"You're vegetarian? How do you get your protein?"
It's a question vegetarians (and vegans) are asked over and over again. While meat and other animal products are common sources of protein for much of the population, there are countless protein options for those on a plant-based diet, too.
As concerns for animal welfare, along with environmental realities, continue to grow, many are adopting vegetarian or vegan diets. But starting off can be daunting, especially if you’re worried about maintaining strong bones and muscles.
"It is very easy for a vegan diet to meet the recommendations for protein. Nearly all vegetables, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds contain some, and often much, protein," the Vegetarian Resource Group explains on its website.
Here's a look at some of the best sources of protein that aren't from animals:
1. Lentils and beans
Not only are lentils a great source of protein, they are also rich in healthy carbohydrates and fiber. One cup of cooked lentils contains an average of 18 grams of protein. A cup of beans contains a bit less, coming in at an average of 15 grams.
2. Spinach and kale
Popeye was definitely onto something when he chowed down on spinach before saving the day. Most people already know that spinach and kale are trendy "superfoods," primarily because they’re great sources of protein. There are about 3 grams of protein per 100 grams of spinach. Kale has even more, with 4.3 grams per 100 grams.
Another popular superfood, quinoa is considered a starchy protein because it also contains carbohydrates and fiber. In just half a cup of quinoa, there are seven to nine grams of protein.
From almonds to walnuts, pecans, cashews and pistachios, nuts are an ideal source of protein. They are also rich in minerals, Vitamin E, and healthy fats. Nuts vary in their protein content. For instance, 21 grams of protein can be found in 100 grams of almonds. Cashews have about 18 grams of protein per 100 grams.
Asparagus is another vegetable rich with protein, plus it works to detoxify your body. Per every 100 grams, there are about 2.2 grams of protein.
One serving of tofu contains about 20 grams of protein. The protein in tofu is also considered a complete protein, meaning it contains all the necessary amino acids.
It may not be the most popular vegetable among children, but broccoli is high in protein, as well as fiber, antioxidants and other essential minerals. There are about 2.8 grams of protein per 100 grams of broccoli.