If you were to ask the average person where protein comes from, a response you’d likely get is “meat”, and no further discussion on the matter. It’s true – just like humans, animals are made of about 20% protein, more if you just count the meat. When we eat animal meat, our bodies derive protein from this food, and turn it into protein in our own bodies. The National Academy of Medicine says that people need to have diets comprised of between 10% and 35% protein to maintain or grow their current levels of muscle. Simply put, we can’t live without protein. So where do people who don’t eat animals get theirs?
Fortunately, animals don’t have a monopoly on natural protein. Furthermore, a great many animals, including certain species of bear, are entirely herbivorous, proving that you can build a pretty big and strong body without the inclusion of meat, and the same is true for people. Here are the best places to get yours, if you’re wondering how to get protein without eating meat.
Classic Plant-derived Proteins
Protein is plentiful in many vegetable and grain sources, such as beans, wheat, and grain. Humanity has been isolating these proteins and consolidating them into easily edible, “meatlike” forms. Tofu is one of these, having been composed of the edible proteins within soybeans. Similarly, seitan is made from wheat protein. Tempeh is another example, and numerous novel forms are being produced using pea protein and other protein sources for the new wave of meatless burgers, sausages, and ground “beef” products you see in your grocery’s refrigerated meat aisles. If you want veggie protein and you don’t want to have to do too much work to get an easily consumable portion, start here.
Protein powders are a favorite of athletes and gym-goers, and for good reason. Protein powder is a quick and easy way to get your daily portion (or portions) of protein in a convenient and tasty package. Just mix with water, milk, or your favorite beverage, drink up, and you’ll have an easily digestible protein treat to help you recover from a difficult workout, or simply to supplement your veggie diet. Most workout proteins are derived from milk (like milk and casein), but there are plenty of others derived from soy, pea, and other veggies sources. We can specifically recommend GI Cleanse Protein Powder from Natural Healthy Concepts, Elite Green Protein from Healthforce Superfoods, and Veggie Protein with Superfoods from MRM.
Beans are one of the best protein sources in all veggiedom, and they’re easy to eat in a variety of dishes. Love Mexican food? Have some refried beans with your burrito. Like chili? Let this bean-rich food warm up your winter nights as the year comes to a close. Enjoy a bit of spice in your takeout? Order rice and beans from the Caribbean place in your neighborhood. You won’t be sorry, and your body will thank you. Beans are one of the most economical foodstuffs there is, making this a truly great way to get your protein.
A Diet Rich in Various Veggies
Not all veggies are super rich in protein, but protein is present in all vegetables. Brassicas like broccoli and brussels sprouts will give you much of what you need, as will asparagus, corn, avocados, and even potatoes. Of course, you probably shouldn’t rely on only these veggies for all of your protein needs, but if you eat a lot of veggies on a daily basis, you can be sure that you’re getting a whole lot of your protein, before you even supplement with powders or plant protein products.