As a vegetarian, you may wonder if it’s even possible to build muscle mass without meat. For years, protein has been touted by the bodybuilding community as the primary building block for muscle. However, there are a number of great vegetarian and vegan athletes who are able to put on lean muscle mass, gain strength, and see improvements in their performance.
True, you do need to get your protein in, but you don’t have to rely on meat to do it. Here are a few great recipes for meatless meals to support your muscle building efforts.
Oat Breakfast Bowl
Oatmeal is a great way to start your day regardless of whether you are a vegetarian or not. It’s a great source of complex carbohydrates, provides a good dose of dietary fiber, and will even offer up a small dose of protein.
To increase the protein content of this meal, we’ve added an assortment of nuts and seeds, which also adds healthy fats to the nutrient list. If you have room in your macros, you can top it off with some dried berries and a serving of nut butter, adding more nutrients and flavour.
½ cup raw oats
1 tbsp natural peanut butter
1 tbsp slivered almonds
1 tbsp ground flaxseeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp dried cranberries
⅓ cup unsweetened almond milk
- Place all ingredients in a bowl, stir together, and serve. This is a very calorie dense breakfast so it’s perfect for those in a building phase, or it can be split into two meals and kept in the fridge.
Nutrition Facts (per serving):
454 calories, 49 grams of carbs, 15 grams of protein, 25 grams of fat.
Just because you are a vegetarian doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a hearty bowl of this comfort food. In fact, chili can be especially good for vegetarians as it’s chock full of vitamins and minerals, depending on the vegetables you include. The beans will add a fantastic source of complex carbohydrates along with dietary fiber and even pack in some energy-boosting iron. Additionally, the diced vegetables in this recipe will boost your antioxidant intake, which is always beneficial for your health.
If you want to add a bit more protein and achieve the texture of traditional, meat-based chili, consider adding soy crumbles to your ingredient list.
600 grams soy crumbles (optional)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 large onions, diced
3 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 large bell peppers, chopped
14 oz can red kidney beans, drained
14 oz can white kidney beans, drained
28 oz can tomato sauce
1 cup water
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp taco seasoning
½ tsp black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
- Heat 1 ½ tbsp olive oil plus half the garlic in a skillet. Add the soy crumbles and cook until warmed through (if using them). Remove and set aside.
- Heat the remaining 1 ½ tbsp. olive oil and garlic in a skillet. Once heated, add onions, pepper, and celery and cook until just tender, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer all ingredients, including soy crumbles, into a slow cooker. Add the tomato sauce, water, spices, and kidney beans.
- Place the lid on and cook on medium to high heat for around 4 hours (or low for 6-8 hours). Serve immediately.
Nutrition Facts (per serving):
330 calories, 42 grams of carbs, 32 grams of protein, 8.1 grams of fat.
Burgers might be an item you want to include in your meal plan, but as a vegetarian, a juicy beef burger is obviously out of the question. Fortunately, there are a number of excellent alternatives you can prepare, such as this chickpea burger.
Chickpeas are a good source of protein and complex carbohydrates, and also provides a healthy dose of potassium. The binding ingredient, almond flour, offers a balance of carbohydrates and healthy fats. Serve these on a whole grain bun or wrapped in lettuce as a low carb option – whatever you prefer.
2 green onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
¼ onion, finely diced
15 oz. chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp chili powder
1 lime, juiced
⅛ cup finely diced cilantro
⅓ cup ground almond flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Heat the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent. Transfer to a bowl. Mash the chickpeas with a fork and add the remaining ingredients. Mix well and form into patties.
- Place the patties on the hot skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes per side. From there, place on a non-stick baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes to crisp the outside of the burgers.
- Remove and serve as desired.
Nutrition Facts (per serving; without bun):
354 calories, 51.4 grams of carbs, 16.2 grams of protein, 11.2 grams of fat.
Don’t let being a vegetarian make you believe your goal of building muscle is over. As long as you’re willing to get a little creative, you can certainly find delicious ways to satisfy your appetite as well as your muscle building goals.