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If I Eat Vegetarian, How Do I Get Enough Protein

Tofu and tempeh background on brown wooden background. Culinary vegan eating.
Tofu and tempeh background on brown wooden background. Culinary vegan eating.

Image: Eskymaks /

A common fear people have about going vegetarian is that they won’t get enough protein. If I eat vegetarian, how do I get enough protein? They’ll end up weak and emaciated with no energy to do anything. Usually when people have trouble keeping up suitable protein intake while being vegetarian, it’s simply because they’re doing it wrong. It’s very easy in our culture to just go for any easy foods with no meat, which tends to be cheese pizza, nachos and cereal.

The fact is, if you’re vegetarian, you can still keep your protein levels up. There’s a reason why tofu is a stereotypically vegetarian dish. It’s high in both protein and iron. If you’re vegetarian and looking for ways to get enough protein, below are tons of meat substitutes that pack in the protein. So, if I eat vegetarian, how do I get enough protein? Try these foods below!

Tofu: We’d be remiss if we didn’t start off with tofu. This all-time meat substitute favorite is used to imitate everything from hotdogs to bacon. It’s a bean curd made from soymilk. In a single 100 gram serving, it’s packing 8.2 grams of protein, plus tons of iron that vegetarian diets can sometimes lack.

Tempeh: This is another soybean product, in this case fermented soybeans, meaning it’s also packing iron, protein and calcium. It’s also high in B vitamins. 100 grams of this food packs 18 grams of protein. The list of nutrients this food provides is quite epic, from magnesium to folate to potassium.

Quinoa: This super food has become so popular, prices soared for a couple years while supply struggled to keep up with demand. As of right now, prices have evened back out, making it a more accessible food. This grain packs a surprising amount of protein, weighing in at 8 grams of protein for one cup of the grain.

Eggs: Whether you eat eggs as a vegetarian is a very personal choice. If you choose to eat eggs, you’re looking at a protein-packed powerhouse of 6.3 grams of protein per a single large egg. It’s also worth noting that they’re very rich in iron.

Cottage cheese: Cottage cheese tends to fly under the radar. You either really like this stuff, or you can’t stand it. If you are partial to it, you’re looking at 28 grams of protein per a 226-gram serving size. Plus, you have your calcium in there, 14 percent of your daily value of it.

Greek yogurt: If you’ve been to the yogurt section of the grocery store within the past several years, you’ll notice something fishy. Chances are, most of the section is now Greek yogurt of some variety. This yogurt has really taken off because of its 15 grams of protein per 150-gram serving size. Greek yogurt tends to be more sour than regular, so fair warning, it’s an acquired taste if you’ve never tried it before.

Nuts: Any nut will pack in the protein, along with nutrients like healthy fats. Walnuts alone are high in good-for-you-fats, like 9.08 grams of omega-3 and 38.09 grams of omega-6 per 100 grams. Not to mention the 15.2 grams of protein per 100 grams of nuts. Plus, nuts make a quick, healthy snack.

Beans: And, of course, if you’re going to be vegetarian, you’ll want to know how to cook with beans. Cooked soybeans have 28.62 grams of protein and edamame have 22.23 grams of protein per a single cup serving, making them some of the best protein sources in the bean world.

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