A common misconception that turns people away from the idea of a vegetarian or vegan diet is that is impossible to get enough protein without meat or dairy. For recent converts to this type of lifestyle, they do often backslide because of this very issue. If one does not know where to properly get protein without animal products, it can make maintaining a vegetarian diet difficult. However, there are many sources of protein available that do not involve meat, and some may even surprise you.
Even those that have eaten vegan or vegetarian diets for years often get tired of the same routine of beans and nuts, so it is important to find a wider variety of sources. Mixing things up not only makes your healthy diet more fun, it is also important for more concrete health reasons. Anyone who gets their protein from only a few sources is not getting their nutrients the proper way, no matter the amount.
You may not even be looking to go off of meat completely. Many people need additional sources of protein simply for variety or for losing weight. You could also be looking to reduce your carbon footprint or temporarily get away from factory-farmed animal meat. Whatever your reasoning, getting your protein from more non-traditional sources has many benefits and could even lead to an entirely new– and perhaps healthier– diet.
Although vegetables are not traditionally thought of as being high in protein, there are many that can be just as beneficial of sources as any nuts or meat. There are some that you may already be eating without even realizing their high protein content. By developing this list, we hope to debunk many of the misconceptions and help to educate our readers on how some vegetables are surprisingly high in protein.
Many different varieties of sprouts provide multiple health benefits, including those of the Brussels persuasion. Because they are most frequently known for their high fiber content, most people are surprised to learn that Brussels sprouts are also one of the highest vegetables in protein in the world. One cup of Brussels sprouts contains three grams of protein.
One reason for their high protein content is because of their unusual lifespan. Sprouts are actually living all the way up until you pick them and retain much of their nutritional value when cooked, unlike some vegetables. While they can still be eaten raw, they can also be boiled, steamed or more creatively cooked.
Brussels sprouts have gotten a bad rap for years as being something children must be force-fed, but there is a reason why parents would want them eaten. In addition to being high in fiber and protein, Brussel sprouts could also be beneficial for you thyroid and even in preventing cancer.
These little green yummies may be small, but they should not be overlooked as a great source for proteins. Green peas contain a whopping nine grams of protein per cup in addition to many other nutrients. They are a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, thiamin, phosphorus along with multiple B vitamins.
In addition to the personal health benefits, peas are also a significantly friendly vegetable to the environment. Peas are in a category of crops known as “nitrogen fixing” crops. This means that they mix with bacteria in the soil to help convert nitrogen from the air into more complex and usable forms. So you can feel good about eating your peas for more than one reason.
Because peas are so versatile, you can keep a bag frozen in your freezer to mix with any meal or just throw in stir fry dishes.
Is there anything kale can’t do? Through its short time in mainstream American consciousness, this superfood has transformed the way many people think of healthy eating. It is a great source of multiple nutrients including protein. One cup of chopped kale contains 2.9 grams of protein. Although this is not as much as some of the other veggies on this list, it possesses so many other benefits that make it at least deserving of an honorable mention.
Mushrooms are another flexible food that can be added to just about anything to make it healthier and more delicious. They can also be eaten on their own as a great snack or side dish. In addition to being high in protein, mushrooms also possess immune-boosting properties that can help keep you healthy.
Obviously, different varieties of mushrooms will have slightly different nutritional characteristics– and we’re talking about the non-magical kind here– but they are all great for you. One cup of white mushroom pieces contains 2.2 grams of protein.
This is another vegetable that seems to cover all the bases healthwise. It contains several essential vitamins and minerals as well as multiple preventative characteristics. Along with 4.2 grams of protein per cup, broccoli is full of calcium, iron and antioxidants.
The one drawback to broccoli as a source of protein is that it is not a complete protein. This means it should be combined with another source like peas or quinoa for a full amino acid profile.