Best Ways For Vegetarians To Get Enough Protein & Other Important Nutrients

with R.D. Miriam Jirari

If you are, or are considering becoming, a vegetarian, you probably often wonder if and how you can get enough protein. What better way to answer that than with our own nutrition expert, R.D. Miriam Jirari, who has personally been vegetarian since age 19. 

The goal of protein in your diet is to get all your essential amino acids (amino acids are the molecules that are the building blocks of protein), and the great news is that you can absolutely do this with a vegan or vegetarian diet. But you can’t just eat the same single vegetable or protein shake every day to get this done. So let’s dive in and learn how to do it right. Here are the things Miriam suggests you think about: 

  • Eat with Variety – With a variety of seeds, nuts, legumes (beans), whole grains, and plenty of fruits and vegetables, you don’t really need to count your protein grams. 
  • Make Sure You Have a Colorful Plate – It’s rare in America for someone to have a protein deficiency. A bigger issue is missing micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), so “variety” doesn’t just mean the list above. You also want to be sure that your fruits and vegetables come from a rainbow of colors (color tends to correlate with particular vitamins and minerals) so you’re not missing out on the essentials.  

Side note: If you’re strictly vegan, pay close attention to B-12 levels, as that is a vitamin that typically comes from animal-based sources.

  • Work with a Registered Dietitian – Miriam has been following a plant-based diet for over 20 years, and she doesn’t experience any negative change in hair, skin, energy levels, etc. But if you are new to vegetarianism, or if you ARE but not feeling quite right, you can get more personalized by meeting with a registered dietitian to review your food journal and help you deep-dive into making this diet work for you. 
  • Eat Protein-Dense Plants – There are many plant-based foods that are protein-dense, so have fun trying some new ones. Some of Miriam’s faves are: beans, edamame, tofu, quinoa, shelled hemp seed, and tempeh.

And with all the energy you’ve got from your healthy, balanced vegetarian diet, check out the body-sculpting, fat-torching workouts at Studio SWEAT and Studio SWEAT onDemand!