Alternative Sources of Protein

The first reaction to a new vegetarian is usually “Where are you getting your protein?” Believe it or not, we actually don’t need as much protein as we think. The daily recommendation is 2-3 servings; we need much more fruits, vegetables (7-10 servings) and grain products (6-8 servings), which have a strong presence in a typical vegetarian diet.

Protein is still important and more than half of Canadians’ protein is derived from foods in the Meat and Alternatives food group. Legumes, nuts and seeds are the richest protein alternatives to meat. For this reason, they are essential to any vegetarian diet. Their protein quantities rival that of meat and fish when combined with items such as cereal, eggs and dairy products.

Here’s a list of your best alternative sources of protein.

Best Alternative Sources of Protein

  • Eggs (often enriched in omega-3)
  • Legumes
    • beans
    • chick peas
    • hummus
  • Nuts and seeds
    • with oil
    • roasted
    • incorporated into salads, cookies, cakes
    • butter (peanut, almond, tahini)
  • Soya

Needless to say, protein is important. Our bodies absorb meat-sourced proteins very well, but have a tougher time with vegetable-sourced protein. As a vegetarian, or anyone interested in other sources of protein, you need to ensure you’re consuming complete proteins. Here’s how:

Incomplete + Complete Protein Combinations

Important: You do not have to eat these pairs at the same time. Just be sure to eat them within a couple hours of each other.

  • Legumes + Grains
    • Pasta and beans/chick peas/lentils (I recommend cavatelli)
    • Rice and beans (very filling!)
    • Hummus on pita bread or a whole grain bagel
    • Soft or hard taco shell/tortilla with refried beans (Try our taco recipe)
    • Veggie burgers with a bun
  • Legumes + Nuts
    • Peanut butter on whole wheat toast
  • Legumes + Seeds

Some vegetable sources of protein are already complete.

Complete Sources of Protein

  • Eggs
  • Cheese (dairy)
  • Milk (dairy)
  • Yogurt (dairy)

What are your favourite non-meat sources of protein?


of protein
Sample protein menu without meat
Canada’s food guide: information regarding food groups and daily recommended servings


One Response

  1. […] of protein are incomplete and require a companion in order to complete the protein. There are some delicious protein combinations you should make to ensure you’re doing your body […]

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