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Whether you’ve decided to ditch meat altogether or try your hand at being a vegetarian for the sake of your health, you certainly aren’t alone.
Approximately 5% of the population considers themselves vegetarian and that number is growing day by day.
And why not?
Perhaps the most notable upsides of becoming a vegetarian are a decreased risk for heart disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, there are the ethical and environmental concerns associated with the modern meat industry that drive many people to adopt a more whole-food, plant-based diet.
But although the health benefits of a meatless diet are well-documented, sticking to a vegetarian diet is often associated with paying a premium for “boring” snacks.
Spoiler alert: you can eat like a vegetarian without just nibbling on salads all day!
Unlike vegan diets which can admittedly be quite restrictive (think: no animals products or fats such as dairy), there are tons of healthy vegetarian snacks out there which are nutritious and delicious.
We hope that our primer on vegetarian snacking can help open your eyes to just how well you can eat while going meat-free. With that, let’s dive in!
Grab-and-Go Vegetarian Snacks
Think that healthy vegetarian snacks require a ton of time in the kitchen? Think again! Below are some popular grab-and-go options that are perfect for the office and beyond.
Full of fiber and flavor, it’s no secret that fruit is a staple of just about any vegetarian diet. Fresh fruits such as apples, pears, and grapes only require a quick rinse and can be stored at room temperature without a problem.
One of the most popular healthy vegetarian snacks is sliced avocado (yes, they’re fruits). Brimming with healthy fats, they can be enjoyed with drizzled honey or just a pinch of salt if you want to keep things on the savory side.
Dried fruits such as raisins, dates and craisins are also prime for snacking. Just make sure that you keep an eye on added sugar and mind portion sizes, though.
For example, a serving of four Medjool dates packs in a staggering 64 grams of sugar. Delicious, but potentially a problem for your waistline if you aren’t careful! That’s why we like to recommend fruit bars which are pre-portioned and help curb the phenomenon of mindless snacking.
Introducing yourself to new vegetables that you actually enjoy can be a challenge, even if you don’t consider yourself a picky eater. Recent studies from the CDC note that less than 10% of adults eat their daily recommended amount of vegetables.
Healthy vegetarian snacks don’t have to be bland or flavorless. If you’re sick and tired of carrot sticks and celery, we totally get it!
We recommend alternatives such as crispy seaweed snacks. More akin to chips versus traditional vegetables, they’re a delicious, guilt-free way to pack more veggies into your diet. Such snacks come in a variety of off-the-wall flavors including Texas BBQ and sriracha for brave snackers who are looking for the opposite of “bland.”
You can likewise shop around for edamame or dried pea crisps. Again, these healthy vegetarian snacks can completely transform the way you think about greens.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds including almonds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin are additive-free snacks which provide vegetarians with some much-needed protein. Additionally, nuts and seeds have a complex flavor profile. They’re savory on their own or can provide a salty twist as part of a homemade trail mix.
Much like dried fruit which needs to be portion-controlled, vegetarians should likewise mind their calories when putting away snacks such as peanuts. A pre-portioned nut bar can help you pack in the nutrients from nuts without going crazy calorie-wise.
Seeing a pattern with all of this protein talk?
Protein bars can help serve as a supplement to ensure that your meals are nutritionally balanced. They’re also the perfect afternoon pick-me-up as protein is noted to help fight brain fog. Options like RawRev’s chocolate chip cookie dough protein bar are versatile as they serve as a sweet treat and protein-packed snack all in one package.
Granted you’re following a vegetarian diet versus a vegan one, dairy-based snacks are fair game.
Greek yogurt cups and cheese sticks are underrated healthy vegetarian snacks that are surprisingly filling and protein-dense. The former is a popular snack among athletes who are looking to watch their carbs and get some added protein from non-meat sources.
Be sure to opt for plain, unflavored yogurt to avoid added sugar. Natural sweeteners such as stevia or honey can help make dairy snacks a bit more palatable. You can even mix a bit of protein powder with Greek yogurt for a makeshift protein “pudding.”
Easy Vegetarian Snack Recipes
Let’s be honest: sometimes the vegetarian options you can find out and about are a bit, well, lacking.
The good news? There are tons of delicious vegetarian recipes out there that are perfect for kitchen novices and veteran meal-preppers alike!
No-Bake Almond Oat Energy Bites
Finding healthy vegetarian snacks that are both cheap and time-efficient can be tough. Oftentimes you have to choose between one or the other, right?
This no-bake recipe from the Vegetarian Times is life-saver for snackers on a time-crunch. Full of healthy, natural ingredients including raisins, sunflower seeds and almond butter, these set-and-forget snacks are great for vegetarians who consider themselves novices in the kitchen.
The “Best” Hummus
Hummus is a staple for vegetarians for snacking at home or on-the-go. The beauty of hummus is that it can be paired with just about anything.
Want to give your raw veggies a bit of a kick? Yep, you can do that.
Craving something to dip your tortilla chips in? Go for it!
This hummus recipe from Cookie + Kate lives up to its namesake. Another added bonus of this particular recipe is the variations of hummus you can whip up including herb, sun-dried tomato and sesame varieties.
Tropical No-Bake Snack Bars
Another no-bake option!
These bars from Cotter Crunch serve as a sweet tropical treat thanks to hearty helpings of coconut, pineapple and lime. Definitely something out of the ordinary when it comes to vegetarian snacking.
And hey, that’s a good thing! We can’t stress enough how important it is for vegetarians to constantly introduce new flavors into their diets. Doing so ultimately prevents you from ever getting “bored” or otherwise feeling restricted in the kitchen.
If you were thinking about making hummus but got a bit lazy, this recipe from Jessica in the Kitchen has you covered. After all, sometimes the best healthy vegetarian snacks are the easiest to prepare.
The end result is something you can munch on during your next Netflix session or bring to work.
Like their creamy counterpart in hummus, chickpeas can be seasoned sweetly with garlic and syrup or take a savory, spicy turn with the help of some garlic or turmeric. The whole roasting process only takes about 45 minutes.
Crispy Tamari Kale Chips
The common thread between these recipes and healthy vegetarian snacks in general? Eating well shouldn’t be a drag!
These kale chips from Health.com take an otherwise ordinary veggie into something scrumptious. Finding ways to sneak more veggies into your diet is always a plus, especially if it means replacing your old junk food with fresh, nutritious options.
Delicious Vegetarian Substitutions
Whether it’s cooking or snacking, sticking to a vegetarian diet doesn’t mean you have to make a ton of sacrifices or compromises in terms of flavor. Below are some vegetarian snack “swaps” and substitutions you should know about it if you plan on going meat-free for the long-term.
Mushrooms make the perfect meat substitute in terms of texture and taste. Meals such as Portobello burgers are just about as good as “the real thing” as you can dress your sandwich just as you normally would. Same rings true for subbing mushrooms in your stir-fry: the other ingredients complement your mushrooms which serve as the hearty “meat” of your dish.
Tofu is another popular meat substitute for those who don’t want to opt for sodium-filled imitation meat that doesn’t actually taste like much at all.
Making tofu more palatable for first-time snackers might mean adding in some seasoned salts or stir-frying it. That said, many vegetarians learn to love it raw. This list of tofu recipes can give you a good idea of just how diverse this little bean curd actually is.
Seitan is yet another meat substitute that’s actually just wheat gluten. Although its appearance might be off-putting for some, many vegetarians swear by its texture being the next best thing to an actual piece of meat. You can actually prepare seitan yourself or buy it pre-packaged to make your own “steaks” or other mock-meat meals.
Lentils are a versatile legume, particularly popular as a side dish for vegetarians seeking an alternative to beans. They’re often used to quite literally “beef up” bulk slow-cooker meals such as vegetarian chili. An excellent source of fiber and protein (big surprise, right?), make sure to mind how you cook and prepare them.
Nicknamed the “poor man’s protein,” peanut butter is an easy alternative to meat when it comes to prepping sandwiches or calorie-dense snacks on a budget. Other nutty varieties such as almond butter allow snackers to switch things up, too.
Key Tips for Vegetarian Snacking
To wrap things up, here are some quick pointers for anyone new to vegetarian snacking or who might be struggling to adapt to a meatless diet:
Get Your Protein
There’s a reason why we keep bringing up protein! If you feel weak or otherwise sluggish after giving up meat, a lack of protein is more than likely the culprit. Nuts, dairy, black beans, oats and protein bars can all help make up for going meatless.
Although there’s some debate over how much protein people should eat, the daily recommended amount is in the ballpark of 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. If you regularly do cardio or lift weights, you might consider bumping that number up.
Keep an Eye on Carbs
On a related note, a vegetarian diet is not automatically a healthy diet. Excess carbs, and especially sugar, can be a problem if you’re only filling up on bread or sugary snacks.
Make fresh vegetables and protein a priority for the sake of keeping yourself full with fewer calories. If you’re eating a vegetarian diet for weight loss or health reasons, dropping your carbs to ~150g per day can speed things up while still leaving some wiggle room in your diet.
Switch Things Up By Shopping Sales
With an emphasis on primarily fresh fare, we understand why people assume that healthy vegetarian snacks have to be expensive.
However, we’d love to argue otherwise.
Fresh produce can be purchased at an absolute bargain if you’re shopping weekly sales or at warehouse stores such as Costco. Any given grocery store runs deals week-to-week: use this as an opportunity to try and experiment with new additions to your diet. By shopping sales, no two weeks need to be the same and your snacking options will never grow sale.
Not to mention all the money you’ll save, too. Shopping sales is a win-win for vegetarian snackers.
And with that, we wrap up our list!
What Healthy Vegetarian Snacks Are On Your Plate?
Hopefully we were able to open your eyes to the vast variety of healthy vegetarian snacks out there! If you’re interested in the delicious veggie-based options we offer here at SnackNation, make sure to claim your free sample box from us today. Oh, and don’t forget to leave a comment below telling us what your favorite vegetarian snacks are!