There are many ways to get more protein into your vegetarian diet \u2014\u00a0it just takes a little planning.\nProtein provides energy and helps your body function properly. It\u2019s one of three macronutrients that the human body requires. The other two macronutrients are fats and carbohydrates.\nYou can get protein either through meat or plants, but studies show that eating protein from plants is often healthier. A 2016 Harvard University study of more than 131,000 people showed that those who got their protein from plants had a lower risk of death from heart disease and other causes. This was especially true among people who had at least one unhealthy lifestyle factor, such as smoking, heavy drinking, being overweight or obese, or lack of exercise.\nHow Do Vegetarians Get Enough Protein?\nVegetarians may be at risk of having a protein deficiency, so it\u2019s important to incorporate more plant-based protein into your diet.\nAccording to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), most adult women should eat about 5 ounces of protein a day, while most adult men should eat between 5.5 and 6 ounces. One egg, one tablespoon of peanut butter, or half an ounce of nuts or seeds is equal to one ounce of protein. Meeting these goals can be done easily by adding plant-based proteins to every meal.\nThe USDA recommends building your meals around proteins such as beans, lentils, and rice. Think about which of these foods you like and how you can incorporate them throughout your day. Here are some examples of plant-based protein sources for you to try:\n\nEggs. Eat your eggs however you like them prepared.\nNut butter. Consider eating toast with almond butter, which is packed with protein and heart-healthy fats.\nSteel-cut oatmeal. Try making these no-bake protein bars.\nGreen vegetables. These include spinach, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and green peas. (Peas are technically legumes, but most us think of them as vegetables.)\nNuts and seeds. For healthy snacks, reach for unsalted nuts like almonds or cashews, and try adding chia seeds to granola or oatmeal.\nBeans. There are so many varieties of beans\u2014black beans, kidney beans, lima beans, chickpeas (hummus, anyone?), and more\u2014that can be added to soups or chili, served as a healthy side dish, or eaten as a traditional combo with rice.\nSoy products. Soybeans and tofu are good examples.\nLentils. Lentils are a great main dish, or you can use them to make a veggie burger.\nFish. If you\u2019re a pescatarian \u2014 a vegetarian who still eats fish and shellfish\u2014 try adding salmon, tuna, cod, or trout to your menu a couple of times a week.\n\nAfter choosing your favorite protein sources from the list above, start looking for recipes to try for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Be adventurous and add new items to your grocery list. It\u2019s a lot of fun to research recipes before heading to the supermarket.\nFor more information on maintaining a healthy diet, consult a registered dietitian at UPMC.