There are many of families in my neighborhood that are vegetarians, which means their toddlers don’t eat meat either. We love a good veggie meal from time to time, but we also love a nice medium rare steak—so not sure the vegetarian lifestyle is for us!

Still, there are many benefits to skipping out on meat, like:

Lowered Cholesterol.

Lowered risk of stroke, obesity and diabetes.

Lowered risk of developing kidney stones—and I heard those are painful!

Years ago, I watched the movie, Forks Over Knives, and became convinced that eating plant-based ingredients was the only way to go. The documentary put the fear or god in me and made me believe that meat was going to give me cancer and shorten my lifespan. So I went on a health kick and became a vegetarian for a good 6-8 months. Then, I missed those steaks too much! 

I also have friends who are vegetarian because they are animal lovers and advocates. I’m waiting for the day that my toddler realizes that the chicken he eats is also the chicken he loves on Old McDonald’s farm. Who knows what will happen then. Other friends are vegetarians because they want more of a spiritual diet—one where they aren’t killing other living things. That all seems very noble. I wish I was that good!

Most meat eaters wonder how vegetarians and their children get enough protein each day. Though some of my boy’s friends who are vegetarians never look malnourished from the outside! I even had a friend once who only ate fruit and tried to convince me that it had all the protein and nutrition needed. She called herself a Fruitopian. I walked into her house and her living room looked like the fruit aisle of a grocery store—she was pretty crazy.

How much protein do we actually need each day anyway? According to the medical experts, adults need 0.37 grams per pound. A woman around 130 pounds should eat at least 48 grams of protein day. That might look like 7 ounces of salmon or 7 eggs. Though 7 eggs seems a bit excessive. 

Kids around 1 to 3-years-old need about .55 grams of protein per pound, per day. That’s about 16 grams, which looks like two 8-ounce cups of milk, which is doable. 

There’s no doubt that vegetarians need to get creative when it comes to cooking. At a holiday party at my kid’s school, one vegetarian mom brought brownies made out of black beans. They were so good, that I might have helped myself to one too many servings, thinking they were also calorie-free. Then I found out later that they were loaded with chocolate chips and maple syrup. Ignorance was bliss! 

Here are some common veggies, fruits and foods with the most amount of protein:

Spinach: 1 cooked cup has 5.35 grams.

Peas: 1 cup has 8.24 grams.

Rice and Beans: 1 cup has 7 grams.

Quinoa: 1 cup has 8 grams.

Ezekiel Bread: 8 grams per 2 slice serving.

Peanut butter: 2 tbsp has 8 grams.

Hummus: 1 tbsp has 1.2 grams.

Asparagus: 1 cup has 4.32 grams.

Potato: 1 medium sized potato has 4 grams.

Brussel sprouts: 1 cup has 3 grams.

Avocado: 1 has 4 grams.

Blackberries: 1 cup has 2 grams.

Blueberries: 1 cup has 1.1grams.

Strawberries: 1 cup has 1.1grams.

Orange: 1 cup has 1.7 grams.

Clearly there are many protein options out there besides medium rare steaks. I do have to admit, I had the most delicious vegetarian meal the other night at my husband’s cousins house. I was skeptical when she was making it and saw all those veggies lined up and getting tossed into a pot, but it turned out delicious! It was one of those one-pot recipes and it had tomatoes, squash, peppers, some hot pepper like a cheyenne pepper, black beans, cinnamon, cumin, salt and corn in it. Then our bowls was topped off with a grated cheese at the end. It was so good, though it made us all pretty gassy too!

The truth is I will always be a huge veggie lover and my husband appreciates a nice vegetarian meal at least twice a week. There is nothing more satisfying than sautéd or roasted veggies, though if you throw in a little bacon on top, you might be really satisfied. Even though the non carnivore lifestyle isn’t for me in this lifetime, I feel rest assured that my vegetarian brothers and sisters are getting their appropriate amounts of protein. Plus, those guys get credit for saving our animals. Long live vegetarians!