Getting the required amount of protein in your everyday diet without consuming too much meat can seem tough, maybe even impossible. It can appear especially difficult if you are vegan or vegetarian and are looking to consume vegetarian protein or plant protein. Getting all the required nutrients and minerals is just a matter of following a healthy, wholesome diet. Protein-rich meats can be substituted by simple, everyday ingredients to get all the protein your body requires.
Listed below are some of the most easy-to-source, simple-to-cook sources of vegetarian protein:
Legumes, such as chickpeas, lentils, green peas, soybeans, kidney beans, etc. are some of the most common ingredients used in vegetarian, Indian dishes. They are a powerhouse of nutrients as they are rich in fiber, iron, phosphorous, potassium and B vitamins apart from protein. For instance, half a cup of cooked chickpeas contains about 7 grams of dietary protein. Dishes such as lentil curries and hummus are a great source of vegetarian protein and make a perfect substitute for meats. Legumes are often classified as incomplete proteins. However, when paired with rice, it makes a complete protein and can provide all the essential amino acids your body requires on a daily basis. Including dishes such as dal tadka, dal makhani, toor dal fry, channa masala, etc., are a simple, quick and delicious protein-fix.
Tofu, or bean curd, is a plant-based protein. It makes an excellent addition to several Indian dishes and is immensely popular as a vegan alternative for paneer (cottage cheese). Half a cup of tofu contains about 10 grams of dietary proteins. It is also rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids including omega-3 fats, making it a heart-healthier alternative for high-fat meats that contain saturated fat. Curries, salads, noodles, etc. are some of the dishes that tofu can be incorporated into.
Including nuts such as cashews and almonds is a great way to incorporate plant-based protein into vegetarian and vegan diets. Furthermore, nuts are excellent sources of heart-healthy fats, dietary fibre and vitamin E besides being a vegetarian protein mine. About 23 whole almonds provide about 6 grams of protein, while around 17 cashews contain just over 4 grams of dietary protein.
Dairy Foods and Their Alternatives
Apart from the above, dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese are also great sources of vegetarian protein. Paneer, a fresh cheese used widely in Indian cuisine, contains about 17 grams of protein per cup. Calcium-fortified non-dairy substitutes, such as soy milk and soy yoghurt, are also excellent sources of protein. A cup of milk or soy milk provides about 8 grams, and 1 cup of low-fat yoghurt contains about 13 grams of dietary protein.
These ingredients work great with Indian dishes and are easily available in almost all local stores. If you lack the time to prepare your own food, then you can choose to get a meal subscription plan that includes some or all of the above-mentioned vegetarian goodness in their meal plan. That way, you can still get that vegetarian protein and keep your protein game strong!