What Is a Vegetarian High-Protein Diet?

Allison Boelcke
Allison Boelcke
Quinoa pomegranate fennel salad, a vegetarian dish.
Quinoa pomegranate fennel salad, a vegetarian dish.

A vegetarian diet is an eating plan in which meat, poultry, and fish are not consumed. A stricter version of the diet is known as vegan, and prohibits eating dairy, eggs, or any other items containing animal byproducts. People may choose to be vegetarians for a variety of reasons, including religion, personal ethical beliefs, or for health or weight loss purposes. Since meat and animal products tend to be the most common and accessible sources of protein, a nutrient the body uses for maintaining the function of organs, muscles, skin, and bones, people who don’t eat animal products may choose to follow a vegetarian high-protein diet. This type of diet tends to emphasize vegetables, fruits, and the non-meat sources of protein while limiting the amount of carbohydrates, a nutrient often found in starches and sugars that some people feel contributes to weight gain or health problems when eaten in large amounts.

Vegetarian meat crumbles are made of textured vegetable protein.
Vegetarian meat crumbles are made of textured vegetable protein.

One of the main components of a vegetarian high-protein diet is non-meat animal-based protein sources. On this diet, eggs may be recommended as a replacement for meat products. Eggs tend to be a comparable source of protein to meat, poultry, or fish. Dairy products also are often recommended for vegetarians by doctors as a source of protein, as well as calcium. Those who strictly follow a vegan diet will not eat eggs or dairy and will generally look for other sources of protein.

Vegetarians often substitute vegetable proteins like soya mince for meat protein sources.
Vegetarians often substitute vegetable proteins like soya mince for meat protein sources.

A common source of non-animal protein that is recommended for a person following a vegetarian high-protein diet is soy products. Soy is made from soybeans, which may be combined with liquid and processed into a malleable product that is intended to mimic the texture of meat, while providing protein. Processed soy is often available in sheets or bricks that can be chopped or crumbled and used in most recipes that call for meat. It is often the base of vegan dairy substitutes, such as soy cheese, ice cream, or milk.

A vegetarian high-protein diet will typically promote the consumption of protein, while keeping carbohydrates to a limited amount. This can be difficult in the instance of vegetarian protein sources that also contain a high percentage of carbohydrates. The exact guidelines will usually depend on the specific version of the diet that is being followed; however, many plans will allow for carbohydrate-laden foods if they are also a good source of protein. Vegetarian sources of protein and carbohydrates include legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains while avoiding sugar, white flour, alcohol, or other low-protein items high in carbohydrates.

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    • Quinoa pomegranate fennel salad, a vegetarian dish.
      By: James Cohen
      Quinoa pomegranate fennel salad, a vegetarian dish.
    • Vegetarian meat crumbles are made of textured vegetable protein.
      By: Vidady
      Vegetarian meat crumbles are made of textured vegetable protein.
    • Vegetarians often substitute vegetable proteins like soya mince for meat protein sources.
      By: andystjohn
      Vegetarians often substitute vegetable proteins like soya mince for meat protein sources.