The 7 Best Protein Sources For Vegetarians
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This is a contentious issue, isn’t it? One of the main criticisms against the vegetarian lifestyle is that the diet does not provide enough protein. Most vegetarian foods are higher in carbs and/or sugars and low in protein, or so we’re told. Further, it is claimed animal-based protein is higher in quality than plant-based protein. This is important because proteins help build and repair muscle, and maintain musculature. As we grow older, our muscles tend to weaken, and more than a few studies have indicated that stronger muscles in the later years of one's life tends to be associated with better overall health and strength. 

Vegetarian foods can provide the optimal levels that will keep your health, and muscles, in great shape. The Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) has recommended health professionals to encourage vegetarians to “include a variety of protein-rich foods each day... legumes such as soybeans, chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, split peas and baked beans; wholegrains such as brown rice, buckwheat, polenta, quinoa and amaranth; soy products such as soy beverages, soy yoghurt, and tofu; nuts and seeds; and dairy foods...”, and added, “Other studies have shown benefits of plant protein compared with animal protein for lowering blood pressure, and the risk of type 2 diabetes and of ischaemic heart disease in healthy men.” *

To simplify that list for us Indians, we’ve listed the 7 easiest protein-rich vegetarian foods you can get started with right away:

1)    Dal& Rice

That’s right, our most basic Indian meal packs a great deal of protein into one serving. 200 grams of dal and 100 gm rice provide as much as 18 grams of protein. Given how this is a favorite of most people in this country, it must be made a part of at least one daily meal in your diet.  It’s also filling, so you have little reason to indulge in snacking after a proper meal that included dal and rice!

2)    Soya chunks

According to research* by the NIH (the US govt body responsible for biomedical and health research), “Soy has been analysed for protein quality and has been found to be very similar to cow milk and egg proteins.” Which is great news for vegetarians because soya chunks are terrific for a burst pf protein. Just 50 grams of soya chunks can add a whopping 26 grams of protein to your daily intake! That makes it nearly a cheat code, doesn’t it? 

3)    Paneer

Our old friend paneer is a great source of protein. This is the vegetarian source of protein in the country, especially northern India. 100 grams of panner contains 11-12 grams of protein, making it a healthy source that can be a regular part of your diet. That’s probably why paneer’s popularity keeps growing across the country. 

4)    Greek Yogurt

Not all health fads are bad. Greek yogurt might be the best of them all. 100 grams of Greek yogurt provided 10 grams of protein. Given the Indian weakness for curd, this will only become more popular with time. Include a generous helping of Greek yogurt every night with your dinner, and you’re looking at a healthy 20 grams of protein in just one food item. 

5)    Peanut Butter

We love peanut butter. How can anyone not? It tastes amazing, and is very healthy. 100 grams of peanut butter packs 25 grams of protein. The best way to have it is also the easiest: add two tablespoons of peanut butter to a few slices of toasted whole wheat bread. That’s 10 grams of protein and a some very good dietary fiber. It makes for a great evening snack or breakfast. Don’t overdo the peanut butter though, because it is high in fat as well. Two tablespoons is the recommended amount. 

6)    Kidney Beans

Rajma, or kidney beans, provide 12 grams of protein for every 100 grams you consume. So, any time you eat rajma-chawal, you’re wolfing down a lot of muscle-building protein. Kidney beans are high in fiber. The reason we soak kidney beans overnight is phytohemagglutinin, a carbohydrate-binding protein, that can be toxic. Kidney beans are high in phytohemagglutinin, so they must be pre-soaked and boiled heated to boiling for at least 10 minutes to make them safe for consumption. 

7)    Oats

Oats the perfect breakfast. A 100-gram serving of oatmeal at breakfast gives you 16 grams of protein. Oats are high in fiber, help control bad cholesterol, and have a ton of other nutrients. All vegetarians must include oats in their diets, at least weekly, if not daily, to ensure they’re getting enough proteins.