutes for Vegetarians

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Vegetarians need protein substitutes for animal products. But, how much protein do you really need? Can you get a high quality of protein?

Nutritionists feel that the average woman needs about 45 grams of protein per day and men 55. Protein is made up of amino acids and meat products have all amino acids and therefore are "complete proteins".

Combining different foods can also provide complete proteins- such as rice and beans. There are 22 amino acids and eight of these are called the essential amino acids because they can't be made by the body and must be provided by the diet.

If you eat a wide variety of vegetables, nuts, beans and seeds, you will probably eat the necessary grams of protein. Americans on the whole eat way too much protein. You don't need a 16 oz steak to get your complete protein grams. Protein substitutes can keep you healthy.

It is easy to miss some great sources.


Cholesterol Comes From Animals

Remember, veggies, grains, seds and nuts have protein, but no cholesterol which only comes from animal products.

Here is a list of vegetarian friendly foods which work as protein substitute:

  • 1) Legumes/Beans - Dried peas, beans and lentils belong to a group. On average, they have about 15 grams of protein per cup


  • 2) Seeds - Healthful unsaturated fats, as well as phytochemicals, make seeds a powerhouse for heart disease and cancer prevention. 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds has 8.5 grams of protein


  • 3) Grains - Quinoa is unusually close to animal products in protein quality. Look outside of wheat for other grains high in protein: spelt, amaranth, oats and buckwheat


  • 4) soy - Soybeans are a complete protein that is comparable in quality with animal proteins.


  • 5) sea weed / kelp - This takes getting used to, but more Americans are taking the "plunge".


  • 6) seitan - Textured vegetable protein (TVP, a convincing replacement for ground meat in recipes) is used in vegetarian "chicken" or faux "ribs".


  • 7) Dairy - Average 8 gr of protein for a cup of milk or some string cheese. Choose low-fat to lower calories and fat, but remember they are equal in calcium to the full-fat versions.


  • Smart Vegetarians who eat a variety of foods probably won't miss out on the protein necessary for a strong and healthy body. Even the lowly cottage cheese has 15.5 grams of protein/half cup.
  • Protein substitutes are found in every area of the grocery store. Combining legumes with a starch makes a complete protein, but, it doesn't have to be in the same meal!

    Sneaky Ways to Increase Protein

    Make sure you have protein throughout the day. Eggs, cheese, yogurt and milk will start your day off with energy that won't fade.

    I sneak protein in my salads with garbanzo beans- or any kind of bean. A few garbanzo beans, a little cheese, yogurt for dessert. Make bean dips (such as hummus, which is made from garbanzo beans, or black bean dip) to spread on sandwiches and use as protein-packed dips for veggies or snack foods.

    Add a little protein to your mid-day snack. Apple dipped into peanut butter- just watch the portion because of peanut butters fat content.

    Add flaxseeds for 7.5 gr protein per 1/4 cup. Sunflower seeds are easy to add to pasta or salads. Add ground sesame seeds onto steamed veggies for a protein dusting.

    Braggs Liquid Amino Acids all purpose seasoning- made from soy protein- has 16 amino acids. Add this vegetable protein to your stir fry.

    If you are in doubt at the end of the day, a high protein drink from your local health food store can give you 24 grams of protein.

    If you look, your will find protein everywhere. Again, variety is the spice of life! Live it up!

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