Protein is often held in high regard, because it is arguably the most important form of macro nutrient needed to run our bodies. The first image that pops into mind when you think of protein is juicy meats, fish and eggs. But when you switch teams and turn into a vegetarian, it suddenly dawns on you that your options for protein would need to be found in  them greens! Worry not veggie lover, because there are dozens of protein-rich vegetables that can fill up your plate and stomach. But first, let’s understand why our meals should include some portion of protein.

Why Your Body Needs Protein

Protein plays a key role in both muscle development and bone metabolism. Meeting your protein needs (even if it’s halfway for starters) is essential for a healthy and well-balanced diet. It’s especially important to consume if you’re looking at growing some muscle and then  flexing about it. All the time spent at a gym can go to waste if you’re not in taking the right amount of protein. Now you know why your gym instructor wouldn’t get off your back and push you towards packing your system with copious amounts of protein in the form of shakes.

Other than being good for your bones and muscles, protein also helps repair damaged tissues. It keeps your stomach full and prevents you from making trips to the pantry to snack on junk food. And the fullness also rids you of constantly thinking about preparing a second breakfast while trying to get work done.

Seems like there are a lot of ‘pros’ to protein, because of which everyone needs a healthy segment of protein included in their diet. But like we said earlier, a major concern for vegetarian diets is do they have enough protein? Being vegetarian gets a bad rap for having low protein, but let’s think again. Are veg lovers really missing out? Let’s get down to busting this misconception.

Here are just a handful of the best veggies that are super rich in protein:

1. Lentils

It is considered that Lentils have almost the same amount of protein you could find in a steak! A single cup of lentils could meet one-third of your protein requirement in a day. Doesn’t this speak volumes about this legume? You also get lentils in a wide variety of colors. You can pick from brown, orange, black, dark green and yellow. And yes, it can feel like you’re picking out M&M’s during lentil shopping. Each color lentil has a peculiar taste and the bonus is that you’re practically spoilt for choice.

2. Broccoli

Now, Broccoli beats most of the other vegetables when it comes to protein content. It’s not just considered to be a great source of protein, but it’s rich in fiber, minerals and even antioxidants. By simply incorporating it in your regular meals, you’re ensuring there’s some protein making it’s way in your diet. The protein contents would be higher if you consume raw and chopped broccoli instead of boiled. Sounds like a great incentive to us, since you won’t need to take cooking time into account.

3. Chickpeas

You may recognize chickpeas as the smooth paste that forms the base for the classic Middle Eastern invention ‘hummus’. You can choose to consume chickpeas in its popular smooth and creamy hummus form with pita bread. Or you could even just boil it and toss it into salads or stuff them into sandwiches. You can even consider tossing them into curries and dare we say… pastas! Chickpeas just don’t disappoint and there are versatile ways to add this protein player to your plate.

4. Brussel Sprouts

Another great option that’s also giving tough competition to the dominant forms of protein which people assume is eggs and meat. To your eye, Brussel sprouts may look like you’re about to consume a shrunken down version of cabbages. When it comes to taste, it does have a peculiar bitter flavour profile.

You could make that bitter taste disappear simply by massaging and roasting them well enough. And no, by roasting, we’re not talking about giving them a severe criticism. Avoid boiling brussel sprouts as the smell could overpower your entire kitchen and there’s a high chance you won’t like it, since it’s far from enticing smells of baked goods.

Overall, our verdict on bitterness is that kids may have a hard time liking brussel sprouts but adults can grow to love it.

5. Green Peas

Green peas add a great amount of color to your meals and also have a high source of both protein and fiber. You can add them to your rice, curries, stews and much more. They are naturally sweet and packed with vitamins. It’s easy to incorporate into meals as it can be mashed into soups, dips, sauces and even smoothies. Peas are also light on the pocket when it comes to cost. Although a bag of frozen peas works as a gel pack, we’d recommend going for fresh peas to truly unleash the flavor of this veggie.

Related: 6 Veggies That Keep You Fit And Fine

Final Thoughts

Apart from turning to these delicious veggies, you can also reach out to Quinoa, Pumpkin Seeds, Almonds, Peanut Butter, Avocado and Tofu for a good dose of protein to your diet. In case you ever had your doubts as to where vegetarians get their protein from, now you know! Clearly, plant-based proteins are in abundance in a wide variety of flavor packed vegetables. So when all is said and done, you have no reason to underestimate the nutritional power of the greens and vegetarian food in general. There’s enough balance of protein and flavor.

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