“Vegetarianism sounds like a good idea, but you don’t get enough Protein” – (myth)
A common misconception of vegetarianism is that it is difficult to get enough good protein in the diet for growth. This is simply not true, and a good vegetarian diet can provide more than enough good protein with the added benefit of increasing the intake of good nutrient dense, anti-oxidant rich food.
What is protein?
Proteins are made up of amino acids, these are the essential building blocks for all forms of life.
There are 22 standard amino acids in humans. The human body can synthesise most of these itself, there are however 9 amino acids that are essential to our diet Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan and Valine.
Why do we need protein?
Protein is a major functional and structural component of all our cells and is needed for growth and repair. Lack of protein in the diet could result in fatigue, weakness and increased susceptibility to colds, flu’s and infections. However, protein deficiencies are highly unlikely in western society. Most foods contain some protein and as long as you are eating good food regularly, it is unlikely that you will suffer from protein deficiency.
Where can I get good protein from?
Good vegetarian sources of protein include: -
- Sprouted seeds and lentils
- Seitan (also known as wheat meat)
- Tofu (beancurd)
- Edamame beans (soya beans)
- Lentils & pulses
- Cottage cheese
- Soy and wheat protein based vegetarian meat substitutes
- Greek Yoghurt
- Nuts (particularly almonds), nut butters and seeds
- Chia seeds
How much protein do we need?
It used to be considered necessary to combine proteins in the diet, in order to get the right combinations of these essential amino acids, to make a complete protein. Studies have now shown this to be unnecessary as the human body keeps a store of amino acids meaning you don’t have to consume all the essential amino acids in one meal. Simply keeping to a well balanced and varied diet will ensure good protein intake.
Check out our protein rich recipes:
- Toasty eggs
- Spiced lentil soups
- Quinoa laksa
- Tofu stirfry
- Buckwheat salad
- How to make seitan