Q: I’ve been thinking about switching to a vegetarian diet, but I’m a little concerned that I won’t be consuming enough protein. What are some protein-rich, vegetarian friendly foods?
A: This is probably the most popular question a vegetarian gets asked, so it’s only fitting that you’re looking for an answer to this question before making the switch.
The simple answer is: It’s quite easy to get enough protein through sources like nuts, seeds, grains, soy and even dairy if you allow it.
But, let’s first take a look at how much protein you really need.
Vegetarian Protein Requirements
The protein requirements for an individual can be a hot topic and if you ask 10 different nutritionists, it’s possible you’ll get 10 different answers.
The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound .
So, what does this mean? Your average male should consume 56 grams per day while your average female should consume 46 grams per day.
Keep in mind those figures are for sedentary individuals. If you are fairly active you may require more, as much as 0.81 grams per pound for strength athletes .
So, for example, lets say you are a female who is fairly active and weighs 130 lbs. Now, we’ll take the middle ground between the recommended DRI and what strength athletes should consume, since our example is fairly active.
130 lbs * .60 grams/pound = 78 grams per day
As you can see that equates to roughly 78 grams of protein per day, which should be easily attainable without consuming any meat products.
Ways To Get Protein For Vegetarians
As stated before, it’s really not hard to get the recommended amounts of protein for vegetarians or vegans alike. There are plenty of vegetarian friendly foods that are rich in protein, such as:
- Back beans
- Nuts and nut butters
- Seeds like chia and flax
Supplements also offer a quick and easy way for vegetarians to get protein. There are many protein supplements on the market, with Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein being a very popular choice. You can simply mix a scoop in a smoothie or add it to your favorite recipes, etc.
Complete Protein Sources For Vegetarians
One thing that should be mentioned is that not every source of protein is equal.
There are 20 amino acids that can make up a protein  with 9 of them which our body can’t produce. So, we need to get these amino acids from other sources.
In order for a food to be coined a “complete” protein, it needs to contain those 9 essential amino acids. Luckily, there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan friendly complete protein sources, such as:
- Ezekiel bread
So, as you can see, getting enough protein as a vegetarian is not difficult. And if you enjoy a wide range of protein sources, you should have no problem getting all essential amino acids.