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How to Meet Your Protein Needs without Meat

A Guide to Vegetarian Protein Sources


4/29/2012 4:30:24 PM

Really liked having these all in one place.
4/26/2012 10:27:11 AM

Thank you for this brief overview of other sources of protein besides meat. I found it very useful
4/26/2012 8:12:39 AM

CBREED's SparkPage
Very helpful! Thanks
4/19/2012 2:47:53 PM

GOLFLADY11's SparkPage
Very interesting and informative article
4/13/2012 11:43:52 AM

Good article. Full of information and helpful.
4/3/2012 6:16:58 PM

JWOOLMAN's SparkPage
I forgot to mention tofu, which is what everybody thinks vegans eat all the time ...

But tofu is actually quite versatile as well as a good protein source. The easy way to have it handy is to get those Mori-Nu aseptic 10 oz packages which are shelf-stable. I just rinse it off, don't bother squeezing etc. So you don't need to follow complicated directions. It can be mashed up and used like egg in eggless egg salad. Also you can easily blend it smooth to make a salad dressing, plenty of recipes on the web. Just add some oil as it is blending and also mustard powder and lemon juice and anything else you want. I've used it as the base for dips, just using regular packets sold for soup and dips. Also have used it with pudding mixes - just regular ones, as long as they were dairy-free. Truly instant pudding, blend and it's ready. It can also be used instead of ricotta or cottage cheese in Italian dishes. Tofu doesn't have much taste by itself, but it absorbs the taste of whatever you add. If you make dip, let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour to do the absorbing. Tofu is much more digestible than the soybeans from whence it comes. When I was having allergic reactions to soybeans (and practically everything else for a while...), I was not reacting to tofu - the protein is different because of the processing.

I've had really good grilled/fried tofu strips, but have not had a lot of success making them myself. But I'm kitchen-challenged. I'm sure it's not actually hard. I've seen a recipe for making a bacon-tasting version of tofu strips, for instance, that looked within even my limited abilities.
4/3/2012 6:00:45 PM

JWOOLMAN's SparkPage
Someone asked about vegan mayonnaise - try Vegenaise or Tiger Tiger. There are others, but those are really tasty and come in several flavors (vegenaise also uses different bases in case you're avoiding one of them). Nayonnaise by Nasoya is ok for things like salads but Vegenaise or Tiger Tiger is what I use for sandwiches. I need egg-free so I try all the vegan ones, although I pretend to myself that I can handle the store brand salad dressing that just has egg yolk (I'm really allergic to egg white, or so I claim) if I run out of the vegan stuff. I try not to run out of the vegan stuff... even though I have to get it mail order. VeganEssentials carries both as well as a lot of other vegan foods mailorder. I get Tofurkey deli slices/brats and Field Roast slices from them - very convenient protein sources, I use them in sandwiches or cut up in salads or even just freeze slices and grab them to munch on (I suppose I could wait for them to thaw, doesn't take long...). I cut the brats in half and freeze them before bagging them, then just pop them in my convection/toaster oven to unfreeze. Tofurkey products are based on tofu/soy and wheat gluten, although they also have some nice tempeh strips that are gluten-free (easy way to try fermented soy products like tempeh, actually). I like the maple flavor and also the garlic sesame flavor. Field Roast doesn't use soy but uses lentils and I think gluten. VeganEssentials have other meatfree protein options as well, worth a look even if you're lucky enough to live near stores that would carry such products just to see what's available. My local store only has a few Boca burgers, occasional LightLife products, and lots of Morningstar Farms products, most of which have egg white and I shouldn't eat (well, I eat their corn dogs anyway... life is short).

If you want to avoid wheat but need sandwich options - you can get gluten-free sandwich slices from various sources. iHerb is a cheap online source. There are companies that make dense European-style breads (sometimes I see the rye version in my local store) with square slices. I actually freeze individual slices for easy use. Or try corn thins from Real Foods - thinner than rice cakes but sturdy enough for a small sandwich. Lundberg makes great rice cakes for open-face sandwiches, though. You also can make crackers or tortilla-like things from any flour-like substance. Just add enough water (salt and oil are optional) to work the dough enough to make a golfball sized piece, flatten it in your hand or in a tortilla iron, and bake or cook in a frying pan or however. I've done this with barley flour or oat flour or teff flour but anything like them can be used. Teff is especially tasty and is gluten-free. Amaranth is tasty mixed with other things, not so good by itself. You also can use anything flour-like to make pancakes, including ones with no milk or eggs. Some people will use those for sandwiches. Buckwheat flour or milo (sorghum) flour are really tasty all by themselves as pancakes, for instance. Sorghum flour can be used like corn flour.

A little roasting can make nuts and seeds more digestible, as well as sprouting. You can buy sprouted pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds from GoRaw, probably from other sources nowadays. Love their sprouted pumpkin seeds especially. They look like the regular seeds. Just about anything can be sprouted, though, check out The Sprout People for ideas. Also they sell a sprouter that is the first one I've managed to be able to use easily, called the Easy Sprout Sprouter. So if you're sprouting-challenged like me, try that one before giving up. Great for storing the sprouts in the refrigerator also. They give really good directions, including videos, for using their stuff and also good info on seeds and sprouting in general. So even if you buy elsewhere, they are an excellent informational resource.

Also nut, seed, and legume butters are generally more easily digestible than the original nuts, seeds, or legumes. The legume butters I've had include peanut butter (of course!), soynut butter, and peabutter (made from golden or brown peas by NoNuts). Sunbutter is a kid-friendly sunflower seed butter that comes in many variations. I've even tried hempseed butter - odd color and different taste, I like to add some coconut oil to it as a spread. Highly nutritious, check it out. In my kitchen at the moment I have sunbutter, almond butter, peabutter, hempseed butter, peanut butter, cashew butter, coconut butter, walnut butter, pumpkin seed butter, hazelnut butter, pecan butter and that still doesn't exhaust the possibilities for what is available. I've even made peanut butter and cashew butter myself in a Vitamix. You might need to add some oil for others. Most should be kept in the refrigerator after opening. Except for peanut butter, they are more or less pricey but you don't need much to supplement your diet with a nice bit of protein, fiber, and good fat - a tablespoon or less is often all you need. A tablespoon will spread nicely on a big piece of bread, for instance.

Garbanzo beans can be mashed and used as you would use tuna. Actually, you can mash up any bean and use it as a sandwich spread or the base for one. Buy refried beans if you want to take the easy route. Crackers can always be used instead of bread if you want more grain variety. Or just dip veggies if you want to avoid grain.

Anyway - you can get plenty of protein from many sources on even a vegan diet. I've proved it many times by doing the math even back in olden pre-computer times. The body doesn't need the perfect mix of essential amino acids in one meal, just eat a variety of foods and over the course of a few days the body will get what it needs. It's really a no-brainer unless you imagine that a vegan diet means nothing but lettuce...
4/3/2012 10:45:10 AM

Although I am not a vegetarian, I find this article & the info. on nutritional info. very helpful, as I often want a different source of protein versus chicken, turkey and fish.

Thanks, great article!

: )
4/3/2012 7:32:35 AM

Yes, Peanuts ARE NOT nuts! They are legumes, with a serious allergic effect for some. Also Black Beans, for reasons unknown, can cause an allergic reaction.
4/3/2012 5:12:01 AM

1)The best protein source on the planet is leafy greens.
2)Our protein requirements are 2 1/2 to 5% of our total caloric content
3)Any more than 10% protein ingestion and it passes out of our bodies in our urine.
3/12/2012 3:04:13 PM


LOL - peanuts are a legume? Good luck finding them in the beans section of the store.

Also, there would be twenty comments from people asking why peanuts were not listed "in the nuts section".

Glad u caught such an important error - maybe you can tell us about tomato fruit next.
2/29/2012 8:38:44 AM

KUNIKLOS's SparkPage
The is an inaccuracy in the article. Peanuts are legumes, not nuts.
11/8/2011 9:21:24 AM

MAHOGANY13's SparkPage
This is a great article! I did not realize how low my protein intake was until I started tracking through Now I have a better idea how to supplement my diet to make up for the lacking proteins. Thanks
8/16/2011 7:04:49 AM

PWDMOMMY1's SparkPage
thanks for this info! great resource!
3/20/2011 10:55:24 AM

NEEDTOBE145's SparkPage
Great information. I didn't realize soybeans had so much protein! I am going to try to incorporate more of these foods into my food plant.

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