Despite the meat-centric Filipino culture, Pinay celebrities Geneva Cruz and Amanda Griffin-Jacob, can give you a long list of reasons to try a vegetarian diet.

For self-serving reasons, it’s cheaper and helps keep our health in check and for more altruistic reasons, it is cruelty-free and is better for the environment

However, a common question that arises among those who are considering transitioning to vegetarianism is: Where to obtain a consistent and complete protein source since the body does not produce all 20 amino acids?

According to the the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Filipina women should consume approximately 58 grams of protein per day, although daily recommended protein intake varies according to sex and age.

If you’re considering transitioning to a vegetarian diet or are simply running out of protein-rich vegetarian ideas, we’ve got you covered. Check out the list below of meatless-protein sources that even vegans can easily include in their meals.

1. Tempeh

Protein: 31 grams per cup

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It might be time to hop aboard the tempeh train! A food made out of soybeans, tempeh is a popular meat substitute because of its versatility, mushroom-like flavor, and nutritional value.  It is made from fermented cooked soybeans.  It also has about 8% of the recommended daily allowance of calcium and iron.  While tempeh may be a rare food find here in the Philippines, it is available online at The Superfood Grocer.

Tempeh Recipes:

2. Lentils

Protein: 18g per cup

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Photo source: Pop Sugar

Lentils are small, annual legumes that belong to the pea family. Commonly used in Indian food and soups, lentils cook quickly, and are a rich source of protein but also contain iron, vitamin B, and phosphorous.

Lentil Recipes:

3. Chickpeas

Protein: 15g per cup

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Chickpeas, also known as garbanzos and ceci beans, are another protein powerhouse that belongs to the pea family.  In fact, the popular bread dip, hummus, is made out of mashed chickpeas. Falafel is another popular dish made from chickpeas.  Chickpeas are also a popular addition to soups, salads, and stews.

4. Tofu

Protein: Firm Tofu 13g/3 oz.; Soft Tofu 4 g/3oz.

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Tofu, also called bean curd, is a soft, bland, custard-like food from soy beans. Soy, as its source, is considered as a complete protein food because it has all the essential amino acids.  Although half of the calories in a tofu come from fat, it is still low in saturated fat with zero cholesterol content.

Tofu Recipes:

5. Peas

Protein: 8g per cup

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Whether it is snow peas, sugar peas, snap peas, Chinese peas, and Oriental or Asian peas, these tiny legumes are jam-packed not only with protein but also with vitamins C, A, K, and B6.

Pea Recipes:

6. Quinoa

Protein: 8g per cup

sources of protein for vegetarians_Photo source: Telegraph
Photo source: Telegraph

Hailed as a ‘superfood’ by some, quinoa gained popularity as a high-protein, gluten-free substitute for rice. These tiny seeds are a rich source of fiber and is loaded with many important nutrients including calcium and magnesium. Quinoa is available in big supermarkets and health stores here in the Philippines.

Quinoa Recipes:

7. Almond Nuts and Almond Butter

Protein: Nuts 8g per quarter cup; Butter 7g for every 2 tablespoons

sources of protein for vegetarians

Although eating nuts is not popular habit here in the Philippines – many nuts are a source of healthy fats and proteins. Aside from protein, almond nuts, are also a rich source of vitamin E and are  widely considered to help reduce cholesterol. Almonds are available in big supermarkets and health stores here in the Philippines.

8. Peanut Butter

Protein: 7.7g per serving

sources of protein for vegetarians_© Copyright 2011 CorbisCorporation

Peanut butter lovers, rejoice! It’s one of the popular spreads that’s also classified as a good protein source for vegans. Along with protein, each serving also has 2.6 grams of healthy fiber. Still, that’s no reason to go overboard with peanut butter since it is high in fat and calories.  It is best to always look for the minimally processed variety that contains peanut as the sole ingredient.  Kraft Natural Peanut Butter is one of the few brands that uses peanut as an exclusive ingredient, or you can also make your own homemade peanut butter to make sure that the spread has no artificial additives.  Be wary of the processed types in stores which contain sugar, salt, and hydrogenated fats. Check first also with an allergist to find out if you are susceptible to being allergic to peanut butter.

9.  Soy Milk

Protein: 7g per cup

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If you’re not a fan of protein shakes, soy milk might be a good alternative. This is an ideal drink for lactose intolerant individuals. An 8 ounce of soy milk or one cup already yields 7 grams of protein together with 8 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of fat (with just 0.5 grams of it as saturated fat), and low sugar level content. This drink is negative of transfat and cholesterol. Soy milk can top other nutritious drinks because it contains 119 IU of vitamin D which is more than half of the daily recommendation.

10.  Broccoli

Protein: 4g per cup

sources of protein for vegetarians

Surprisingly, broccoli contains more protein per calorie than steak. These florets are rich in amino acids, fiber, and vitamin B6. Certain studies also link broccoli as one of the vegetables that can help combat cancer.

Broccoli Recipes:

11. Spinach

Protein: 5 grams per cup

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Remember how Popeye’s physique instantly becomes eye-poppingly buff after having eaten a can of spinach?  That image may be quite an exaggeration of what happens to the body after consuming spinach, but it’s worth noting that spinach is nutrient-dense and is rich in iron, which can help improve blood quality. It is also packed with vitamins K, A, C, folic acid, manganese, magnesium, and vitamin B2. .

Spinach Recipes:

 

 

 

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