Vegetarian Protein - Myths and Facts, Pg 4
Where's The Vegetarian Protein?
Being vegetarian does not mean your diet won't have enough protein.
In fact it would be difficult to eat a well-balanced vegetarian diet that didn't have enough protein.
Once again, almost any combination of foods, anywhere in the world, from a wide variety of whole foods and with enough calories, will meet adult protein needs.
If there aren't enough calories in the diet, then dietary protein is used for energy rather than growth and repair. This isn't usually a problem for vegetarians, because plant proteins tend to be good sources of carbohydrates, which are used for energy.
Vegetarian diets usually meet or exceed protein needs, although they are often lower in total protein than non-vegetarian diets. This lower protein intake is considered beneficial, as high protein intake has been associated with osteoporosis and poor kidney function.
Our Western diet, vegetarian or not, almost always provides more than enough amino acids and sometimes far more than we need.
Good protein sources for vegetarians include nuts and seeds, legumes, including soy products (tofu, tempeh, soy milk and soy isolate), whole grains, free-range eggs and some dairy products (milk, cheese and yogurt).
Remember that all plant foods, including vegetables, contain some protein, some quite a bit, like broccoli, and everything you eat will contribute to your total protein intake, not to mention your total fat and carbohydrate intake, plus vitamins, minerals, etc.
Main Vegetarian Protein Sources:
- Nuts -- Almonds, brazil nuts, cashews hazelnuts, pine nuts, walnuts
- Seeds-- Sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, flaxseeds
- Pulses -- Peas, beans, lentils, peanuts
- Grains and Cereals - Amaranth, barley, corn, rye, oats, millet, quinoa, rice, spelt, wheat (in bread, flour, pasta and seitan or wheat gluten)
- Soy Products -- Tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein, soymilk
- Dairy Products -- Milk, cheese, yogurt, kefir from cows, sheep, goats, buffalos, etc.
- Organic Free Range Eggs - the chickens run free and forage, and are also given organic feed
- Foods like TVP, tofu, seitan are concentrated sources of protein. TVP is almost all soy protein, and seitan is basically almost all wheat protein (gluten). There are many cookbooks available with hundreds of recipes for cooking and eating all of these foods
- Legumes supply large quantities of protein (12 - 15 grams/cup). There are hundreds of varieties of beans and lentils in the world, and thousands of ways to prepare them, in combination with grains, nuts, seeds, and dairy
- Nuts and seeds also supply significant quantities of protein (like almonds or pumpkin seeds), and are an excellent source of good and healthy mono-unsaturated fats. Walnuts and flaxseeds and oil are good sources of vital Omega 3's, so often missing even in vegetarian diets
- Grains like quinoa, amaranth, oats, wheat, and spelt are also very good sources of protein, which is enhanced and completed through combining with other foods
- Soaking and sprouting legumes, nuts, and seeds will increase protein and vitamins - sprouting gives the best results when it has just barely begun
- Dairy products - milk, cheese, yogurt, kefir from cows, sheep, goats, buffalos, yaks, etc, depending on where you live
- Vegetables like broccoli and potatoes supply significant amounts of protein. Even a banana supplies a gram of protein
- From a protein point of view, it isn't strictly necessary to have dairy and egg. Because they're familiar, they ease the vegetarian transition, and supply Vitamin B12. But they are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Try to avoid being overly dependent on them for vegetarian protein
When you explore the delicious variety of foods available in a vegetarian diet, and realize all the ways that you can be blissfully well nourished, you'll be amazed at how deprived you were as a non-vegetarian!
Sure, you can get stuck on tofu, pasta and veggies, we all get stuck in food ruts. But here's strong motivation to be an adventurous vegetarian:
Be a well-fed vegetarian, so you can prove the doubters wrong!
Pg 5: Beyond Protein - Adopting a Plant Based Diet
Pg 1: The Myth of Protein
Pg 2: What is Protein?
Pg 3: How Much Protein Do We Need?
How Much Calories and Protein Do We Really Need?
Get Enough Protein In Your Vegetarian or Vegan Diet
Plant Food Protein Chart
Sample Menus For Complete Protein
Vegetarian Protein - Myth and Reality
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